Day 21: Sick
A few years ago, I was sick. Incredibly sick. My doctor diagnosed me with diverticulitis and sent me for a CT scan. At first she wanted to admit me to the hospital, but then she decided I would be alright with two strong antibiotics, lots of water, and rest. Rest? Who has time for rest?
The next day I fainted in the bathroom and gave myself a large goose egg on my head and a minor concussion. As it turns out, the treatment for a minor concussion is also rest. Huh!
Rest, for most of us, is a four letter word! In the church world, we take our “day off”, but we do not actually take a sabbath. We do not rest. Instead, we try to play catch up with errands and housework and our to-do lists. We do not have hobbies and we do not rest.
Yet, here I was with two ailments, a serious intestinal infection and a concussion. I could not read or watch Netflix or scroll on my phone. These all gave me a raging headache and nausea. I couldn’t eat much other than soft foods and fluids. And I had little energy for those projects around the house that were calling my name. It took all of my energy to do the basics and then I needed a nap. All I could do was rest.
I would like to tell you that I learned my lesson, but I would be lying. Nine months later I developed another intestinal infection. Fortunately, I recognized the signs immediately and sought medical care. The second infection prompted lots of medical tests all of which told my doctor I was relatively healthy. She suspected it was stress-induced and I needed to make some changes.
I admit I am a slow learner, but she had my attention and God had my attention. It was a wake up call. I did a radical sixty day fast to determine food sensitivities. I started walking 3-4 times a week. And I got serious about my sabbath. When I say serious, I mean compulsive. Mondays were now off limits and I guarded them like an alpha dog guarding her food bowl with all seriousness.
It has been a few years now and I am not quite as tenacious. Sometimes Thursday is my Monday. But this happens on rare occasion. Since then, I have developed a new appreciation for sabbath days. Jesus said sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. We read that scripture and think it is quaint. But Jesus knew that many of us are sick because we do not understand the power of sabbath as a gift of wellness.
During Lent, be encouraged to re-examine your philosophy of rest. Are you sick because you do not properly take care of yourself? We clergy are often guilty of preaching a false Gospel of the wrong type of sacrificial living. We can do more for others and the Kingdom of God if we are healthy. Dead saints do not have much impact on this world. Therefore, consider this your permission slip to take a sabbath, to rest, and to be well. Tomorrow will have enough troubles of its own and you will need your energy when it arrives.