Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Of His Merciful Provision to His broken slave

The LORD has this day used my son, once yet again, to instruct me.

I awoke this morning at 4:15. My mission today was to get Stevie to the audiologist by 6:00 for surgery at 8:00.

It was all for a procedure which he had endured already just after Thanksgiving. As he is suffering through speech regression and fine motor skills issues, he is unable at present to take a simple hearing test which you or I would partake in without effort--he currently can not communicate to a recording physician whether or not the sound being played through headphones was on his left side or his right. He therefore had to be sedated with a product called Versed (a product dubbed "happy juice" by the practitioners) before being taken from my arms, whisked through double doors where I could hear him crying for me, and then made unconscious, so that sound waves at varying frequencies could be transmitted, and his ear structure responses interpreted, by attending audiologist staff, who can then tell us what Stevie, at this moment in time, can not.

Seeing my son returned to me with a breathing tube and a hospital gown was not something I was made to witness without internal consequence. Yet I learned that day a little more of what it means to believe in God. Not that vacuous term which the world uses, with typical flippancy, for what is temporarily convenient or expedient, but that word spoken of in scripture describing what the LORD requires of us whom He has called to be His slaves; that which means we must adhere to Him, rely upon Him, trust Him, cling to Him. With the sound of Stevie's distress embedded in my memory, and my inability to do anything to stop it still in my chest despite how much I would trade my life to provide it for him, mingling with all imagining of what they would be doing to him to hold him down and sedate him flapping in my mind like a murder of crows, I went to my knees in the recovery room where I was forced to wait, and prayed to the Master, throwing my self at His feet. I did not ask only for that which even a God-hating soul knows to ask for in sudden desperation, but rather thanked Him for the privilege of being steward of my son's life, and asking that God do with us both what seems best to Him. It was Job's blueprint; a man who knew both his place as a slave before a Holy, Sovereign God, and that all which he might have thought as his, from his family and possessions down to even the condition of his very flesh, belonged not to Job himself after all, but to the LORD Who made all things; to give and to take away in accordance to His will and pleasure, that I sought by grace of God to emulate.

I was to learn that this experience, combined with that of the onrushing wave of "Christ Mass", was designed to break me in a way I could not foresee.

I will not address here in full all which I was shown by grace of God concerning what was in my youth my most beloved tradition of all those instituted by Constantine; that amalgam of pagan myth and whitewashed demonic imagery, that worldwide celebrated spectacle of "family togetherness" made to huddle together in the center of the coliseum beneath red and green lights and be torn to pieces by murderous idolatry and greed; that event dubbed, in unmitigated gall, the Christ Mass. It yet bears mentioning, replete with all those descriptors, for a specific reason.

During the entire season of revelry and merriment, I could see only the realities which I had never before considered.

Of an Only Begotten Son Who loves His Father so much as to obey His will even unto torment and death, for the undeserving likes of me.

Of a Father Who loves His Only Begotten Son so much as to create *all things* both *by* His Son and *for* His Son, Who even in the midst of that perfect love, was satisfied to allow that perfect, most precious life to be crushed for the filthy transgressions of the undeserving likes of me, bruised for the iniquities of the undeserving likes of me.

Of the love I have for my father and know in my heart of hearts he has for me.

Of the love I have for my son and know in my heart of hearts he has for me, as he hugs and clings tightly to my neck before being taken from my arms and subjected to the at times inevitable, will robbing care of physicians, who mean well even as they do things which they can not allow parents to witness.

This day, the 3rd day of January, 2012, I was made, by grace of God, to see some of what is done and be broken by it, and in the breaking, be shown the mercy and provision of God.

The procedure in the end of November was, in a word, bungled. An audiologist took her team to task for their failure to test for all frequencies necessary to make an accurate diagnosis, which meant that my son, and by extension his family, would have to endure the entire procedure again.

I will not even a little bit go into what this debacle made me feel. As I have mentioned in previous writings, it is bad form to write words which by their inherent anger cause the readers' eyes to melt from their sockets.

This morning, the procedure would be repeated with key differences.

1) It would be done by the audiologist who showed professionalism and a sense of accountability.

2) It would be done in the office of audiology rather than in the hospital complex at Scottish Rite.

3) A parent would be allowed to be present and hold Stevie's hand until he was fully unconscious.

May God have mercy upon me. I will tell of what I saw today, and what the LORD taught me in the seeing.

Due to the hour, my son was completely exhausted. While he was surprisingly alert during the entire car trip downtown, he slept on my shoulder at every other moment, clinging to my neck in trust.

The true definition of belief. All of us who claim Christ would do well to remember it.

