Friday, July 2, 2010

Grace Street - God Doesn't Fit In a Box

That night was very long, extremely long. After midnight, he was not supposed to eat in preparation for surgery the next day. I remember trying to cuddle and soothe him during the night. We had a family bed and he was not used to sleeping in the crib. We were both uncomfortable; I on the cot trying to sleep and he in the crib fussing.

Very early in the morning we prepared to take that long walk and elevator ride to the surgical suite. This time it couldn’t be long enough. I wondered what it would be like to have a child with no eye. I worried I wouldn’t know how to take care of it. I knew I would have to. My husband had no stomach for such things. He never changed one diaper for any of the children. He certainly wasn’t going to take care of an empty eye socket.

The words of the woman haunted me. I had called my best friend at the church. She had called the people to prayer. I knew people were praying. Yet, I wondered. Would my disbelief sentence my child to life without his right eye? Maybe her faith would cause a miracle. Issues of faith and miracles are always complex in our minds. We think they depend on us. They never do. They only depend on the mercy and grace of a loving God.

Finally the hand off came. I thought of all the people who had talked to and asked to pray. There was the pastor who I had known for so many years in Columbia. Not much older than I, he was charismatic in the secular sense as well as the religious sense. He had dedicated our other two children. He knew me. But like so many other people in my life at that time, he didn’t know me at all.

I had always been on the fringe. I had always been that outcast person. I was the one with children when no one else had children. I was the single mother assumed to be guilty of God only knows what. Now I was married to a non-Christian with a son with a serious medical condition that might leave him blind. We didn’t know until later when a resident shared that the medical teams prognosis was that he would also have constant seizures and be retarded.

I felt alone. My husband was at my side but he too was deep in silence. I still wondered if he’d change his mind and go back to his native country. I lived on emotional pins and needles.

I was too numb to cry. We went to the cafeteria. We weren’t much support to each other as we were both in our own world of pain. We bought a muffin to share. Always Mr. Practical and Control, he ate most of it. We waited. Afraid to hope or pray, I just sat there. Assessing the time, we return to the room to wait for the return of a resident to give us the news. It was certain he’d return without his right eye. He would be too young to grieve the loss of the eye. I already was. I was grieving the uncertainty of the childhood that he would have. People always say I am so strong. They don’t know me inside.

This time it wasn’t the resident that came to the room. The head doctor came in. He knew us by now. Unlike so many other people in our lives, he respected us. He treated us well. He was kind. He smiled. Sitting down beside us he said, I don’t understand. I really don’t understand. I was sure. I was so sure there was a tumor behind that eye.

Today when we started the examination under anesthesia, something really strange happened. We’ve never been able to see behind the eye because of the nystagmus and other issues. This time we did. I was able to see very clearly behind his right eye. There was no tumor. I still am puzzled. However, because I know how you folks felt about removing his eye we didn’t remove it. He still has his right eye.

He went on. There seems to be no vision in that eye. It appears the optic nerve is dead. However, he has his eye. He’ll be up from recovery in a little bit for you to hold.

I was stunned. While hearing your son has no vision in his eye was not good news, hearing that he still had an eye in place was great news. That woman, a televangelist I didn’t care for, lack of faith on my part, what an odd mix of things God used to teach me that day.

I don’t know if he had a tumor behind his eye. I do know that doctor was sure. I do know he was top in his field (still is). I do know he consulted with other equally great medical minds to conclude that the tumor was there. I also know that there was no tumor behind his eye that day. I know that a woman I labeled as odd and strange, the one who gave messages in tongues that seemed contrived prayed with a televangelist and claimed a healing.

I don’t know. I’ll never know the extent of this miracle. I don’t know if it took place. Some would argue there was no miracle. Where’s the proof? I don’t need any more proof. I don’t even need to know there was a miracle. What I learned is that to assume you know how God will work is very dangerous. I learned that you walk in humility before the God of the universe. He can do all things. At times, He does miracles. Always He surprises you.