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Flat down lying on her bed

by davesandel on June 19th, 2021

Saturday, June 19, 2021                      (today’s lectionary)

Flat down lying on her bed

Many years ago our acquaintance (we went to church together) moved with his wife to married student housing at Lincoln Christian College in Lincoln, Illinois. They borrowed a pickup and began moving their stuff. They put their bedframe on the bed of the pickup, then the box spring, then the mattress. It was a windy sunny spring day, and her husband lay spreadeagled down on all of it, holding it down.

God did not remove the thorn in my flesh. He just said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

His wife drove the truck quickly down Rte. 10 to the new set of apartments jutting into farm country east of the campus, only a couple hundred yards from the nearly new US weather station on the other side of the two lane highway.

Just before she turned right into their new driveway, the wind gusted, the mattress flipped up out of the truck and came down on top of her husband, flat against the pavement. His spine and skull were crushed. She stopped, ran back to see, and he didn’t move.

Her husband didn’t die. He also did not regain consciousness. He lived in the confines of a long deep coma for a number of years. When he did finally die, his wife was by his side.

So I am content with weakness, and besides that insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints, for the sake of Christ.

A man told me of his friend, who cared twenty years for his wife after she lost her ability to walk. He said later, “Those were the best years of my life.” My friend Don’s wife had back surgery last fall. When she returned from the hospital and from rehab, Don did “everything” for a month while she grew strong again. “I learned how to love her,” he said. He also learned how to make beds and cook.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

But I put all these stories together later.

Most of this week I spent my mornings torturing back and forth between the ugly idea that if Margaret died we would both be better off, and on the other hand, if Margaret’s surgery was successful she would be miserable for months (or years) and I would be inadequate and exhausted trying to help her with everything she was going to need. I didn’t want to do it.

Don’t think I was sounding out these ideas to anyone. And when you keep stuff like this to yourself you get poisoned. About midweek I talked to God. Told him I felt guilty and selfish, but that I was stuck in these thoughts. Told him I was frightened, helpless, so everloving sad … and that wasn’t going away either.

Come children, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Don’t you desire life? Will you not take delight in prosperous days? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life?

Michael called what happened then an epiphany, and I think that’s right. Jesus started to say something. “Stop talking for a minute, David. Here’s the thing,” he said.

“Whatever you do for Margaret, you do for me.”

I hadn’t thought of that. If I had, it wouldn’t have helped. Religious platitudes seldom do, even if they are in Matthew 25. But when Jesus spoke, I listened. My ears perked up, my eyes sparkled, and a huge weight came off my shoulders. “And here’s something else,” Jesus said. He was on a roll. I was actually listening!

“Whatever gifts you give Margaret, you get something even better, every time. You’ll grow closer to me every day you care for her.”

I was in our apartment. I just stopped still where I was, walking from the bedroom to the kitchen in the early morning. These moments don’t happen often.

Look at the wild flowers in the field. They neither toil nor spin. If God so clothes the grass of the field, won’t he much more provide for you?

“So stop it. You’re fine. Don’t be afraid. I am here.” And he was. And I was. Fine. Finally.

John W. knows that of which I speak. He was so angry and resentful when his wife was dying, and God threw him down on his knees for his own personal epiphany. (He’s an only child, and a former rock singer … God has to be particularly tough on him.) And in his instant precious healing moment, John wept and wept. Later he shared with me stories of others (especially Proof of Heaven) who had been broken and put back together again by the Holy Spirit. As he had. As I have. When we talk about these things, boh of us so often break out in goosebumps, shivering in the spirit.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. O taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Yesterday’s secondary surgery to remove two patches that stopped a bleed in Thursday’s 14-hour ordeal was short and successful. When Andi got to see her mom for the first time yesterday afternoon, Margaret was still asleep (that makes well over 24 hours with just short periods of wakefulness to move her arms and toes). Her breath still came with the help of a ventilator and breathing tube, but all of that will soon go away and she’ll be able to begin coming out of the fog.

Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

I wonder where her spirit has been these last couple days, while her body was open and then closed and then open again and closed again, and she didn’t move even an inch from her impossible position flat down lying on the bed. Hovering? Watching? Listening with every pore of her soul to the sweet siren songs of God?

Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

(2 Corinthians 12, Psalm 34, 2 Corinthians 8, Matthew 6)

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