Sunday, September 11, 2011

Seeing God

I have a testimony to share. Last month, I received a phone call from one of my very best friends, Mark Ramsey. It was bad news. Mark's mother, Yvonne, had been diagnosed with spinal cancer and had been given no more than three months to live. She had fought cancer seven years or so earlier and it had gone into remission. Two years ago she nearly died when she suffered a stroke. The past year she had been living in an assisted living home, and was as happy as I think I'd ever seen her. I had visited her only two weeks earlier and she was complaining of constant back pain. Mark had taken her to the Doctor and after many tests they had delivered the news. Mark asked if I would help move his mother's furniture to a new home where she could receive constant care and attention. This call was on a Sunday, I told him I couldn't be there until Wednesday, he said no problem.

When I arrived Wednesday morning I learned that Yvonne had never left the hospital and had gone down very quickly. Mark's sister Kim and his oldest daughter, Erica, had stayed at the hospital with her. Mark and I left his home to get Yvonne's stuff moved. It was very hot, over 100 degrees, and after some sweating, we had just begun to move the furniture to my truck when Mark's cell phone rang. It was Kim. She reported that their mother was going down fast and that he should return to the hospital as soon as possible.

We left the home and began the drive to the hospital. Mark and I had been having very deep theological discussions about God, His plan for us, and our lives as Christians. Mark was hurting, knowing that his mother's death was near. I told him, "Even in the darkest times, God is with us. If you look for Him today, you will see him."

We stopped at a convenience store to get some drinks. I had just driven in from Caldwell and was very thirsty. Mark got an energy drink, and I got a diet coke with a bottle of water. We stood behind five or six people in line to the counter and good-naturedly argued about which of us were going to pay for the beverages, as men are want to do. I said, "I got this." Mark said, "No your my guest I got it." Etc.

A Hispanic day-laborer was in the line in front of us. He turned to us and smiled, "I got it!" Mark and I laughed. It was a good release to the tension we were both feeling about what the rest of the day would hold for his family. When we got to the counter, the lady said, "He already paid for it," and pointed out the door. We were moved to say the least. Here a complete stranger, a Hispanic, day-laborer had paid for our drinks on the day Mark needed to see human agape love the most. Mark couldn't speak. I went outside and found the man sitting on the curb eating a sandwich and drinking a coke. I didn't know what to say, but managed to thank him, "Man, you don't know what you just did for us. My friend's mother is dying. We are on the way to the hospital now. God used you. God bless you." He just smiled and waved me off.

On the way to the hospital, we were quiet for a while. I know we were both thinking of my words, that you will see God had come true. This small random act of kindness from one human being to another was a small miracle. As we approached the hospital, we noticed a poor man living on the streets, walking by with a limp. I stopped the truck and handed Mark the unopened water bottle. Mark offered the man the water. He smiled and said, "God bless you. I was just praying for water. This is exactly what I need in this heat."

In the hospital, Kim told us what had occurred earlier in the day. Yvonne woke up and asked who all the people were in the room. There had not been anyone there but Kim and Erica. Yvonne drifted back to sleep only to wake up later saying, "Kim, my momma's here. What do I do?" Yvonne's mother had died some years before. Kim told her, "Momma, she's here to take you home. You can go. Don't worry about us, we are fine." Yvonne woke a few more times, including while Mark and I were there. She was in a lot of pain and her breathing had turned into that death rattle that I found all too familiar having been with my grandmother and with my mother-in-law as they passed.

Kim and I began discussing Yvonne's condition and I told her that I thought she had six or seven more hours at the most. Yvonne died about six and half hours later. The miracle here is that Yvonne had not suffered very long. Two weeks earlier I had walked and visited with her. Mark, Kim, and Erica witnessed God taking their mother home, and Christ's love shone in a little Hispanic day-laborer's small act of kindness. A week later we gathered and spread her ashes. We prayed and cried, but it was a good day.

God is with you. Through good and bad. Through triumph and sorrow. He loves you. Look for Him and you will see him.

1 comment:

  1. Your story took my breath away, Ed. You truly are a man of God. He uses you to reveal Himself to others in astounding ways. I am blessed to call you my brother-in-Christ.


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