It began as an upset stomach, devolved into a blockage, and resulted in the removal of a mass from my colon.
God has a way of getting our attention.
My first lesson was trust. I had to surrender to the hands of strangers.
They put tubes in me, stuck me with needles and pushed drugs into my veins. But as nurses tended me with their medical training, I soon found them ministering to me with personal gifts that truly made them healers.
The surgeon, kind and soft-spoken, pulled no punches in describing the cause of my condition.
I quickly discovered that talk of the big C inevitably leads to thoughts of the big D.
My life came into sharper focus. I realized my oversized portion of grace and good fortune. I have suffered the disappointments and loss common to all, but I am bountifully blessed with an incredible family, undeserved friends, rewarding work, and endless fascination.
I could regret losing all that, but I had no grounds to complain. I couldn’t imagine a more generous life.
Before surgery, our pastor anointed me. With my wife at his side, he knelt by the bed.
He held my hand in his and prayed with a fervor I have never known. No book or recitation, he just let his love speak, handing me from his heart to God’s.
As he prayed for the doctors and nurses attending me, and for a deeper healing of wholeness beyond their skills, I could feel myself awash in a warm and comforting light.
It was then that the floodgates opened and every prayer that so many had offered seemed to embrace me. The others must have felt it because we were all in tears.
That night, the oil still fragrant on my head and hands, my own prayer slowly formed.
“Lift me with Your healing power. Hold me in Your people’s love.”
I used it to endure the pain, to calm the dis-ease, to feed the healing and to fill the empty spaces between it all.
When surgery came, Carolyn and the kids dispatched me with kisses and then kept vigil. Their presence was both strength and hope for me, but I’ll never know how hard those hours were for them.
It turned out well. The blockage gave way. The surgery got the cancer. The tested lymph nodes were clean.
That was good fortune. All the rest is grace.
I am grateful for both.