Hiding in Church…Part 1

I had a date.  The Almighty in Heaven took time out of His divinely appointed schedule to have a date with me.  He had just performed a miracle on the Hudson River with the safe landing of an airplane in which all passengers’ survived and average men and women became national heroes.  The pilot of the plane made a perfect emergency landing on the Hudson River in between New York and New Jersey after a flock of Canadian geese struck one of the engines of the plane shortly after take off.  The passengers safely left the fuselage of the airplane while standing in freezing water on the wings of a partially submerged airplane.  Minutes later ferries arrived to rescue them from the water before the plane sank further and hyperthermia settled in.  Yes, God had performed a miracle.  Yet He still planned time for me.

Shamefully, I did not arrange the date.  It actually was the furthest thing from my mind.  My weekend had been planned for months.  I was to go camping on my son’s last Cub Scout campout before he crossed over into Boy Scouts.  While I am willing to admit that camping is not my favorite activity, it is one of his, so as all good mothers do, I tolerate camping for him.  This was an important one because it is the last time we as a family can go camping in a scouting activity.  From then on, James’ scouting will be with other boys sleeping in a tent he sets up, not sleeping with his family.

But something happened the prior weekend.  I fractured my right arm.  No, I was not engaging in anything noble when it occurred; actually it was a laughable accident that happened in front of my house.  I had decided to return to my love of rollerblading in an effort to increase my physical activity without any further damage to my weakened ankles.  I have always loved running but my recent weight gain and weak ankles from many prior injuries, prevented any running in a manner that resembled a workout.  Rollerblading is an ideal sport because the ankles cannot move in the skates, or so I thought.  Walking as exercise was not doing anything from me and I was bored with my exercise DVDs which is the kiss of death to working out.  So I decided to purchase a pair of skates that were deeply discounted and relive my love for skating.  After all, I have the perfect environment for skating with the numerous bike paths in our neighborhood.  But blindly, I ignored the obvious and did not do for myself what I would require from my kids.  Instead, I conveniently forgot the need for wrist pads, elbow pads, knee pads, a helmet (I’m still fighting this one) at my age of forty something.

So off my front porch I went and before I realized it, I needed to make a sharp right turn onto the sidewalk.  My feet and mind turned but my aging body did not.  It was one of those moments that happen in slow motion where your mind is telling your body to do something but your body is not responding as fast as you are thinking.  So, the skates with my feet strapped in tightly skipped past the brakes and flew right out from under me.  I landed hard on my behind with my arms bracing me for impact.  It hurt but my ego hurt more so I got up and kept skating for another 20 minutes trying to pretend that nothing hurt and denying any embarrassment from the incident. 

Later that day at dinner with a friend, she lovingly (and forcefully) confronted me about my now very obvious pain and lack of use of my arm and insisted on driving me to the emergency room to get my arm x-rayed.  The emergency room was packed but for some reason the nurses took pity on me so we were rushed in with only a 5 minute wait.  The daunting x-ray then revealed a fractured arm at the elbow.

Now I’m right handed and very independent (apparently stubborn as well) so the next week was very hard on me.  Not only was I returning to my Masters classes at night but I was also teaching middle school and high school kids during the day.  Not to mention the normal duties of a wife and mother of three elementary school kids (remember the busy section).  Worse yet, I do not like to depend on other people for help (again that is a bit obvious) but I had no choice now.  The deal I made with the orthopedic doctor was no cast if I agree to “NO WEIGHT” on the arm and I keep it in a sling for 90% of the time for 3 weeks.  He offered pain medication but I refused.  Did I mention that I was stubborn?

Normal activities take twice as long because of my arm and some activities are impossible.  Typing was one impossible activity, so I learned to dictate to another teacher who kindly agreed to type for me.  Writing on the board is impossible so I assigned a student to be my helper and they write for me.  Teaching math without illustrating on the board is difficult so I learned to become a better verbal teacher of math.  Grading papers became difficult so I allowed a trusted student to assist me in inputting all of my grades into the computer.  Taking notes in class is impossible so I learned to rely on my fellow students and pay closer attention to the professor.  Hugging my kids with a bear hug is tough, so I learned that you can hug your kids with your eyes and one handed just as well.

So after this long week, and after my disappointment of not camping with my family, God made a date with me.  He even took care of the little things.  My mother came over to watch the kids on Friday because we had school but the kids did not and knowing that I could not clean or do laundry, she did it for me.  My husband shopped for the camp-out instead of asking me to run to the store.  My kids all cleaned their rooms up; you must know that was a God thing!  He even made it a cold weekend so that I would want to stay in and not go outside.  He planned everything.

I, of course, had other plans.  I was going to catch up on some reading for my classes so that I would not get behind.  I was going to run some errands so that I would not need to do it the following week.  I was planning on visiting a friend.  But God had another idea.  One of my fellow Masters students told me they finished one of the books that was required reading in our class over break and said they enjoyed it.  I thought what a great idea.  I’ll do the same.  Not even realizing God had planned it all along.

The night before our date I began to read but I could not get into it.  Then my husband called and asked if I could bring something to the camp-out that he had forgotten.  I did but then I felt even less like reading, so I watched some TV and fell asleep.  In the morning, I awoke early and decided to begin to read.  I made my favorite tea, clicked on the gas fireplace, lit a candle, and curled up of the sofa with too many pillows to count and two blankets.  Then it happened.

As I was reading, I began to cry.  I was no longer reading the book but rather experiencing it.  It touched me in such a deep way to the farthest reaches of my soul that I could no longer identify the feelings and emotions I was experiencing so I began to cry.  It was a deep cry as if the sorrows of my heart were being released and I was inviting someone to enter in and share my pain.  It was in that very moment when I realized God had planned our date.  He had tended to the details, He had orchestrated the movement.  I was overwhelmed.  Why now, why not other times when I cried out to hear His voice?  Why now?  Why not now?  The greatest Romancer of all times swept me off my feet literally and invited me for a healing cry and a cup of tea.

What if I had not listened?  What if I had not felt the Spirit stir in my heart to read the book my fellow student shared with me?  What if I had allowed the guilt of not attending the camp-out to overwhelm me and left early that morning to join them?  What if I had made plans with a friend, run my errands, or turned on the TV?  What if I had not listened and missed our date?  Would my spirit not be filled with even greater sorrow?  He took time out of His divine schedule to have a date with me, for no reason in particular.  After all, times have been rougher than this, my heart has been troubled greater then this, and our burdens have been heavier then this.  So, why now?  So, why not now?

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