Life, also known as a matter of seconds

 

My friend lays in a hospital bed in Indianapolis as we speak. Right now none of us know how much longer he’s got. Could be a couple years a best, at worst a couple of seconds.

While the rest of us pop our popcorn, smoke our cigars, check our Facebook status for comments and likes..my friend Kyle lays in a bed in a hospital. Maybe sleeping, maybe thinking, maybe dreaming…At least we hope he’s thinking or dreaming, because the thought of him not is just too heartbreaking to think otherwise.

I once asked my friend Dave Mullins, why is it that we aren’t over and really never will be over loved ones who have passed away…and he wisely responded…”Because it was never intended for us to die. It wasn’t apart of the design.”

Sure scientific observers of life would disagree. But they merely look at the facts, and what can be proven. They ultimately are backed into a corner of the evidence that lays on the outside, and can’t prove what is on the inside. If all life and faith can only be proven through facts and evidence..there would be no proof of love, even. But because faith can open up the doors to what is unseen, we can prove things like love. And maybe if faith can give way to proving love, maybe it can give way to more of the unseen being proven as well.

My friend, like me, is only 35. Think about how fast a year goes. He only has had 35 of them if he were to die before April 18th of next year. That thought alone makes me go…”My God, there has to be more than just this life…there just has to be.”

I once read a book called, “The Journey of Desire” by John Eldridge…and I don’t really remember much of what I read all these years later, except one idea. And it’s stuck with me all this time. He talked about and contemplated about why we have dreams and desires that are unfulfilled in our time here on earth…and he came up with an idea…he said…”well maybe it’s because these dreams and desires were never intended to be fulfilled while we are alive on this side of eternity…but maybe they will be fulfilled on the other side.”

So as much faith as I have that he will be in the embrace of the love of God when he dies…that same faith leads me to hope that he will experience what he never had that I will have. And if not, than better that what I will.

In actuality, the peace that I have about Kyle’s situation makes me believe if we really could know what Kyle’s in store for on the other side of eternity…we would do better to pray for ourselves than for him. I don’t really think that any of us can comprehend what the next chapter will be after death…but I know Kyle and I share the same faith…the faith that says…to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. And I can’t help but imagine and hope…that he’s already been experiencing that…Much like an old fashioned radio coming in and out of frequency he has one foot here…and one foot in the presence of God. Maybe that’s why he’s been here less..and less…because why would you want to be here …if you could be there…But as a result of my faith I have to ask how do I really pray for my friend. Sure, I want him to be healed. Sure I want him to stay on this side of eternity. And this is where the rubber truly meets the road. Is what I want for him …better for me..or better for him? It’s like praying for him to continue to eat flank steak that has been expired for a month rather than wanting him to eat filet mignon from the finest restaurant in the world.

And that may sound like non-sense…and it is…if it’s not true. But if it is…than wanting what’s better for me than for him…is nothing short of selfish.

Much like the thousands that have lost loved ones all over the world this past week…me and those close to Kyle lay in wait…postponing grief until we see what happens. And much like Anne Lamott wrote about concerning the attacks in Paris…

“We know that “Why” is not a useful question; and “Figure it out” is not a good slogan.

We know that the poor, the innocent, babies and the very old, always bear the brunt.

So where do we find grace and light? If you mean right now, the answer is Nowhere.”

Right now, there isn’t a lot of grace and light when I see pictures Kyle laying in a hospital bed with a shitload of wires coming in and out of his body.

And when I think of Jesus, with his mutilated body hanging off the cross…I don’t see a lot of grace & light. There wasn’t a lot of grace & light when they took a shit & piss mop…literally …and dipped it into vinegar and gave it to Jesus to have something to drink. There wasn’t a lot of grace and light when he spent three days of darkness.

Oh sure the really spiritual people right now are going…oh but yeah there is…and was…sure yeah…but even God/Jesus when he hung on the cross yelled out…”My God…My God…why have you forsaken me…” It doesn’t seem like Jesus was feeling the grace and light in the moment…even if the reason of his death was love…as Jesus also said…”no one takes my life from me…but I lay it down and raise it”…

I agree with Anne Lamott…in Paris and all over the world there isn’t a lot if any grace & light…and there sure as hell isn’t in Kyle’s hospital bed in Indianapolis. And there sure wasn’t when Jesus was crying tears of blood and praying to his Father that he wouldn’t have to die…but he also prayed…”But nevertheless let your will be done.”

