It was the day of my long-awaited hip replacement, as I had limped my way through the previous two years there was a sense of anticipation as Maria and I sat patiently for my name to be called.

It was early in the morning, I was hungry as I was nil by mouth and the chewing gum I chewed with a metronomic frequency to freshen my mouth was doing nothing to satisfy my hunger. I did not get much sleep during the night and the ward was stuffy and warm. I drifted somewhere between wakefulness and sleep. My mind drifted into the past two years pondering the lessons learned through this experience. 

During the last two years I would frequently train my mind and heart to remember that in all things God works(Romans 8:28) and His grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I discovered in the midst of my pain and frustration that God gave me an opportunity to experience His grace at a deeper level. When life is comfortable often we forget the goodness and comfort of God but in times of prolonged pain and challenge we are reminded that the only true and lasting comfort in this life is found in God Himself.

Reminiscently I recalled how capable and physically strong a person I was, with an eager desire to challenge myself to explore the limits of personal endurance in every aspect of life. However, I now have to concede that as the big 60 is no longer on the horizon but insistently knocking at my front door, I can’t do the things I did when I was younger and my physical body deserves my care and attention. Maybe it is time to adjust my expectations.

Suddenly I was conscious that I was not alone as Maria tenderly took me by the hand. “Are you ok?” she lovingly enquired, her concern was etched across her face. 

Another lesson I have learned over the past two years is that when one member suffers we all suffer. How easy it is to individualise the challenge and not be aware of how others might be impacted also. This is amplified due to the fact that we are so organically linked to our church family. The weight of this has been lost on me as I have selfishly limped around our church building doing things that I was not physically capable of doing adopting a stoic approach to my pain. When one member suffers, we all suffer. 

“Mark we are ready for you now, do you want to come through”, “See you on the other side” Maria said as she lovingly and reassuring kissed me, “See you on the other side” I replied………. (to be continued)