weighty words

One word a mother or father never wants to hear is that their child’s life is in danger.

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Every word I ever preached was tested in the fire of a doctor’s sobering words.   ‘Emergency surgery is required.  The infection has been diagnosed as a large brain abscess approaching the ventricles.  A craniotomy is booked with a neurosurgeon in the nearest city.   The ambulance transfer has already been requested.  I am so sorry.’

Words are powerful.

They build up.  They tear down.  They give us hope.  They let us down.   They may comfort and help us catch our breath.   They may announce life or point to death.

When crises come and there are no words to adequately convey the concern of our hearts, what have we left to work with?  Is our faith anything more than words?

As I sat for days and nights on end in a hospital room watching a raging fever ravage our daughter, holy week was descending upon us and the darkness of Gethsemane loomed up before me in the anguished words of Jesus.   What had given him the power to accept the Father’s will with courage in the face of his impending death?

Clichés are less than worthless when worst case scenarios fall ever closer with the drip of each IV medication failing to turn the situation around.  And yet, it was simple words I’d always known which sustained a living faith when living was uncertain.

“The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33: 27)

When words weigh heavily on our souls, he bears us weightless on his wings of grace. We can trust the Father’s heart regardless of the temporal outcome.  We are loved with an everlasting Love.

As a pastor, I have walked difficult journeys with many faithful people, some whose stories of struggle ended in thanksgiving and restoration to health in this life, and others who passed through the valley of the shadow of death themselves or watched loved ones slip from this world to the next.   Deep trust is not a forced ‘name it and claim it’ expectation that God must do as we ask, but rather, a source of rest deeper still in the knowledge that he does all things well although we may not understand; that the resurrection speaks of a living Word walking with us in the storm.

We were given no illusions about the gravity of the situation as operating room doors opened to receive her.  This could be our last embrace, a final look into this precious face which first made me a mother.  This was a hug of knowing she may return but never be the same.  How does one say goodbye without saying goodbye, holding onto hope until the end?

What are the weighty words on which to stand?

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” (Psalm 62: 1-2)

I give thanks to God for giving us back our child, but also for the lived certainty that true rest comes by relinquishing everything to him based on a knowledge of his unchanging love demonstrated at the cross.

After intensive care and step down units, after several days on a neurological floor, after continuing with two months of home care for a PICC line with IV antibiotics, I hear our daughter singing a song I hadn’t heard or thought about for years.

A word from heaven to wash us in his love.

image“Rest.  The Lord is near. Refuse to fear.  Enjoy his love.

Trust.  His mighty power fills every hour of all your days.

There is no need for needless worry.
With such a Saviour you have no cause to ever doubt.

His perfect word still reassures in any trial.

Rest the Lord is there.  Lift up your prayer for he is strong.
Trust, He’ll bring release and perfect peace will calm your mind.

There is no need for needless worry.
With such a Saviour you have no cause to ever doubt.  

His perfect word still reassures in any trial.  

Call Him, if you grow frightened.
Call Him, with loving care, he’ll lift the burden and you’ll rest.  

The Lord is near.  Refuse to fear.  Enjoy His love.

Trust. His mighty power fills every hour of all your days.

Rest, the Lord is near.  

Refuse to fear.  

Enjoy His love.”

Lyrics and Music by Phill McHugh and Greg Nelson
Copyright 1985 River Oaks Music 

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May the words of this beautiful song be our prayer for one another.

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

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