I felt it Saturday morning.
Something was happening in my upper respiratory system, and it wasn’t something good. My voice sounded a little more resonant than usual. I had a scratchy throat. And so, clearly a cold was on the way.
But getting sick on Saturday is not an option, not for me. I had a sermon to preach, one that I was looking forward to preaching, one that I was genuinely excited about, as a matter of fact.
So, I did what I usually do. I powered through. A little Tylenol, a little decongestant (the non-drowsy kind), and I figured I was good to go. So, Sunday came and went, and I thought I had dodged a bullet (I don’t like that expression much, but it sort of fits).
Then, I woke up Wednesday morning, and I realized I hadn’t dodged anything. The bug suddenly had the upper hand, and I was busy cancelling appointments for the day. I reluctantly called my family practice doctor, who prescribed an anti-biotic, and I had no choice but to give in and – I can’t believe this – take a nap.
My grandparents took naps, for heaven’s sake! And they were really old.
Spiritually speaking, this little encounter with a flu bug has significance for me, beyond the need to take care of myself. Getting sick is often a reminder to me that I am, after all, a mere mortal, which is a simple truth I am tempted to forget.
It’s like the smear of ashes on my forehead at the Ash Wednesday service – and then the words “dust you are, Doug, and to dust you shall return.”
I don’t like that reminder because I like to think of myself as big and strong and, yes, very nearly invincible. Illness is what happens to other people.
Then a little bug comes along – one that’s not even visible to the naked eye – and it lays me out. And in that moment I realize (once again) that “I belong – body and soul, in life and in death – not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ…” (one of my favorite lines from the Heidelberg Catechism).
And this is where I’m supposed to comment on how thankful I am for this much-needed reminder…but I’m not quite there yet.