The Scarlet Thread
June 1, 2021
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come…” (Mark 13:35, NIV).
Dr. ___ is a friend of mine and a follower of Christ. A few years ago, I joined him for a symposium at Liberty University Medical School where he served on the faculty. I have been praying daily for him and his wife ever since. Recently I received an email from him with the following information:
“…My health deteriorated to the point where in January last year I received permission from the Dean and Provost to work 20% time from home as I stopped driving (on my own accord as I parked the car and said that I no longer felt safe), and in February like everyone else worked mostly from home because of COVID-19. We reopened in June, only to be shut down again by the governor…
“My Parkinsonism has developed further into dystonia and, also, I was diagnosed with small cell lymphoma over the summer of 2019…
“I have also developed a paraneoplastic presumed antibody mediated axonal peripheral neuropathy that flunked the Mayo Clinic screen of known antibody mediators. I have a moderately severe peripheral neuromuscular, sensory and autonomic neuropathy. Sometimes I wish that I wasn’t so special, but I remain a source of confusion to my New York Times quoting oncologist when he asks me how I am doing. I tell him I thank God that cancer is the least of my medical problems. How many of his patients can make that statement?”
Our lives are often presented with diversions that detract us from the gospel.
Some of these diversions are joyful, like skiing on powdered snow, or playing 18 holes at Pebble Beach, or dancing until midnight. Others are rock-bottom tragic, like my friend’s health issues. We relish the times of joy, we cry through the pain and we continue our lives as consistent followers of Christ—but not always.
Unfortunately, in my own life, instead of consistently following Christ, I sometimes follow the diversions and place Jesus on the shoulder of my road—occasionally for long periods of time.
An inconsistent devotion to Christ is inconsistent with the gospel. Life is laid upon us in ways we cannot plan, but however soft or hard it is laid, we are meant to live as followers of Christ.
This does not mean we ignore the joys and pains of life. We are called to be fully invested in life. We are not encouraged to be heartlessly religious. We are called to seek an abundant life with God (John 10:10).
But the source of this abundant living is a scarlet gospel thread that should be woven throughout our life tapestry, no matter the color of threads around it. This scarlet thread should be visible in all corners of our lives to remind us and those around us of our faith, our hope and our responsibility.
In the introductory verses to this devotion, Jesus warns us to be ready, to keep watch, to live as if he is returning any day. This readiness should lead us to ski on powdered snow with Christ, play Pebble Beach with Christ, dance until midnight with Christ and trudge through our tragedies with Christ. Jesus is not content to be icing on the cake of our life; He insists on infusing the entire cake.
My friend knew this. He ends the discussion of his trials in the following way:
“We will be moving to an area about 4-7 miles from the University of Colorado Medical School and Rocky Vista College of Osteopathic Medicine. I hope to be able to start a 10-15 member or less reading/discussion group of CMDA students to cover a variety of subjects suggested in discussions with John Patrick. I am still an able cook; and, if you feed them good homemade food and baked goods, they will come to be fed intellectually and spiritually also. I also get fed by the students.”
When Jesus returns, He will not catch my friend sleeping—the scarlet thread is visible. My friend is an entire cake kind of Christian.
“Good God Almighty, I hope You’ll find me praising your name no matter what comes.” “Good God Almighty” by David Crowder
Whether my circumstances are good or very bad, let me not chase after lesser things and leave You on the side of the road.