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Saturday, December 8, 2007

50 Hours

50 hours. That is what is left until the doctors’ talk to me about Andrea condition. Without improvement they will want to move the vent to her trach and that means we face much longer on the vent. 50 hours until I have to face them, and their predictable attitude of "We were right." It is such a small buffer of protection. 50 hours, my cocoon of safety, my last refuge of hope. It dwindles with each tick of the clock, never to be regained, gone forever. You can’t hold on to time, nor can you stop its progression, time slips by us, there is nothing we can do. It ticks on without feeling, or care of what I struggle with. The clock is merciless in its efficiency. As I look back to when this all began, I see the measure of time growing increasingly smaller. In July 2003 we had no boundary on our time. Then came that fateful day in Aug when cancer suddenly placed a limit on us, a stake in the ground, still far off but a stake nevertheless. At first it was distant and only a possibility. Very faint off in the distance, hardly recognizable and so far away you are not really sure it was even in your path. And if it was it would only take a slight change of course to avoid it, or a small step to go over it. But with each passing treatment that marker off in the distance drew closer, and as it did it became clearer and its size grew. With each passing month it became harder to avoid. We saw it and we asked and believed God would remove it. But no matter what we have done or were we turn there it lies in the distance, closer and closer it comes. And now it sits right before us. To miss it now would take a drastic change of course. And soon that will be impossible, soon we will hear the alarms go off, “Brace for impact!” What was once only a speck on the horizon has now become ominous obstacle. The doctors and books all told us what lay ahead. They knew but I did not want to believe them. Now I feel they are all sitting and laughing at me. Laughing at my faith, and it’s seemingly inability to stop the inevitable. They enjoy their self-righteous cup of victory. I hear them say, “See I told you so.” They may be correct but they are also so wrong. They will wonder about this little woman’s faith. It will be a crack in their cup of self-importance. It will become a chink in their armor. It will expose the weakness of their knowledge. It will confound them because it will not fit into their tidy package marked predictability.

Now our boundary of time is measured in hours soon to be minutes soon to be complete and soon to be decision time. Before we had months of treatment, and years to wait, then we had weeks of treatment and months to wait; now we have days of treatment and hours to wait. 50 hours to be exact. And with each passing hour my faith is challenged. The pressure compounds. Each hour builds upon itself. Hope sways, odds are confirmed, and prayers of hope seem to shift to begging. I'm no different then many of you. There are times, far to many really where I struggle and all I can muster is pleading when I pray.

But it is all necessary some how, for some reason. I only see the moment, God sees the entirety. I only know what I want, God knows what I need. I only see the now, God see forever. I see through selfish eyes, God see through love.

My sister was telling me to remember Christ, who fell three times while carrying His cross only to get back up and finally to be nailed to it and die. As painful as it is to watch Andrea carry her cross, to watch her fall again and again yet get back up again and again, it is necessary. If for nothing else other then for us to witness faith rarely seen in a lifetime. To hear Andrea ask God for healing, but say, “Not my will but yours be done.” I cringe with every fall, with every step that brings her closer to this obstacle. I believe and know God can take this away in a second yet I must continue. Time does not stop, we must continue take the next step ever closer to that dreaded obstacle. Once so far away, now so clear before us. Yet we must continue to place one foot in front of the other. Faith does not mean we stop moving ahead. Especially as time draws near we sometimes feel like we need to stop to give God time to do his miracle. As if He needs more time, as if He did not see this obstacle coming. We want to stop because we don’t want to face what lies ahead.

Did Christ take each step hoping the Father would change it all? Did He live His life knowing what lie ahead? Did he think about it in the dark of night, when the crowds were gone and He was alone? Did He think about it as he healed the masses? Did it weigh upon Him? Did it grow heavy with each passing day? Did He have sleepless nights like I do? Did he put off thinking about it until the task was right before Him? I wonder how it was for Jesus, when He had to deal with why He came. I don’t know but I do know the night before, as the obstacle in His life became clear and unavoidable He asked the Father if it could be taken from him. And it was not a simple request and acceptance, He was pleading with the Father. I know He must have had some of the same feelings I have right now. Maybe you can relate to me. But when he left the garden He was ready to do the Father's will. I think when he stepped out of the Garden He knew what lie ahead. He knew with each passing moment what events would play out. He knew that His friends would leave Him. He knew the beating that waited Him and the pain that was His to bear. He carried His cross with a purpose and go back up after each fall. The pain must have engulfed His whole body yet he stood back up and took the next step. One foot in front in front of the next, each one drawing Him closer to more pain and finally death. Seemingly so useless yet eternally so necessary. Do you ever think about how hard that must have been knowing He had the power to stop it all? That in one word He could have stopped it all. Yet He knew that the Father's will was born out of love for all of us and this was His role to fill. Do you think similar thoughts about Andrea? I do. I know He can heal her, He created her. In a single word or a simple thought He could heal Andrea's body form the top of her head to the soles of her feet. Then why doesn't He? Well He may, I believe He will, but if not, then thy will be done.

