Saturday, November 19, 2011
It was a cold and rainy, winter night. The drive from Mobile where my mom lived to my home in Pensacola seemed exceptionally long and lonely. The draining, heart wrenching weeks prior and following the death of my father in early December were finally taking a toll on my heath. I stopped by the Urgent Care center a few blocks from home to receive medical care. To this day, I wonder if that stop only made things worse. That week had to be one of the longest and hardest as severe flu like symptoms soon rendered me debilitated. Daily calls back to the physician were not helpful. I returned to see him the Thursday before the holiday weekend. He prescribed more medication and warned me to look for symptoms of dehydration (which I already had). Knowing how ill I was, I asked to be hospitalized. The doctor did not want me in the hospital on a holiday weekend. He sent me on my way and told me to call if I needed him.
I continued to decline. Barely having the strength to pick up a phone, I called the apartment manager for help. When she opened the door the shock on her face and verbal gasp told me all that I needed to know. I needed to go to the emergency room. That night the emergency room was full of very sick babies and children who needed care first. Within a few hours, my breathing became increasingly labored and my systems began to shut down – I lost control of my bodily functions. I used every ounce of energy I could muster up to push through the treatment area door. I vividly remember the attendant expression. I started falling and they scramble to get a wheelchair to me.
The night was tough. I barely remember coming in and out of consciousness. I was alone and not sure what was happening to me. In the night watch I would hear the nurse come in expressing concern…then one came in by herself.
She touched my arm and started praying. I felt a unique sense of peace but I was in and out of consciousness so was not sure what I was seeing or experiencing. When I came to my senses I described the nurse who had prayed for me to the staff on duty – to each shift - and no one recognized her by my description. I keep looking for her on each shift. I felt God had made his presence known to me through her prayer and touch. Jesus working through her was incarnated.
A few days passed. I was beginning to think the person was an angel just sent in my time of need. Then, as I was being taken for more tests, she appeared by my gurney. .Yes, it was her. She said I was in really bad shape that night and the staff was not sure if I was going to pull through. She prayed again… never to be seen by me again.
What was so special about that nurse’s touch? What was the difference between her prayer and others? Could it have been God’s touch? What does incarnation mean? What does it mean today and what does it have to do with me? Many questions were racing through my mind and continue to this day. It has been told that incarnation means "taking on flesh". It is the taking on of a human form by a god. Scriptures make reference to this in John 1:14 "4 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness’ and we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son."
God became flesh. He assumed a human nature, became a man in the form of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
The Message puts it this way: 14The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. "
God, living among us. This is a key doctrine in the Christian religion. Jesus Christ, God, took on flesh, lived like us in every way except without sin. He died our death so that we could have a relationship once again with God. He rose from the dead so that we could have life.
This action of God, to live among us, truly is amazing. But it is far more than a single unique birth of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. Does the incarnation continue even today?
When I invited Jesus Christ into my life, his spirit came to live in me. The incarnation continued. His Holy Spirit is active and alive. He continues daily to lead me and to guide me. Not only that, but as I grow in my experience of him, I learn to surrender more of my self-determination to his will, moving at his bidding and speaking his words. God himself continues to touch others through me.
When walking this earth, Jesus Christ, incarnate, lived in complete union with the Father. John Eldredge, in his recent book: Beautiful Outlaw, puts it this way:
"How do we remain in vital union with him? By loving him, by obeying him, by surrendering more and more and more of ourselves to him. This is how Jesus lived, by the way. He modeled for us a totally surrendered life, a life lived in union with the Father:
"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing…For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it" (John 5:19; 12:49). He came in part to show us how it’s done. All that dynamic life you see coursing through him, he received it as we must do—through ongoing love and dependence upon God." i
Those of us who choose to walk the journey of Jesus can bring his life into so many lives that are hurting. One can have a positive impact if that "one" is walking with Jesus Christ in them.
With the touch of the nurse’s hand that winter night, I felt God touch me. A tangible presence of the Holy was there and a peace that is beyond explanation. I pray that others will experience the touch of Jesus Christ through my presence. God incarnate in me.
i Eldredge, John (2011-10-12). Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus (p. 208). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.