As the snowstorm raged across most of this entire country, I was at home alone, wondering and praying for my husband. He was moving through heavy medical tests in snowy Chicago and meeting with specialists to discuss the results of those tests.
What would they tell him?
Would our lives be turned upside down yet again?
I fell to remembering as I was praying. The pages of this mini-memoir that I have been sharing here each first week of the month were written across our lives through tears and laughter. The surrenders were too many to recall. Some of them stand out like beacons, though, reminding me that when God calls us to surrender, He never calls us to face it alone. He is with us each step of the way.
I heard the song playing in my memory. Years ago, I had played it again and again, as I offered my questions to God. How could He ask me to do the very thing I never thought I could face?
Oh, He does ask the impossible–but only so that He can fulfill that impossible surrender for us. God walked with us through valleys then, and I knew that He would carry us through this valley too.
So as our older son listened and graciously drove my husband back through the snowy streets of Chicago to spend the night at his house, my husband called to explain the answers from his appointments that day. It was the result we had feared. The rare heart failure condition, Cardiac Amyloidosis, was already stiffening and enlarging his heart walls. A four year life span was the prognosis, even with treatment. And the original condition of heart valve replacement surgery still needed to be faced. I listened in shock, and yet I wasn’t surprised.
On that day several months ago when his first test showed something irregular, I had written to a few close friends that I felt so overwhelmed. I was ready to give up. Later that day I was ready to give in to temptation and cancel all my own medical appointments and try to “pretend” that somehow I could be strong enough to get through whatever lay ahead.
It was a day of surrender, it was a day of falling. And fall I did, but only into the strong arms of my Savior who was there to catch me. The verse He gave me over these past weeks is the one that I am still clinging to:
Oh, Lord, my times are in your hands.Psalm 31:15 NIV
And then, from across the years, our younger son was given a precious memory from the Lord as he faced his own surrender of his Dad’s diagnosis … It was the late ’90s, and we were traveling as a family while my husband portrayed the Apostle Thomas. We all had the words of the presentation memorized, as my husband had shared that drama over 100 times across the Midwest. It was the memory of Thomas telling about Jesus’ words to His disciples that gripped our son as he prayed:
“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”John 11:4 NIV
Our Lord speaks when we least expect Him to. And, as our daughter and several others have prayed with me recently:
Our God has the final say.
Whatever trial we face, whatever mountain we must climb, whatever surrender He asks of us, HE is the ONE who will fulfill the days of our lives set before us.
As I share this next chapter in Our Story today, my husband is once again back in Chicago, as the Doctors perform an Angioplasty in preparation for heart valve replacement surgery next week. I thank God for such skillful and caring Doctors. But I am even more thankful that I can rest in the final say of my dear Lord and Creator.
Will you pray with me today?
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to you with such full hearts. Thank You for creating us and calling us to Yourself. Thank You for loving us so much that You gave Your only son, to die for us, so that we could live with You forever in eternity. Thank You for the assurance that you have won for us: no matter how long our days on this earth will be, we are destined for so much more, to be with You in Heaven. But thank You for meeting us right here, in the middle of our hardest days, and speaking Your Scriptures into our lives. We need Your help in this weary world where we dwell. The surrenders You ask of us are too hard for us to fulfill on our own. Oh, Glorious Savior, how can we thank You for the grace that You bring to us when You catch us in Your own arms? How can we thank You for the encouragement and hope You speak to us? We praise You for Your Strong Arm that is not too short to ransom us. We love You our dear Lord.
In the name of Your son, Jesus, we pray,
Chapter 2. ~~1981 – 1983~~
If you have missed any of the previous chapters, click here to catch up.
Amazingly, I found jobs open up for me rather quickly, working as a temporary receptionist and accounting clerk. I agonized over surrendering my dreams of staying at home with my child and spent many tear-filled late nights in discussion with my husband. It wasn’t the best time to wean my nursing baby, especially when I spent half of the first day back at work in the restroom. God was finding ways to soften my hardened exterior of having to do things my own way. He was not without mercy in the process though.
I tried to settle into the routine of being dropped off at work, while my husband took our son to the babysitter and went on to school for his classes. On one of those dreary days, someone had left a message with my boss for the new receptionist. He wanted to make sure I knew that my kind voice answering the phone had made his day. My heart began to melt.
And then God mercifully spoke to me during a sermon on obedience. I heard God’s gentle voice urging me forward, with a sweet call for His purposes that I could not refuse. I didn’t know that the Scripture He gave me then would come back with a literal fulfilling several years later. And I did not realize that the babysitter he gave to us would become a life-long friend.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”Matthew 19:29 NIV
While my husband continued with his college courses, the Lord helped us to begin settling in at a new church. The leadership needed help with their children’s church, so we gladly stepped into that position and fell in love with this new group of children. While our weekends were full with church activity, my weekdays were filled with the relationships at my new workplace, a small hat factory on the edge of downtown Minneapolis.
This was the early ’80’s, where the effects of the free-flowing ’70’s were still being deeply felt. I worked in the accounting department with a New-Age-Philosopher, a Buddhist Play-write, a gay young man who was just coming out to his family, a progressive Methodist Pastor, and a prodigal young adult from the same denomination that I had been raised in.
It was such a hard time for me, as I agonized again and again about leaving my young son while I worked. But day after day, so gradually, my co-workers became such dear friends to me as we shared deep issues of life together. Once again, while I thought Bible College was the place for preparation in ministry, God was teaching us how HE wants ministry to happen: on the streets of real life.
Is there a call to surrender that you have been resisting?
Are you afraid that obedience might require more of you than is possible to fulfill?
Perhaps that obedience is the very place where God, Himself, wants to begin to show you a deeper answer.