Infusion or Intrusion

Rick and Toni are friends of mine from recent years. I spent three years in a Doctor of Ministry program with Rick. Recently, Toni’s cancer returned and she is in treatment. Rick keeps his friends up-to-date about Toni’s condition. The following is a recent one. After you read it, pause for a moment and pray for Rick and Toni, members of God’s family living in his story with the pressures of this present age.

Life is full of interruptions, inconveniences, unexpected scenarios, and dreaded situations. This includes everything from flat tires, stomach flu, to tax time in April.

What category does recurring breast cancer fall into?

It is definitely a major interruption, especially when it comes to Toni’s profession as a second grade school teacher . . . medical appointments, traveling to Illinois, missing time from working with her students, etc.. Furthermore, Toni has described having breast cancer as an “annoying inconvenience,” forcing you to make major changes and decisions in your life that you would otherwise never confront and attempt to live with.

Her diagnosis was not a totally unexpected scenario because Toni and I both knew that breast cancer does return in some cases. We just thought it would not happen to her.

To say this is a “dreaded situation” is an understatement. You can just imagine for yourself. But that’s just the problem!

One’s imagination has a way of conjuring up mental images and emotions that can instill despair and fear. For example, at the top of the list you find the fear of chemotherapy, sickness, physical pain, financial ruin, and death (resulting in your spouse becoming a “lonely” widow). Toni and I have discussed these multiple “imaginations” and their burglarious aim upon our peace and joy.

One thing we are learning again is that the imagination gone unchecked is poison to the mind and emotions, taking you to places you need not go or conjuring up “what ifs” that may never become reality. These mental meanderings have reminded us of what the apostle Paul wrote about concerning a form of “warfare” that takes place on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level. For more on this, see “Imaginations” and taking every thought captive to Christ in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (21st Century King James Version).

Interruption, inconvenience, unexpected, dreaded. . . all bring to mind another word: intrusion.

Recurring breast cancer is an intruder, infiltrating the body by replicating mutated cells until it seizes total control of the entire body and then shuts it down. An intruder: one with criminal intent, trespasser, interloper, invader, infiltrator, burglar, housebreaker, thief, and prowler. In other words, an intruder seeks to enter your life in ways that will change you, taking you to places you rather not go. And in this case, changing your life in destructive ways and taking you to undesirable destinations. Even chemotherapy acts like an intruder (When Toni read this post, she called chemotherapy the “intrusion infusion”).

Intrusion. If you think about it, in some respect the gospel is an intrusion. Jesus: the Intruder upon our human condition.

How so? I could wax, perhaps eloquently, about this topic ad nauseam, so I will limit it to one comment here.

Some argue that the Jesus of America is simply a cultural imagining of our own creation to fit our western and materialistic worldview and lifestyle. This Jesus exists to serve our own ends, and not the other way around. And sadly, this is the kind of Jesus that has been propagated and proclaimed in many of the churches throughout our country—a blond, blue-eyed, sugar daddy, genie-in-the-sky Jesus who exists to grant our every wish.

But I would contend that the Jesus described in the Bible is just the opposite. He is more of a counter-cultural personality than one who simply endorses the dominant culture. Jesus is the ultimate “intruder” into our personal lives. His intent is to enter our lives in ways that will change us, taking us to places we would rather not go. His intrusion leads to letting go of an old way of life that we desperately seek to control and opens us to live a new way of Life that is ultimately out of our control. This is what the Bible calls, “good news.”

Imagine that.

Rick

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