Confession: I have a Sharpie problem. An addiction, if you will. There is at least one in nearly every room of my home. Fat ones, skinny ones, and in a myriad of colors. I use at least one daily. For those of you who don’t know what a Sharpie is (how could that be?), a Sharpie is an iconic permanent marker – the first ever of its kind to write on almost any surface. I use them for everything – they are versatile little miracles. A household name… well, at least it is in my household!
I remember the day – the actual moment – that I felt completely justified with my obsession.
November 4, 2011. In the “space-agey” nuclear medicine surgical room at the hospital. It felt as though I was in a futuristic, time-travel movie. Surrounded by huge, odd looking machines and monitors, the nuclear surgeon began the process to find the lymph nodes that the cancer would have invaded.
He injected the radioactive dye into the tumor on my leg (ouch!) and I watched on the monitor as the dye slowly traveled up to my hip. These huge machines were humming and buzzing, and at least ten monitors showed different angles and flow patterns. It was one of those life moments that I wanted to be anywhere else but there, yet it was at the same time oddly fascinating and enthralling.
He then held up a scanning device (that looks exactly like the handheld scanner at Target), and ran it over my hip. The scanner was able to detect the dye, and as it located the exact affected nodes, it beeped and the light turned purple. So weird. And very cool.
And then it happened. He reached into his pocket and said: “Here we are, in a room full of hundreds of millions of dollars of state of the art technology designed to heal you, and it all comes back to a Sharpie.” And with that, he pulled out a fine-point purple Sharpie marker and made an “x” on my hip to denote where the surgical oncologist should make the incision.
See, I knew it! Sharpies are miraculous!
There are several things I could point out about that moment. I could emphasize that God loves us so much (and cares about every detail so much) that He sent me an unexpected and familiar item to bring me joy in the scariest moment of my life in that cold, sterile nuclear lab. Which He did. Or I could make a (cheesy) analogy to Jesus being like the indelible ink in a Sharpie. Which He is. But I won’t do that.
Instead, let’s think about our daily surroundings for a moment. We live in a world full of state-of-the-art technological advancements. They are everywhere.
In our homes and cars and offices there are laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Large screen TV’s. Satellite Radio. Social media. And in many of our churches, elaborate light shows and stage effects and sound systems and projection screens. Now think about what my surgeon said again: “Here we are, in a room full of hundreds of millions of dollars of state of the art technology designed to heal you, and it all comes back to a Sharpie.”
Technology is not an inherently “bad” thing. I think we can all agree that much good has come from the technological age. And I mean, come on – technology is fascinating and cool! But it’s also true that despite the modern advances surrounding us at any point now or in the future, there will always be a gap that the most costly or miraculous technology will never be able to fill. A point at which we must turn off the machines and revert to what is timeless. Even if only for a moment. A time to turn back to what is tried and true… and proven. The moment when “it all comes back to a Sharpie”.
Sitting across the table from a friend instead of a text conversation.
Calling a friend or family member instead of clicking a “like” button.
Offering my presence instead of a Facebook comment.
Sending a handwritten card instead of a text.
Being outside in the sunshine and feeling the wind.
Walking in the rain.
Acapella praise and worship.
Prayer in a quiet place.
Spending time alone with the One who truly heals.
So my friends, I encourage you to think on this. What is your Sharpie? Have you forgotten to turn off the machines and devices and to be present – truly present – in your relationships with family, friends, and with God?