It has taken me awhile to reflect on some of the stuff that has happened to us the past few months, particularly the months of May, June, and part of July and the circumstances surrounding our son, Ty, and an infection that we spent a significant amount of our summer battling.

You see, Ty is 6. Ty is a boy. Ty is a daredevil. And on April 30, Ty thought it was a great idea to jump out of a swing. Now we will never know if the jump and subsequent landing on his knee is what precipitated the following saga, but it is at minimum what God used to keep our eyes open to what was happening to Ty. Two days later, he told me his knee hurt a little. I thought there was a little fluid on it, but not bad, so just kept watching it. By the middle of the week, he was complaining a bit more, and it was swelling so we visited the doctor who said everything looked good – no breaks or tears that he could tell – give it some time. By Friday, he couldn’t walk on it. By Monday, we couldn’t move him without eliciting a bout of screaming from pain, not to mention a very high fever. By that night, he and I were beginning a week-long “vacation” at Children’s Hospital. It wasn’t until Wednesday’s MRI did we discover the problem. An infection that was in the center of his kneecap. And by in the center I mean inside. Like his kneecap is a jelly doughnut and the infection is the jelly part. I then had two questions: 1) how did it get there and 2) how do we get it out. The answer to the first was a resounding “we don’t know,” but it was likely an injury to the kneecap (possibly from swing jumping), that got the blood pumping to go fix the injury and the bacteria that we all have hanging out in our bodies took a ride to that spot and set up shop. The answer to the second question was surgery and a ton of antibiotics. They actually had to go in and wash out the infection through surgery and then to kill any they missed and keep it from coming back he had to take some high-powered IV and oral meds for the next several weeks.

In the midst of the crisis, in my sleep-deprived and protective mother bear state of mind, I couldn’t even ask God what I might be able to take away from the experience. And once things started to get back to normal, it didn’t occur to me to ask. But this week, the Lord has really impressed upon my heart some ideas that I am thinking about.

  • Infections don’t start as big, bad, raging issues that we can see. They start small and unnoticeable. Whether this be a derogatory comment made about a person, a complaining conversation about how the church is doing something in a way we don’t like, a glimpse of something we shouldn’t be viewing, or a taste of something we’ve never tried before.
  • Infections grow. Quickly. I’m sure we can all remember the game of telephone where one person whispers something to the next person and on down the line. Good or bad, right or wrong, that piece of information gets passed on and on and on and before you know it, it is completely out of control. This is true with infections in our lives and in our churches, before we know it, they are out of control.
  • Infections need to be stopped and cleared up. Sometimes a little antibiotic will take care of it. Other times surgery is needed to clean the infection out and after the surgery even more antibiotic support is needed. The same is true with infections in our lives. If gossip is our infection, maybe we just need someone to hold us accountable and help us learn how to seal our lips. But if we continue to gossip because of the people we choose to spend time with, perhaps a little surgery is needed and we need to take ourselves out of that situation for a time. The same goes for the church. Infections need to be stopped and cleaned out as soon as they are recognized.
  • If untreated, infections can cost us our lives. The type of infection in Ty’s knee was actually eating away at his bone. We have a friend who had this infection that was eating away at his flesh, and it nearly cost him his life. If infections in our lives go untreated, we risk losing our lives. If they go untreated in our churches, we risk losing our church and losing all the lives that our church could have touched.
  • Infections can be healed. With the proper treatment, Ty was up and playing baseball by the middle of July. Other than the nasty scar on his knee, you’d never know just how sick he was. With God’s help, infections can be cured. We may be like Jacob (whose infection was to want to do things his way and even wrestled with God about it) and walk with a limp when the infection is healed, but we will be stronger and more willing to let God take over where the infection had been.

So take a few minutes (or longer) and think about any areas of your life (or your church) that may be showing signs of infection and consider what type of treatment may be needed in order to bring about healing.

Here is a book I am reading and a book that I will be reading (I got a preview on a few blog sites the other day) that have contributed to my thinking this week.

Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace

Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic