In February of 2016 I experienced a pretty severe back injury that turned my life upside down. It took two trips to the ER, a round of cortisone steroids in the spine, two MRIs, and nearly four weeks of heavy duty medications before I was able to have the surgery for my back. In the midst of all of that I had withdrawals from the medications which resulted in my having symptoms similar to a heart attack which of course led to an EKG, a chest CT, a stomach CT, and the real fun…a chemically induced stress test. What a trip. I could end the story there but it you wouldn’t have heard the half of it and it most certainly would not be enough to give full testimony to the glory of God, declare his loving provision, and it most certainly would not begin to help you understand why I am so thankful for the manifold grace and mercy of God.
The injury happened on February 22nd, but what was coming down the pike for me and my family was anything but a quite mid-winter season of relaxation. Here’s why…
- On 5/7 one of our two sons was graduating from college in Pennsylvania.
- On 5/14 our other son was graduating from college in Virginia.
- On 5/21 the first graduate was getting married in western NY.
- On 6/7 the other son was getting married on Long Island.
- I was just beginning to teach a new series at church on the book of First Corinthians.
- I was serving on a search committee at our church and we were in the throes of an 18 month long search for a new Senior Pastor; in fact we were in the home stretch of final interviews with a candidate that we believed the Lord was providing for our church. We actually Skype’d from my family room after my surgery!
Now I could go on and on about all the different things that the Lord has taught me through this experience. How he got me to spend more time in prayer and study. How He reminded me of the need to constantly be vigilant to make sure I am serving in His power and seeking His will in all that I do. Of the need to be fully trusting in the Lord. The list goes on and on. But what I want to share is actually not about me…it is about you. It is about how God uses people in perfect harmony and in His perfect time, to encourage, care for, and love each other. It is about how in the most difficult of times you can serve in the simplest and smallest of ways but that bring joy and healing to others, and that bring glory and blessings to God. So what did you do that meant so much to me and that brought glory to God?
It was in the cards that came in the mail every day.
It was in the hot meals that were delivered to the house by folks that have no idea what we like to eat, but that were prepared with love and thoughtfulness.
It was in the prayers in the hospital when you came to me when I was most vulnerable, I was weak, and I was despairing.
It was in the times when you, my sister in the Lord that is a nurse in the wing where I was be treated, got to encourage me and the added blessing of seeing the toilet back up the hospital room and laughing about it for days.
It was in the flowers that showed up at the door unexpectedly.
It was in the encouraging words from a brother that had been through this kind of thing himself and that knew just how hard it is to have your whole life seemingly put on hold.
It was in the simple text from a friend that said “praying for you today”.
It was the gentle hugs from those that didn’t quite know what to say but that wanted to just be there to encourage and care.
It was in the handshake and precious smile of a friend that couldn’t share in words but that wanted to express just how much he cared.
It was in the heartfelt prayers and words of the family who was going through something far worse than I was when they assured me that they were on their knees praying for me – even while they were suffering beyond compare themselves.
I cannot begin to express my thankfulness. I cannot begin to tell you how precious your actions, words, and prayers are to me.
First Peter 4:8-11 says:
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
God called time out in my life for a whole host of reasons that I am still learning from. But perhaps the gift that is the most precious to me was to learn just how much you love me, how much I need you all, and how much we need each other to be that loving, caring, stewards of God’s grace in all of your amazing forms.
To God be the glory, praise, and power through Jesus Christ for all that you have done. Thank you all.