For the past week, a persistent fever in the 100-102 range, chills and seemingly insatiable exhaustion have been my constant companions. Coming back from Bethany Beach Monday was a tough slough. Fever hit 103.5 that evening.
Before you say it, I felt like something was creeping up on me the day before we headed over there. It made for a pretty miserable time. Sunday I stayed back at the house.
Physician’s assistant said Tuesday morning it sounded like a mean viral infection that she didn’t think was COVID. But, just to be sure, she scheduled me for a test today.
Taking two 800 milligram Tylenol would knock it down for a couple of hours, but yesterday afternoon, my stomach said “no more of that stuff for us.” So I went back to my usual dose of 600 milligrams of Ibuprofen.
The instant I woke up at 6 am this morning, I knew the fever was gone. Took my temp three times just to see it displayed and it was actually a little below normal at 97.
But that’s not the story here.
It had crept back up to 99.5 when I reported for my test, the one where they tickle your brain with a cotton swab of some sort. I warned the guy doing the test not to hurt me. He didn’t and it was over in 30 seconds, results promised in 48 hours.
That’s not it, either.
There were 18 cars in the line ahead of me, so I had time to listen to some tunes and think about the past several days. In the process, a moment from 20 years ago came flooding back to me.
Remember 2000 and the catastrophes that didn’t happen in the new millennium? I had an emergency double bypass in August, thanks to a 90 percent blockage of my “widow-maker.” At one point in the procedure, I was technically dead for four minutes. Even so, the recovery was quick and I went home two days later.
That weekend, Claudia, our daughter Ginny, and I were having lunch on the deck, talking casually about how good God had been during the past events.
When I got up and headed to the kitchen to get something, I noticed Hillsong’s “Through It All” was starting. It was the first three stanzas that stopped me in my tracks, but especially the last sentence here:
You see me through the seasons.
Cover me with Your hand.
And lead me in Your righteousness.
And I wait on You.
For Your Faithfulness to me
And I’m carried in everlasting arms
You’ll never let me go through it all.
Friends, I was overwhelmed as I’ve never before been in my life with a surging desire to thank God for all He has done to save a wretch like me. Yes, there were some tears, a lot actually.
It was quite simply the most incredibly sweet moment of gratitude and joy I had ever experienced. It was a moment and then it was gone, though the Holy Spirit blesses me with a taste of a reminder every now and again.
Fast forward to today in the line waiting for the COVID test. I know, given my age and pre-existing condition, that I am right at the doorstep of being especially vulnerable.
So, my mind is cluttered with thanks for the fever results and fears that it may still be COVID, I might not be able to care for my precious Claudia, see my grandchildren grow up, or as, Paul instructed Timothy to do, “keep a clear head about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, FULFILL YOUR MINISTRY.”
At that precise moment, a Phil Wickham song, “The Living Hope,” reached this stanza:
Who could imagine so great a mercy?
What heart could fathom such boundless grace?
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken, I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior, I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ, my living hope
In that instant, it was the same sweet, humbling burst of joy and pure gratitude as in 2,000. I was filled with acceptance of whatever may come in the days ahead, and, as before, for just a moment, it was as if God gave me a millisecond to experience what He has in store for His children, of which I am one by His will.
Ephesians 2:8-10 has long been among my dearest scripture verses:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
I know He prepared me for HillFaith. I love Capitol Hill and the people who work there (yes, all of them, Dems and GOPers), and He’s given me an irresistible desire to share Him with every person willing to sit and talk for a few minutes.
So maybe the test results will be positive and my days ahead here could be few or many, it’s not an automatic death sentence. Or the results will be negative and I will praise Him for allowing me to continue this ministry He has given me for as long as He wills.
Here’s the bottom line: However He has prepared things, I will walk in them praising His name.
And one more thing, these kinds of blessed moments are God’s alone to give, so run as fast as you can away from any preacher who tells you all you have to do to be guaranteed the same experience is “claim it.” That’s not how God works.
I’ll let you know how it goes and all prayers are appreciated.
MORE QUESTIONS WORTH PONDERING: