What a difference the morning can make. What is it with the night, anyway, that can make us so uneasy? Darkness isn’t inherently evil, as some might think; it’s indifferent. But since God created a universe that penetrated darkness, there seems to be a real perception of separation from our Creator when we despair in the night. Christ talks a lot about darkness and light and this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about, but that’s for another time.
Yesterday was another interesting day in “the boat”. I woke up longing to be at home so I could attend our worship service at Resurrection Presbyterian in Athens. I knew that I could wait until it was posted online, but I still wished to be there to fellowship, sing, pray, worship, and hear a sermon on the Gospel. I jokingly (somewhat) asked pastor Jared if they could stream it to me. He really liked the idea and endeavored to make it happen! Ultimately, we used Skype and had one of our young congregants hold up his phone so I could watch. No, I didn’t sing, but it was an unforgettable experience to connect with my hometown church while sitting atop the hospital on the observation deck. The “passing of the peace” portion of the service was particularly fun, as I got to see many loving faces while they saw my unwashed-in-four-days self in a hospital gown. It’s truly a “come as you are” church.
The sermon was special, not just to me personally and not just in its powerful delivery, but also in how and why 2 Chronicles was chosen as the text. I encourage you to listen to it. You can access it from our website (www.resurrectionathens.com), but here’s a direct link: Overwhelmed_DonAldin_041716.
So back to why I mentioned the darkness earlier. I must say that I’m healing very well and everyone here is very surprised and pleased by my quick progress. But there has been one issue that has been lingering that has been causing me anxiety (I’ll spare you the gross details). Even though the doctors, nurses, and other care people have assured me that the issue was not uncommon and would resolve, I just haven’t been able to find ease with it. My anxiety about it got so bad last night that Kim and I had to leave our room to go back to the observatory deck to pray.
That sentence should immediately raise a red flag. But let me continue.
It was after 9pm, and we were the only folks up there, other than a woman cleaning. Houston is being hammered by rain right now, so we sat in a quiet, low-lit area, listening and literally feeling the storm outside. The windows were bowing from the pressure of the wind and were creaking at the seals. It occurred to me that this was how I was feeling on the inside. Battered, bending, creaking. And yet safe. With Christ. Kim put her small, loving hands on my belly and prayed. And then she asked me if it was “well with my soul?” I paused briefly, but the answer was undoubtedly yes. It’s just that the brokenness of my body and the perfection of my soul battle it out in my head to unnerve me. Especially at night.
Providentially, I found great comfort in the feeling of physical safety in this hospital from the powerful storm. And also Providentially, I found almost immediate, great comfort from the Spirit of Christ as I returned to my room. Somehow I new that my issue was going to resolve itself with the new day.
Returning to my struggle with anxiety: just in case it wasn’t obvious, what is wrong with my statement of “it got so bad that I had to pray”? Prayer should NOT be your last resort. It is a discipline that should keep you feeling God’s presence always.
On Saturday, I was able to lovingly kick mom, dad, and wife out of my room so I could have a moment alone. There have not been many of these moments. I turned the lights down and was about to rest when my “pain management” nurse came in. Somehow, perhaps in the unspoken words we exchanged in the way we looked at each other, she ended up telling me the story about her husband’s battle with cancer and how he has been disease-free for four years. Her words: “God cured my husband”. I won’t go into all details, but she encouraged me to simply pray that “God is good. God loves me. God has a good plan for me. God will not forsake me.”
As anyone who has spent time in a hospital knows, you get awoken many times during the night for medication, vital signs, blood draws, etc. Every time they woke me up last night, I said those prayers and then fell back asleep.
Bear in mind that it’s not like the things said in these prayers or their importance were new to me as a mature believer, but the reminder to say them was critical.
I need spiritual discipline. We need spiritual discipline.
And guess what? This morning the disconcerting issue seems to be resolving. Based on what we can see and on the latest blood work (saw the doctor at 6 am), it looks like I’ll be getting out of here this afternoon.
Houston is under a flash flood warning today, so I just may need a real boat to get from the hospital to the hotel :).