While We Journey On
This has been another challenging week, marked in particular by Claudette’s surgery. It has been quite a journey so far: a sudden diagnosis, 3 rounds of chemo, a tumour which responded and now major surgery. This was phase 2 of many.
On Wednesday morning we had an early start, as I needed to take my accommodation for the weekend up to Aberdeen where I set it up in the beautiful neighbourhood of Petercoulter. After I returned and picked up Claudette for her MRI in Dundee, we discovered that the scan was cancelled and therefore, continued our journey in a hurry up to Aberdeen, where she was admitted straight away. A meeting with the surgeon revealed the details of the operation, the side effects, the risks and recovery steps. After the admission process was completed, we discovered that the next time they needed Claudette in the ward, would have been the following morning. All it took, was a look at each other and we knew what we’d like to do: run away. Ha, Ha! Surely enough, the permission of the staff nurse was sealed with a high-five and thus, we enjoyed a lovely meal at a local Greek Tavern and a restful night in our little caravan.
Upon our return the following morning, the pre-op preparation began in earnest. I had a question, though: what do you say to someone heading into such major surgery, without uttering any of the regular clichés? I have been there a number of times with family and friends, but when it is your wife, fighting for her life!? It was different! And all it took was a look into her eyes and I realised that she also seemed to be struggling with what to say. What we managed was ‘Don’t think too much!’ Let me tell you: easier said than done! But we tried hard! A lovely porter allowed me to take her all the way to the OR, where, in the privacy of a drawn curtain we joined friends and relatives from around the world, and prayed together entrusting her into His hands, together with all the staff involved in the operation. If only the medical team knew how many people prayed for them! Perhaps they sometimes need to know that they are answers to prayers.
After many hours of waiting, a reassuring phone call from the hospital gave me permission to go and visit. She was tired and in pain, but she smiled and even managed to talk a wee bit with the children. The surgeon reassured us that the operation was a success and that all went according to plan. We may not have said many things that evening, but all we need to do was to look into each other’s eye to know that things will be OK – at least for now. But that was sufficient.
Today she ate and drank, talked and smiled, walked a wee bit and made (limited) contact with some work colleagues and friends. My girl is back! Thank you, God and thanks to the medical staff! There is hope and assurance and life in her eyes and I just looooooove it.
This reminded me of another look: in the hours before His death, Jesus’ closest friend denied knowing Him. What made it worst was that being aware of His friend’s predisposition to such behaviour, Jesus already forewarned him and gave him a sign – a rooster will crow 3 times – to no avail. Luke’s quick pen records in the following words, the split second it took for Jesus’ eye to catch Peter’s: ‘The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered…”
What would you say in such a situation? Tell him off!?! Brush it off!?! Make a clever remark!?! Teach a lesson!?! A look can say so many things.
Conversly, if you were Peter, what would you think Jesus would have said to you and what would you have remembered of all the things He previously said to you? All there was, was a look!
Jesus could have said so many things with that look! However, I choose to believe in the kind of God who doesn’t rejoice when we fail, or struggle, or indeed, suffer. I choose to believe (at times) in spite of the evidence, in a God who understands my failures and struggles and troubles – a God whose heart goes out to us and cries with us and feels with us! A heart which knows and chooses not to rub it in; a heart which encourages us; a heart filled with compassion; a heart which cries when we cry and rejoices when we rejoice. And sometimes God communicates that with a look! There is so much in a look but sometimes that is all it takes!
A hunch tells me that I am not too far off the mark in thinking about God in these terms because, while we do not know many other details in the story of Peter’s failure, it is sufficient to learn that when Jesus saw Peter next, three ‘Peter, do you love me!?!’ questions later, Peter gave in and finally admitted ‘You know, Lord, that I love you!’ Jesus saw right into his heart and Peter knew it. And all that, was in a look.
That look, saw Peter through his dark night of the soul and may have even saved his life! God looked into Peter’s eyes and He looked into Claudette’s eyes yesterday and mine and He is looking into yours too! God still looks at His children!
Some of you have experienced failure; perhaps such failure as you have not known before! I say: let Him catch your eye and look down into your soul, because He understands and doesn’t condemn! And perhaps you may also listen to Claudette’s advice: ‘Don’t think too much!’
Some of you are in the midst of terrible struggles, which very few other people understand or know of! I say, look into the eyes of God and let Him reassure you that if anyone knows what that feels like, He does! You are not alone!
Some of you face difficulties and suffering, for reasons unknown to you! Let God’s heart meet yours and in the midst of your trials, feel His compassion and carrying heart!
At the end of this week, if our experience so far is anything to go by, this is all I can say: keep looking up and let His loving eye, catch yours! As for Claudette and I, we keep looking into one another’s eyes, we do not think too much (;-)) and surely continue to look up to Him!
References: Luke 22:61; Psalm 121