"Don't box God in..."
"See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut... Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches."
~ Revelation 3:8b, 13
We slept with the windows open last night, something that we can enjoy along the Gulf in January. About 4 am this morning it began to rain. I noticed the slow, steady sound, as it fell upon the roof, and soon could be heard traveling through the downspouts and onto the yard. For the next hour I was half asleep, and soon my dreaming seemed to be somewhere between the rain and the thought of how much longer I had to sleep.
Curious how our mind works. I always remind people how miraculously we are made.
We are both fragile and resilient at the same time. We know both pleasure and pain. Sorrow and joy. We can experience great injury, and yet, still experience great healing.
I am reminded of a man who had a massive heart attack while helping his son put a new roof on his home when I was a resident working the Emergency Room on my first on-call weekend. During the week, I was a chaplain resident to the cardiac unit at a hospital in the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky. This man had to be "shocked" back to life four times before arriving at the hospital where the doctor upon his arrival asked me to go and sit with the family and try to "prepare them for bad news."
As I walked into the family room where his wife and children had gathered, I tried to tell his wife that it wasn't "looking good." Before I even had a chance to tell her anything, she looked at me and said, "If you're coming in here to tell me that my husband is going to die, you need to turn around and leave. Don't you come in here and box in my God. I am someone who still believes in miracles."
I just remember feeling very shut down. Struggling to take in what she had said, and what the doctor had asked me to do. I was torn by the possibilities of two outcomes. Something that I have since learned happens all the time. There is the one outcome that we so often pray for, and then there is the real outcome.
I have learned that you never refer to anything as, "God's plan," since I am not God and don't know the plans that God makes. It is never appropriate to relate the words, "God's plan" when there is a death, or some other painful event. We live in an imperfect world filled with imperfect people and decisions.
I remember going back into the room with the woman and her family and simply saying, "Then we need to pray."
Over the course of the next month, I would see the woman and her family in the hallways and in the man's hospital room, sitting at the man's bedside. Good days and bad days. They all seemed to run together. Then came the day that I was paged to the man's room. I thought that he "must have died." Instead, when I walked into the room, I was greeted by the woman who had become my friend, and a man who's eyes were open and looking at both of us. She introduced me as, "The man that you taught that miracles still exist."
Over the past twenty-something years since this event, I have thought of this woman, her faith, and the miracle that took place. I have often wondered what their life was like once he went home. He was changed, but was still alive. I know that he went through months of rehabilitation, and his healing journey would continue the rest of his life.
Healing takes place in many ways. Miracles exist in ways that we can't imagine. God does not conveniently fit into anyone's box, and when we think we understand how all this works, our faith then takes us to another place.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.