A family friend who had been visiting us from Michigan had her return flight booked out of the Clearwater airport today. Melanie and her sister, Renee, decided they would drive Deb to the airport and then visit the State Fair in Tampa on their way back. Melanie always looks forward to seeing the exhibit halls at the State Fair. For me, if you’ve seen one quilt or one apple pie you’ve seen them all.
Plus, these days I am not excited about being alone in the house for hours. It is comforting to have Melanie in the same room, or in earshot, able to respond if I need help. But I’m aware how important time off and time away from stressful responsibilities is for those saddled with caregiver roles.
I tried to keep my anxieties to myself and admit them only to God. I prayed for safety and refreshment for them in their day’s plans. I didn’t make any prayers for my alone hours. As it turned out, I wouldn’t have known how to ask for what the Lord had planned.
Melanie had called a couple of friends to keep me company while she was gone. Kevin arrived shortly before noon as Melanie, Renee and Deb headed out. Kevin and I talked with each other and then we admitted each of us would rather be taking naps. Kevin was already comfortable in the recliner. I had transferred out of the wheelchair onto the couch. The next 40 minutes were filled with the sound of silence. And even that nap served a purpose. It rested me up for what became a busy afternoon.
I woke up in time to welcome the first surprise visitor of the day. Mike was in the neighborhood and had decided to check up on me. The living room filled with conversation once more.
I saw a car pull up in our driveway. Mike went out to greet our next surprise visitors, Candy and Kim, stopping by for a visit after the morning Bible study and healing service at church. Candy handed me a gift, audio CD’s of Ravi Zacharias reading his latest book, Why Suffering? Melanie and I will start listening to it during our morning devotionals.
And soon the final scheduled visitor, Dan, arrived. The room had become crowded and noisy. Kevin and Mike took their opportunity to move along. It wasn’t long before the significance of the remaining circle of Dan, Candy, Kim and myself became clear. As we talked, it turned out that each one had a story of severe health crises the Lord had brought them through – all worse than mine. There were stories of dreams, words of guidance from the Lord, frightening treatments and unexpected recoveries. I slowly realized the Lord had arranged a unique circle of testimonies for me to hear. If nothing else, it served to place my own season of brokenness into context. There is plenty of suffering going on among God’s servants – and a plentitude of mercy and grace.
Our time of closing prayer concluded a few minutes before Melanie and Renee returned. They had been gone four hours. The time had flown by. The Lord had redeemed the time for me.