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On the Way: The One Who Came Back

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 

--Luke 17:15

Twenty-two years ago, I almost died from blood clots in my lungs. I was just thirty-six. The experience made me rethink some things. It caused me to re-evaluate my values and ask myself what was truly important. It also hammered home the fact that I was mortal. So, I made some adjustments to my life including exercising more, eating better, and not wasting time on things that really aren’t that important. But, little by little, I slipped back into business as usual. Oh, my brush with death was still there in the back of my mind, but it no longer consciously informed my day to day life. Then, two weeks ago, the blood clots were back. Fortunately, we caught them early this time so the result wasn’t nearly so bad… but it was a wake-up call nonetheless. As my doctor said (in a moment when his bedside manner lapsed a bit), “You know, blood clots are one of the leading causes of sudden death.” To which I replied with a sullen, “Yeah, I know.”

Today, I am grateful. I praise God that I listened to the gnawing feeling that I really needed to go to urgent care to get my shortness of breath checked out. I praise God for the PA who didn’t listen to my amateur diagnosis that it was “just allergies” and was thorough in her pursuit of the real cause. I praise God for the nurses who cared for me in the hospital and put up with the bad jokes I used to cover my anxiety. I praise God for all the people who have prayed for me, and encouraged me, and warned me not to “push it” in my recovery. (They know me so well!) Like the first time, I’ve been taking stock of things. Considering what is really important. Thinking about the need to sit less and move more.

There’s a part of me that understands both those who didn’t come back and the one who did in this week’s Gospel lesson. To acknowledge God’s gift of healing can be spontaneous and genuine. It can also well-up in you over time. Sometimes we just take things in stride and go on our way. Sometimes we are grateful at first, but the gratitude fades as the routines of daily life overtake us, and the expected drowns out the happy surprises that come our way. The memory of the miracle can fade fast.

Once again, I pray that I become more and more grateful for the wholeness and healing God gives me every day, even on the not-so-good days. I pray that I am more and more grateful that my all-too-real mortality is not the last word, and yet, appreciate more deeply the moments I have been given. But even more, I pray for gratitude that, for Jesus’s sake, God forgives me even on those days when I am not the one who comes back.


Bishop Mike.

Again, I give thanks for all those who pray for me, support me, and care for me day by day. Who do you praise God for today?

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