Friday, December 8, 2006

Morning by Morning...

...New mercies I see . . .

I suppose everyone who goes through some type of life-trauma, an event or time that brings them face to face with ultimate realities, has a deeper, enhanced perception of each new day’s graces. Certainly none of us can claim a corner on the “human troubles” market, nor can any of us hold out our experience in handling these times as the epitome for such-and-such a trauma. Somehow, confronting ultimate realities simplifies our thinking, crystallizes our belief, and sets the rudder of our ship towards its final destination.

Not that adjustment can’t be made, that further light or darkness might not provide additional ultimate reality collisions. Nor that further mercies when perceived might not remove more of the fog of earthbound vision. Nor that a Sovereign Grace might not remove all doubt, and that not of ourselves . . .

How we love that feeling of being in control, of believing that we set and then maintain the course of our lives. Somehow we perceive in this that all is good, that we embody goodness, which then flows out through all our myriad decisions, feelings, words and actions. Surely everyone else must be aware of how right we are. Surely the fruit of our lives bears witness . . . what more is there to say?

Control was gone for me – palpably, irreversibly, irresistibly. Lying on the cool hardwood floorboards of our front living room entryway – boards my self-determination and the strength and decisiveness of my children had laid piece by piece, weaving patterns of beauty and grace, warmth and utility, form and function, throughout the heart of our home – had now become my bed, my resting-place under the cruel, crushing hand of a heart attack. Unrelenting pain bearing down on the center of my chest, I writhed uncontrollably on the very wood my own strength short years past had helped to build. None of that strength from those bye-gone days was available to me in this time – not my strength, nor my children’s strength, nor even the strength of our friends who had helped.

Short moments before I had gotten a big drink of water, and a couple of cookies for a snack, had ascended the stairs to our bedroom to resume my work (what was I doing anyway?), when it hit. I had just spoken with Judy by telephone a couple of minutes before; now I called back:
– come home now
– you must tell me why
– my chest hurts
– call 911
It was a conversation full of essentials, devoid of, well, non-essentials. In it my hurting heart heard all the care and devotion of a true soul-mate, through words so austere.

A quick call to 911. Now I am struggling to talk. It is near agony to answer their questions. Relief when the deed is done.

I try to call the kids, who are downstairs in the house. This is wrong, as I am separated from them. A very brief and small relenting in the pain, and I slide down the stairs “bump-bump” to lie on the hardwood floors.

My recollection of anything happening apart from my own pain-focused immediacy is sketchy at best. Pain had grabbed my face and made me look into the vortex of my mortality. I know I made some sort of brief announcement to the kids:
– heart attack
– called 911
– ambulance coming
– mom home soon
– trust God

There it was – the first Mercy. The briefest laundry-list of need-to-know information, summarized, encapsulated, punctuated in the final statement. All that mattered to be conveyed to the ones who most needed to hear it, the last phrase saying it all. Where did this come from – this platitudinous simplicity, or this obvious statement of fact?

Was this a new mercy for a morning gone horribly awry? No, for its roots were planted deeply in the soil of my heart, early and often, by believing parents. God Himself had made it clear from my childhood that the only reason I lived was to love and serve Him. And a lifetime of trusting Him had led me through trials and mercies galore that I might trust His sovereignty.

But wasn’t this a new mercy this morning?

Yes. Yes! Oh, yes! Never before had I been tried in this mercy in my own flesh.

Many times before, I had been placed in situations of earnest concern for loved ones, for friends, even for strangers. In all of these trials, the sovereign God had been revealed. My own children had been healed, helped, every time. In other cases dearly loved friends and acquaintances had died, not receiving healing in this world. So I had learned the way of every cast of the die . . .

And now – unbidden yet unfettered – it had rolled out of my mouth. Was this a simple triviality? No, for such meaninglessnesses fumble and fail in the light of ultimate realities. Simple? Yes. Trivial? No, for this simplicity is of the wise and deep kind. The simplicities we know as mercies are largely hidden in the world, being seen and understood best by children, who in their simplicity are not fooled, and by the silver-haired, which having spent their foolishness become wisely simple.

For trust is not trust until tested. Tests must contain the potential for ultimate realities. Ultimate realities drive belief, from which comes the faith to receive new mercies.

Anther test has come and gone. More adjustments to the rudder of life’s ship – minor in this case. And the vessel runs lightly once again, being driven before the wind.

. . . All I have needed, Thy Hands have provided;
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord, unto me.


The story you have just read is true. I follow it up with a clinical description of the same event. My, how differently it sounds when compared with the reality of my perceptions of these same events!

Kevin began having a heart attack on Monday, 11/27 around 12:30. Three doses of nitroglycerine administered by the paramedics interrupted the attack, and he sustained no heart damage. Two days later, double bypass surgery was performed to fix the blocked artery in his heart. He is recuperating quietly at home.

- Kevin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whether lying on cool hardwood floors or on the cool Idaho snow, we stare at the other side. But wait !! There is much work to do. My Lord has intervened with infinite grace and goodness, not yet.. He shouts. So, two advocates roam. If not in the past, surely in the present. seeking opportunity for the Lion. Mammoth the task of bringing Glory to His name seems, I urge you to meditate on a grand scale. For his kingdom is Grand. Our Lord is so much greater than these trials.
It is and honor to serve with you.