Monday, December 13, 2010

God of storms

In Phoenix. We were so blessed with an amazing vacation there in October.

“Look at me. Every time you look at me, you’re going to know that I believe in a miracle!” I smiled a big and real smile as I said that to Jordan after we had talked about some unbelief that was repressive and tangible to the two of us when certain people were in the room. Some people didn’t believe for us, and we could tell. It was imperative to me that he knew I absolutely believed! I hardly ever cried in front of him, not because there weren’t plenty of tears in me, and not because I was fabricating a fa├žade for him, but because I believed in a miracle with him, and because he needed to know that. I wasn’t trying to hide from him the agony I experienced during his suffering. He knew. He knew it hurt me immensely to see him like that. I wasn’t pretending for him, I was choosing to be strong for him and I told him that. We’d have an honest conversation like, “Hey babe, how was last night for you?” “Last night was really hard; I cried a lot. And I gave you back to Jesus.” We had normal voices and neutral tones and we were discussing the most emotionally rending time of our lives. And then I’d smile genuinely and beautifully at him. He always told me I was three times prettier when I smiled. So I showered him with those real, beautiful smiles that he loved all that last week in the hospital. Every time our eyes met, even if I was crying, I smiled really big through my tears. I got as many hugs from him as possible too. As the amount of time he spent upright dwindled, I was missing them. So, whenever we’d help him stand up to get in or out of bed, I’d briefly lean into that familiar place in his chest, close my eyes, and just let myself feel. Feel him. His height and his strength. His fleeting presence.

But I didn’t know it was fleeting! I knew it looked fleeting. Oh yes! I was painfully aware of the reality of the appearance of vanishing life! To every logically thinking person on the planet, Jordan’s days were few. To all the doctors and nurses that read his plummeting oxygen saturation levels. To friends that were going above and beyond to help us and pray for us. To family that constantly stood by our side. To everyone, it looked like he was dying. To Jordan and me, and to countless others, it looked like God was setting the stage for the greatest miracle everyone in our sphere of acquaintances, our state, and our country had ever witnessed. He was just making it look harder to our reality-trapped minds, and our unbelieving hearts before He blew us out of the water with indisputably miraculous physical healing. Jordan had every intention of walking out of that hospital on his own and he wanted to bring the other patients with him! We believed in a miracle.

I’m so unashamed of that fact. I remember ‘reminding’ God that because we were believing in a physical miracle and proclaiming said belief as loudly as we could through every avenue possible, He’d have to show up. Boldly stepping out in our faith in a God who still heals physically, we had a prayerful and expectant world watching us. The blog got linked up to countless times, the link got shared on facebook by multiple people, strangers came to the prayer meetings, the CaringBridge site had thousands of visitors; God was in the spotlight. “Therefore, God, You have to heal this cancer,” we concluded. As I sat next to Jordan’s hospital bed, writing what would be my final plea for healing prayer, I hesitated. I had a fleeting thought of the millions of pieces that would come from the world-shattering if this didn’t end in the kind of miracle for which we were faithfully hoping. “How am I going to explain that?” God said gently over my shoulder, “I’m big enough to pick up those pieces. You don’t have to worry about making me look bad. I’ve been protecting my reputation and guarding my glory for a long time, child.” I hated that I had just had that thought of ‘might not’ because I wanted our miracle so vehemently, so I lunged forward with my typing and this is what I wrote: Again, please join in praying for a miracle tonight at 8. This is God's deal; but I have no problems as His child asking for what He does best.

So, here we are, on the other side of the millions of tiny pieces that came crashing down around myself and the girls, around our families, around our friends when Jordan’s miracle was unexpectedly eternal.

Today in church, the sermon was on Luke 8 where Jesus calms the storm. My family and I now attend Bethany Community Church and the Body of Christ there is a huge blessing. Pastor Daniel spoke on faith in a sovereign Lord in our storms. Follow God into the storm, trust Him in the middle of the storm, and understand that He ordains the storm. “Your storm is an opportunity to do what you were created to do; glorify God, worship Him, and say Hallelujah!”

The following is a piece of the story of my storm. The fiercest winds, highest waves, most catastrophically painful moments of my life. This is my storm’s peak. It’s been a long time coming maybe, but it was so devastating at the time, that to even think back was gut-wrenching. Picking up where we left off:

“I’m going to a better place.” “Is that ok with you, baby?” “Yeah, it’s what Jesus wants.” I knew it was true. I heard those indescribable, life-altering words and I didn’t panic. I just knew. To say I was okay with it, sounds appalling, but I knew Jesus was in Jordan. I knew the Spirit was pouring from him. I watched his sanctification process for the last 6 years, I got to see Jesus really up-close in Jordan for the last 4 years. I trusted Jesus in Jordan so much that I just sat there holding his hand and didn’t say anything. I had finally abandoned my husband to the Holy Spirit the last week of his life. I stopped trying to help God out in working in and through Jordan, and I just surrendered him to the only One that can truly change hearts. I was finally a good wife. All throughout that last week I told him over and over things like:
“You go where Jesus goes.”
“What’s Jesus saying? Let me know after He tells you.”
“Don’t worry about me and the girls. We have Jesus.”

