Many of you know, and some don’t, that my 11-year-old son, Seth, is an insulin dependent diabetic.  He’s been diabetic since he was five.  The day he was diagnosed lives in my memory; he was thirsty, so very thirsty, and I remember the irony of driving him past MacDonald’s to the hospital, suspicious as I was, and having him crying, literally, for a Sprite to drink.  ‘I’m thirsty Papa, can I have a Sprite?  Please, I’m thirsty?’  His blood glucose was over 600.

He has done well.  He is robust, strong and brave.  God is good, and we don’t know what benefit, what blessing, remains dormant in his situation.  I’m confident it will appear when the time is right.  But I know that his disease has made him kind and compassionate.  It has given him an endurance, for needles, finger-sticks, midnight cups of orange juice and all the rest.  In fact, he has more endurance than a host of adults, whose every wound and bruise send them to my emergency department to control their 10/10 pain.  Thousands of finger-sticks, accumulated, can be transformed, via the calculus of a child’s suffering, into a 10/10.  Seth smiles and says, merely, ‘I believe there will be a cure for diabetes soon!’

Today we are at church camp, in the middle of South Carolina.  Seth is here, as are my wife and all of our four children.  It is a place of learning, fun, worship and teen-age girls with blood-curdling screams, cast into the air just for the shear joy of making noise.  It is a good time, a time to rest, eat enormous meals in true Southern Baptist style, and an excellent escape from television and the other assaults of modern electronics.

But as we finished our lunch, I looked down on the floor and saw a test-strip from Seth’s glucometer.  He was already off, Bible in hand, going to a class with his younger brother.  I paused a second to look at that strip; a tiny technological wonder with something so elemental, his blood, staining the end.  It will be swept up, put in the trash, and likely end  its earthly life in a landfill.

So much of his blood is like that.  Scattered around the country, and even around the world, in the places we have traveled.  It is a permanent fixture of his mattress; it has stained his clothes and blankets.  I have born it on my own hands when he moved in his sleep; so has his mother.  His blood, spilled everywhere, a sigh of disease, a sign of healing and hope.

I suppose, as he grows and moves on, I’ll think about that blood wherever I go.  I’ll wonder if a few drops may have been spilled in this hotel or that, this amusement park or that.  I’ll wonder what sheets or rooms, floors or leaves of grass bear the marks of my child and his horrible, hopeful disease.

Blood is like that.  Basic, necessary, powerful, diseased, healing and hopeful.  Sometimes it has to be spilled, in tiny drops or large, for any good to occur.

As I write, I look over my shoulder and see another strip on the floor, its tip maroon from the life-blood of my child.  Here, at camp, a few drops of him will remain.

God speed the day when needles and lancets are obsolete, and no more drops need to be spilled for any reason whatsoever.

And until then, God open our eyes to the power of the blood.

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