A few weeks ago, I woke with a pain in my side, most ‘scruciating.* Ever faithful, my husband, Andrew, took me to the doctor. While I cried and whimpered in the waiting room, he filled out the paperwork, answered all of the questions, and held my hand. Once we saw the doctor, she promised me a shot for the pain but informed us we would have to go down the street for a C.T. scan.
She commented, “Well, I’ll give you the pain shot before you go, but you’re little, so he can toss you over his shoulder if he has to.”
We didn’t fully grasp what she meant at the time. Andrew chuckled politely and I let out a tiny mewl of humor around a grimace. But here’s the thing – if you ever wake up with pain in your side, most ‘scruciating, do not go to the doctor. Go directly to the ER. Because then they will give you the pain meds and let you stay safely prone in a stretcher while they wheel you down the hall to the appropriate machines.
That’s not what happened to me. My doctor very sweetly gave me enough pain meds to kill an elephant and then sent me down the street to run errands.
By the time we arrived at the Imaging Center, my pain was decreasing, but so was my muscle control. I couldn’t quite form the words to tell Andrew this, so he gamely carried on like I was walking into the building. He pulled me out of the car and tried to get me to stand on noodly legs. I fought to make my lips work enough to whisper, “Carry.”
He didn’t bat an eye, just gently scooped me up in his arms and hoisted me across the parking lot. It was every Jane Austen movie I’d ever watched where the hero carries a swooning heroine through the rain to safety, only I was wearing sweats and a t-shirt, and Andrew’s collar didn’t gape open fetchingly. I wanted to tell him this, but I think the only sound I managed was a grunt into his shoulder where I was resting my head to keep it from bobbing wildly.
And that’s a pretty good picture of a Biblical “love one another” – in marriage and in the Body. This is shouldering every cell of the weight, allowing the full burden to seep into muscles and marrow. When I am overwhelmed and weak, there is someone to scoop me up and carry me. Andrew didn’t stop halfway across the parking lot and say, “Now, you carry me.” No, he carried me all the way and expected nothing in return. This applies whether I need a sweeping Jane Austen rescue or if a friend from church carries me groceries when I am ill. It’s a love that doesn’t keep score, that gives and stands in the gap, holds us together and brings us casseroles.
This is loving like Christ. There is no reciprocity here. I can’t carry Jesus. My tiny little acts of worship and service are mere shadows of the work and glory He deserves. My offering is clay to a God of wonder and mettle. But He scooped me up when I was dying of my own ugliness and called me His. He carries me now, through the day to day living on this fallen earth with imperfect people. He lets me hang limply in his arms, relying on Him for strength and support. He carries me, though I have little, if nothing, to give in return. He loves me because He’s Him, not because of what I do for Him.
And while I know I’m not breaking any new ground here with my metaphor, it was a sweet reminder to me as I slithered out of my husband’s arms down into a waiting room chair that I am carried. I am held – both imperfectly here on this earth and perfectly in spirit. I couldn’t lift my head, but my heart thudded my thanks before I slipped away into relief.
I approach the throne of glory
Nothing in my hands I bring
But the promise of acceptance
From a good and gracious King
I will give to You my burden
As You give to me Your strength
Come and fill me with Your Spirit
As I sing to You this praise
You deserve the greater glory
Overcome, I lift my voice
To the King in need of nothing
Empty handed I rejoice
*With gratefulness to Mr. Rudyard Kipling for his phrasing.
**I’m fine now. No worries.