Most of us have insurance policies. Auto, home, health, life, flood are just a few of the policies we purchase for financial protection against accidents, natural disasters. illness, or untimely death. My husband John and I have paid insurance premiums for the entirety of our 40 years together. Most of those years, we had no reason to file a claim. At times I wondered about all the money we spent on insurance, and I imagine you have to. In the summer of 2010 however, we were reminded of why.
One morning we awoke to find out that our roof had leaked in two separate areas of our home. After a particularly nasty storm during the night, we were dismayed to find a huge bubble of water ready to burst in the ceiling of our bathroom. Water was also leaking down the wall in our sun room. We knew what it meant; a new roof.
At the suggestion of a friend, John called and reported the damage to our insurance company. They sent an adjuster. To our relief, our home owners' policy paid for a good part of the new roof. It was easy to remember on that day why we had been paying for our policy all those years. Insurance gave us peace of mind and was there to help us when our natural disaster came.
At five o'clock on a September Monday morning, John and I sat in the emergency room. John was experiencing a great deal of abdominal pain. The emergency room physician ordered a CAT scan. We were shocked when he returned with the results: The test showed something on the pancreas....perhaps a tumor, perhaps not. John was diagnosed with pacreatitus and was hospitalized for three days. The doctor referred us to specialists in Columbus, who would do an endoscopic ultrasound to determine if that spot was a tumor or pancreatic scarring or something else. To our dismay we learned that we had to wait a full six weeks from the onset of his pancreatitus attack before the test would give an accurate result. Six weeks was a vey long time to wait to hear whether or not John had cancer. (Let me tell you now that it was NOT cancer, nor was there any sign of chronic pancreatitus. In December, his gallbladder was removed in hopes of preventing another attack, and so far so good).
As I look back on that time - the surprise report in emergency, the long wait, the uncertainty about the future - I am extremely grateful that God is a part of my life. Though I admit to some anxious moments, to looking up pancreatic cancer and pancreatitus on the web, and to a considerable amount of worry, John and I also experienced a great deal of peace during that time. Throughout it I kept thinking: "Though we don't know what the future holds, we know this; God will be there with us. If it is cancer, God will help us day by day. If it is pancreatitus God will help us deal with it. If it is something else, we will rejoice and God will be there too." I am in awe at how God kept us calm through that time, and am very, very grateful.
As we spend time with God, our relationship with God grows stronger, not to mention more comfortable. Through prayer, worship, study, small groups, and other activities, we come to know and depend on God in our daily lives. It strikes me that this is "sort of" like an insurance policy. When we have invested time in a relationship with God, and experienced God's love and faithfulness day by day, then when difficult things happen in our lives, it is easier, more natural to turn to God for the support, peace, and strength we need. We invest time with God in the good times, and when hard times come, we readily realize God's help.
Not that God isn't there to help everyone at every time whether or not we've "paid our premiums". God is always there for those who call upon him. However, if we have invested in our relationship with God, if we have experienced God's grace in the good times, it is easier to turn to God and trust him in the difficult times. Investing time with God is the best insurance we can have, not only for the life-to -come, but also for the here and now. Unlike home owner's insurance, God insurance doesn't just help us when disaster strikes, but day by day by day.
As we begin this new year, may we all consider how we will invest our lives with God.
Pastor Diann O'Bryant is the minister of Gilman United Methodist Church, 312 Gilman St., Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Christy Hudson at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.