I was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes (the type you’re supposed to get as a child) two years ago at age 27. What can I say? Guess I’m a late-bloomer.
As I’ve struggled to deal with the frustrations and life-change associated with this chronic illness, I’ve noticed a striking similarity between dealing with diabetes and confronting one’s struggle with sin.
Diabetes takes over slowly; I didn’t just wake up suddenly and realize I was sick. Rather, as my pancreas shut down, I began to gradually lose weight as my body lost its ability to process sugar and began to dehydrate. I noticed the weight loss and began to sense that something was wrong as I made increasingly frequent trips to the restroom. I’d generally been a healthy person, so I couldn’t imagine that I was actually sick. "I’ll get over this," I thought. "Perhaps I’m just working really hard or adjusting to something." At times, after consuming large quantities of sugar I’d come close to blacking out. "That’s odd," I thought, but denied the possibility that I might be dying.
Eventually I sought a doctor’s advice after losing 17 pounds and my ability to sit through a cup of coffee with a friend. Managing a life-threatening condition can become a challenge, even if you won’t acknowledge it’s a problem.
My overnight stay in the hospital brought my real condition to light. A typical healthy person’s blood sugar contains roughly 120 milligrams of glucose per deciliter; my reading was 1200. Plugged into IV drips to lower my sky-high blood sugar and re-hydrate my weakened body, I experienced a painful reentry to healthy life.
Our struggle with sin is similar. Romans 1 chronicles mankind’s ever-deepening immersion into sin. Seen from the outside, the reader screams: "Wake up! Don’t you see you’re dying?" Inside, however, it’s a different experience. We sinners don’t typically understand the dire urgency of our situation. We may encounter some of the setbacks associated with our lost-in-sin life (broken relationships, frustrating consequences of lifestyle choices), but when it’s the norm, what’s to compare? It’s only when we step toward the light and recognize the darkness within that we can really begin to understand how lost we’ve been (John 3:20-21).
I left the hospital with some new life companions: insulin syringes and my glucose meter accompany me everywhere and help me keep blood glucose where it should be. This new discipleship hasn’t been easy; near-daily I wish for the days before I knew about this problem. However, given the options, I’ve found life in place of what was killing me. As I continue to walk this path I’m reminded of Jesus’ words: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." While it doesn’t always seem as such, I know there’s no going back now. In the words of the disciples: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." Lord, lead me as I daily submit myself to your leading, shaping, life-saving change.
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