One thing that came home to me in deep ways when I was walking the streets with my incurable cancer diagnosis back in 2010 was the reality that life is but smoke; the wind blows and you can be gone. I don’t want that reality to get buried under the rubble of theological posturing. Far from downing on doing down and dirty academic theological work what I am saying is that the reality of this life can be eclipsed by paper and ink to the point that the reality of people’s lives can go by the way side; the urgency of the Gospel (which theological work is supposed to be cultivating) can be slowed down too much, and people’s lives that need to be affected can be lost sight of.
When you think you are probably going to die, and if you are a Christian during that season, the notes of the Gospel get played with more intensity. And what begins to stand out most prominently are the lives of people; first those you most immediately love (like your spouse, and kids, and other family members and close friends), and then people in general, especially people who you know are hurting too (whatever the circumstance). But you begin to realize what the plight of humanity is, and it really is not pretty. You realize that if you can be diagnosed with a terminal cancer diagnosis (when you’re 35, like I was), then everyone else can too; you just realize that life is fragile. And beyond being concerned with your own situation (like I definitely was!), in moments of clarity (like when I would walk the streets around our house and pray in-between chemo treatments when I had enough strength) you begin to have a deep care for other people. You cry when you hear that someone else has been diagnosed with cancer, or when you hear that someone else is going through something tragic in their life. And you begin to understand that people really are important in God’s kingdom!