The beast, a wretched foe, goes for the throat, seeking to strangle its victim. Last Monday it crept into my bedroom, pounced on me, fastened its claws on my throat, and we began a five hour murderous battle. Visions of Beowulf and Grendel’s gladiatorial wrestling match occupied my mind. I denied it victory several times. Weary, I entertained the possibility of defeat. Then, as if spooked, the Mucus Monster released its grip and fled. As it left I heard the slimy murderer hiss, “I shall return.”
Mucus (phlegm) is constantly swallowed by the average person. Due to ALS my swallowing is minimal and my ability to cough and clear my throat is practically nil. So, the mucus builds and lodges in my air passage (I have dubbed this — The Mucus Monster). The effort to clear this and breathe is traumatic. It is a real battle.
During the five hour struggle my brain was still functioning well. A comforting thought kept going through my mind: “I am only gasping for air! I am only gasping for air! The important issues of life are settled.”
I reminded myself I wasn’t gasping for truth — “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
I reminded myself I wasn’t gasping for love — “This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son [Jesus] as an atoning sacrifice.”
I reminded myself I wasn’t gasping for peace — “Peace I [Jesus] leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
I reminded myself I wasn’t gasping for salvation — “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name [Jesus] under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
You see the controlling idea here? It is Jesus Christ.
Without Him, everything collapses. With Him, everything holds together.
After the Mucus Monster left, this Christmas hymn flooded into my spirit — “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.” Notice the last two lines of the first verse:
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
This “Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart” is better than air in my lungs. His real birth, His real death, His real resurrection, and His real return provide answers to mankind’s questions, solutions to mankind’s problems, and joys for mankind’s longings.
I can’t fathom a more treasured thought to grasp this Christmas. While there is air in our lungs, let us hold onto Him who is better than air.
Merry Christmas ‘til my last breath, John