Friday, June 24, 2011

And Then I Heard Him Laugh

Sometimes God likes to remind me that He is God. I suppose that on occasion I need a refresher lesson in that truth. You know how it is. Life happens. We get into rhythms and our days melt one into another and before you know it we have drifted into the assumption that we are in charge and in control. We come to believe that if we don't get everything just right, well, the world is going to be in big trouble.

My shoulders are not that big.

And so God throws days like today into the mix. (Let me state early on that I don't at all believe that God did the things He did today simply for me. I think His purposes were bigger than that. But He surely had me in mind as well as those other people and things. I want to be a good "under-study." So I'm striving to pay attention.) These are the days and these are the ways that God delights in teaching me for the gazillionth time that He is the one, the only, "I Am."

As I woke up today I did one thing before my feet ever touched the floor. Before my eyes even opened to confirm that it was time to get moving. I asked God very simply to please "order my steps today. I need to be in some places at key times and I don't know what those times are so please take charge of my schedule." That was a simple enough prayer. After whispering it I thought no more of it. Then it was time to be rolling out of bed, showering, shaving, doing all of those morning things, I climbed into the car, dropped the top, and began a quick series of errands. It was a beautiful day today and I enjoyed the running around. Still, it seemed to take longer than it should have. I finally found myself on the expressway moving toward St. Louis about 20 minutes later than I would have liked.

"God. Traffic isn't suppose to be this heavy this time of the morning. I need to see my friend, Phyllis, in the hospital and then leave there in time to see my friend Jeff in another hospital 20 minutes away before he goes into surgery. This traffic is making it tough. Please get me everywhere I need to be when I need to be there." The "Poplar Street Bridge" that spans the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis was just ridiculous. All I could do was pray to be in the correct lane and inch along. And then I got cut off by a semi and wasn't able to make my exit. AAAARRRGGGHHH. I took the next exit and wound through side roads and alleys that I had never been down before. St. Louis University Hospital loomed in the distance, it's big green roof serving as a beacon to guide me through the neighborhoods. I arrived an pulled into the parking garage, got my ticket from the printer, and ... there was an empty parking space. On the first floor. I've been coming to this hospital since 1983 and I have never parked on the first floor. Seriously. Not. One. Time. But I knew I was late. I went inside, got my visitors pass, signed in as clergy, got my parking validated and made my way up to room 721. As I walked I prayed. God, please. Order my steps. I need to be where you want me when you want me there. Help me not to blow this. The errands. The traffic. Getting cut off at my exit. I'm afraid I've really screwed this up.

I made the quick turn into the room Phyllis was in, nodded at her roommate, and stepped onto the other side of the curtain where she should be resting. I found her propped up in bed. Three doctors surrounded her. I heard one speak the word "cancer." That was why I was here. I knew that Phyllis was being told this morning that her surgery yesterday had found cancer. I wanted to be with her when she found out.

Phyllis was crying. The three doctors turned and looked at me. The one that looked like Doogie Houser asked me if I was family. I said, "I am her pastor." The woman doctor said, "Perfect timing" and the trio divided to allow me to step to Phyllises side. I have never seen doctors move so quickly or be more happy to do so. I took my friends hand in mine.

"Pastor, I have cancer again," she moaned. I told her that I knew and that we were going to do the same thing we did the last time she had cancer. We were going to kick its butt. I told her it wouldn't be fun but that hundreds of people were going to watch her do physical and spiritual warfare and that I and her church family would be beside her every step of the way. We prayed. The head doctor gave me his card and told me to call him if I had any questions. Phyllis does not have much family and I guess he wanted someone to have his contact number. Or maybe he had ordered too many business cards. Or maybe I was looking pale and he was trying to drum up business. After we had talked for about 10 minutes the doctors excused themselves and Phyllis and I spoke for nearly another hour. We prayed too. And we cried a little. And then I took my leave of her.

And as I left the room God whispered. He said, "You really are not able to screw up as much as you think you can, Ron. I am in control of errands, and traffic jams, and missed exits. You just keep asking me to guide your steps and I will. Stop worrying so much. If you give it your best shot and don't make it where you think you need to be it's because I didn't put you there. I am God. You are not."

And then ... then I think I heard Him laugh.


C. Drear said...

Loved that! I'm pretty darn sure He wanted me to read that particular one today!
Thank you my friend.