Contracting polio at the age of two casts a long shadow over my life. My parents, seeking a better life in the suburbs after World War II, buy a home about 20 miles away. Unfortunately, I catch the polio virus a day or two before the move out of Jersey City. When the worst gets confirmed, I’m transported back to be quarantined in the Sister Kenny Polio Center at Jersey City’s Margaret Hague Hospital.
Shadows make their first appearance in that move from my earliest home. Then immediately finding myself in a frightening institution. My parents decide to visit me from behind closed curtains as they don’t want me to see them, crying and reaching out to them, who are utterly helpless to hold and comfort me. All my family– gone? Dead? Abandons me? Who knows what goes through a 2-year old’s mind?
Isolated yet trapped by hot packs, boiling water, bossy nurses, endless exercises, other screaming children who I don’t know, dark nights accompanied by ceaseless tears and sobs. When the lights go out, the fears do not. Shadows rarely dissipate.
Best news happens at age 16, listening to my radio on a Sunday evening, I hear about God’s love through Jesus. His offer is given. I gladly accept.
After a university and Bible school education, a seminary advanced degree, ordination, serving four churches, hosting a local evangelistic TV show, authoring two devotional books, I still feel like I have to earn God’s love. Keep doing more to warrant His acceptance. But it’s never enough, is it? ‘Lord, please don’t abandon me. I’ll be good.’ Shadows again.
Just when I need a booster shot of reassurance, certain Bible stories enter my system. Like this week, reading Luke 12. The parable of the master who returns from a wedding feast, with his servants prepared, waiting and ready. Verse 37–‘It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.’
Did you get it? Took me a couple of times, but then it hits home. The master serves his servants. Jesus waits on me! It’s not my good works that matter, but His. Nothing about my achievements, even those for His glory. Just get ready and watch… and be waited upon by Jesus!
As He did in washing His disciple’s feet (John 13). And when God sings precious songs over His own, as found in Zephaniah 3:16-17. God takes the first step. He initiates. ‘We love because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). His love… first and foremost.
He loves me and will never, ever forsake me…or you! Chew on that for awhile. I am. Little by little, that message sinks in. That’s something. Shadows recede a bit, surprising even me. We’re His work in progress! Mainly we’re His.
Lord Jesus, thank you for always being there for us. Amen.