By guest columnist and upper school history and theology teacher Joel Grimm
If I could sum up the entire Bible in one cohesive thought, I would do so by saying, God loves you and wants to be near you.
Those words were said to me by my youth pastor when I was in ninth grade and my father was having life-saving surgery to remove a tumor the size of a peach inside his heart. Yes, the size of a peach, and yes, inside his heart.
I will never forget that day. I was going to school on an ordinary day in May, and my father was having surgery. I say ordinary, because to me I was just going to go through the motions like I always did throughout my ninth grade year.
A lot of things happened that year: I played high school soccer for the first time, making the team at J.H. Rose, Hurricane Floyd tore through eastern North Carolina causing us to miss two and a half weeks of school, we had school on a Saturday in the winter because we missed too many days due to said Hurricane and the approximate one and half inches of snow that fell, and finally, my father was diagnosed with cancer.
Lots of big events for a fifteen year old boy, who at this point in my life had finally understood who God was. It took me a while to come to this discovery despite being raised in the church. I remember the day my father came home from the doctor with my mom like it was yesterday.
My parents sat my sister and I down at the kitchen table and told us that our lives were about to change. My mom said, “Your father has cancer.” Cancer—that’s where my mind stuck. I didn’t hear much after that.
I remember my mom having tears in her eyes, my sister crying, and me sitting there repeating the word over and over again in my mind. The man I once immortalized was going to go through one of the biggest hardships a person can face. Cancer is something that a lot of us unfortunately have some sort of relationship with. It is never a good relationship either. Some of you may have heard words similar to that in your own lives. If you have, you can probably take yourself back to that exact moment.
My father had successful surgery on that day in May, and when they removed the tumor and determined what kind of cancer it was, they were able to deduce that that specific cancer originates in your lung or abdomen.
Two weeks later after his first surgery my father had a second surgery to remove around 20 tumors from his small intestines and stomach area. He had a scar from the top of his chest to below his belly button. After his second surgery, I remember him saying that he would, in fact, attend my sister’s high school graduation that was a mere two weeks away at this point. True to his word, he did.
God does love you and does want to be near you. Yes, a very simple saying, but very much a powerful truth. There is another truth that I want you to know: there is nothing that you can do that can make God stop loving you. And another: that I care for you, my students, more than anything else in the entire world. Hopefully, that is another simple truth you can hold on to.
I didn’t go into the field of education and choose to work at a school like Christ Covenant for any old reason. You see, my father also taught me so much about things that matter in life. One teaching was that things don’t just happen for a reason, or simply there is no coincidence, he believed in what he called, “God incidents.” God is the central figure of things that connects the dots of our lives.
My father lived for eleven years without cancer the day he had his second surgery. He fortunately never had to have chemotherapy or radiation. He went back for routine checks and the doctors were amazed by his recovery.
Maybe you are going through something very difficult, maybe you need to hear God loves you and wants to be near you. If you need to hear that or need to know that someone cares, don’t forget that God absolutely does, and so do I. Every now and then we will all go through something and need someone to lean on. Please know that I am here, always.