Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"O.H. H.E.L.L." Volume 2: The Holy Holding Pattern

To be honest, I really never thought this post would happen. I think I've been praying against it for the last two months, since Joe lost his left leg... since he had gut surgery because a breathing machine blew a hole in his stomach... since he was actually doing well enough with the dialysis that they switched him to high-flow dialysis for a few hours every day.... since each new dialysis tech needs Joe's particular situation explained in detail, or the poor guy suffers... since he was finally hungry enough to eat again and tell us that things tasted good... since all this went out the window because of the amounts of narcotics making him nauseous made it not only difficult to keep anything down, but the thought of eating lost its appeal... since lack of sleep and food prevented him from rest and sent him into psychosis again... since the anti-psychosis meds they put him on this time actually seemed to be helping, and he was back to eating a little bit and sleeping better... since this weekend, when they found fluid collecting in his leg, they tried to fix that problem, and ended up finding out that the muscle in Joe's leg is dead... but as long as it's not infected, he won't face a second amputation....

CAN WE BE DONE NOW?????????????

Not that I'm sick of praying; I love prayer, and I love God. Not that I want Him to "end Joe's suffering" by allowing Joe to deteriorate completely. I'm not even the one who's up there watching all these things happen day in and day out; that would be my mom. I spent a week up there not long ago... and it's definitely strenuous, emotionally and mentally, if not physically. New nurses coming in all the time, new meds prescribed, seeing other patients come and go, while Joe "convalesces" in the same room... only the "recovery" part of convalescence hasn't really set in for longer than a week at a time, and the pattern so far has been "The longer the stretch of good days, the harder falls the inevitable bad day."

I was reminded this morning of the Israelites wandering in the desert. I'm sure most of them felt like even making bricks for Pharaoh was more productive and "rewarding" in its own way than walking through the desert to a place one couldn't be sure even existed. Like, hey--at least at the end of the day in Egypt, you could actually count the number of bricks you made. In the desert, what do you count? your steps? How many miles you walked? Why does that matter? God never said anything like, "Three hundred miles through this desert, and you will reach the Promised Land."
Honestly, which sounds better:

"Yesterday I made 100 bricks. I made 100 bricks today. Tomorrow, I will make 100 more. The day after that, we begin building the pyramid. What is your plan?"
"Yesterday I walked. I walked today. Tomorrow, I will walk some more. The day after that, I will still be walking, and I will have no idea whether I'm any closer to my destination or not."

It's taken me this long to realize, but now more than ever, I feel like we are in a Holy Holding Pattern. It's like when you push the button at the crosswalk on a foggy day, you can't really see the road, and all you have to go on is the mechanical voice chiming, "WAIT.... WAIT..... WAIT...."
What if it never seemed to stop? What if you knew there was something waiting for you on the other side, but as long as that voice kept going "WAIT....WAIT....WAIT...." you were forced to do just that, because you trusted that the voice would let you know when it was okay to move... At least, that's what you told yourself an hour ago... and if you listened really closely, of course you could hear traffic somewhere in the mist before you... But the more you thought about it, the more you wondered, "Is the thing I'm crossing the road for really going to still be there?" What if it's slowly creeping away with every passing minute? What if, when the voice finally told you to "WALK", you get to the other side and the thing is long gone?

"WAIT."

I can do that, Lord; I'm very good at waiting. As long as I can see You working, I am perfectly all right leaving things in Your capable hands. I can keep telling myself that You are sovereign and reminding myself of Your unwavering faithfulness... But--

"WAIT."

Just for curiosity's sake, I looked up the word "wait" in a concordance. Nearly every book in the Bible speaks of waiting; sometimes it's "lying in wait", but most of the time, it's this same kind of "waiting": the resolution to let God do the working and the moving, and I will follow His timetable. It's been difficult for us humans since the beginning of this thing called "time"--because before time existed, there wasn't any waiting.

"WAIT."

Been there, done that.... What do I have to show for it? I'm not even the one watching Joe ride this roller coaster day in and day out. While I was up there, I tried to look for something positive in every day, something to cling to, something to smile over... Some days, I had to "carry over" from the day before, because really, there was not much good about a day where Joe was in a narcotic funk most of the day and then when he was finally done with dialysis and actually hungry, we brought in food rather than the nasty hospital "cardboard on styrofoam" fare, and returned to find him retching and entirely not-hungry-anymore. So I return home and continue doing the same things day in and day out... Like the Israelite ex-slave, I do those things that are visibly effective: chores, cleaning dishes, cleaning rooms, washing laundry, accepting substitute jobs when they come along--to take my mind off the circumstances where I don't make a difference, I throw myself heartily into the areas where I know I can; as if keeping things the same will "free" God to perform great and awesome miracles in Seattle. Anything is better than "just walking."

"Wait."

Why? What more needs to happen? God, Joe needs to heal! Enough with this endless chain of complications! He needs rest, he needs solid improvement! His heart is still beating, and his kidneys are producing regularly, that is true... but what good are heart and kidneys when the rest of the body is dying?

"Wait."


I trust You, God. I love You, Lord. You are sovereign, Father. You are faithful, Jesus. You never leave us, Holy Spirit. But at this point, I have to face the realization that perhaps I have been subsisting on hope and love... but my faith has been pushed away. I can hope in the Lord; I know what He is capable of, and I have seen that He values me enough to do all that He promises. I do love the Lord; the outcome of Joe's life will not change that--provided there is an outcome...

That right there is the sum of my faith. I'm a mime, grasping at thin air and telling myself that it's real, and yet in my heart I am wondering if there's really a rope. I know it's not my place to question God as if I can demand He give an answer for His decisions... but that's not why I'm asking. Lord, I want to know Your will; I want to see Your handiwork; What are You doing? Joe trusts You, Mom trusts You, Dad trusts You, I trust You--when the chips are down, we know that You are the one really in charge, not the doctors or their methods.

What more is there to this? When can we just "get there" and "be there"?

Wait.