For Christmas, Eric bought me the study Bible I have been wanting for quite some time. Filled with maps, illustrations, explanatory notes, historical settings, key themes, literary features, and detailed outlines, I am having a blast! No longer do I puzzle over obscure meanings or try to remember the English equivalent of a cubit, I simply look in my handy-dandy ESV Study Bible! Well, this morning I read in Matthew 11 that when John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of Jesus, he sent his followers to Jesus to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" What?! Are you kidding me?! Isn't this the same guy who eight chapters back in Matthew 3 said he wasn't worthy to baptize Jesus? Isn't this the same fellow who saw the heavens open and the Spirit of God descend like a dove to rest on Jesus? Isn't this the same bloke who heard a voice FROM HEAVEN saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased?" Why the confusion? How much proof does a person need?! Enter my wonderful, handy-dandy study Bible! Hmmmmmm . . . what do the "experts" say about this? Apparently, poor John the Baptist starts to wonder if he's missed something. You see, he was under the impression that if he were a repentant follower of Jesus, he would receive blessings; it was the unrepentant who would receive judgment. Tragically, John the Baptist was wasting away in prison, awaiting a beheading by Herod Antipas. Not quite the blessing he was expecting. I actually felt sorry for John. This guy was really devoted to God. Wearing itchy clothing, eating locusts, and STILL he ends up without a head. Certainly not "fair."
This reminded me of some of the confusion I felt when a week ago I was awaiting results from a double biopsy. Would I be told I had terminal cancer? Why would God "call" me to Guam and have me invest in an incredible ministry and then do this? Even if I lived through it, it was quite inconvenient! After all, I was in the middle of teaching a college class and now I was packing my bags for California! This turn of events definitely took me and my prior record of perfect health by surprise.
But, I have to say, going through this horrible event has been one of the greatest blessings I have ever experienced. I don't think it is possible to articulate the amazing way I have felt God's presence walking with me every step of the way. In the midst of the human terror of knowing I may be told I only have weeks to live, I concurrently experienced a supernatural peace. How can one explain having such divergent feelings simultaneously? I watched as God provided for my physical needs in miraculous ways. Rushing to the states on such short notice would normally have cost $1800 for an airline ticket, but a family who didn't even know me GAVE me a round-trip ticket (and it was business class to boot!). I IMMEDIATELY got an appointment with a top surgeon in California who generally has a long waiting list. Friends gave me money specifically to help cover the mounting medical expenses. I was stunned by the love and support I received from family and friends. I never realized the significant emotional and spiritual support system that surrounds me.