In 1815, Johann Maelzel invented the windup metronome. For those not musically inclined, a metronome is a device that helps set pacing for music so musicians can keep regular tempo in songs. Metronomes are used to figure out beats per minute. A metronomic life is a life with a tempo — a life with a set pace.
My wife and I live in metronomic regularity with time broken into quarterly visits to a doctor in Atlanta. My wife will get up at sunrise, go to a hospital, offer up several vials of blood, wait patiently for her turn to pass through a CT machine, then wait to meet with her doctor. While waiting, her doctor and a team of oncology professionals will read her lab work and CT to determine if her cancer is active.
We do this every three months, a slow-paced tick and tock of a metronomic existence waiting for a shoe to drop — waiting for Damocles’s sword to fall.
My wife’s lung cancer is genetic. There is no cure. Her lungs are riddled with very small tumors. There are too many to surgically extract, but they are all 5mm or less. If she received a lung transplant, the news lungs would eventually get the tumors.
Her cancer forms due to a protein her body produces. Doctors have invented a pill that my wife takes daily to keep her body from producing the protein. So long as the protein is not produced, the tumors will not grow. One day her body will find a way around the medicine. Each visit we hope that day has not arrived. Thankfully, it has not yet. As I write this, we wait for today’s news and pray, hope, and assume it will be good news again.
This all has a way of changing your perspective on stuff.
Now, an intermission if you will —
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In 2006, my wife was given six months to live. She was diagnosed with cancer that doctors presumed had spread to her lungs in its final stages. Luckily (actually, providentially), they misdiagnosed her. In 2016, as I was being rushed into a cardiac ICU unit trying very hard not to die from blood clots thrown into my lungs, the Mayo Clinic called my wife. Yes, the very same day that my body was winding down due to clots in my lungs, the Mayo Clinic called to tell my wife they thought she had lung cancer.
Had she not been misdiagnosed in 2006, we would have never known about her actual cancer in 2016. Thankfully, they were able to catch it in time and get her into treatment. Again, providentially, it turned out one of the world’s foremost experts on this type of cancer is a doctor at Emory University in Atlanta, just an hour’s drive from our home. He is now her doctor.
All of this, my health and my wife’s, has changed my perspective on politics. The metronomic regularity of waiting for a shoe to drop has forced me to focus on what really matters. I have a harder time getting worked up about a lot of nonsense that does not really matter. I am more mindful of how often my political beliefs have tried to pollute my faith. I see others who struggle to put their faith into a political box. I see so much of this as fleeting silliness with both sides struggling for permanence on top of shifting, impermanent sand.
The political houses of both parties in this country are built upon the sand. Only the person of faith’s house can be built on a rock, but too many people of faith want to build their houses on the sand too. They want a Heaven on earth or a politician to protect them from spiritual forces in our culture. But nothing is permanent except the slow slide to a final day where the winner has already been determined and what matters is not if you yelled loud enough, passed enough laws, or owned the other side sufficient. What matters is if you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
My faith has made me way more committed to life. My faith has softened my views on immigration. My faith has made me far more willing to speak up against cultural secularism because others cannot. My faith more often puts me in conflict with political worldliness on both sides of the aisle — rejecting tribalism and a willingness to just keep quiet when our side does something wrong.
Faith cannot be silent and it should speak into politics without politics speaking into faith. I do not always get it right and there are plenty of people of faith who do not see eye to eye. This political whirlwind and both my and my wife’s health struggles have taught me the biggest lesson in the political arena — the need for grace towards others with whom I have disagreements.
More and more data shows both political tribes are increasingly insular and lack self-reflection. So perhaps I might overshare and be too self-reflective. It is, I think, a necessary corrective.
Before I get too rambling here — I am not on the radio today because I lack the ability to focus on these days as the metronome flips back towards its next tick — let me close with this. When we stand before God on the Day of Judgment, he is not going to ask us who we voted for. He is going to ask how we advanced His kingdom. We will get to Heaven by faith and we will be judged on how we advanced the kingdom. I fear too many Christians are losing sight of this and are trying to advance politicians and political agendas a/k/a sinners and the agendas of sinners. These Christians take to various politicians and political causes with the zeal of Torquemada overseeing the Inquisition.
Do not tie Christ to a party. Do not bear your cross in the name of a politician. Show grace. Love your neighbor. Remember this too is fleeting. Above all else, do not be discouraged. You see the godless, the pagan, and those who hate the things of Christ thriving. They are successful. They are popular. They are the role models of the world. It is God’s mercy and grace to them. For this is the best they will ever have it and this is the worst you will ever have it. So show grace as God is showing grace. Be in the town square and in politics. But be in both to glorify God, not to advance sinners and their agendas. Be willing to be at odds with those around you for God cares not a bit about your political agenda. He cares that you glorify Him. Whether sharing the burden of cancer or the burden of the church or the burden of culture, God’s got this. All things work for His glory. Be encouraged. Do not be afraid.
You worship a God who holds the universe in the palms of His hands. He brings bread from Heaven and water from rocks and raised you up from the dust of the earth and stitched you together in your mother’s womb. This world ends. He does not and you do not. That matters most.