I feel as if I’m in the Garden of Gethsemane, and I’m crying out to God asking this cup to be taken from Andrea. I'm scared to get up; I want Him to tell me He will spare her. I want Him to take away this obstacle. The answer may be given in silence, and if we are told it is time to get up, pick up this cross and walk the last steps to the hill then we all carry a cross with Andrea. As she gets up, we will to. As she lifts this wooden beam of cancer on her back once more and begins to walk, we will to. If she stumbles, we will to. Some may find this cross too much to bear. That is okay, others will help you. This is not a walk we take alone. As Andrea lies down and stretches out her arms, we can only watch. We watch the faith of a Godly woman. We will wonder of the purpose in all this. We may even get mad and question God. But there before us will be Andrea on her cross telling you “Its okay, this is my cross to bear.” Just has she has done everyday of this journey, even as this obstacle drew closer and became clearer.

I turn to the clock and I see my 50hrs has now dwindled even more. A call to the hospital tells me there have been no changes in Andrea’s condition. It draws closer yet. My desires have not changed, I know time is limited yet I still know God only needs a second of it. So I will go see my wife. Hold her hand and tell her I love her and pray with her. Who am I to drop my cross when my wife so faithful, with such peace, she continues to take step after step. I will continue to wait for the miracle I believe God promised Andrea. I will continue to believe she will be healed, but I will continue to walk, take the next step, no matter how painful or difficult, because Christ first did the same for me.

49 hours.....


  1. Jim,

    I think the human part of Jesus must have had all the feelings and emotions that you and all of us are experiencing through this. I’ve wondered if Jesus also believed that in the last hour, the last moment, that the Father would, indeed, produce another way. Much like God did when sparing Isaac after Abraham exhibited his willingness to obey God and sacrifice Isaac. I've often wondered what all Jesus might have been feeling and thinking in that moment when He cried out from the cross, "Father, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" He must have felt totally forsaken by God to have said that. I’ve wondered if that was the moment He realized that God was not going to produce another way, and that, in fact, He, His blood, was going to be sacrificed. I know this does not comfort any of us during our moments of anguish over Andrea's suffering, but I’m reminded that the Father DID ANSWER the Son's plea to remove this cup of death from Him. God DID SAVE Jesus from death: just not by keeping Him from dying.

    Hopefully, prayerfully, He will answer our pleas to deliver Andrea from this cancer, this pneumonia, this terribly weakened human state with total, absolute healing of every cell in her body. “Father, glorify Thy Son’s name, Jesus Christ, in Andrea’s healing!”

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all.


  2. I've included a poem in this post that I wrote soon after I returned from a visit with you all in Alaska after Andrea's first round of chemo treatment was finished. I don't know if you remember me sending this a while ago.
    As I was praying for Andrea I had the question "what the heck are you doing Lord" and this poem was part of an answer; it's still not fully answered though...

    Always A

    Small hands grip the big wheel.
    Green Explorer, challenging a world of chaos.

    Strappy sandals move on cobble stone streets,
    Dodging cracks, cigarette butts and admiring looks.

    Deliberate steps find the best
    copper kettles, hereke rugs, warm simit, and gardens for chats.

    I get lost on familiar roads.
    As I long to hold on to green chilli dinners and overnight trains to Istanbul.

    Finding my way through
    Open doors where scented candles and slender glasses wait on marble tables.

    Searing questions with obvious answers.
    “Are you the Lord?” Laughing so much as I take too long to answer “NO”!

    Tell me your dream and I'll tell you what it means...
    You go to Alaska, and then you get cancer, and your favorite porcelain cracks in two places, and your sons tower over you with impossible questions, and the nights last way too long, and you feel weak, and I find I'm getting lost on unfamiliar roads...

    Ask me now, “Are you the Lord?”
    I'm not laughing but afraid. I've forgotten the answer is still “NO”.

    And I'm telling Him what to do and when it's enough.
    That it's time to go back to savory meals, train rides to Istanbul and easy conversation.

    You remind me again,
    Through happy hairless photos, blue linen dresses and honest words.

    That He Is. And it's always been true.
    As you sign another letter,
    Always A.