So far my first season of celebrating Lent has been wonderful. Not being connected to the world through Twitter or Facebook has been a strange transition for me. I am still getting used to redirecting my compulsive need to check the platforms toward more productive outlets and truthfully it is bothersome, to a degree, that something so trivial can consume so much of someone’s time. Just like every major season of my life, during the last few years, Lent has been a season of finding better paths. A season of new things, old things, and new-old things.
Last week there was a moment that really impacted me where I met a 72 year old man with lung cancer. He arrived at the power plant where I do security work and we had a friendly exchange that went like this;
“How are you today sir?”
“I just got diagnosed with lung cancer and was told there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.”
“I hate to hear that….”
He told me this as if he was not at all bothered by the reality of cancer in his lungs and I was left with no words as he proceeded to drive through the gate to make his deliveries to the warehouse. It shook me up. I choked back tears.
What do you say to someone in this situation?
Are there even words?
How many generic “I’m praying for you” has this man heard?
What if he blames God?
My mind raced with these questions and my gut was in knots thinking about speaking with him again when he finished his deliveries and made his way back to my gate to exit the plant.
What was I going to say?
Was I even going to speak?
I had to say something….
I met him at the gate and before I could even think of words I asked him if I could remember him in my prayers and immediately the man who told me he had no hope with a smile on his face minutes before began to weep.
Then he begged.
“Please do…. Please do…. Please do…..”
He kept repeating this between sobs and my heart crumbled. I asked if I could pray for him right then and there and he just kept nodding. So we prayed. Then he thanked me with tears still streaming down his face as he drove off. As I walked away from the gate with tear filled eyes I heard The Spirit say
“This what?” I thought almost aggravated. I wrestled with the thought and could not understand why Holy Spirit did not at least give me a little more to go by. There was no rushing wind, no physical manifestation of healing, no nothing. Not even a real exchange between the man and I after we prayed together. Was he healed? I do not know and I guess that is not for me to worry about.
None of that was the point. None of that was the “This“. The “This” was the exchange we had, the unity in faith, the bearing of burdens. It was Holy Spirits way of reminding me of what the whole point of this life is. The point is not found in endless internet debates, it’s not found in perfect doctrine, it’s not found in anything other than seeing these glimpses of The Kingdom break through the bleak, mundane, and even tragic moments of this life. I cried with a man whose name I do not even know. I do not even know where he stood in his heart or what he thought of God. All I knew was that this man was hurting and it hurt me too.
Lent has refocused me in so many ways toward the “This” that I so easily miss when I am more consumed in being right or debating over the internet with people about doctrine. Do not get me wrong, I am all for refuting harmful doctrine but it does not take precedence over moments like I was able to share with that cancer stricken man. There are better paths worth finding and for me this is one of them.