Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Steadfast Faith in Steadfast Love

I haven't posted about this yet, but many, many have... my campus pastor-- a man I'm coming to respect, trust, and love, and who has already taught me many things in the short time I've known him-- Dustin Salter, lies unconscious in Greenville Memorial Hospital's Neuro-trama ICU, his breathing regulated by a ventilator, his heart rate recorded on screens around the unit.

I spent two hours or so there this afternoon-- a handy benefit of my chaplain intern badge... the morning had been a heavy one for me, working through things in my own life that are discouraging and confusing, and feeling the pain of all who love Dustin. Sure, we Furman RUFers are feeling the loss, but we've only known him 4 months at the most-- in the ICU waiting room, I met men who've served alongside him for years, students at TCU (where he used to be the campus minister) who owe him so much of their spiritual health, the brother who invented the superhero Lobsterman (arch-nemesis of the evil Dr. Deepfryer)... these are the ones my heart breaks for the most.

Let me say that I left encouraged-- in some ways it felt more like a PCA convention than a hospital waiting room... =D All those godly men, godly women, leaders in their churches, caring for one another...the hospital staff was complaining about the number of "pastors" they were having to let into the ICU to see Dustin, lol. The atmosphere certainly was different than the one I've been in with other families. You know what it was? It was their theology serving them well. Talking with Leigh Anne (Dustin's wife) cemented this in my brain. She hugged me so hard when she saw me... and her heart immediatly turned to ministry "how is___ handling this?" I looked into this woman's eyes-- these gentle, laughing eyes, now rimmed with fatigue and strain, and I saw a bedrock assurance that God is good. Dustin's wife is scared, she's tired, she's without half of herself!-- but she's unshaken. At one point, news seemed bad with Dustin, and her immediate request was prayer, through tears, through fear-- prayer. Because she knows that God is sovereign-- unshakable in His purpose and will. And that He is good, unshakably good. And that confidence in His unshakable faithful goodness, His love and care is what has made her own faith unshakable.

Thoughts related... Martha comes to Jesus with that question that rangles so deep down within us that we often don't know it's there--and God Incarnate's answer isn't straightforward:

"...Lord, do you not care?..." (that's always the question-- wondering at the goodness, the kindness of God. It's what Eve doubted at the beginning.)

But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion (nearness to Christ), which will not be taken away from her."

[now, these are the same characters, a little later in their story, when Martha & Mary's brother Lazarus has just died:]

"When Jesus saw [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit, and greatly troubled. [...] Jesus wept. So the Jews said, 'See how He loved him!'" [Luke 10:40-42; John 11:33-37]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"For as HIGH as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love to those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him. [...] The LORD has established His Throne in the heavens, and His KINGDOM rules over all." [Ps. 103:11-19]

What sweetness to know that Jesus cares, that He weeps, that He is compassionate-- steadfastly so. The GOOD portion that is Him He will never take away. And He is able to keep those promises, because it's His Kingdom that rules over all.

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