Like a Mighty Oak
Kimberly and Ashley (married to Ryan’s brother Kyle) spent the afternoon at the hospital on Sunday. Us four grandparents took the kiddos swimming. When Kimmy returned, Joshua came running up to her and the first thing out of his mouth was, “Did daddy come home?” I could hear the catch in Kimberly’s voice as she responded with, “Not yet buddy, not yet.”
And then there is little almost-2-years-old Ethan who just today, heard his Pops (Ryan’s father) coming down the hallway talking. Ethan took off running and hollering, “Daddy, daddy!” When he saw his Pops, his stocky little body froze in its tracks, he placed one hand on his hip and studied him for a moment as if to say, “You’re not my daddy”, before running into his Pops’ arms.
A perfect storm of conflicting emotions is how I would describe my eldest daughter. So strong and yet so scared. Her faith stands like a mighty oak at the onslaught of a thunderstorm. But it’s not your typical faith. So often we define faith as: believing that God is going to heal, or God is going to bless, or God is going to provide. Kimberly, however, has the faith that believes God is, period! God always has been, period! And God always will be, period! It’s the faith that believes for a miracle and yet trusts that the Eternal One knows exactly what He is doing, and whatever He does is right!
It’s the faith that caused Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to reply, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
That is the quality of character I have witnessed in my beautiful Kimberly over the past week. Perched at the bedside of her beloved Ryan, her faith is being tempered as steel in the crucible of suffering.
She wrestles daily with the desire to care for her 3 boys and yet not wanting to leave Ryan. And while she cares for them, her heart longs to be at his side. Her eyes and words implore me to provide an answer, “Papa, am I wrong for feeling torn between my boys and my man?”
And then the damn breaks and the flood of questions spill through the gap, “What do I tell Joshua when he asks about his daddy? How do I give him enough information to satiate his curiosity and yet not scare him? Will people think I don’t love my husband if I smile in a picture? Is it okay to take my boys to have some fun while we are here? Am I a bad wife for not camping out at the hospital? Why do I feel so bad that others are having to help us? Did we ruin everyone’s vacation? Am I handling this whole situation with grace? If I cry I feel like I’m saying to God I don’t trust you, is that true? I want to cry, should I? Why are people being so good to us? Why are the heavens silent? What is God saying to me? To Ryan? To our families?”
Returning from the hospital one day, a small twister formed over the ocean picking up a boatload of water. It chose to drop it square on top of me. My windshield wipers swept back and forth and yet I could not see the road 30 feet in front of me. As the other cars on the highway disappeared, I was reduced to simply trying to keep the car on the road. As quickly as it came in, it blew past me and the sky once again was clear as I continued on my journey. As we all know, the answers aren’t always forthcoming. The storm we find ourselves in blurs our vision and more often than not it takes time for God’s purpose and ways to become clear.
I will close with a text message we received from our dear friends, Christopher and Jennifer Hopper, this morning. On more than one occasion they have had the privilege of sitting in the darkness, waiting.
“Please tell Kimmy: We’re in this for the long haul with you. We remember well those moments of epiphany where God was breaking through with little miracles, only to be followed by days and even weeks of – well – nothing. As if heaven was silent. Status unchanged.
Lots of pacing, sitting, praying, playing games, eating, laughing, more pacing, and always more eating. (It’s so important to get fat).
But looking back, those pauses were essential for healing, for calm, for building relationships, for ministering to other hurting people in the hospital. They stretched our faith, our limits. God was working, heaven wasn’t silent.
And so we’re reminded that King Jesus even gets glory in the calm.”