Authors have many reasons for writing books associated with their life story. It could be the lure of fame, to earn more income, to get their message out, to change the world in some way or some or all of the above.
But Kevin Wells, author of the 2011 Servant Books’ Burst: A Story of God’s Grace When Life Falls Apart, wrote because “I was bored to death,” as he recovered from a life-threatening medical condition.
Burst tells the story of the former sports journalist and father of three who had to deal with infertility issues as he and his wife sought to build a family, an adoption scam and the sudden death of his best friend and beloved uncle, Msgr. Thomas “Tommy” Wells, all before a vine of vessels in his brain burst one ordinary evening.
“I was recovering from brain surgery and I had nothing to do for four months. I was lying on my back. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t do much of anything. I had horrible, horrible headaches from morning to night as aftershocks from the brain surgery. All normal stuff, I was told,” Wells said.
But, looking at “the industrial white ceiling” and not being able “get out of bed,” he kept thinking about “why these pains, why these crosses that had happened.”
And, yet, Wells thoughts did not go where many of our thoughts might have gone–of a modern-day Job watching the world coming crashing down around us without reason, leaving a sense of feeling sorry for ourselves, angry at others and life in general.
For Wells, born into an Irish-Catholic family that he credits with impressing upon him the importance of prayer and of Christ as a loving God and source of peace, the cross comes to all and, in fact, becomes the means of connecting closer to God.
“It was a whole lot of hell, a whole lot of pain, but what I learned in the aftermath of the harder-hitting, more acute, more longer-lasting pain that has sort of come my way is that very often I really feel that, because God does not have a megaphone very often, he allows–he doesn’t inject, but I believe he allows–some pain into my life in order to bring me into closer unity,” Wells said.
God, he added, “sees a part of me slumbering or sleeping or missing him, just missing him. And he says, “Hey, Kevin, look, you’re broken right now, you’re on the floor right now, but you’re not getting it, this is one point where you’re just not getting it. Come to me and I will help heal you.”
Wells sees himself as a man’s man, a contractor in a family of contractors “with dirt under their finger nails,” from whom he learned “you don’t complain, you get through it.”
But through tragedy–“when the cross comes down, when the hammer comes down”–he’s learned that he could “become embittered” and “pull away from Christ’s outstretched arms,” or “pick up your cross,” trust in and surrender to God “not where I want to go,” but where God wanted to take him.
But what about those times when we aren’t dealing with tragedy?
While noting that “what I say in my book and what I believe firmly in my book is that God is right there aside us throughout all of our suffering whatever it is,” Wells stresses that “our biggest sufferings are the unremitting pin pricks of life” that occur every day of the gossiping coworker, of the cold, unresponsive neighbor, the newspaper carrier who throws the paper in a puddle, of the sump pump that breaks.
All of these, he said, are “invitations from Jesus” to not complain or lash out to our spouse, children, friends or family members.
“We’re all going to have our huge sufferings,” he said. “No one escapes. Those are the little things that help us get closer to God.”
Featuerd photo by markuso. Photo of Kevin Wells by Mark Lombard.