May 3, 2015 at 2:58 am

IMG_0706-30Last night I spent a sleepless night in a mediocre motel. The parking lot outside was full of fishing boats and the rooms were equally packed with their owners. My meals throughout the day consisted of trail-bars and energy drinks as I slogged my way through fours hours of midday traffic in order to attend a meeting full of minutiae. My wife and three boys were at home and my phone was buzzing frequently with reports of all manner of poor behavior that had been unleashed in my absence. My constant companions were a series of faithful podcasts that often travel with me around the globe, and yet yesterday even they too seemed to be filled only with stories of tragedy, racism, war and injustice. I tried spending time in silence but within minutes I instinctively reached for the radio dial. I didn’t want to think.

As I readied for bed just after midnight I made an attempt to read but my mind wouldn’t stay focused. I tried silence again but the patrons indulging in a late night smoke outside my door insisted that I hear their conversation at a particularly high decibel. When I did finally drift off the empty space next to me in bed kept me turing throughout the evening, eventually waking me at 4, then 6, and then 7 when I finally turned on the morning news only to be greeted by scenes of Baltimore, Nepal and Nigeria flashing across the screen. I tried silence again, but the confines of a mediocre motel room are far less conducive to reflection than one might imagine. 

So tonight I am in another bed in a house that is not my own. It is the home of two faithful supporters of the missionary work I am engaged in who have invited me to come and speak at their church in the hopes that my stories of our global God might rouse some from their slumber. But I am not feeling inspiring. I am feeling homesick and internally I am having a private pity party for myself. I am longing for my own house, my wife, my children, and my bed. I am tired of driving and I am tired of flying. I am tired of preaching and I am tired of eating at airports and gas stations. And I am tired of…

“I was just in Houston for a couple weeks doing some trials,” my host told me, his voice finally breaking through my internal grumbling.

“Trials for what” I asked.

“My cancer. It is stage four; I am riddled with tumors. They are in my hips, my lung, my spine, my ribs and behind my eye.”  

“I didn’t know. What is the prognosis?”

“The tumors are growing at an intermediate rate, so it could be a couple years, it could be five, it could be eight or even ten. They really don’t know.”

 Then we went outside and his wife served us generous portions of sugar-cream pie and banana bread. We watched hummingbirds at the feeder and they told me how they first met and about their children and grandchildren and the fact that they had just celebrated thirty-five years of marriage. It was an anniversary that they marked rather simply, just passing the day in each others company. No dinner out, no expensive trip, not even a special meal at home. Just sitting with each other was enough they told me “because every year is a gift now.”