See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 7 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 9 here.
See Part 10 here.
See Part 11 here.
See Part 12 here.
See Part 13 here.
See Part 14 here.
I was about halfway through my work day when I realized I had a text from my sister telling me to call when I can.
I did so, hoping it was good news; it wasn’t.
She told me they were airlifting my mother to Phoenix. She was essentially comatose. We didn’t speak long because she was on her way to the hospital. She asked my brother-in-law to keep me in the loop. I told her I loved her.
After I hung up, I knelt down and prayed.
My thoughts taunted me. She was supposed to be better. The treatment was over. Things were supposed to be looking up.
Honestly, even then I knew how presumptuous the thoughts were.
I may not be perfect. I’m horrifically flawed and shamefully hypocritical more often than not. But I know now the right thing to do at all times: Praise God.
We’re all to happy to pray when we get what we want, and that’s good. But people tend to think of God like some sky-dwelling genie. He isn’t. Our heavenly father is our sovereign Lord. He’s loving, and he gives endlessly, but endlessly doesn’t necessarily denote “without judgment” or, more importantly, “without regard for our well-being.” People lose site of that.
After a few days, I learned some of the details, and I feel like I should share that. Please note, this is a retelling of a retelling, but the essential facts are verified by those who were there.
My family has two dogs. Killian and Lucky. Why two? Well, Killian is a handful, so my parents decided to get a second dog in the hopes that a playmate and sibling would help calm Killian down. That trick did more for my family than calm down an overly-playful dog.
On the day in question, Lucky, who has a habit of standing vigil around my mom, noticed something wasn’t right. He came out and stared down my dad. After a moment, Lucky went back into my mother’s room only to come right back out.
That got my dad’s attention. Because this dog got my dad’s attention, my father found my mom and got her to the hospital. Dad since told me that, had that not happened, it would have been at least an hour before he knew what was going on.
I have an affinity for dogs. That affinity is only stronger after hearing that story.
At that moment though, I didn’t know the details of what happened, and, more importantly, I didn’t know how my mother was.
I spoke with my boss, who so kindly let me go home to track what was happening. I spoke with a few coworkers who’ve been with me from the beginning. If I’m being honest, my coworkers are all acting like a bunch of superheroes during this time. I sent my girlfriend a text letting her know what was going on. Then I went home.
I was numb. I was tired. I couldn’t find the command chaplain before I left, so I was also spiritually drained.
So what do you do when you don’t know what to do? You pray, and you read scripture. I was tempted to try and keep my day normal. I didn’t want to seem to be trying to B.S. God like some scolded child who just wants to look like he learned his lesson, but I knew God would know my heart.
I started by reading the Bible. I’m in Psalms now, and as I read, I found more and more scripture that gave me more and more strength.
Psalm 40:16 “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is Great!'”
Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
Psalm 57:1 “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”
I read like a man dying of thirst handed a river. I must have read 20 chapters (though I confess the Psalm chapters are very short).
My weariness started to take a hold of me. I was hungry, but I didn’t want to stop.
That’s when I jumped on the computer and purchased the streaming version of The Bible T.V. series. I watched that while I ate. I switched back and forth, making sure every moment I could stay awake was centered on reading the scripture, praying, and focusing on God.
Eventually, (and this was still pretty early) I was too tired to do much. I sent my brother-in-law a text letting him know I was going to go to sleep. He’s three hours away from me, so the odds of me getting news at a normal hour were unlikely.
I prayed. I prayed knowing others were praying. I don’t think I know how many prayed for us that night. I hope more of you pray for us.
I read even more of the Bible, highlighting verses that gave me courage and hope. Then I closed my eyes.
Less than 20 minutes after I told my brother I was resting, I got a text back.
“Holding pattern for now,” he said.
My mom had been having some difficulties on occasion. We weren’t quite sure what was happening, but we knew steroids were helping. When she was on them, she was more lucid and easier to understand. When they took her off them or tried to cut down the dosage, she’d take a turn for the worse.
If any of you are wondering the obvious question, I was too, but I’m not a doctor, and I don’t have enough information to explain anything. But I wondered. I felt anger, but I also felt joy because as soon as they started giving her the medication, she started regaining mobility and coming out of that terrifying state.
It was a night of prayer and Bible study. God’s grace allowed us to regain a bit of footing. The doctors decided to do my mother’s all important MRI one day sooner.
I was honestly overjoyed. I went to work the next day talking bout how it worked out, and it did.
But the MRI would deal another blow.
Questions and Revelations
Why those verses?
I’m still not sure how much I read and highlighted. It felt like more than I showed you, and it gave me a chance to share some of those verses on my other social media platforms. Those are just the ones I found in the neighborhood I knew to look. When I started this journey, before this tragedy began, I was reading about a chapter a night. That amount has increased dramatically.
In just the last segment I explained how much reading the Bible helps, and it does. It gives comfort. It gives courage. It reminds me that everything will work out. It might not work out the way I wanted, but it will work out for our ultimate good.
Did it all work out?
The only honest answer I can give is I don’t know. I’ll talk about the fallout from that MRI in the next segment. I felt this moment was the right moment to end on because I felt like I was on a high that whole day. To help readers better understand that moment and those that followed, I feel it’s best to relay them as I experienced them.
Why this turn in my mom’s health?
I don’t and can’t pretend to know God’s will or his plan. I have my feelings on the matter, but I’m trusting my heart in combination with the scripture and some discussion with my religious mentors (so to speak).
I do feel it was a chance for me to display my faith. When we suffer, when we’re tempted, or when we’re in pain, we demonstrate our faith and trust in God by enduring and praising him. It’s not the same as not feeling sad. I was so stunned I went to autopilot, but I’m immensely proud of what that automatic function did. I didn’t turn to sin. I did consider working like it was any other day, but it felt right putting all of my focus on God.
I’m still asking myself if that shouldn’t be how I handle every day. There’s a distinction between “living for God” and “reading or watching the Bible all day.” Don’t get me wrong! Reading the Bible all day is a fantastic use of a day. But all my study of the Bible makes it clear that, while we’re supposed to live a life to glorify God, that doesn’t mean we should hold up in the house and just read chapter after chapter. We have things to do! God has a plan and directions for us all. The most important of which is to testify. Hence this testimony.
If we’re following the basic tenets of God’s will as established in scripture (which I’ll explain in due time), his larger or more detailed plan will become more clear to us. At this moment, I’m leading toward this thought: Live for God. Make sure everything you do is done to glorify him. Again, as a saved Christian trying to live as I should, my life should change to model myself as closely to Jesus as is humanly possible. What I do, the minutia of it, is less important if I’m doing it for God. One should fill his spirit with scripture. One should do much more than that as well. At that moment, I was spiritually drained, so I opted to fill my spirit back up with the scripture. I stabbed my Sword of the Spirt into my doubt and fear and watched as it eliminated those targets, at least for a day.
If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog. I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.
Thanks for reading