My family got slammed with the flu last week, as my daughter Rachel slid into the abyss first, followed by me (Heidi thankfully was spared). After 24 hours with the virus, I became a shivering mass of flesh, pitifully prone in fetal position with layers of blankets on top of me. Somehow I knew then that I was being summoned to stop all of my seemingly urgent tasks and just listen. So besides sleeping, I read and journaled through much of my convalescence. Here are 10 top things I learned during that time:
10. I realize again why Pilgrim’s Progress is the most printed book in history after the Bible. Reading about the Slough of Despond, the Valley of Humiliation, and the battle with Apollyon reminded me so much of my own life story. Bunyan’s experience 250 years ago is so universal: we are all on a journey, one that can take us to our true home.
9. Wearing a mask prevents spreading the flu, but seeing is impaired (foggy glasses) and eating is…well, impossible.
8. Madeleine L’Engle’s book on writing, Walking on Water, is beautifully rendered and filled with gems. But little did I expect my response when she portrayed the ache of the artist to communicate, citing the sadness of Van Gogh’s life—I paused and wept. Yes, I also ache to communicate and have readers understand, though I rarely admit it.
7. Ginger Ale and chicken broth are not my normal menu items, but when sick, both taste like a sumptuous feast.
6. I realized that my thirst for knowledge, a constant prod for all my life, is both God-given and yet corrupted. I have often used knowing ideas as a way to stay disconnected from others, trying to figure things out on my own, so that I wouldn’t have to be known. The Father revealed this to me as I journaled: seek to know so that I can love. Yes, that’s it. Only in love, especially love for God, is all knowledge redeemed.
5. Tamiflu is worth the price tag. Instead of five or more days of misery, mine was only two.
4. The characters in Oliver Twist are haunting and unforgettable, especially Oliver. He is both despised and adored, almost a Christ figure, and I could not help but grow to love the boy through all his trials.
3. I am floored by how much Kleenex you can run through with the flu.
2. Pascal, in his Pensees, continues to be a trustworthy guide on the wretchedness of man and the beauty of Jesus. Here is an example of his incisiveness: “All men seek happiness…This is the motive of every act of every man, including those who go and hang themselves.”
1. There is light after the darkness. I awoke around 9 AM yesterday with the fever gone and my strength returning. I am thankful for all I learned, but more thankful for my good health today.
Father, use whatever you need to get our attention. Capture our hearts so that we may rest in Your capture of us.
Next week: an excerpt from the new book, Divided.