And so with clenched teeth, and metaphorically tears of blood I pray for the same for Kyle. Even though I hate it. I hate the life he’s had, and the life he’s having right now. And this just flat out sucks. There’s no Bible Verses, or Christian Bumper stickers, or flowery Hallmark cards that will make us…or any of us feel better about it.

There’s always a super christian that has the verse “All things work to the good of those who love him” locked and loaded and ready to fire it at the most possible inappropriate time. Thank you, but no thank you. A- you probably don’t understand that verse yourself…and B) if you would understand then you would get that… all the things working to the good might even involve death, and the very least God destroying our lives…much like God leveling the tower of babel…because the best way to love us is to destroy everything that we’ve been working for or towards. So thank you sweetheart but keep your sloppy spiritual sentimentality to yourself…at least until you understand that verse isn’t actually cheery or sweet…but frightening. Because God’s love is the best thing that life has to offer, but it is also the scariest thing on earth. The scariest thing you can do in faith is to ask the love of God to devour you…the second scariest thing you can do is to pray like Jesus and say “But nevertheless let your will be done.”

You may be getting a taste why I think all the prosperity gospel horse shit that has infiltrated our churches today…makes me want to vomit. The name it and claim it. The toxic poison that says…if you just have enough faith…you’ll be healthy, and rich…and there’s a blessing’s a waiting…just a waitin’ (said in a deep southern accent). Oh, really? Well if I seem to remember for the first followers of Jesus…they had more faith than any of us could have and a million lifetimes…and do you know how it ended for them? Not good. All were murdered, except for one…and he was marooned on an Island while he wrote the book of Revelation.

There is one blessing that I think you can claim, that puts to shame all the other bullshit you and I pray for. And it’s this…The good news of the gospel is this…the best blessing you can get from God in faith is this….what having enough faith will bring you is this….it’s God, himself. It’s been said that “Salvation is accepting the fact that you’re accepted.” That’s the blessing that’s the low hanging fruit no matter who you are or what you’re going through. And it’s low hanging because it’s God who hangs low, and has sacrificed his own Son to give it to you.

The only hope I can find, to get out of bed tomorrow when my own friend can’t get out of his is found only in the love of God through Jesus in what he did on the cross. It’s not pretty. It’s gruesome even, but it’s the truth. A truth that I have discovered in faith. A truth found in the unseen.

So while I live and walk with others in the unknown of our friend Kyle…when we walk through the literal valley of the shadow of death…a valley that knows know grace or light…but pain, anguish, and questions. A place where you cry tears of blood. A place where you wail and scream and yell…”My God…My God why have you forsaken me.” And in that place I do the only thing that I can think to do…and that’s simply…think of the good ole times.

Like when Kyle and I used to have sleep overs at each others’ house and watch Faces of Death. Times when we’d go to camp and make fart noises with Brandon and other friends…for literally hours and hours and hours. The times we’d dress up like chefs and cook chicken. Going to rock concerts and dying our hair blonde via putting too much “sun in” in our hair. Traveling in a van, doing sketch comedy, and preaching the gospel with PC in the summer of 2000. Driving to Doe River Gorge the summer of 98 and rock climbing and doing the zip line into a man made lake. Listening to creedance clearwater revival…until it hit the perfect note and then we’d drive like a bat out of hell to our show. Being two crazy old men in a sketch that only you and I could pull off. No one else came close. You were the first person where I understood there was such a thing as comedic chemistry and possible to have a comedy duo. Going to retreats, camps, and lock-ins. Doing paintball, and drinking mountain dew. Listening to you play the jimbay, and me pretending to. Double dates, road trips, and watching movies. Standing in each others weddings, and having long phone conversations as I drive back and forth across the country.

Kyle I love you and I miss you. And even though you’re still here, you may not be. And if it’s true that you have one foot here, and one foot in eternity…I pray that place is filled with grace & light. A place of laughter.  A place where you can feel the embrace of God and his dangerous love.

A place where they don’t even know what the word “hospital” is.

your friend,

Dave

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~ by David Leo Schultz on November 17, 2015.

One Response to “Life, also known as a matter of seconds”

  1. beautifully said. so sorry for what you and your friends are going through. God does work all things together for good but we are mistaken when we think that means only good things. like you said, all the ugly, painful, gut-wrenching things that happen to us or we put ourselves through are used by a God who is wiser, stronger and capable of a love that we can only glimpse at. thank God for that.

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