If Scripture teaches us anything about ourselves, it surely is that we are mortal creatures totally dependent on God every moment of our lives, which on earth are always temporary and at best all too brief. God made us from elements of earth, to which we eventually return. He animates our clay bodies with his gift of life-breath and makes us whole living beings (“souls” in Hebrew). Every moment’s life, every experience of joy and taste of beauty, every sharing of love — all are gifts of divine grace to a frail people living in a broken world.
I have known this all my life and have taught it for 40 years, but I appreciate it more keenly today, March 10, 2002, than ever before. For several months I have noticed tremors in my legs which have become more conspicuous over time. I was grateful when a brain scan ruled out stroke and tumors. This past Thursday I saw a leading specialist in neurological disorders who, after a detailed interview and extensive clinical examination, diagnosed the problem as early stages of a mild form of Parkinson’s Disease. PD is humanly incurable at this point but the symptoms are controllable by medication which I have started. The doctor is hopeful that in my case the disease is progressing very slowly. He encouraged me to anticipate and to work toward many more years of productivity.
Today I recall Paul’s words, “when I am weak, then I am strong,” which we can say because of God’s promise: “My strength is perfected in weakness.” God’s own faithfulness and grace shine most brightly in the midst of human inability and need. Now, more than ever, “I want to know Christ,” and to glorify him by every attitude, action and word. “By his wounds we are healed” — a reality we will fully experience only in the Resurrection when God clothes us with immortality, but which God in his kindness sees fit at times to bestow in part even here and now. Meanwhile, Jesus promises “I am with you always” and the Father assures us “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
In the words of the old hymn, we “frail children of dust” confidently approach the heavenly Father as “our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend,” entrusting our lives — moments and years however many or few — to him, confident of his faithfulness and power and love. As members of the gracEmail family, I invite your prayers for me and my family (and for all who suffer): for strength and health according to God’s will, for his peace and his constant Presence, and that we may calmly live out in daily life the faith we profess with our mouths and hold dear in our hearts.