Thursday, March 28, 2013

Healing, Hope and the time we have

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Doesn’t this just ring so true.  When a life ends, especially unexpectedly or if it’s a child, we wish with all our hearts for it not to be true…some even plead with God to make this not their destiny.  But all the wishing in the world can not change what has happened.  All the planning in the world cannot decide your fate.  We have but the time we are given to achieve greatness and fulfill the purposes for your existence on earth.
Last week this reality hit me full in the face or rather, the heart.  Another angel twin joined so many already heaven.  Cayson Sailor Page was only 7 months old but he achieved greatness in his life, he changed the lives of so many people…so many who he never even met in person.
Cayson’s mom, Elizabeth, and I became acquainted last May when she was only 18 weeks pregnant or so.  She was seeking support, answers even, for the mystery that seemed to surround her twins.  One of them, Cayson, was so much smaller then his brother and his fluid levels were very low.  But his twin, Mason, had no affects at all…everything was fine, normal.  Further investigation showed multiple complications in Cayson’s heart and some shadows in his bowel that were markers for a few disorders.  The doctors told Elizabeth that he would never survive, that she should plan his funeral. 
As time went on it became very apparent that Cayson had not heard what the doctors had determined was his fate.  He was thriving.  He was growing and he was doing great.  His health problems didn’t go away but he didn’t any sicker either.  The doctors discussed many scenarios and proposed many plans for treatment and for the timing of delivery.  In mid-August Cayson and Mason were born.  Cayson was only 1lb 11 oz, his twin was over 4 lbs I think.  Cayson was alive and he was doing well for such a small baby with a serious heart condition.  Time went on and Cayson had various struggles…but he always managed to defy the odds and keep going.  He had two heart surgeries and eventually made it home in December I believe.  He was a typical baby…laughing, smiling, enjoying time with his family and friends.  He just seemed to have a zest for life. He showed the world that we can never give up, that doctors don’t determine our fate.
Children with this type of medical history seem more susceptible to infections, viruses etc and this was true for Cayson.  Around a month ago he ended up back in the hospital for a virus or infection… something wasn’t right for him.  Once again his health went up and down but they managed to discover what was wrong, he had a strain of influenza.  And then suddenly one day he coded and needed CPR to be revived.  Things were so bad that he was put on life support.  And sadly, he never recovered. 
In those last few days there was a huge online community praying for him.  So many people prayed for a miracle, prayed for healing.  One day Elizabeth posted that after long talks with Cayson's doctors and, seeing that there were no changes in him other than the rapid decline in his limbs, they believed that Cayson's body is trying to tell them no more machines. They made a heart wrenching decision. They believed that if it is God's will for Cayson to survive, he would make it without machines. But if God had other plans, then what was meant to be, would be.  It was all in God's hands.
I struggled in what to say, how to react….especially with so many people praying for a miracle, saying that God would heal Cayson and send him back to his family.  It’s not that I didn’t believe that was possible, not that I don’t believe in medical miracles…Cameron is one…  but the reality was that it just might not be.  I know that people turn to faith at times like this, people pray that God will intercede.  And when the outcome they didn’t want, they didn’t pray for happens then they question their faith, their beliefs, the question if God really exists.  I wanted to share words that would give hope but also prepare people’s hearts but I was afraid.  I didn’t want to offend anyone, didn’t want anyone thinking that I wasn’t hoping for the same miracle they were, that I was ‘writing  Cayson off’.  I was so uncomfortable in sharing my thoughts but I knew I had to….not really for Elizabeth because I think she had come to terms with this but for all those who were praying for Cayson.  And so I sent Liz this message….             
I think we pray for healing for our sick children and so often assume that our version of healing is what God can do. But sometimes the only healing that God has is the ultimate healing in paradise. Being able to accept that and place it in God's hands takes great courage.
God decided before the doctors did that Cayson had a job on earth to complete, he knew that Cayson would change lives, impact those he and his parents met. Perhaps his job here is done or perhaps it's barely begun...that is for our Lord to decide.
Cayson changed the world and will continue to impact it for a long time to come.  He chose to do amazing things with the time he had here... or God chose to work through him to make that happen I guess.   His time on earth is over…as Vince Gill once sang… "Go rest high on that mountain. Son your work on earth is done” but only Cayson’s earthly life is over…God has great things planned for all of us from conception, through our life here on earth and into our time in heaven. 

