by Jon Reeverts
On Thursday, in a quiet, hour-long conversation, a community friend asked how my whole journey with cancer began. What a tale, but there’s a reason I share this story.
I related that 12 years ago, I had a really stressful week in the works - coaching at seven games (JV tourney and two weekend contests). Jenny and I had two big youth events scheduled. It was finals week. And I had a newspaper to publish.
My back was a disaster and I literally could not get a gulp of air to catch my breath.
I went to see Dr. Richard Ramos early before school on a Thursday, I think. He had a deeply concerned look. He advised I see a medical doctor, because my symptoms seemed like those of a heart attack.
I actually resolved from reading student research papers I had to grade that week that I needed a tetanus shot - I was losing respiratory control from a cut a week ago.
Later that afternoon I arrived at Parke Health asking for a tetanus shot - they quizzed me and bang, I was being hooked up to EKG and a wheelchair was grabbed, Dr. Pimentel was arranging hospitalization and on the phone with Denver for Flight for Life.
I looked at them like they were insane. I just wanted a tetanus shot!
Later that eve just before I was flown to St. Anthony’s, Dr. Pimentel looked at us gravely and said, “You’re smart people; ask really good questions.”
I could tell that he was considering all the data and something wasn’t adding up.
Well, the hospitalization and a hundred tests over the next 24 hours in Denver revealed that my heart was super strong. Dr. Fred Miller, my cardiologist, said, “You can go home, but let me check one more test result I’ve been waiting on.”
When he returned, he simply said, “I need to introduce you to a different doctor.” That's when I met Dr. Kerry Fisher, my oncologist for years to come.
The good questions led to discovering that there was something more under the surface; a fist-sized tumor wedged between my heart and lungs pressing on my trachea. We would have to dig deep, literally cut through the bone to get to what we were dealing with.
Which leads me to this. ---------
A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a different friend and then another that was struggling with their roles as Christians in the torrid political environment. They were locked into Romans 13 that expresses submissive response to those in power, as God has appointed them for their role in this temporal world.
I am no stranger to the emotions wrapped up in the upheaval we are experiencing in society - as I’ve alluded to previously, I walked through the 60’s and 70’s as a child - saw how our military was treated coming home from Vietnam and all the other sub-currents in society.
It always appears that the social struggles are the issue: economics, justice, safety, education, equity. Often “religion” - not faith - has been thrown into that mix.
While that is what’s before our eyes, there is more going on under the surface, or above the line, in the eternal realm.
So Jon, what do you do about Romans 13? Well, I agree with it. But, which governing authorities do you begin with? Top down or local control and work your way up? Do we submit to the executive branch, the legislative branch or the judicial branch? Do we submit to the governor of our states or in what proportion do we submit allegiance to any?
It appears that we would stand quietly by? Is that why so many Christians are silent? Is there a mounting frustration with that passivity?
I feel that there is.
One insight I have considered is the person vs. the foundation.
Paul arrives at putting on the “armor of light” - the person of Jesus Christ (Romans 13:11-12) to walk out our expression of His Life in this world - it looks like love your neighbor (See “Who is my neighbor?” in Luke 10:29 ) However, to accomplish this, the best expression we have of this on a temporal/everyday level is not a specific political leader or agenda; it is our American Constitution - "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity (those who come after us), do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Not many people read this document or can even reference parts of it - yet, it is at the heart of our country and spells out how we submit ourselves and who has authority to protect the “domestic tranquility.” When we don’t know what we follow, or Who (1John 4:5-6) we follow, our lives can be expressed in a dizzying array of emotions.
So, it was resolved by our founding fathers, to give citizens a clear picture of their rights.
Again, after teaching for 38 years, I have found few individuals who could even identify their First Amendment rights. So, again, whatever the headline, spin or speaker is into our lives - we follow - again disarray.
What I find interesting here is that this document is consistent with Romans 13 and allows us, as receivers of the Life of Christ, to live it out. Not passively, but actually, with authority - we have a voice in our Constitution; it gives us words to speak on our behalf - if we knew them.
That’s also true of knowing Jesus Christ. The world does not recognize Him or listen to what we say. (1 John 4:5-6) When we know him (1John 4:4-16) our desire is to express that: “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
Now, here’s a second thought:
I thought of the transition of power in 1 Samuel 16. God took power from Saul as king and conferred it on David, God’s elect. It didn’t happen in an instant in the temporal kingdom, but in the eternal it was done through Samuel’s anointing. Yet, one can see in the next few verses that David went back to herding sheep after his anointing, which had been demonstrated in front his father and all his brothers. Scripture says, “the Spirit of the LORD took control of David from that day forward.” (1Samuel 16:13)
In the journey of dodging Saul’s wrath, David even had the opportunity to assassinate the king and yet didn’t. ( 1Samuel 24:10-12)
David actively rested in God’s authority to bring to bear LORD God’s plan. He consulted God (See 1 Samuel 23: 2, 4, 10, 12, and more).
Are we? Are our leaders?
In troubling times, we have to ask ourselves, “Do I know Who I am consulting? Do I know what I am following? Is there a foundation to my beliefs and decisions? And, am I actively resting, on God’s Spirit moving in me?
What does that look like? Well, it looks like David. Like Jesus. Like Paul:
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,”....
God has a bigger plan - we are not called to silently concede in passivity, but to be the expression of the Life of our Savior.
Not everything is as surface level as it appears. Ask good questions.
Consult God. I will consult God too.