What matters most in life? Unfortunately we don’t always know until our security and health are threatened.
Ed is a successful pastor. It can be strange to define success for a man of the cloth. For most of us it means promotions, raises, more vacation time, and a boat. For a pastor it usually means something different, which suggests that maybe the rest of us have a poor understanding of it.
In the case of Ed, success means being a published author, the pastor of a growing vibrant church, and being named Moody Bible Institute’s pastor of the year in 2003. A strong resume.
Surely God smiled at him. Surely he was considered a faithful servant.
But God had more for Ed to teach us.
In 2001 Ed was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The nerves that control the muscles in his body are slowly dying.
As you can imagine, when nerves die, muscles stop working. When muscles stop working, walking becomes difficult. Using hands is nearly impossible. Breathing is challenged.
Ed is slowly being trapped in his own body. You can see the prison walls slowly forming around him as he walks across the stage. You can feel his frustration as he tried to make his fingers do what fingers are made to only to have them point in the wrong direction. You can hear the sound of tired, weak muscles as he speaks.
Ten years ago he was told he might live 5 more. Undaunted, Ed keeps doing. He keeps being Ed. He keeps working and ministering and telling others about Jesus. And although his body is becoming weaker, his message is stronger.
Actually, Ed might be more like the Ed God made him to be than he was before he became sick. Before his muscles started fasciculation with spasms. He certainly seems more in love with Jesus.
The prison walls seem to have formed around every aspect of his body, except his mind and his heart.
I don’t know much about Ed, but he shared with us part of his story. It seems that he used to spend time and energy arguing with those that he disagreed with. He had an opinion and he felt it was right and he felt that his job was to be heard.
So he argued. He wrote. He argued more. He advanced his cause. Even when others got in the way.
But when faced with an incurable disease that will eventually take your life, everything changes. And on Thursday Ed told us something that we all ned to learn.
What is really important in this life is not being right. It is not being well known. It is not having a platform. What matters is people. Relationships.
So Ed made a list. He decided to apologize to everyone he had hurt before his death. Ed chose reconciliation. Despite the prison that his body is becoming, Ed found freedom for his soul through love.
Do you need to make an apology list? Do you know anyone who has learned hard lessons through a chronic illness? Join the conversation here.
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