Perfectly worded Mr. Churchill… our lives on earth are all we focus on and we search for their meaning, our purpose.  But perhaps our lives here are just the beginning, just training for the life God has planned for us after our work is through.

Sharing this kind of thinking, especially the part of God’s version of healing not being the same as our version of healing, has led to much thinking about what God wants from me, what I am to do and say, how I am to help…and if I am really ready to do what he is asking. I attended a bible study two days after Cayson passed away.  We are studying the book of Jonah.  Now there’s a guy who didn’t want to do what God was asking.  He ran, he hid, he refused…but he continued to pray.  We talked a lot about consequences at this study.  How the choices we make have consequences and so often they are not anything we would have wanted and not anything we think we could possibly learn from.  The author of the study series gave us this to ponder…

The more vast the consequences you have had to bear the more vast the work he has for you afterwards
Now I am not going to say that I made choices that lead to the consequence of losing my son…because that is NEVER a consequence God wants for us.  But I do know that I made horrible choices after he passed away in how I dealt with others, especially Geoff.  I said awful things and I was so very selfish.  But in all honesty when I read this passage and didn’t focus on it as a negative thing but rather just how vast the consequences of a life lived can be.  I have experienced a lot of death in my life…of very young people too.  I lost a boyfriend, friends, a child I worked with and a child of my own.  That is a vast amount of grief.  In the midst of this bible study about the consequences of my sins I began to drift to this thought of why I have experienced so much of this…why I had to lose my son especially and why so many people I have connected with have also lost a child.  I have to say that it is very clear to me that the vastness that I had to bear there has lead to such a vast work, so much that I believe God has directed me to.

A few days ago I sat in on a Gr. 7 religion class.  The group was watching Touched by an Angel and this episode was a perfect fit for the week before Easter.  It's from season 7 and is titled Netherlands. In it Monica questions her job as an angel, questions where her heart is because she sees such sadness, such loss on earth.  After a bombing that takes many lives she questions her faith so much that she is tempted by the devil and she ends up in the dessert asking God if this is really her fate.  There is much more to the the story but the part that really made me think about my heart was this....
“You will never understand Love on Earth until you understand death."
Followed by.... 
"Why does He allow suffering?"
Because He allows free will.  If there were no free will there would be no choice to love."
 Love is a choice and understanding love is so hard sometimes.  But understanding death is even harder.  Asking why can drive you insane.  But Tess was so right when she said that you can't understand love if you don't understand death.  To love someone, truly love them from the depths of your heart, means that you are willing to accept death as a part of life and that you won't run from it or shelter yourself from it.  Loving someone is a choice and we make it freely at times and with such hesitation at others.  When death comes and takes someone we love we do question God but deep down we know that this was part and parcel of the love we gave freely to that person.  They are intertwined, they are part of each other.  
Stepping into a world of death to offer support is hard, it's risky. You begin to care for those you help, you begin to love them.  You see the love they have for the person they have lost and sometimes you see death consume them.  But really what you are seeing is love and life consuming them.  Knowing that each time you offer support you open up your own heart wounds, remember your own times of love and death intertwined and relive the nightmare that may well be a part of your loss story...well it's tough.  But it's a calling that God has for some of us and for me it comes as a result of consequences and it's job is vast for me.  Each time I speak of faith with death I feel comfort, I feel peace and I feel hope.  I am so glad that I can share Jesus and his love with those who are suffering, who are lost, sad, hopeless.  It's not always easy but since I can't decide how death will happen or to whom, then I must be content and empowered by what I do with the time I have been given by God.  

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