And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will.
It was September, approximately 18 months after the birth of our youngest child. I was stationed on the couch, in my usual spot in front of our TV. I watched, horror-struck, in a position well known only to lifelong Cub fans; alone, eyes fixed and dialated with the first signs of rigor mortise, as yet another "wait until next year" went down the crapper. As the pain transported me in and out of consciousness, I could hear our two young sons in another room quietly destroying something. Seemingly out of nowhere, my wife appeared. She was standing between me and the TV, wearing a short white robe cinched at the waist. I broke my trance and looked at her as she opened the robe to reveal extreme nakedness.
"See this" she inquired, holding the robe wide open?
In a miraculous, Lazarus-like return from the dead, I responded, "Why yes, yes I do."
"Well, take a good look. I made an appointment for you to have a vasectomy next week. If you're a no show, it will be a long time before you see this again."
As quickly as she had appeared, she was gone and I was left to ponder whether it had been real or my mind playing tricks to save me from the Cub carnage on TV.
Now, we had discussed this medieval medical procedure a number of times since our youngest had gotten past crib death age but I had always managed to procrastinate and play dodge the scalpel a while longer. My wife even resorted to asking me about it during our most intimate moments, hoping I would give in. I always did but then would feign (ABD) afterglow brain disorder when we were through. After all, the thought having my crotch filleted and then getting to experience several days of basketball sized testicles was not something I was longing for. Unfortunately, the stakes had been raised and it appeared this time she was serious.
Years before this "flash" of a moment, I had become a genuine bible believing, if not thumping Christian http://www.campuscrusade.com/fourlawsflash.htm
After an initial few years of a honeymoon period, during which I had a very steep learning curve, I read and absorbed as much as I could,(as I tend to do) before my relationship with God become stale. Lately, however, aside from attending perfunctory Sunday church services, I had begun attending a Wednesday morning Bible study for men from our church, Willow Creek. The study met at a local Denny's(and really, who can turn down a "Grand Slam Breakfast" for Jesus?). Most of the group of eight or so, 30 something guys, seemed to share issues with me. Sandwiched between our discussion about how bad the Cubs were and how bad the Bears would soon be, we actually talked about growing and continually renewing our relationship with God. One of the other attendees apparently had the same relationship issues that I had except he actually cared enough to actually mention it to God.
"Lord, let this morning not be a waste of time, renew our spirit and the desire to share the relationship we have with you with others who don't yet know you. Lord, open doors and let us see and hear them open", he prayed. In a moment of weakness, I added quietly, "Yes, Jesus." The moment and my comment were quickly forgotten....by me.
On Thursday, my older brother showed up to deliver me to the doctor's office for "the appointment". It seems my wife had thought of everything(including the new jock strap, in a Sports Authority bag that I was instructed to bring). She reasoned that it would be hard to drive a post-operative Hyundai with manual transmission, while trying to balance the equivalent of two bowling balls in my lap. My normally light hearted brother, for his part, seemed to take on the countenance of a hearse driver and wouldn't make eye contact with me. He just kept glancing at my groin and then the ground until I told him to stop it.
Upon arriving at the doctor's office(my wife had already filled out the paper work), I was ushered into a small operating room and told to disrobe from the waist down. I then laid on the table using a small, short sheet they had provided me with, about the size of a washcloth, to cover as much of me as I could. Not that there is that much of me to cover, in that particular area, but they could have at least provided me with a hand towel, I thought. I had just finished rearranging my loin cloth when a doctor and nurse walked in. Dr. Samerod was of Middle Eastern origins and his nurse was an attractive blonde, which, considering the state of my "wash cloth" made me feel all the more inadequate.
Awkward introductions were made, then they guided my feet into the stirrups mounted on the end of the table. After what seemed oddly like a ceremonial groin washing and shaving, the doctor began to repeatedly stab me in the groinal region with an anesthesia needle. Earlier, I had explained to him that novacaine rarely worked on me and so he was attempting to make sure that I was really "numbed" before he started to do something painful. So for about 15 minutes we got into a pattern of him jabbing me with a needle, peeling my fingers and toes off the ceiling, putting me back in the stirrups and then waiting to see if the novacaine worked. After the 14th shot, I began to go numb. My crotch still hurt but my toes could no longer feel the texture of the ceiling as I grabbed it. This seemed to please the good doctor because I think he was running out of novacaine.
Somewhere between shots 12 and 13, as the doctor and nurse both leaned over and stared intently (and very unnervingly) at my groin, the doctor asked the nurse, "so what were you saying about Jesus, peace be upon him? You know, we believe that he was a prophet too."
"Yes," the nurse responded, "he was prophetic, He had that ability, as well but He was more...He was the Son of God and He died for our sins."
"Why do you say this? He was a very good man...."
"Well, I 'm kind of new at this myself. I just became a Christian about 3 weeks ago...so I don't have all the answers."
When their conversation first began, I had a "Grand Slam" flashback. I remembered my prayer and had to laugh. God does have a sense of humor. When the nurse was stumped, I thought, Oh crap, OK Lord, I'm on!
"We say it because Jesus Himself claimed He was God," I said between winces. Now, neither of them looked at me...at least at my face. On one hand, that made me feel good that they were concentrating on the work at hand, so to speak. On the other hand, it was unnerving to share the Gospel with someone and have them never look at your face, all the while continually piercing my crotch with sharp instruments. "Doctor, when you say that he was a good man, what do you mean," I continued?
Changing instruments of torture, he said, "He was a prophet. He lived a moral life. He was born to a virgin."
"All those things are true", I added, "but was He God?"
"But the bible, our holy scripture, says he claimed to be God," I continued.
Then in my best C.S. Lewis/Josh McDowel thievery, "If He claimed to be God, as the bible says but wasn't God, as you say, how could he be a prophet and have lived a moral life? Isn't that a little bit of inconsistent logic?"
"Explain. Number 2 sutures", he stitched
"Doctor, I tend to be a linear thinker and the only way I can personally make his claims of being a deity work are by believing that He was either the Lord, a liar or a lunatic. Just living a good moral life doesn't hold water and if He was a profit, how could He have been wrong about Himself. If you're consistent, either He was who He claimed to be, He was an evil liar who let people sacrifice their lives for His lie or He was a complete lunatic with a God complex.
The doctor stitched in silence for a moment. "You have given me much to think about. Now, I am done. The nurse will tell you how to take care of the surgical dressings. It was nice meeting you and I will see you in 6 weeks for a follow up. Any problems, call my office", and he was gone.
As the nurse continued her clean up work, she commented, "Thank you so much. Since I have become a Christian, I have had this burden to tell Dr. Samerod about who Jesus really is."
"I guess that is why I was here", I laughed. Now, feeling a little self conscious again, "Have you found a church home, yet?"
"Yes", she said, looking at my face for the first time. "My friend and I started going every Sunday to(Oh Lord, please don't let her say...) Willow Creek."
There is a post script to this story if you click on this link.