I continue the journey begun a year and a half ago but spanning every day of my life. It's the profound truth of knowing and sharing my story. And nothing is deeper in our stories than hope...except the love that fuels it.
I am in the ICU. All kinds of tubes are attached to me. I spend three days here. My only remembrance of this time is how I cannot breathe. I wonder if I will live.
They say I have had an allergic reaction to all of the sedatives they gave me the first day I was here. After two attempts to escape and in my then-warped thinking be 'taken up to Heaven' they shoot my leg with shot after shot.
When I awake in the ICU, it's as though an oppressive cloud has been lifted. It is a Sunday morning. Hundreds, maybe thousands, have prayed me to this morning. Some awake in the middle of the night with a burden to pray for me.
As I look back at these dark parts of a dark experience, I ride the coaster of emotions. Most often these days leading to the hospital and in the hospital are the charred remains of what once was. After they were over, we abruptly packed up and left the life we had.
I want to grind these days into fine dust and let the four winds take them away forever. I want to wipe them from my memory and live like they never happened. I want to say it was someone else there, in that bed. Helpless and frail. A shell.
In many ways it was.
I am far from reconciling the spiritual, emotional and physical levels of battle, struggle and pain which happened in these days. There are things I will not understand until I possess the eyes of Heaven.
But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed.
His compassions, they never fail,
His mercies are new every morning.
Great is Your faithfulness, Oh God.
'The Lord is my portion', says my soul
'Therefore I will hope in him.'
Lamentations 3:21-24 (paraphrased from memory)This hope, it is the anchor of the soul. When our stories seem charred remains, hanging onto Him, holding onto hope, we stand.
Sometimes we find ourselves strapped to machines, fighting to breathe, in a foreign hospital, our mother's fifty year-old engagement ring stolen off our finger, the life we had disintegrated. Yet, we possess the solid thing called hope. Even here. Especially here.
Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of sudden loss. A loved one. A marriage. A career. A friendship. And here too, is the substance of hope. Its appearance as the warmth of the sun whose persistent force breaks through to a new day.
The question to me (and you) is will we take hope on its terms or demand our own?
And here, we look to our stories to shape our perspective.
Within all of our stories there are dark, marred and misshapen things. They lay many years hidden, buried. They are stuffed into too-small boxes. They find paper-thin worlds of platitudes. It is all an attempt to create a life, a story, according to our own standards.
But this lacks the integrity of the kind of story God writes. He keeps the dark, marred and misshapen things in His own story. He lets the idolatry, adultery, murder, tyranny, exile and captivity take center stage. He breaks the heart of the reader until we understand it is the human story; our story.
Until we are all ready for a Savior. Until our great longing is for the full redemption of our lives and this whole wide world. Until we want nothing more than to see His Glory revealed and restored for the healing of the nations.
This is where my wandering soul finds rest. I watch those days burn up and leave the charred. I comb through with trembling fingers as my nails turn black. And then I see it. A golden thread. An undeniable reminder which says 'God is here.' The imperishable substance of hope--a faith refined by fire. One emptied of self so that I might bring glory to Him.
And a story. My story. It will never be the same because of what I have lived. Especially these days which altered the course of my life and the life of my family. In the nearly year since then, I have had the faintest glimpses of answers to 'why's', but often they flutter away like bright blue butterflies.
Yet, this hope, the anchor of my soul, is what remains.
*photo credit via fotolia.com