This is no cause bracelet …
you know, the kind you wear when you wish to demonstrate publicly that you identify with and/or support an individual or group of people in disadvantaged circumstances. You choose those bracelets . . perhaps to inspire others . . perhaps to feel better about yourself . . perhaps because it is “the thing to do”.
Nope, this is no cause bracelet . . this instead is the kind of bracelet that chooses you . . the kind that informs you that you indeed are the one in a disadvantaged circumstance.
One of these unfashionable bracelets chose me . . the kind handed out by the nearest emergency room . . just in time for Easter. This particular bracelet, like most of it’s counterparts, is a messenger . . even a storyteller if you will.
My bracelet has two stories to share …
The first story? Loss, heartache, setback, vulnerability, separation, rejection, sleeplessness, chronic fatigue and living . . make that “existing” . . out of suitcases . . with no true home to call your own . . for more than 5 years running . . well, it all comes at a cost. It all latches on to . . and stirs . . and quagmires . . in the pot of stress. And stress is no friend . . in fact, it is a thief, perhaps the deadliest kind . . because it looks for breaches in your life, eats away at your soul and your health one microscopic bite at a time.
No one chapter in my story is anywhere close to unique . . many have encountered these same potholes that on some days feel more like plagues . . but when you chain them all together . . and the chain gets longer and longer . . without relief, without a reversal, a time of “easing up” . . well then, that is when stress brings along it’s darker, even more sinister cousin “cumulative stress”, a formidable enemy indeed to mind, body and soul.
If you are like me,
you may tend to somewhat discount . .
in the present moment . . the long-term impact of life-altering events . . like a spouse who says “I don’t love you anymore – get out” . . or adult children who behave as though you never existed . . or real estate plunging in value to less than half of your mortgage obligation . . or a financial corporation seizing control of your entire book of business in the wake of two merger and acquisition nightmares . . or an ethically compromised private business partner that destroys critical marketing project relationships – on a national level . . or churches that treat one such as myself who is in a season of vulnerability as a “problem” instead of a dearly loved child of the King . . or relying on a friend’s guest bedroom as “home” way beyond a time frame that is comfortable . . or relocating to a new state only to have a crooked “Christian” business owner undermine any chance for long-term stability and success . . or working weeks, even months at a time without anything close to work life balance . . did I mention the absence of vacation breaks, health insurance, savings and investments, meaningful participation in the community of faith and . . sleep?
When you are a walking, talking, heart-broken real-life ceaseless episode of “Survivor” on this level, the experts seem not to be surprised that your blood pressure has elevated to a life threatening 226 over 124 . . they are only surprised you haven’t already succumbed to stroke or heart attack.
That is the mind-numbing, health-destroying essence of of the first story told by this bracelet.
The second story? Help has arrived. While emergency room medical staff can’t provide a more manageable work environment or create a lifestyle of fitness, diet and rest that allows one to thrive, they can and did intervene on my behalf and arrested my severely elevated blood pressure in less than an hour. They gave me a new lease on life at the very point I was at greatest risk.
Is this not the “look” of Easter?
Something has gone terribly wrong . . and the eternal fate of all God’s precious children hangs in the balance. The smell of death permeates the day. A Savior refuses to keep distance, but instead stops everything . . so much so that He split time . . and chooses to endure false accusation, brutal humiliation and public execution . . out of love, we receive a new unbreakable lease on life . . at the expense of His.
Help has arrived . . and when we admit the need for treatment, sooner than later . . and let the Maker and Giver of Life do for us what we could never do for ourselves, does it not change everything?
Does not His love not compel us to a new calling that redefines our hours and our days? In the same way the One who stretched out His arms to save us from sin and ourselves, are we not compelled to lead lives that take on the look of Easter?
Dutch Bros In Faith …
While the ER staff at a hospital in Fort Bragg, California do leave a powerful impression in my mind, I have a different picture I wish to leave with you (title shot above) . . the same picture that was captured this week by Barbara Danner in Vancouver, Washington.
In Barbara’s own words, “I snapped this picture while waiting in line at the Dutch Bros on 138th Avenue today. Turns out the young lady in line ahead of us lost her 37-year-old husband last night. When the DB guys & gals noticed she was falling apart, they stopped everything and prayed with her for several minutes, invited her to come back for prayer and support, as well as anything else that she might need. Prayers for the young family, and you know where to stop for coffee!”
If you and I never attended church on Resurrection Sunday for our entire lives . . but had the opportunity to see what Barbara saw at Dutch Bros, we may never find a better demonstrated expression that “Help Has Arrived” . . an expression that can only come from lives who have become . . the look of Easter.
“For the love of Christ controls us,
having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;
and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves,
but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 –
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