My pocket vibrates a split second after Phil’s buzzes. We both reach for our phones, quick on the draw. Our 16-month-old-grandson has the flu and we are anxious.
The text reads, “He is so weak now he is hardly moving.”
I panic. My heart pounds hard. I look around the room where a small group from church is talking about Isaiah 53, the Suffering Servant passage. We just finished,
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…”(Is. 53:4 NKJV).
It rushes back like an electric jolt, so real I brush at the moisture forming at my temples. Icy chills prickle my arms. My friends around the room seem to morph, surreal yet life like, into doctors and nurses, and I stand again, small, in the corner of a big hospital room in Omaha, Nebraska. The year is 2007. A white-coated doctor, stethoscope hanging from an enormous pocket, has just spoken. Quiet, deafening words, hang in the room and suffocate air. My 26-year-old daughter, a mound of white on the hospital bed, with her husband next to her cling together like Italian marble.
“There is no hope.” The doctor had said.
But that was then, this is now.
I lift the face of my phone and look at the text again.
We are just talking about the flu, I tell myself, but I look around the calm room like a prisoner and wonder how I can get out, slow my heartbeat and would they hear me five states away if I scream?
Unreasonable terror churns as if my Grandson Roman’s flu punched me in the stomach. Fear of God is replaced by sheer scared.
I’m afraid for the little boy with the blonde hair and the smile that makes me melt like soft candle wax with his little-man blue-eyed contemplation, and the diaper laden waddle. The mere possibility that pain might lodge itself into our family again, washes into me, and drags me into an undercurrent of “what if’s” and “I cant’s” and I begin to beg an internal mantra.
“Lord, not again.” I plead.
A trigger yanks me back to that place, that spot and that time. I feel as if an unseen globe of protection has shattered, leaving us vulnerable to the reach of a giant Hand. I am so afraid.
“Lord, please,” my inner child implores. “Please make him better.”
The tow pulls me down with a tide of yesterdays, dark places, of discovering that worst things can happen. Experience, not just unrestrained imagination, surges into an enormous surf. It captures me. I am so weak in its power. Scenes of worst days of my life, of hospital monitors and beeps flood back.
Yet, within that vortex, I am gently pulled toward something deeper.
I am drawn into Almighty God fear.
I cannot free fall into the pit without the hindsight of having been there, and of precious Goodness intwined through sorrow. My heart rests for just a second, breath calms.
Lessons of a very Big God, Sovereign, in control, steady me.
“The Lord is in his holy temple. The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold. His eyelids test the sons of men.” (Ps. 11:4 NKJV).
Lord, do you see Virginia from Missouri?
I remember hearing on New Year’s Eve, that the NY police had eyes everywhere on the ground, and in the air. The unsettling thing about God’s eyes everywhere is the Psalms sandwiches them between
Ps. 10:1 “Why do you stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” and
Ps. 13:1 “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?” (NKJV).
Can God have it both ways? Does He watch with eyelids half closed, inattentive, moved to action only when aroused from sleep, shaken as it were by prayer done at the right time and in the right way?
Did He watch the young couple huddled together on a hospital bed in Omaha, Nebraska? Does He see my son and daughter-in-law on their knees by my sick little grandson?
It is at that juncture I lift my scared-worried, me-focused eyes of what to the fear-surrender of Who. In His rightful place, I find mine. Equilibrium, although as tentative as Peter walking on water, is restored.
Yes He sees. Yes He knows. And, I lay the burden down, picturing Him picking it up, holding it tenderly, a beautiful ribboned gift in His Almighty Love-scarred hands.
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…”(Is. 53:4 NKJV)
“You have no idea how freaked out I was,” I tell my son afterwards. FaceTime shows baby Roman’s head pressed against his daddy’s chest, my son’s goatee brushes a dimpled cheek. Roman smiles at me as though I said something very clever, he pauses from sucking his thumb to reach with his other hand toward me across the miles. Open, shut, open shut, his fist greets hello.
“Good,” Justin responds. “Grandma-freaks turn into Grandma-prayers.”
He has highly overrated this Grandma thing.