I have a friend of a friend whose wife is in a struggle between life and death. I’ve never met this young man or his wife, but have taken an instant liking to them both because of their faith stories, our common bond in the Spirit, and in particular, his sense of humor. He’s a witty young man who has gifted to me a wonderful metaphor.
In a recent email he wrote, “I've mentioned to a few of you that I feel like a dog in a car. I don't know if we're going to the park or to the vet, but I know God's driving, so it's going to be OK. Right now, it just feels more and more like we are heading to the vet.” Isn’t that the best?! He’s caught between uncertainty and a sense of anticipation; it's enough to make him pace between windows in the back seat!
Aren’t we all there with him? I know if you stop to picture this you can imagine yourself there too. It’s the story of our faith! One day the Master grabbed the leash and headed for the driveway. Our hopes rose! We grabbed our ball and jumped in the backseat. With our nose pressed against the glass as it slowly descended, we waited for that first tantalizing scent carried by the breeze.
Then it occurred to us! Maybe we aren’t going to the park! Maybe…we’re…going to…the VET! But…maybe not! Maybe we’re going to the park. And the ensuing inner struggle begins. We know that the park is in our future, eventually, but maybe it comes only on the other side of the Vet. It makes me think of this exchange between Peter and our Lord:
“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" - John 21:18-19
Did you catch that last part? Follow me - with an exclamation point! Can’t you just see it? He’s already been to the Vet, and He knows we’re headed there too. But now He’s got His ball and He’s at a dead run, ears back, leash trailing behind, eyes squinted in bliss. The park is worth it! “Follow Me!”
Lord, give us strength each day to endure the Vets of life, to always be looking forward to the joy that is before us and to follow you to the park! Until then we’ll just hang our heads out the window, put our noses in the air and let the breeze take our tongues!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:1-3
In memory of Tacha Palmgren who went to the park on October 27, 2009, after having been at the Vet for a very long time. And for Jeff, who is still there. Take heart…the park is just around the bend!