Clever wordplay or a covert expression of how I really feel? Both. Call it taking my deeply personal feelings and turning it into a spiritual reminder of the combating truth and promise that answers it. Because I am running out of options.
Whose fault is it when the roller-coaster shuts down right after the
last big hill? When can I stop looking for the hidden sin or the blind
spot that God might be using our "idolatrous" focus on Joe to address?
Is this day-to-day fixation on my brother's status really idolatry? Am I
looking at the transplant as a functional savior? Was I seeking for
this operation to be the thing that would "fix things" between us? I
mean, that's what transplants do, right? They make things better, right?
Circumstances spiral in the moments leading up to it, but all things
considered a transplant is supposed to be taking out a faulty organ and
replacing it with a better one, right?
Everything in this whole situation has been secondhand for me. I come home from a "normal" day at work to discover that Joe and my parents are already en route. I am able to visit him twice while he is unconscious and blown up like a human water balloon. For the first three weeks of his ICU stay, everyone comes and goes while I still have to work, and so I fall into a rhythm of keeping my sanity by maintaining my home life. Near the end of work, I come down with a cold, and so cannot risk beginning regular visits. The cold has lasted till about two weeks ago. So I've been the one always at home, always going to church or Small Group, always letting people know what's up.... and sometimes, my information is incomplete or outdated. I get messages periodically, but it's a good long while before any results start showing up. I've been out-of-the-loop for almost the whole time. All those times when I've voluntarily opted of being out of the action... now that I had no choice... it sucks. But I kept my chin up; after all, things were going to get better, weren't they?
"Pray for Joe, he's in surgery!"
"Pray for Joe, he's STILL in surgery!"
"Pray for Joe, he's retaining a lot of fluid!"
"Pray for Joe, his chest is still open!"
"Pray for Joe, his kidneys aren't working!"
"Praise God, the fluid came off!"
"Praise God, he can move his feet!"
"Praise God, the heart works great!"
"Praise God, he's sitting up!"
"Praise God, he's off the psycho-meds!"
"Praise God, he's breathing on his own!"
"Oh whoops... Looks like we'll have to amputate."
WHAT THE—WHERE DID THAT COME FROM????
Is it okay that I still feel shell-shocked at this? I was sharing the
situation at my church Small Group the other night, and my leader told
me, "I totally get that you feel that way. I got the text about it from
your dad and I was mad!" (Because he's cool like that; he's got a family
of his own, but he accepts all us singles in his group, and our
families, like we're family, too)
I had to agree with him; not that I think God did anything wrong, or
that the amputation was not in His plan from the beginning, but LAND
SAKES! I JUST DON'T GET IT! Where does it even begin to make any sense?
I'd be satisfied with just that bit, if it existed.
"All things work together for good."
Yes, but this is not some temporary strain we're going through. This is
two months hovering on Death's doorstep, and then, just when he begins
to back away and make that turn-around, BLAMMO! There goes all chance of
being normal...ever. Which is what he's always wanted. And now it's not
going to happen.
"In due season..."
"For now we see as through a mirror, darkly..."
I'm not so sure about that promise. I mean, is it too much to assume
that some part of His plan (not all of it, mind you; just a teensy part
of it! Please!) might begin to make sense at some point in the next
month? Because right now it's one heck of a kerfuffle!
Just this Sunday I had my hands raised in praise to God as I sang the
words to "Christ Is Risen", when it says "Death where's your sting? How
you have tasted defeat!" and I was thinking about how God had raised Joe
from death... Jesus wasn't missing any digits when He came from the
tomb, was He? A few hours later, I find that he was having dialysis
trouble that day, and Monday evening, we learn about the abscess and the
His Excellent Love Lingers.
The acronym came from a conversation between the Holy Spirit and my spirit, last night at Group.
I had just explained Joe's situation twice, and the second person was
certainly more "THAT IS JUST WRONG!" than the first person. I started to
allow myself to vent—or at least attempt to.
Me: OH HELL!
Holy Spirit: What was that?
Me: (guilty, yet belligerent) You heard me! Hell!
HS: Ah, ok, well... Next time you think of that, think of this, too: His Excellent Love Lingers.
Me: Oh great, now I can't stop thinking about it that way!
HS: You're welcome.
HS: That one's easy; Firmly Under Christ's Kingship.
Me: Will you ever stop??
HS: Not till you do.
Me: Can I just wallow in self-pity for TWO SECONDS?
HS: Not while I'm here.
Me: Could you go somewhere else, then?
HS: Well, let me see: as the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient Third
Member of the Trinity... I guess you're going to have to deal with it.
And so, I have a promise: even while it looks like any second there's
something going to go wrong in the delicate balance that is Joe's
life—still, His Excellent Love Lingers.
And I have Someone with me at all times to help me cope. Whether I think I need it (or want it) or not.
Headed up to Seattle today. Will keep my eyes peeled for any kind of blessing God has in this circumstance.