According to Ben Franklin, fish and visitors stink after three days. I think fish pretty much stink all the time. And we had a recent visitor who reeked the moment he crossed our threshold. His name was Sickness, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a more rude and unwelcome guest. The intrepid caller barged in uninvited and put his ugly feet up on my children. Despite my pleas, he was planning on a long visit, and I didn’t like the way this smelled.
“I have no clean guest towels,” I pleaded graciously.
“No problem,” he answered. “I’m a slovenly fellow.”
“But I haven’t made the guest bed.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll bunk with your children.”
I dropped the decorum.
“But you stink.”
“It’s my new scent,” he bragged. “A delicate blend of VapoRub and Hall’s Mentho-lyptus. Get used to it.”
And get used to it I did, for this guest was with us for most of March. The visit began innocently enough, with the trifles of a strained relationship. He left dirty tissues all over our floor, and his medicine cups became the centerpiece of our decor. At one point Sickness even left, and I prematurely celebrated. It turned out he merely went to do some errands, for soon he was back on our doorstep again. This time he was offended when I tried to slam the door in his face, and he really showed his ugly side.
Every time Sickness opened his mouth to speak, one of my kids would hack or sneeze or feverishly whimper. Then I just got angry. How dare he invade my personal space and hurt my children. My five-year-old got angry, too, and it showed in his prayers. First he prayed that God would feed his germs to the sharks. Then he asked God to feed his germs to evil people on a sandwich. I was slightly confused by his grammatical structure, but I’m pretty sure the people weren’t supposed to be on the sandwich, just the germs.
Then Sickness fought back. He tried to appease me, to bring me over to his side. I felt myself getting sucked into the Vortex of Sickness. Quite frankly, I felt like Luke Skywalker holding on for dear life while Darth Vader reached out to him on the catwalk over the abyss.
God was the only one who could save me from falling. But I had to be faithful in prayer and believing. I have learned that God is not a vending machine, immediately spitting out the answers as soon as I put a coin into His slot. We have to be steadfast and patient, not exactly long suits for a culture that freaks out if a pizza is not delivered within ten minutes.
Do we truly believe in God’s mercy and grace? Do we believe that it is always His will for us to be healed? Jesus always did the will of God, and he always healed people. Imagine hanging around with someone who would simply not tolerate your sickness. The only downside of being a disciple would have been the inability to call in sick to work.
Peter: Lord, I’m afraid I can’t make it in today. I’m terribly ill.
Jesus: You’re healed.
Peter: (aside) Rats!
As difficult as it was for me to believe, God wanted my kids to be healed even more than I did. There was only one way to remove that nasty smell from our house. I had to keep cleaning with the Master’s Hand. One morning I woke up to discover that our guest had hit the road. He left in the middle of the night without even leaving a note. Good riddance, I say. That’s one unwelcome guest I hope never to see…or smell, again.