Then she asked me another question.
"Do you need a miracle?"
I think I laughed a little at the question. I was, obviously, on the stem cell transplantation floor of the hospital. Uh. Yeah. A miracle would come in handy.
I could tell she was serious in her inquisition, so I composed myself, and answered her question as earnestly as I could. "Yes. A miracle would be great. I would like nothing more than my husband to be completely cured of his cancer. For good."
Modern medicine. A miracle. Whatever method God wanted to use I was game for and I told her so.
She then went on to tell me that she had previously ran a large company and had quit her job. She began studying the Bible like one would study science and that, in her eyes, essentially, the Bible and it's laws, were science. She used the illustration of someone jumping off of a building. She stated that God created the law of gravity that would bring the person crashing to the ground. It was law. And God gave that person the gift of free will....a sort of law of it's own.
In studying the Bible she had equated that repentance of sin, along with prayer (specifically the Lord's Prayer) equaled God granting us that for which we pray. She believed it was law.
In hearing her speak, I have to admit, there was a part of me that started mentally questioning her sanity. Obviously, if believing in God, and asking for what we wanted, was as easy as repenting and praying, then there would be fewer sick people, less starvation, diminishing poverty, and no war. Although I was mentally trying to cast off my skepticism and doubt, and physically, remain attentive to her very passionate words, I apparently fell short.
"I can tell you don't believe me."
Her words cut me because I almost felt as if my honest answer would be, to her, an indication of my belief (or lack thereof) in God and His promises.
I tried to choose my words wisely as I navigated what I felt was a very slippery slope. "I DO believe that God performs miracles every day. I DO believe that God wants, and needs, us to repent. I DO believe that praying and remaining close to Him is essential in our existence. I DO believe."
She could see that I was avoiding answering if I believed that getting what I want was as simple as solving a math equation. She continued her efforts in providing me the evidence that she had already solved the problem.
"I quit my job trusting solely on God. I had no income. I trust God to provide me a roof over my head and food on my table. He has. I repent by specifically listing the sins I have committed, going through each commandment. I genuinely ask for forgiveness. Every. Single. Day. If I ask God for an apple, within three days, I get an apple. If I ask God for an RV, within three days, I get an RV..."
(Yes. The RV threw me for a loop too...)
She continued, possibly seeing that the RV comment had set me back. "I don't ask God for more than I need. But what I need, and ask for, He provides."
I told her that I so appreciated her message, and that I would also appreciate her prayers, and I hugged her and thanked her, and her church, for remembering the kids that would be affected this Christmas by a loved ones illness.
I walked away not really knowing how I felt about what I had just heard and thinking that I would give anything if it really were as easy as that: A+B=C.
Even with doubts as to the simplicity of the "equation", or law, that she had proposed, the following passage filled my mind, reminding me that God himself had told us that He would provide:
Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
A few nights ago, as crazy as it sounds, I found myself in the midst of anxiety, by realizing that I wasn't in the midst of anxiety. Follow me? I actually became anxious due to my lack of anxiety. I found myself mentally reminding myself the dire situation that Steven and I were currently in the midst of-as if I could have possibly forgotten. I had felt nothing but peace about the situation for days, and, instead of accepting the peace as a gift from God, I actually reprimanded myself because I hadn't been worrying enough, and wondered if I had lost sight of what stood to be lost. My mind revisited the statistics of the transplant success. It revisited the conversations I had recently had with other patients, and their loved ones, that magnified the fact that this process is anything but guaranteed. I had seen people who were on the verge of losing their loved ones. I had seen people who were on their second transplant, praying that this one worked. I had seen people that had all but given up hope.
And here I was, laying in a cot next to Steven's bed, almost completely at peace.
How could I? Why wasn't I sick with worry? What was wrong with me?
And so, the self-imposed worry began. And with the worry came the rationalization that your mind tries to make of things that can not be rationalized. Namely faith. Could the signs I felt I had experienced, and the subsequent peace, truly be meant as signs that God was speaking to me and that He would take care of, and heal, Steven? Didn't believing that it was as simple as that almost put me in the same ranks as the lady who stopped me in the hall? Isn't it somewhat conceited to think that God would answer my prayers? Why would God answer my prayers anyway? I wasn't good enough.
So, as faith often does, it waivered. Or maybe that's just my faith. One moment so strong, and the next moment questioning. Not my faith in God. No, that didn't waiver. Neither did my faith in God's ability... there were no doubts there. My doubts came in my belief that God desired to answer my prayers.
So in the darkness, wanting to find sleep, I decided to open the Bible app on my phone and read the automated "verse of the day", believing it would direct my mind in the direction God desired it to go. This is the modern day equivalent to flipping open a Bible and seeing where it lands.
And so, thanks to the "verse of the day", I fell asleep, with Hebrews 11:6 in my heart and on my mind:
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
I wouldn't be honest if I stated that all the signs, and even the unbelievable timing of the Bible verse, had permanently cleared all anxiety from my mind. I know it didn't. But I do know that I have peace at the moment. And, I will take it.
Maybe the lady in the hall has it all figured out. Maybe, one day, we will all meet in heaven and she will say, "I told you so...". Who knows? Maybe it is as simple as ask+believe=receive. I honestly don't know.
I do know that during this time I have had periods of unprecedented fear, but I have also had times of unprecedented faith.
After falling asleep that night with the verse from Hebrews in my mind, I woke up, in the wee hours of morning, when nurses came in to check on Steven. Having felt under the weather the previous two nights, he had taken the only blanket that I had brought from home, and used it in an effort to keep warm when chilling from the fevers. I had been using that blanket on my cot, but knew he needed it worse, and found that I was now chilling, not due to fever, but because I was lacking covers. I thought to myself that I should have brought my fleece tie blanket from home, like I had the last time Steven was admitted, because it always kept me warm even in the cool hospital room...and warmth was something I was lacking. As is usual, with prayers being offered up for Steven and our family, I eventually fell back asleep.
Later on that morning, after Steven had woke, the nurse came in and said that there was a box that had been sent to us that needed picked up at the nurses station.
"Us? Something for us?" I looked at Steven questioningly. He shook his head. Neither of us were expecting anything, much less a box. I went to the nurses station and got the box and headed back to the room. I sat the box on the bed and opened it as Steven looked on. I read the enclosed note, from someone I have never met, who stated that she, along with her family, had been offering up prayers for Steven, the kids, and I.
God's message on me was not lost as I pulled from the box a fleece tie blanket that had been made just for us.