Not right afterwards, but after a small silence, the very next thing he said as he looked peacefully into my eyes was: “I want my girls to have a daddy.” “I do too!” was my immediate reply, and “You!” was my silent scream. I didn’t know where he was going with that; I was still trying to process his previous statement, and was still instinctively in miracle mode. I had a millisecond of hope, that God had changed his mind, that the second realization of our precious daughters needing a father was usurping the first that Jesus wanted him Home. Then he said to me as he gently touched my chest with all five of his right-hand fingers, “I’m going to pray for you that God makes space in your heart to love somebody else. Because you have a big heart. And they need a daddy.” I was crying; not hard but steadily, and my soul went lurching and reeling from the blow of hearing the last words anyone wants to hear from the love of their life and the father of their children.

He told me “Thank you” for a thousand different things. “Thanks for the last 4 years. They’ve been the best years of my life. There were some hard times, but we made it through with Jesus. Thanks for loving me and loving our girls the way you do. Thanks for being my best friend. Thanks for your forgiveness. Thanks for encouraging me, believing in me...” (I’ve desperately tried to remember this word for word. But I can’t.) He looked down at his wedding ring, then looked at me and said “You want this?” I just tearfully nodded. He pulled it off his finger and placed it on my left thumb. Then, I got to tell him “Thank you” for a thousand different things. “Thanks for the best 4 years of my life, thanks for being Jesus to me more than any other person in my life, thanks for loving me, thanks for being an awesome daddy to Jaycee and Arawen and prophesying into their lives, thanks for loving the Word of God and seeking His kingdom first, thanks for leading our family, thanks for forgiving me all those times, thanks for singing to me in the car, holding my hand, writing me notes, telling me I’m beautiful, taking me on dates...” I whispered it all into his ear because I didn’t want the others to hear all of the personal things for which I specifically wanted to say thanks. Because that’s the way God made marriage: a beautiful, intimate secret between the two of you.

He went around the room and spoke to each of his siblings and their spouses. He thanked his parents. He got to sing with us and when we sang “It Is Well” he raised his hands to praise the God he loved and served so passionately. He was able to bless Jaycee and Arawen one last time. He placed his hands on their heads and anointed them with oil. He prayed over them like this frequently and loved to prophesy and speak scripture into their young lives. He released them to Jesus, and relinquished all of his plans to impart his loves to them. The outdoors, basketball, the Bible, music. He let go of being able to teach them how to ride a bike, hear them learn to read, watch them turn into beautiful young ladies, and walk them down the aisle. He dreamt of and talked eagerly of doing those things, and when that dream died, he gave them to Jesus.

I waited for him to die. He eventually lost consciousness. He was hallucinatory before that. I counted his breaths as they got slower and farther...and farther apart. “One...Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” I cried out in my mind as I looked at the cross, “Two...Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” And there was that cross. I waited for him to die. I lay there in that hospital bed, holding his hand, surrounded by family, and waited for my husband to die. My back was aching intensely from being in the same position for so long. My heart hurt so bad. It hurt physically. It literally felt like there was a small circular saw, cutting away at my sternum, in one long, thin, piercing, searing slice, right down the center of my chest, from the inside out. My heart was breaking and it was as if it was trying to get out of my body, detach itself from my soul, mind, and all the nerves that connected it to me and the other half right next to me, part of me yet separate, with the life seeping out of him. It didn’t last long, and yet, it seemed like forever. He kept breathing. And I kept counting. “...Fifty-two...Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” And there was the cross again. And that horribly, crippling, incessant, real pain. It hurt to hear him try to breathe. The way his chest protruded with the sucking in, the sounds his throat made when the air came out. It hurts me to think about it now. It was agony. When the last breath sighed out of his body, I was rubbing his chest, my arm was around his neck, my forehead was against his, and then I kissed him. And then I left. I got up out of that bed, I stumbled out of that room, and when I got to that cold white, long hallway, I fell on my knees and I yelled as loud as I could: “God! I still believe in you!” I collapsed on the tile, my face on the floor, and the sobs wracking my body, as I cried and cried and cried. He was there. He was there the whole time. The whole time. All of Him. And all of His healing power. He was there and He is here. He simply is. My biggest pain was unthinkably, unimaginably, horribly painful. And my biggest reality was Jesus Christ; incomprehensibly, unfathomably, inconceivably real. My dad was next to me, on his knees with his arms around me, sobbing with me. “Of course you do! Of course you believe in Him. Of course you do, sweetheart! You love Him. Of course you still believe in Him!” The rest of my family came out then, surrounding me and crying, sharing that big, engulfing and colossal sea of our collective pain in which I was drowning.

And that’s my story. Excruciating, devastating, traumatizing, unbearable moments of my life. Turns out, I don’t have an explanation. God ordained this storm. He knew how much it would hurt, and He still numbered Jordan’s breaths so they ceased almost 5 months ago. And the pain just got worse after that. I had to tell my girls that Daddy wasn’t coming back. I had to plan a funeral. I had to keep on living. He’s fully in charge of the winds and the waves. And He doesn’t owe me an explanation. I have very real and present temptations to make a thousand accusatory queries of the God of the Universe. But because He is God, and I am man, it means He is far beyond our human comprehension. I also have a very real and present Savior. He never left me. He hurt me really bad, and I couldn’t feel Him sometimes but HE WAS THERE! He continues to be immovably right here in my pain and has given me the grace to praise Him in my storm. He’s also given me an indescribable and explicit trust that He will heal me. He will! And He will do it however and whenever He desires. So, I’m just doing what I was designed to do: praising my Creator. I raise my hands right now, to the God of the storms and say “Hallelujah!”

Please note: the website for Jordan's revival service and blessing videos is now

Isaiah 43:1-4 has been speaking volumes to me lately.
But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
will be with you;
and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire
you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you.