Jake had his bypass - which was supposed to be a quad, but downgraded to a triple when they were unable to harvest vein of the proper diameter for the last - and supposedly unessential - coronary artery being bypassed. His heart showed immediate improvement from the increased blood supply as it was "re-connected" before they closed up his chest. He was taken off the vent around 10:00 PM, providing me the visual I needed to attempt sleeping through the night. You just can't rest when the image playing on your closed eyelids is of your beloved bucking and gagging on tubes that are keeping him alive wishing he were dead. But at every juncture through this journey, the Lord has provided. The Lord's provisions started long before we knew the journey had begun.
Much of this has been shared in previous blogs, through the sale of Smooth Change, our experiences in Oregon, the decision to take our home off the market and set the taproot in Michigan, the Lord's provision of our employment - just in time, as usual. At the close of 2007 we toasted less to the incoming new year than to the end of the last one. I don't think we were ever more relieved to see the end of a year, thinking that it brought the end of the challenges.... yet I recall one day in Sunday school, we were discussing what the Lord has been doing in our lives, and I said that I believed 2007 was a trial preparing us for something that lie ahead.
This morning Jake said something like: last year was marked by uncertainty. This year we are traveling into the unknown. At least to us.
But the unknown is not without a trail guide. The Lord had been preparing us for this ordeal for a long time now - I see that so clearly when I look back over 2007. The Lord recently brought us to a church and made it clear that this was the place He would set our root. We have been embraced by this body and upheld by prayer warriors from the very beginning of this thing. We have been recipients of the Love of Christ being poured out in many and varied ways - spiritual and practical - by people putting themselves out to help meet our needs. It has been the most amazing thing I've witnessed.
It started the day of surgery. I really believed I needed to be alone to hold it all together, and the several people who offered to come and sit with me were refused. My daughter wanted badly to come and be with me but I would not let her. I knew Jack, a pastor friend from a previous church was planning to come pray with us pre-operatively, and a dear friend, Barb, from the same church was coming to have coffee with me - for about 15 minutes, or so I thought. That was all I wanted, because I wanted to focus on being in the Word and allow the Lord to see me through the day. But the Lord had a different way of seeing me through the day. The Lord prompted a friend from a previous church - Ron - to come and see if I needed company. And soon after my sister, Trudy, showed up. Without my knowledge, Barb had made arrangements to camp out with me as well. I had three lovely people who carried me through the day, eased the burden, and showered Jake and the surgical team with prayer through the day. I had no idea how desperately I needed them. What a blessing.
My new job started 2 days after Jake's surgery. We got a very nice snowstorm that day, with several inches of snow accumulation. I love snow, but it made my commute home from work exceed an hour and a half, and then it took me over 40 minutes to reach the hospital to visit Jake. I arrived home well after 10:00, with plenty to do before I could go to sleep (and wake up by 4:30 to get to work on time) to find someone had shoveled my snow. I wept with joy. May the Hands of Christ be blessed!!
My sister Trudy arranged her work hours to allow her to watch over Jake during daytime visiting hours. There were many issues with his care that required some "supervision". She was very faithful to be his advocate when I could not. The peace that provided was enormous. I don't know how I could have focused on my job without her looking out for Jake.
Things got more challenging after Jake was discharged from the hosptial. Steeve, another friend provided early morning supervision for Jake's shower / dressing routine - something that made Jake very weak and faint early in his recovery. Knowing someone was here who could help if needed was enormous. The amazing people of Covenant Community Church provided visits, prayers, encouragement, cards, meals, calls, notes, reading material, offers for more help, and even participated in a scheduled web of drop-in visits that provided the safety and support Jake needed to be home alone all day once he was released from the hosptial.
The Body of Christ at large - from Seattle Washington to Texas, from Alberta and Ontario to Nettie West Virginia as well as many MI churches provided prayer support that I credit with Jake's result and recovery. In the midst of tremendous pain and fear, perhaps the darkest leg of our earth-bound sojourn to date, the Body of Christ provided love, comfort, practical help, and the most amazing prayer shield I've known. Times the darkness would begin closing in, fear would begin to take hold, a shield would go up and the Lord's promise would prevail. This is truly amazing stuff. I could actually feel the prayers push away the enemy's work, the enemy's threat - physical and spiritual. When I'd begin to loose faith, the reminder would come to my spirit that we are being prayed for by godly people. God is in control, not man. God is the Great Physician, not these apathetic people. The victory is the Lord's. If you knew the stuff Jake went through, and the complications he suffered, you, too, would be amazed that he was cleared to return to work on Monday. Yes he cannot drive yet... but the Lord happened to provide us each jobs downtown so I can drive him. True, his stamina may not permit a full day's work and I cannot be available to drive him home early... but the Lord provided Jake a job in a place where his boss has promised they will get him home when his workday exceeds his energy level. So the myriad of other details that could cause anxiety at this point have faded into the wonderful promises of a faithful God, who has proven time and time again, that He is bigger than the trial - even the big ones, He is better than our most careful plans, and He is more loving than we could ever deserve. I look at what I've been called upon to do and know that not one iota of this thing is me - it is the Lord, His strength, His direction, guidance and provision. Blessed be His name!