I am exhausted and uncertain and a bit euphoric. It has been a strange day.
The strange thing that happened: A pregnant woman in our congregation had a medical emergency while I was preaching. We have several nurses in our little part of the Body of Christ and they immediately jumped into action. I love them. They brought a wheelchair and rushed her to the best hospital in Managua, where she was diagnosed as having suffered a seizure. They also diagnosed high blood pressure and hypertention. I was afraid she had pre-eclampsia. People I love have had their babies die because of pre-eclampsia, so I was mightily relieved to hear she was not suffering from this. She was released mid-afternoon. Baby seems fine.
I don’t know her well. She is, however, in a Bible study within our fellowship and our folks rallied around her. When it happened, her husband was in another city, but got back today. Would you take a moment and pray for her? In whatever form or whatever version you might do that. Thank you.
So that wasn’t about me, it was about her, obviously. It was also one of my Top 5 strangest things to happen while preaching. I couldn’t tell what was going on. There was activity on that side of the room, people looking, a few people moving. She was sitting in her chair while people attended to her. The service stopped. The preacher stopped. Maybe the other way around.
I watched. I prayed. She was sitting up, looking alert. I thought, “If this were one of my daughters and I were causing all this attention instead of going ahead, I. Would. Be. Dead.” But it felt sacrilegious to continue. So I walked back and forth a little, tried to get a sense of what was going on, and finally got some information. They took her out. I prayed for her. Then I tried to find my place in the sermon again.
After that, today went like a normal Sunday for me. We came home, did a few chores, hung out and had a quick lunch (we’re not roast and potatoes for Sunday Dinner people like my family sometimes was growing up; we’re grab stuff from the fridge for Sunday brunch and stand around the kitchen chatting while listening to music folks). I took my Sunday afternoon nap, which is sacrosanct in my life, especially after I’ve preached. I got up, had a video call pre-marital counseling session with a couple I love, then hurried off to Sunday ultimate where I chased guys 20 to 30 years younger than myself around the field and, in my best moments, had them chasing me.
It was not beautiful ultimate, but it was great exercise. Two of the younger Nica guys who are sensational athletes and becoming great ultimate players guarded me, which is both flattering and exhausting. They don’t yet recognize that they’ve moved a level or three above me (and please don’t mention it to them). I used to get extremely frustrated about the Sunday game, which can be more chaos than regulation ultimate, but something magical happened in my heart somehwere along the line; I really have grown to love a bunch of those young guys and realize that I’m mentoring more than anything in that time.*
So my euphoria comes from post-adrenaline-and-endorphin-rush-caffeine-push buzz. Most of it. We had dinner together and then ended up watching Weird Al videos together, so I’m also feeling warm and fuzzy about my family. Somewhere in there is a sense that the sermon went well, maybe, because God showed up and some people got what I was trying to say and maybe, maybe someone feels, if not less screwed up, more loved by God in their screwed up state. That would make the day worthwhile right there.
I’m going to take a brief excursus (so much more intellectual sounding than “I’m going off on a tangent now”) to hit this point from my sermon. I was preaching today on sharing Jesus through our weakness. I had one of those things I wanted to express in my sermon but couldn’t figure out how to put it in my manuscript, so I finally just gave up and, when the time came, said it. By that, I mean I was stuck and realized I needed to trust God to help me say it in the moment.
We know that grace is for our sin. Grace is also for how we feel deeply, fundamentally flawed. In some ways, it’s easier to talk about my sin than about how I feel really messed up. It can be easier to deal with sin in our lives than that part of us that we just can’t fix. It’s not that you need to repent; it’s just broken. People who don’t know God’s love need to know that God won’t magically fix that in us, but will give us the strength to live with it and will love and heal us through it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, God bless you and I hope you get something out of the rest of this post. For you who know exactly what I’m talking about, if it feels like I read your email (or your journal), grace means you are loved not in spite of this but fully with this. There is hope that you can learn to love yourself. There is hope that God’s grace for you is greater than how f***ed up you feel.
There is hope.
–Oh, a gecko is crawling up the front door. I love living in a place where lizards randomly appear. Good luck, little guy. Watch out for the cats.– (Okay, that one was a tangent.)
Coming back around, then, we’re in the midst of making some big decisions as a family and I’m waiting on God, trying to hear how God is leading me. I’m reminded that hearing God is more art than science. I’m remembering that trusting God can be difficult. Or even bloody hard.
“Waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts.” Eugene Peterson.
(Kudos to those of you who were tracking and waiting to hear about “uncertain” between “euphoric” and “exhausted.”)
All that, and I remember a day when Kim’s pregnancy took a sudden turn and–I’m not exaggerating–life has never been the same since. Full of grace and redemption? Absolutely. Soaked with joy and full of children. Quite so. But as I’ve said more than once, you don’t “recover” from the death of a child because it’s not an injury, it’s an amputation. You learn to cope. You adapt to living without a piece of yourself that never grows back. I was pacing the front of the room, waiting to preach again, and praying for her. Some part of me, all day long, has wondered/worried/feared that today would become that day for her.
So I’ll end where I began: pray for her, please.
*And playing a game on Saturday helps, too.