Monday, September 30, 2013

the gospel according to julie's third kidney

This is something I've been kicking around in my head for months now. As with any physical-world metaphor of spiritual-world happenings, it falls short—there are many things about dialysis and transplantation that do not parallel salvation. But while the pitch of the story may be off-key, it hums along with the tune of redemption.

Julie had a condition which would end in death. Externally, this was hard to tell. Even for her, it was frequently hard to believe that anything was seriously wrong inside. It would have been easy to continue to ignore the signs and symptoms since they weren't present all the time. But the simple fact was this: Julie was sick and wasn't getting better.

She tried being good. Per doctors' instructions, she "avoided" foods high in sodium; she "avoided" foods high in cholesterol. She "cut back" on protein consumption in general. Sure—she wasn't always consistent, but nobody's perfect. Besides, it didn't seem that to err in her food choices really changed things one way or another. And in a real sense, it didn't. At best, good dietary choices made her feel a little bit better as the inevitable came.

And then the inevitable suddenly got very visible, and no one could deny that Julie needed some kind of external help. And thus, she started dialysis along with a strict, measurable diet. She was given knowledge of all the things that she could no longer eat or do. There were even ways she had done things wrong that she hadn't been previously aware of. Dialysis took a lot of time and had to be done daily or else Julie's health would fail. It was a painful, forceful way of cleaning her, but it was the only way.

Julie didn't get better; she got worse. Dialysis, rather than taking the place of a healthy kidney, revealed just how unhealthy Julie was.

But Amy, moved with compassion, gave Julie one of her own kidneys at great cost to herself. We never saw it coming. We certainly hadn't earned it. In fact, there is literally (and legally) nothing you can do to merit a kidney. It must be given freely, without obligation, and without compensation.

The kidney does what dialysis could not—it purifies the inside of the body independently, continuously, thoroughly, and invisibly. Julie had a condition that would end in death, but now has a transplant that gives life.

And here's the unexpected part: though it seems like it, this isn't a story about Julie. It's a story about Amy. It would be wrong to say that Julie had received a transplant because her awesomeness demanded it. It would be wrong for Julie to be crushed by guilt at the magnitude of the gift which outweighs any merit. It would be wrong to invent a repayment system. It would be wrong to merely celebrate the gift itself. All this draws attention away from the giver. Amy's gift of life is a reflection of who she is, not who Julie is.

A relationship naturally comes out of that, and it isn't out of obligation.

That's the gospel.

1 comment:

  1. Amen. And Amy is a wonderful testimony of the love God intended us to have for each other, and of the results of listening to and following Gods voice when He speaks. I love her "almost" as much for her example of Christ's love for us, as I love her for saving Julie's life! Myra

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