It wasn't really midnight. But there was a phone call. We were just getting ready to turn in for the night when the phone rang. 10pm. Who would be calling at this time?
The caller on the answering machine identified himself as my brother's coworker. He said that my brother was really sick, had been taken to the hospital by ambulance, and if we didn't pick up, we really needed to call him back. That was all in the thirty seconds it took us to reach the phone and answer.
From that time-stopping moment, a thousand things run through your mind but it's the simple ones that take precedence. Shoes on. Grab a jacket. Car keys. Directions to the hospital. Thank the Lord for no traffic.
Park. Find emergency entrance. Only two allowed in to see him at a time. Pace the waiting room. Get told to sit. I don't want to sit. I want to see my brother. Finally sit. Get allowed in to see him. Try to put a smile on his face. Machine beeps and makes me jump. Glance at the machine. His heart is beating way too fast. Machine stops beeping. Heart beat normalizes. Machine goes off again. Then louder and faster. Then slows. This is utterly nerve wracking.
Medicine. More medicine. He gets transfered to another hospital. They get his heart rate down into a more normal pace though it's still fast enough he should be jogging. Better than the sprinting rate he did have. We have to leave. His heart rate still isn't normal and his heart isn't pumping right, either.
But we leave. He is at least "stable." List prayer requests on Facebook. Get a few hours of sleep. Call the hospital. Talk to my brother! Prayer requests have been gloriously answered. His heart is beating normally, pumping well, and the doctors figured out how to help him. He'll be coming home the next day. I feel like I've been hit by a truck.
Talk about putting "I trust you Lord, no matter what" into practice!
How very true this is! Anxiety robs of joy, of peace, of hope. It strips bare the beauty that is life lived with the LORD. It decays, dulls, and makes us ineffective as children of the King.
Think of that - we are children of the King! For what reason or for what cause do we need to be anxious? Does He not hold the entire world in His hands? Does He not still know the plans He has for each one of us? Has He forgotten our names or decided to neglect the good work He has started? Is His arm somehow shortened that He can no longer reach into our lives and affect a change?
For what cause should we give way to anxiety? For no cause.
Trusting in the LORD must be the action we choose. It must be the lense through which we view every detail of life. Trust is what will see us through trials and tribulations with joy and a deep abiding love for the One who created us. Trust will see us through the darkest days because it will focus our thoughts on the Light. Anxiety seeks to destroy and render us totally ineffective; trust frees us to walk unfettered regardless of how dark or unclear the path ahead may lie.
Let us ever and always, boldly, trust in the Lord.
Last week I was privileged to participate in a missions conference and speak at several churches in the Boston, Mass. area. During my first Saturday night I started getting the jitters about speaking the next morning. The usual unspoken thoughts and feelings about speaking fueled the nervous flight of butterflies in my stomach. Then the Lord orchestrated a late-night talk which would radically transform the way I view life and ministry from here on out.
My wonderful hostess shared her story about being a church pianist. She said when she played piano at church and did so with the choir singing, she wasn't nervous at all. But when she played solo, butterflies took flight. She wrapped up by observing that when it wasn't about her, she was fine.
A light bulb went off when she said that. These speaking opportunities, getting to share the ministry, etc... is not about me! It has absolutely nothing to do with me! I can speak with complete freedom because it's not about me! I can live with abandon because it has nothing to do with me! This life is not to be lived with me as a focus - ever! It is not about me, so I can speak to someone for hours about the Gospel regardless of whether I'm tired or sick because I don't matter. I can serve and live in less-than-great conditions because living is not about me. I can freely, boldly, and excitedly proclaim the Gospel of Christ because I am free from the fear of offending someone. What if I do? They're not offended at me anyway - they're offended by Christ! I can even be free from the fear of persecution because it's not about me. I might be ostracized or physically harmed one day, but really, people are persecuting Christ if they persecute me. They are rejecting the Lord's work if they reject me. It has nothing to do with me. I am secure in Christ and I have died with Him already. It is now He who lives in me, not me who lives in me!!
When I make life about me, as I all too often do, that is where sin comes in. When something doesn't go "my" way and I get frustrated, the focus is me. Someone cuts me off on the freeway and I'm "ticked" off, the focus is me. Whenever I sin, my focus is me, not the One living inside of me. This life is not about me. It has absolutely nothing to do with me. And that is freeing beyond belief.
"I think of faith as a kind of whistling in the dark because, in much the same way, it helps to give us courage and to hold the shadows at bay. To whistle in the dark... demonstrates, if only to ourselves, that not even the dark can quite overcome our trust in the ultimate triumph of the Living Light." - Frederick Buechner
Whistling in the dark... singing through uncertainty. That is such a great picture of faith - that abiding and ever present belief beyond the current circumstances and situations that seemingly have no answers or ending. It is a tentative action so small, yet so powerful, that mighty things can be accomplished with even a little amount of it. Just as that pin prick of a whistled note invades and pushes past the darkness, so faith pushes past the boundary of uncertainty. When fear and doubt desire to cage us in, faith pushes through the gate and refuses its capture.
Faith can seem like such a little thing yet it can fell giants, move mountains, subdue forces of evil, and bring entire nations to their knees. It is a choice yet it is also grown by the unseen hand of God; the Holy Spirit uses it to create warrior servants in the service of the High King and Jesus demands it of His followers. There is nothing we can do adequately for our LORD without it and yet so many of us lack so much of it that we find ourselves constantly crying out to the LORD for more.
In this day and age where so much darkness surrounds us and endeavors to invade our lives, let us be ever mindful of the fact that we not only serve the Light of the World but are called to be the light of the world, ourselves. We are to stand firm in the midst of darkness, firm in our faith in Jesus Christ, and shine into the darkness the love and hope and grace and goodness, and glory of Jesus Christ. We are to dispel the darkness. That is what faith does. In the midst of trials, sickness, discouragement, and death, our faith must be rooted in the One who triumphed over it all. Darkness threatens but faith breaks through and light shines in the darkness.