It was bitingly cold this morning, well into the 20s, and very windy. I had him warm and secure in my arms as I walked across two parking lots to get to the building (the one nearest the office was closed at that hour). He stayed on my shoulder, clinging to my neck, while I filled out paperwork with one arm and hand. He remained that way as we waited for over an hour. He suffered himself to be weighed and his blood pressure taken while in the circle of my arms, taking a moment to make it clear that he wanted no one else to touch him by slowly yet firmly taking the prodding fingers and instruments of nurse practitioners and applying pressure to remove them from his person before returning to my shoulder.

I gave thanks to God and swallowed tears as I saw this. Scales were removed from my eyes, and by mercy of God I saw that this was what I am to be to the LORD Who saved me--to the Master Who left the ninety-nine safe in the sheep pen to recover the one which was lost. Complete dependence. Complete trust. Complete adherence, clinging for dear life, warding away any and all attempts to remove me or dislodge me from my place on His shoulder, in arms made to provide me shelter from the thunder and the lightning.

When they came for us, I carried him, the drug Versed administered to him already orally, to the operating room. I sat with him in my arms and waited until I was told to place him upon the table. He had been completely limp in my arms, and the doctors who saw his face told me that he was asleep. It gave me hope that I would be able to simply lay him down, as I do at night when I put him to bed.

This was not the case this time.

Despite a drug made to suppress his will and make him not care what is happening to him, my son knew immediately that his Daddy was putting him on the operating table.

He reached for me and began to cry. The cries came from a far away place, as he was groggy and had to fight through the drug to be at all audible.

When I permitted other hands to take his arms, leaving only a hand for me to hold, he silently screamed.

Have mercy, O God. He silently screamed. It was not until the mask was lowered to his face, forcing him to yield, to sleep, that any sound came out, and the sound was full and deep, muffled only by the mask. He had his eyes closed and he took a deep breath of the only air he could, the mask with the gas in it, and it carried his next scream far away, as though it began in a car that suddenly moved away at high speed.

I found myself, against my will, taking the same deep breaths with him, exhaling simultaneously with him. I made no sound, lest I fail to hear him with any wretched bleating of my own. I held his hand as he was pulled from me into the oblivion of drug induced sleep. The nurse across from me, a large man with a kind spirit, saw my reaction and gently placed a hand on the one holding my son's. His voice calmly informing me that what I had just seen was normal was joined by a host of others, but I did not really hear them. I stood when I was directed and exited the room, my eyes not leaving my son's face until solid walls separated us.

The nurse accompanying me to the recovery room then said something which sounded less like rote platitude and more like truth.

"The gas will make him not remember any of it, Dad."

I absorbed this, nodding my head and focusing on it to provide a moment of buoyancy to allow a grown man to stave off a floodgate of tears for a few moments longer.

It then dawned in full.

He won't remember it, but you won't ever forget it. This was for you, Steven. You were to experience this.

During the Christmas season, I have been crying, at times uncontrollably, as I remember the things I mentioned above, of the Father's love for His Son, and His Son's loving obedience to the Father's will. Any nativity scene made me think of my son hugging me about the neck, and I could only cry. I still can only cry, because I see now, by God's grace alone, only the purpose for which the Son of God came here... not to be delivered, against His will, into the hands of doctors who mean him no harm, but into the hands of the most sadistic, demonic torturers of the 1st century world, have his flesh unmercifully torn, and made into a blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices, to pay the otherwise insurmountable blood debt for an unworthy wretch like me and all whom He claims as His own. The Christ-child, the focus of Nativity scenes everywhere, the one given the Name which is above every name, is the Lamb of God. *This* was what was required to save His adopted children, and in the face of this stark truth, there is just no merriment to make. The joy, which the glad tidings of angels to vigilant shepherds contain, is expressed in tears, broken and without number.

What I saw my son endure, what moves me to tears with the force of a tidal wave a thousand feet high, was to further break the will of this doulos, this slave, of God, and to mercifully provide me with a perspective, the tiniest, most merciful glimpse, of what the Father must have endured when His Beloved Son, in Whom He is well pleased, drank the full cup of His wrath toward sin, so that the likes of me would not have to.

God, have mercy. As You have shown mercy to this unworthy slave, may it please You to be merciful to others who are too blinded by treasured tradition and bright lights, as I was, to see the magnitude of how repulsive merriment and revelry are in the face of the final sin offering of Your Beloved, Only Begotten Son.

Thank You, LORD, for this tiny glimpse of the sacrificial love and obedience of Abraham, the belief and obedience of Job, and above all, Your unspeakable gift; the obedience of Your Son to Your will, for which I shall never be worthy to receive, let alone smile and make merry over.


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