At age 46 I had a big blind spot, and a hearing problem. You see, I focused on me, on my next personal goal. I never even saw sick or hurting people. They were not blips on my radar screen; they were invisible. I ran right by them to get to my next goal.
For years, God had been nudging me to slow down, but I didn't listen. I didn't hear the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit continually saying, "Be still, Greg. Be still." Instead, I kept going. I was determined to execute plans to accomplish stuff for God — at work, church, and beyond. Long story short, I embraced the performing way of the world.
Ann Voskamp, author of The Broken Way, puts it this way: "The performing way of the world is about impressing people, about creating your own parade of accomplishments." If I'm completely sincere, I wanted both. I wanted others to see me as an accomplished professional and a godly leader. As a result, I got neither. Time and time again, God sent me warning flares to slow down. However, without something forcing me to stop completely, I couldn't shift into a lower gear. I was addicted to accomplishment. I didn't have a lower gear.
So, God yanked my feet out from under me — ASICS® running shoes and all. Trust me; cancer is one heck of a speed bump. Cancer didn't merely slow me down; it stopped me cold. My butt is now planted in a chemo infusion chair every other week and will be for the rest of my life. After getting a large dose of toxic drugs, I spend at least three days just trying to recoup from the chemical beating.
Due to neuropathy, a side effect of chemo, I can no longer feel the bottoms of my feet. Combine that with cancer that has metastasized to my lungs, giving me a persistent cough, and I can't run anywhere, except to the bathroom.
But, man, has cancer improved my vision and hearing. I now see sick and hurting people. And the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit? Well, let's just say the deaf now hear. I have cancer to thank for that healing.
For the past five years, I've been hanging around people with problems. They are fascinating individuals. Before my diagnosis, I would have viewed them as frustrating interruptions, at best. At worst, I would have completely ignored them. I've met people wrestling with all forms of cancer, heart issues, and alcoholism, as well as a convict and a lung transplant recipient, just to name a few.
If my life hadn't been interrupted by a life-threatening illness, I would have never made the discovery that we find life when we give, not get. And I don't mean stuff. I mean ourselves — our time. When I finally made this discovery, I reflected on Jesus, his life, and how often people interrupted him. Those many interruptions allowed Jesus the opportunity to model what being his hands and feet looks like.
Jesus' mother, Mary, interrupted him at a wedding and asked him to solve a wine shortage. A royal guy from Capernaum, whose son was gravely ill, interrupted Jesus and requested a miraculous healing. An invalid in Bethesda interrupted Jesus about a dip in the pool.
These are just the interruptions covered in the first four chapters of the Gospel of John. The list goes on and on.
Why was Jesus so open to interruptions? Why wasn't he more driven, like me, to accomplish goals? (After all, he was working under a rather tight time deadline.) The answer is quite simple. When people are sick, wounded, or needy, they are most open to conversations about faith. They slow down enough to make eye contact with God.