The past week has been an incredible journey of faith and as I reflect back upon it I can see that God’s fingerprints are all over the events that transpired and it has brought me comfort to see His hand in all that happened, He had a purpose that I am slowly beginning to see.
The phone call Tuesday morning that Mom had had surgery, sent me into shock that this was much more serious than we had initially thought. As I stared dumbly at my husband in the swirl of breakfast and getting our girls off to school, he looked at me and said, “Just go! Your dad shouldn’t be alone now.” I decided to try and get a ticket to Nicaragua; me, who often can’t make a decision in a restaurant, decided in just those few seconds to take an international flight. I called Continental, was told a shocking price and that there was one seat left on the same flight as my Dad’s… God whispered go and fifteen minutes later I was in the car racing to Milwaukee. On the plane ride down in my desperation I felt called to the book of Psalms clinging to the myriad promises of healing, strength, preservation or comfort. I found Psalm 41:1-3
“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect and preserve his life… The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.”
I thought here is my mom who most of what she did was in regard for the poor and this must apply. As I prayed in desperation I began to understand Andrew Murray’s vision of the Lord’s School of Prayer to which I felt I had been suddenly thrust into to take a crash course in what prayer is really all about.
Arriving in Houston we received a call that she was declining, so we prayerfully and tearfully cried out to God to preserve her life and restore her. Again on the plane, I turned to the next 50 Psalms whose comfort and promise of his unfailing love, mercy and strength supported me in the anxious waiting. Tom Ordens, who had been with her when she fell, and Rodney McDonald escorted us to the hospital where we were overwhelmed by the concern of a waiting room full of Nicaraguans as anxious for her recovery as we were. Their hugs, prayers, and comfort strengthened us during the wait to see Mom. At our first glimpse of mom’s unconscious form with her blood stained bandage and criss-crossed tubes, I cried out in despair to God to bring healing and restoration gently touching her feet, fearful of bringing any germ that could compromise her feverish state. The consultation with Dr. Vega was grim as he related her condition. I fear we badgered the poor soul as we grasped for some shreds of hope. Helplessly we tried to understand the CT scans wishing Glenn was here to interpret, thanks to modern technology I was able to call him and he took time out of his busy day to advise. We left the hospital exhausted and in shock in the care of Rodney McDonald who with his wife opened their home to us offering us not only a bed, but food, phones and comfort. I felt like Jacob wrestling with God through the night, desperate for the blessing.
On arriving at the hospital early on Wednesday we were encouraged that her fever was down. Upon visiting her when we spoke to her and touched her legs, her legs and torso moved, it seemed the sign I had begged God for, so we held onto hope. The doctor dismissed it as an involuntary movement. While waiting outside the ICU we realized we were never alone, there were always several friends of Mom’s waiting with us; so many whose lives she had touched. We received phone calls all day from far flung reaches of the country as scores of her friends sent messages of condolences and prayers. We had a consultation with another neurosurgeon who concurred her condition was grave, but not without hope. More CT scans were not encouraging. We passed the day with a continuous stream of Mom’s friends bringing their support and prayers. As we prayed with many of Partners’ members who came to keep vigil with us, we prayed desperately for a miracle, begging God for her healing, trying to believe that God is who he says He is and can do what He says He can do. I spent much of the afternoon in the X-ray department trying to get the CT’s emailed to Glenn so we could have confirmation by someone in the US; was it really as bad as it seemed? Everyone in the hospital went out of their way to be helpful, the Phillips CT software representative even stayed on just to get these huge files sent. Amy arrived mid-afternoon, as heartbroken as Dad and I were. In the late afternoon they conducted an EEG. When Dr. Vega came to bring us the news we could see by his face that the news was not good. When he told us it was flat, the dam burst and we wept inconsolably. Still unable to accept it, we held out hope that it was wrong. In the rawness of our grief a Seventh Day Adventist pastor who somehow knew my Mom, seems everyone down here does, came as an angel of comfort to read scripture with us and lay hands on Mom and pray, bringing the balm that we needed to carry us through.
Again this night we were cared for tenderly by the Lopez’ who graciously opened their home as a shelter in the midst of a storm offering rest, use of their phone and anything we needed no matter the hour. We realized the need to get Mom back to the States enlisting Glenn’s help to arrange the hospital and Brad and Joan Martin’s help who would search through the night for a med-evac service. At midnight we felt we could do no more and fell into a fitful sleep. At 4am Amy and I woke up and turned to each other simultaneously and said we need to get mom home no matter what, so we crept as quietly as we could through the Lopez’ bedroom to the phone to call the med-evac service the Martin’s had found, both debating and disregarding the insurance situation. In a matter of hours with a few calls to mom’s friends at the embassy, a plane was in the air. That was a miracle in itself to get clearance to land so quickly. The medical staff at the hospital sensed our need and was entirely cooperative in the effort. Again we witnessed the faith of our Nicaraguan Friends as they poured out their hearts to God on behalf of my mother. The next few hours were a blur as the team arrived, transported Mom, Dad and I to the airport and onto the plane with the help of the bomberos (firemen who knew and loved Mom). I continued my walk through the Psalms on the tense ride to Milwaukee. With relief we passed the torch we had been carrying to the medical staff at St. Luke’s and knew that we had done all we could and we must wait on God and accept what the outcome would be. As the reality of the situation was dawning on us I thought of John 6 where many of Jesus disciples leave and he asks if they want to leave too? Their response is “to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”. So although it seemed we would not get the miracle we had hoped for, in God’s infinite wisdom, “his ways were higher than ours” and we must trust Him.
This year I had been reading a devotional by Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for his Highest, which often calls us to a hard obedience. Thursday’s reading urged us to a faith like Abraham, who was not devoted to his desire but devoted to God no matter what. Friday’s was even more direct, in Gal 2:20, he urged us to sign the death warrant of our disposition to sin, my claim to my right to myself. Hard words to hear at this time. Was our request rooted in desire for what we wanted or what God wanted? In my prayers was I agreeing with God or demanding what I wanted? Chambers challenges us to keep praying in order to get a perfect understanding of God Himself, I have so much to learn.
I realized that just a week ago at Youth Group I had heard the words of Jesus saying “I tell you the truth unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds … John 12:24 and Mk 8:35 “that who ever would lose his life would save it and whoever would save it for himself would lose it.” It finally was becoming clear to me that Mom had lived her life giving it away. She was a visionary, always looking to what could be done next to help the people of Nicaragua, even the day of her fall she was pursuing a vision. Her incredible generosity and compassion for everyone she met we had witnessed coming back to us in so many ways. Ecclesiastes 11:1 says “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again”. What Mom cast out, has returned and multiplied as evidenced by all the postings on this site. Her life is a testimony of a life well lived.
As I think of what it means to live life well, I found I am now also thinking of what it means to live with the eternal in view. The Hope of Heaven has never been more dear to me. Hebrews 2:14-15 says “Since the children have flesh and blood he(Christ) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” The fear of death, our own or a loved ones, can keep us captive. Having come face to face with death this week I have a much greater understanding of what Christ offers us in John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to life.” In the busy race of life we often overlook the eternal and the promise that Christ made to those who will hear and believe. May you experience the comfort and hope of the promise of heaven.