Part IX | the body of christ

It’s hard for me to ask for help. I don’t want to be needy and I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.

But that’s not right. Jesus says the world will know His followers by the way they love one another. You can’t show me that love if I don’t let you in. We can’t bear one another’s burdens until we know what those are.

As Brad’s been sick, I’ve seen the body of Christ be just that: Arms holding me tight when my heart feels battered. Shoulders side by side with mine, holding me up when I’m tired. Hearts and lips asking God for healing on our behalf again and again. The body of Christ humbles and amazes me. It has to be God. There’s no way so many people, so many of you could genuinely care and act on our behalf without the grace of God binding us all together.

Here’s what I’ve seen the body of Christ do for me as I live life with a husband who is ill.

The body of Christ allows me to pray with confidence. Often when I pray for Brad, I imagine myself in front of His throne, impossibly small and meager in a room of splendor and glory. I see myself on my knees begging for mercy for Brad. Sometimes in my mind’s eyes, I’m alone. But when I think more about it and ponder the reality of prayers rising like incense in His throne room while I pray in my bed in Menlo Park, California, I realize both these places are real. And when I look around that throne room, I’m not alone. I see my parents prostrate before the God they taught me to love. I see Brad’s parents quietly and patiently whispering requests to the Lord they serve. I see my brother Jed, arms spread high in the air and head raised shouting praises and promises, delivering the sacrifice of worship that makes all our prayers sweeter. My sister Jill is on her knees next to me and I hear her passionate pleas. My sister Jessie is climbing up our Savior’s lap, holding His head in her hands so she knows He’s paying attention, and not letting go until He answers. My brother-in-law, Jonathan is standing just behind Brad, his hands confidently on his shoulders, both praying and holding him up. Liam, our four-year-old nephew is standing in curiosity at God’s feet, asking with perfect innocence for Him to make Uncle Brad better (and to give us a baby, his favorite prayer). I see Luci running around on her chubby toddler legs saying those three words that were among the first she ever uttered: Jesus, help Brad. I see a 60-something woman I’ve never met who nonetheless faithfully comes to the Lord on our behalf over and over. I see our church back at home quietly circling us, united in murmurs for us. I see some of you who have dropped every important thing in your life to meet us there and add your voices to ours. And when I look back at God, I realize I’m seeing His answer and provision in His people and I’m humbled and encouraged.

The body of Christ shows me a glimpse of what Love does. Love  is sharing sorrows and shedding tears. Love is texting a verse. Love is playing with my hair. Love is not being annoyed when I say no to lunch again because I want to be home with Brad. Love grabs me in the restroom at church, hugs me, and says I love you. Love is going out of your way to make a recipe with ingredients we can eat. Love isn’t epic statements and big shows of service and sacrifice. Love is getting out of the way and letting Christ in you love people. These small, almost forgettable acts bring me into contact with our Savior and I realize I can do that for people too. I can be an empty, poured-out vessel for Christ to fill and use.

The body of Christ kills my pride. To take help from you means admitting to myself, to you, and to my husband that I can’t do it all and I can’t hold it together. For a perfectionist over-achiever who prides herself on being low-maintenance, this is painful. I’m embarrassed to call my parents and tell them how much I need prayer. I cringe at the thought of people spending money and precious time to visit and encourage us. I hate the idea of posting one more time here asking strangers to pray. This is a good thing. The body of Christ knows a lot of things I don’t, like how I’m unable to handle it all on my own. The love and the service of the body of Christ reminds me I’m not self-reliant and I’m not supposed to be. This is the most raw, most confusing lesson I’m learning.

And you, the body of Christ, are teaching it to me. Did you know you have that power? The power to shape someone’s heart and carry it closer to God? How are you using it?

Previously:
Part I | gratitude
Part II | prayer
Part III | faith
Part IV | fear
Part V | frustration
Part VI | truth
Part VII | hope
Part VIII | suffering

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