It seemed like it only took months for my sickness to progress into a total meltdown. I felt depleted of every ounce of strength. Like wafting wet paper, I floated along drained. It was a weekday in winter, and the chill was all around me. I could smell death and taste it. I had become a snag embedded in stagnant waters. A dormant, dead tree that just laid there, unmovable. My stale morning breath was merely a disdainful reminder that I was just existing, and awakening brought only more dread.
My eyes opened and fixed upon the jagged line that seemed to be forming one large crack in the ceiling, pulling and even bowing down one side of the room. The plaster hung there like a distant reminder of how a structure can crumble and how my own body felt as weighted down. I had been watching it bow more every day as I lay in one position.
I was 38 years old, but my body felt ancient. The taupe couch had become my home for about a year now. The view from this position was a picture window draped and covered, a blue chair, plaid with hints of mauve and mint green, a coffee table lined with medicine bottles, water bottles, and a box of Kleenex.
In the silence, I heard a voice say, “Go check your e-mail.”
My computer was set up in a bedroom down the hallway and to the left. I stared at the distance that was only a few feet away with dread. I did not want to move! My body was racked with tormenting pain, and moving any part of it was like a bolt of electricity. When I walked, my legs were equivalent to colossal elephant soles that had become plunged into quicksand, only to be forced out again.
Again the whisper, “Go check your e-mail.”
I had come to know this soft voice a little louder while lying flat on my back in the silence.
The reprise to check my mail pressed into my spirit.
I reached for my cane and made the excruciating journey from the couch to the bedroom, falling into a wall on the way and holding the same wall up to gather strength. As soon as my feet stepped past the living room into the hall area, I heard an almost thunderous roar. It was the sound of my ceiling collapsing completely! I stood there in the moment, a cloud of smoky surrealism.
We’re not talking ordinary drywall; this ceiling was heavily plastered sheetrock and an electrical mess of wires that ran my heating system in this older home. I stood on wobbly legs and surveyed the spot on the couch where moments before, I had laid and argued with that voice.
“But I’m so fatigued and tired, why do I need to check my mail?” “Father, if someone sent me a letter, I’ll read it later. If someone is going to send me money, thank you for helping me, but again, I can read it later.” I argued with the voice as if my intellectual mind was filled with more wisdom than the one who created it.
I gauged the couch where my body lay just minutes before again in disbelief.
Now the entire structure of pillowed taupe was covered by a massive mountainous pile of debris. I should have been dead or unconscious! I let out a slowly scattered sigh and thought about how many times I had ignored that voice, that soft, still voice.
It was at that moment that I realized once again that I was in boot camp, and my trainer was trying to teach me some things. The more logical my mind thought or sure of my faith I became, the more He explained that I knew nothing about Him.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD ADONAI.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9.
I stood in the hallway and gazed up at the rafters; empty A-framed timbers held bits of insulation, and I held myself and leaned into the wall.
Abruptly, I became aware of the gift of life and how I had taken it for granted when I was well, and my body was whole. I had been requesting to die because of the pain, the loss, and a host of sorrows, but now suddenly, despite feeling like death, I wanted to live.
No, I said aloud, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.” Psalm118:17.
As my eyes traveled over the room wrecked with rubbish, I knew that I had just witnessed one of the WORKS of the Lord Adonai! I did not realize that it would be one of much more to come, nor did I know that His voice would become louder in my ear.
Anxious to lie down again, I shuffled to my son’s bedroom and waited for him to arrive home from school. I felt barricaded in, and my medicine laid somewhere beneath the wreckage. Even though I had just witnessed a miracle, my mind was already wondering how I would pay my homeowner’s insurance. I was now several house payments behind. I slowly pondered all the losses that had come upon me; my health, job, career, people I thought were my friends, and now possibly my home. I feel like Jeremiah when he said,
“I don’t understand why my pain has no end. I don’t understand why my injury is not cured or healed.” Jeremiah 15:18.
“Oh, Father, why do you keep me here?” I asked.
“When I wake up, I feel like I haven’t slept. When I want to speak, my words are jumbled. My mind is so bad I don’t remember my name at times. “Why, G-d?”
My soul felt the tug of something bigger than me. It was a subtle knowing that He had work for me to do. He has a task for all of us.
My heart began to meditate on what I feared was true. The fear of how I would ever become Holy enough, good enough, or physically well enough to do it frightened me. Also, just what exactly does He have planned, and what if I let Him down? I knew He was speaking to me and that He had just spared me from disaster. He had spoken, and I had heard Him. How many times had He spoken, and I didn’t recognize His voice?
The echo of His whisper haunted me in a good way now. I could still faintly hear Him say,
“Go check your e-mail.”
There are no words to describe the sound of eternity. His voice, His most Holy Voice, can roar like the sound of many waters, as potent as the thunderous ceiling crashing into me, or it can be as gentle as a feather on the cheek.
I lay on that bed and pondered the event. I touched the pillowcase and rubbed my fingers across the ridge. I stared at nothing in shock and disbelief.
“Did my ceiling just implode?” I asked, the silence? I laid there for a fraction of minutes and continued to just bask in awe of the glory of the Father.
But I couldn’t be still. I reached for my cane in wonder. I had to go again and look a second time at what He had spared me from. I leaned into the hallway and slid my hand along the wall to balance myself. Then the view of the avalanche hits me. The surrealism becomes very real at that moment. My eyes traveled across all the red and blue electrical wires I saw dangling throughout until finally, they rested upon the place where I should have been buried. I exhale the breath that I have been holding in.
“Thank you, Father, thank you!”
I stand and soak it all in one more time before making my way back down the hallway.
In my heart, amid my fatigue, my pain, my loss, and my inability to even clean up the mess, I know one thing. . . Yes, one thing is true. I know Abba Father is good, and He is with me.