One of the books I’m currently reading is Matthew Kelly’s “Resisting Happiness.” Kelly has a story in his book I will share with you.
Courtney and Dawn are thirty-four. They have three children, ages twelve, five, and three. Dawn is battling serious colon cancer. Her disease is so bad, Courtney dropped out of work to take care of his wife and their children. The kids have excellent school attendance.
Dawn is on a feeding tube. It’s keeping her alive. Unfortunately, that will never change. Dawn’s colon and stomach have been surgically removed. Courtney and Dawn have faced heartbreak after heartbreak, but here is the biggest of their heartbreaks. Stomach transplants are now available, but to get one person must be cancer free for five years. But, Dawn won’t qualify. Thank God, she is cancer free for two years. However, she can only live for two more years on the tubes. So, unless a miracle occurs, a year before Dawn would become eligible for the transplant, she would starve to death.
Life is tough. It’s incredibly messy. It often appears tremendously unfair. We tend to scream at God during these messes. “Lord, do something! Help these people. They need you.” We want God to wave a magic wand and make life’s messes go away. Well, God says, “I did do something.”
Approximately two thousand years ago, God looked at the world. It was a mess. It was our mess, not his mess. God could have justifiably told all of us what my mom told me as a child. “Mike, it’s your mess. You clean it up.” God, though, didn’t mimic my mother. Rather, in an infinite expression of divine mercy, he asked his Son to become one of us. And we all know the rest of the story.
God the Son cleaned up our biggest mess. He was tortured to the max and then died a horrific death on a cross to forgive all our sins, past, present, and the future.
Now, it’s our turn. It’s our turn to say “Yes!” to Jesus’ offer of forgiveness. The forgiveness is there, but God won’t force it on us. We have free will. And, if we sincerely say “Yes!!” to God’s forgiveness, an eternity of a mess-free heaven, an eternity of a perfectly happy heaven awaits us.
All that leads to an essential question. How does God know our acceptance of his forgiveness is truly sincere? The answer? God knows our yes is sincere when we become Christ-like, when we try to help others with their messes.
We won’t know until we get to heaven why God places bigger crosses on the shoulders of some, like he did with Dawn and Courtney. That’s mystery.
This we do know. We are called to put ourselves in the middle of others’ messes. We are called to help make a difference, however small, by helping others, in whatever way we can, to get rid of at least a little bit of the mess in their lives.
If we see a mess, anywhere, anytime, our job is to help. Helping others with their messes makes us Christ-like.