Thursday, March 17, 2011

Too much time...

    Too much time to watch the news, which is heartbreaking and scary.  Too much time to read about theological arguments which are disheartening and confusing.  Too much time to wonder about the economy which "they" say is better but which doesn't look so hot to me when I buy gas these days.  Too much time to wonder about growing older and the hazards that presents.
    And then I'm having to "test" the waters of our new insurance - 1,500.00 deductible... So we paid 100.00 for the doctor's visit and 100 dollars for medicine and I'm pretty sure I just had an ear infection and a sinus infection...  And so, naturally, I'm thinking.. "What if it had been heart trouble or cancer????"
    So yesterday as I was headed to the dr. with all these charming thoughts rattling around in my head, I grabbed a book  that has meant so much to me over the years. When I say I "grabbed" it, I mean I clutched the cover and hoped the book itself wouldn't fall out because the book  is no longer glued to the binding and hasn't been for years.
    Inside I can see where I once wrote in green ink, "Cathy Davis, Nov. 6, 1982, Ozark Conference."  Below my hand writing, there is a bold signature A. Wetherell Johnson.  I still remember the day she signed it.  She was suffering from bone cancer at the time and yet, was leading a weekend retreat on the book of I Peter - a book which has since become my favorite in the  New Testament .  She started off that Friday night by talking about Peter himself, giving a rundown of his biography from the Gospels and from Acts.  Peter was not a pillar of discernment and stability. He was intuitive, impulsive, and capable of going from great highs to great lows.
     Then she began to talk about the twin themes of I Peter: suffering and joy.  An unlikely combination but there nonetheless. And I have to say that even after all these years I can still see the joy on her face even though we all knew she was suffering.
    She conducted a Bible lesson Sat. morning and then in the afternoon, we lined up to have her autograph her book.  (She was horrified that the publisher wanted to list it for the exorbitant price of 12.95 and so she got them to offer it for 9.95 until Dec. of that year so that we could get a discount).  As I stood in line to get my book signed, I saw a worker at the conference begin to walk along our line and when she got to me, she said that Miss Johnson was tired and that they would have to cut the book signing short.  I was the last one that day to get a book signed and that has meant a lot to me over the years.
    When I got to her, as tired as she was, she looked me full in the face with a sweet expression and asked my name and a little bit about me.  If I had not known, I would never have guessed that she was struggling with cancer. Nor would I have ever guessed that she spent 3 years in a prison camp in China during WWII. Or that she had lived through the Chinese civil war and the rigors of the communist takeover. No doubt, she'd known her share of suffering but her face radiated peace and kindness... a mirror image of the Lord she knew so well???
    As  I look at the book, Created for Commitment, I see  something else written inside:  "Died, Dec. 22, 1984".  It is my understanding that on that day, she sat up in bed and announced that Jesus was there to take her home. Then she lay back down and within a short time, was gone to be with Him.  The thing about this is that she had cancer of the spine and had not been able to sit up at all for some time.  So I"m thinking maybe God started healing her cancer even before she graduated from here to the next world?
    At any rate, that little book means the world to me and whenever things get confusing or scary, I can pick it up and almost hear her say with quiet certainty that the Bible is true and the Lord's presence is enough. And there are just some days when I need to be reminded of that.  Yesterday was one.

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