It seems like everything is broken in our house. The toaster, the oven, the dishwasher, the kettle, so when Sam’s call came, her hysterical, inarticulate call, I thought perhaps she was broken as well. “Mum…” was all I could make sense of between the fast paced agonising cries in her voice, so I said, “hang on I’ll call you back.” I told the children “It will be okay but I need to call Sam back and so you could all just pray while I do.” Their little heads dropped in unison on their folded hands and all at once I heard their “Dear God…” requests for Sam. “Maybe just a little more quietly?” I suggested, “God hears our whisper prayers as well.”
“I’m coming home, Sam.” I said when she answered, “Its all right, I’ll be there soon.” I lined the children up at the door, lead them into the other room and I left making phone calls to get a replacement teacher for my class. God being God, it was easy, everything was seamless allowing me to take Sam through the process of seeing the GP, getting referrals then taking her to X-ray. I was also able to follow up on the results of the ear swab taken a week ago, which by now had cultivated a result, a heavy growth of staphylococcus aureus. This leads to dizziness, headaches and untreated can be fatal in her immune suppressed state. With this information I made phone calls to our ear specialist to get her on a stronger anti-biotic and to our haemotologist to check that the anti-biotic didn’t conflict with any of her other drugs.
Sam had forgotten to take her thyroxcin tablet this morning and came inside to retrieve it from the fridge. On her way back to her room, she decided to dash, feeling cold in the morning air. Before doing so she picked up the dog for a cuddle in her room and that is when her little toe became stuck in the leg of her pyjamas, that is when she tripped and fell, screaming to her knees. Home alone and afraid of breaking bones Sam lay there screaming, “Help me, help me,” until her cries and Rusty’s barks caused the neighbour from across the road to come to her aide. Our neighbour picked her up and carried her safely to her bed and that is when she called me, just after the morning bell that ushers my 5 years old children into my room at school.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about broken things, systems that don’t work, organisations that don’t change, big ideas without attention to detail and no follow up. Organisations like our public hospital system where you have to fight for a bed, or to talk to the doctor, or follow up on your own tests because you are just a number not a person and no one really cares.
Sometimes in life we find ourselves in positions we don’t want to be in, we are stuck; we don’t know how to change things either. We see that its broken but we don’t know what to do and we cower inside. Life is intimidating, demanding, pressured and sometimes our hearts grow numb to all the causes we know we should do something about, all the people who need our help, all the funds that seek to raise our awareness. We sit and stare at the television screen and we sigh, overwhelmed by all the tragedy and loss. Then we build a wall. Walls are useful for so many things, they insulate us from pain, they protect us from the enemy, and they shield us from the harsh wind that blows outside. The walls are useful until the frost builds on our windows, the chill permeates through our rooms and the fear of uncertainty hangs in the atmosphere like the scent of rising damp.
When its your people you care like Nehemiah cared about the ‘remnant of Jews who were in great trouble and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem that was broken down and its fortified gates destroyed.’ (Nehemiah 1:3) When it’s your children you hear the news and after sitting down and weeping, you fast and pray for days. You plead your case to God reminding Him of who you are and the covenant you have. You say “O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to Your servant,” You pray for favour with the doctors in the same way Nehemiah prayed for favour with the king. You see all that is in ruins and position yourselves even though the enemy mocks you, even though you’re aware that you are no more than a cupbearer, a simple person with no great skill. Through it all, through the pain, through the suffering and relentless grief you discover that you have what it takes to hear God’s voice to discover a strategy and to re-build.
God is renovating lives
He is positioning people
He sees their value,
He hears their cries.
He isn’t leaving them the way He found them
He’s rebuilding the walls
He’s frustrating the plan of the enemy.
Sam’s bones were not broken but her toe is bruised and there’s soft tissue damage all around her knee. The doctor says she won’t be walking for another week, she’s on crutches and her spirit is wounded as well. Sometimes it feels like the wall that protects our lives is only half built that it may never to be completed but God sets armed men behind the wall in the places that are least protected. They remind us to be brave because they fight alongside us, valiant in prayer, generous in practical help and gracious, encouraging words.