I suffered with a chronic sinus infection for so long, I couldn’t count the number of years. I had come to think that using up boxes of Kleenexes and struggling to breathe was just my lot in life. Breathing easily seemed like a distant memory as my head always felt clogged and heavy.
I had talked to doctors about my problem. A doctor in Virginia said I could have a CT scan to see if I had polyps-but she shrugged it off as unlikely. Another in Utah told me that studies have shown that some people just have sinus infections for no reason. The best thing to do was to endlessly treat the symptoms.
When I first got a sinus infection, it really bothered me, but over time I learned to accommodate myself to this misery that ran through my life like a buzz on a microphone. Taking my doctors’ collective advice, I felt I just couldn’t expect better. Life was dimmed, but I had almost forgotten what it was to breathe.
Then, my husband, Scot and I were on a cruise with a Good Doctor. One day he said to me, “Maurine, how’s your health?” I said, “Great.”
He answered, “I don’t think so. I can hear in your voice that you have a really bad sinus infection-and I’m certain you’ve had it for a long time.”
I nodded and he continued, “I can fix that for you. You need surgery, and I would like to give that to you as a gift if you will just come to my home where I have an office and a surgical center.” As it turned out his home was two states away, but his offer was like none I’d heard before.
From long experience healing people with my problem, he could hear what was wrong with me. He had done 3,000 of these operations already. He was absolutely certain he could heal me-and then what’s more he offered it as a free gift. Unheard of. How could anyone care enough about how I was feeling to offer to lift me from my misery, but what’s more have the skill to do it, and the heart to make it a gift?
Scot and I traveled those two states and the Good Doctor put us up at his home. He furnished a meal the night before surgery that he thought would be fun and ease my tensions.
The next day, as they were prepping me for surgery, he told me it would be a two-hour surgery. When I awoke it had been four. Of his 3,000 surgeries, I was among the worst. The infection had eaten through the flesh in my sinuses and had gone straight to the bone. Next stop for the infection was my brain and orbital cavity. This could have led to meningitis or other life or vision threats.
As I lay there in bed, recovering, I got a note from my son, Andy, who helped me understand more clearly what I’d just experienced. He wrote, “I just can’t stop thinking about how this Good Doctor is a type of Christ.
“We think we are okay’ and that we should be able to handle everything well enough, given our circumstances. There are many who are not fully qualified to tell us (like your other doctors) who say, “Well, that’s just the way it is and you’ll have to live that way and figure out how to treat the symptoms.”
“Then there is the Lord. He doesn’t even hesitate. He asks, How are you doing?’ We respond, Oh, I’m well enough off.’ And then he says, No, you aren’t. You are sick, and I can help you. Come to my house and I will heal you.’”
We answer that we are okay, of course, because we have come not to expect much better. As citizens of a fallen world, we have become used to our weaknesses and the dim cloud of misery they cast on our lives. We think that we could list those weaknesses-and we struggle to work on those that are clear to us–but in reality we don’t even fully comprehend what keeps us from joy and wholeness.
We don’t fully see the weaknesses that riddle us. Part of our condition in a fallen world is that we are blind. We are often clueless to our own shallowness or triviality or self-absorption or pride. Other than in occasional intimations, we cannot comprehend what real joy and wholeness might look like.
We want to be like God and know we even have the divine genetic inclination for it, but what he is and what we yet lack are beyond our comprehension. To be with Him again, I have to be like Him, but how can I possibly do that? In my natural man state, I do not and cannot understand in full what God is. His light and glory and goodness, are beyond my sensibilities.
We learn that, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” but neither hath eye seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man” the fullness of the attributes of God (1 Cor. 2:9).
I cannot fix myself. I cannot try a do-it-yourself program that will go that distance. I cannot transform myself to be like Him. I don’t even know what that looks like. The Lord says it this way, “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” (Matt. 6:27).
With my sinus infection, I felt its devastating effects, but did not know its seriousness, its causes, or its life-threatening possibilities. So it is with our shallowness, our carelessness, our triviality, our invisible weaknesses that keep us from wholeness, we feel their effects, but we do not know their causes, their eternal life threatening possibilities. And we certainly don’t know their cure without the Lord’s patient, divine intervention.
“If,” as my son Andy wrote, “we go to the Lord’s house, he will heal us and He finds things that we didn’t even know were there or didn’t think needed fixing. The root of the problems is addressed and the repentance is comprehensive. It is like C.S. Lewis’ chapter in Mere Christianity where he talks about the Living House.
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of-throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards, You thought you were being made in to a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.
He intends to come and live in it Himself.’
The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. If we let him-for we can prevent Him, if we choose-He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or a goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though of course on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful, but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.’”
As I lay on my bed, recovering from my surgery, Andy’s note read with power, “The Savior is the Master Physician, who will come to us and say you are one sick woman.’ But He will offer to heal us. And I love that your doctor not only saw you needed help, but did it for free. It is like the scriptures say:
“‘Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price’” (2 Nephi 26:25).
Andy said, “What a blessing to have experienced this. A true metaphor of healing and becoming whole from a master physician who knows your body even better than you do and who offers to heal you without money and without price if you just make the journey to his home.”
When I recovered from my surgery, I could breathe with ease, felt the oxygen coursing through my head like a life-giving stream. I had forgotten what it was to breathe like that. I wanted to shout it to the roof tops, sing it to the world, “I can breathe.”
So it is with our yearning to be whole and really free of our natural man tendencies and weaknesses. The Lord has volunteered to do that job for us, if we come to him. Only he can restore what was lost in our ancient souls by descending to earth. Only he can renew and redo us to be capable of being with Him again. It is remarkable that he is willing to give this free gift to us that requires so much of Him.