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Life or something more?

It’s been a long time ago, but I’ll never forget hearing someone say, “Lots of people live their whole lives without knowing what it’s like to be alive.” What is life? 

 I’ll never forget sitting in the waiting room with a family whose husband and father was in surgery getting a new kidney. In the middle of the surgery, he had a heart attack, and the doctor threw the new kidney down on the instrument tray. A nurse picked it up and put it back in the container. 

The next day, they repeated the surgery and successfully transplanted that same kidney. It was over 10 years ago, and I saw him with his family on Facebook last week. Maybe life is a kidney, and a nurse who saved the kidney?

I’ll never forget sitting down with a family and the doctor talking about whether their husband and son-in-law was dead or not. He was on life support, and we talked about shutting the machines down… or not? In his case, the machine was life?

My mom spent almost 10 years in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Was that life? In her case, either she’d lost her memory or couldn’t access it. Either way, she was lost to us, but was that life?

And from John 10:10, “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”

So what is life? The dictionary says life is “the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.” Did that really say you’re alive unless you’re not?

And then I remembered from my days in biology that life includes five things: respiration, circulation, metabolism, growth and reproduction. But that’s only life; John 10:10 talks about the fullness of life or life+. So, what’s the plus? 

My mom is a prime example. She had all the dictionary signs of life but not the plus. 

I went to the nursing home to visit a woman who didn’t know me, who didn’t have any idea who I was. She was alive, but without the life that made her my mom.

During Advent (the four weeks leading up to Christmas), we’ve been talking about hope and faith and love and joy and peace and light — life+, and it’s beyond biology and outside the scientific realm. 

So, Mary Ella and I would like to wish all of you a very holy and merry Christmas and a very happy and thoughtful New Year! And we pray that 2020 is the year you find life+.