The discussion this week on genetic counseling has been very helpful for me personally. I’m grateful for the many public comments and personal emails. I like reflecting on God’s sovereignty over disability.
But that doesn’t mean I always get it, even when I’m writing it. Here’s what I mean.
On Monday I bound into work, looking forward to a busy week of activities as we handle both routine business and extra things around the Desiring God National Conference as well as some projects my team is working on. The family also has the regular activities of home and school, and figuring out Paul’s latest medical issues. Ours is a typical, busy life.
At lunch on Monday I crack a tooth. It doesn’t hurt, but it is annoying.
On Tuesday I call my dentist. They could see me right away! “Oh no, you don’t understand I am very important and have many things to do and the whole office would just shut down if I didn’t come in so could we make it Wednesday or Thursday?” I replied. Actually, what I think I said was, “I have several meetings at work today; could we make it Wednesday or Thursday.” Wednesday it was. I inform my office colleagues I’ll be out in the morning, but should be in for afternoon meetings.
Wednesday morning I walk the two blocks to my dentists office. The dental hygienist takes me back for x-rays and to have a look, and immediately concludes the tooth will have to come out. Rats, I’m thinking, or maybe not! Maybe I’ll get out of here faster that way.
The dentist comes in and says it definitely needs to come out, and the wisdom tooth above it as well. Ugh, I think. I ask if it could wait, as I have much to do today. My dentist is a reasonable, jovial man, but both he and the hygienist, together and separately, make it clear I should have this taken care of as soon as possible. Fine, I say. Can we do it now?
No, this will require an oral surgeon. He can see you today, but he’s located in a southern suburb. Would I prefer local or general anesthesia?
At this point you would think it would dawn on me that I wasn’t in control of anything. It did not.
I persevere in my desire to keep things under my control, trying to get clarity on what this means for my schedule and how quickly I can get on with life. “General anesthesia? No, I’ll need to be able to drive after. Tell him local.” I remember both the dentist and the hygienist looking at each other when I said, basically, “I can get back to work tomorrow, right?” They didn’t say no, but they sure weren’t comfortable saying yes.
I like to think I’m a praying man, but mostly as I walked the two blocks home I’m thinking how inconvenient this all is and why did it have to happen now and oh, woe is me.
Again, you would think, having a son with a life-long disability and a spouse with the specter of cancer over her head – and the extraordinary grace God has provided time and again in our lives – that I would fight the sin of self-sufficiency and pride much more effectively.
But it wasn’t until I got to the surgeon’s office that I realized, I’m having oral SURGERY! I may not be returning to work right away. I pulled out my iPhone and read from my devotions for the previous day:
My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day. Psalm 7:10-11
I had not had an upright heart through any of this. God SHOULD be indignant with me. I had wickedly placed things under my command, grumbling as my plans changed rather than seeing all the graces being offered to me, thing like:
- Dental insurance
- A dentist who saw me right away
- An oral surgeon available that day
- The financial ability to pay for it
- An understanding workplace – my boss was the first to suggest I shouldn’t come in the next day
- Easily accessible pharmacy and pain medications
- A very helpful spouse who has shouldered even more responsibilities at home while I recover.
But most importantly, I am surrounded by undeserved, uncommon grace. I knew I could rest in Jesus, who is faithful and just to forgive my sins as I confessed my pride and my grumbling heart. As only God can, he turned my situation into an opportunity to praise him for his extraordinary love for me – by cracking my tooth and changing my plans.
As I write this on Thursday, I’m obviously not at work. The drugs that are keeping the ‘edge’ off the pain make it unwise for me to drive, and I can feel my whole thinking process has slowed way down. But, Lord willing, this is all temporary.
What I hope isn’t temporary is consistently remembering who is really in control, and being very happy about it!