The following is a true story about a young Christian woman’s astonishing faith in her bitter, last stand, back to the wall, blood and guts, spiritual war against death and hell. It must, of necessity, start rather slow because that’s usually the way awful, gut-wrenching, physical and spiritual trouble comes creeping in to slash your life apart. But this story will rise to a crescendo of tragedy, hope, prayer and spiritual warfare that is almost beyond belief. I know about it; I know because they are my friends.
(John 8:12) Jesus said; “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.”
(John 12:36) Jesus said; “WHILE YE HAVE LIGHT, BELIEVE IN THE LIGHT, THAT YE MAY BE THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT.”
NOTE: In this true story, without it being pointed out, but only by the circumstances, you will see where and how the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18) comforts us, (John 14:26) teaches us and helps us remember, (Eph. 3:16) strengthens us, (1John 5:5-7) bears witness to us about Jesus and God (Rom. 8:34 keyword: intercession: which means to confer with, to entreat, either for or against, from God to man and from man to God) AND: helps our weakness and helps us pray.
It had started simple enough. Sarah’s Mother-in-law was examined in a small, local hospital for a problem. The doctor suspected she was having a stroke and he recommended that she be sent by air-ambulance more than one hundred miles away to a larger, more sophisticated hospital in Lexington, KY. Sarah, her husband Joe, and their four year old daughter Ruthie, went home, packed clothes for a couple of nights stay and started the trip in their car.
As they sped northwest on the Mountain Parkway Sarah remembered and she felt; it was an emotional time. Most of all she hurt for Joe and she felt helpless too because she couldn’t take away his pain and worry. She stole a sidewise glance at the blunt bones and flat planes of his strong, handsome face now fixed with the concentration of driving as late afternoon crept into the twilighting of another cold February night.
Love and protection flared in her soul; oh my, oh my, how she dearly loved this muscular, wiry, wonderful man who had come marching resolutely into her life when she was twenty years old and he had come there to stay too. Jesus had said it just right; (Matt. 19:5) “And they twain shall be one.”
Another scripture soared through her; (1Thess. 5:22) that people were composed of spirit (the essence of life, the spark of life from God), soul (the person, self) and body (the flesh, the house in which the soul lives). When they had joined in marriage the Lord’s words had come true; they were one life, one soul and one body.
She fully understood that when their joy and happiness were shared with each other the joy and happiness were doubled AND: when their sadness and pain were shared with each other the sadness and pain were cut in half. She knew Joe drew strength and comfort from the closeness and warmth of her and she scooted even tighter against him.
Sarah was basically a loving person. She loved Joe’s Mom and she wished her own Mother had been cut from that same cloth. When Sarah was a little girl all the selfishness and bickering had eroded into just plain old meanness and sometimes it seemed as if real hatred flashed through her Mother’s hateful words. Sarah’s dark eyes filled with tears and they even slipped down her cheeks there in the silence of the night. The result was that it had made Sarah really tough and strong.
Sarah didn’t know the coming battle would test her to the very limits of her toughness and strength.
Sarah was tenderhearted and kind too. No, it didn’t show on her lovely face. Sarah had learned long ago to show no emotion and that had become her nature. When you are little being impassive is a defense. If they can’t see what they are doing to you they can’t get any satisfaction from the pain they inflict and maybe they’ll stop. She would die before she let anyone see how badly those hateful, scalding words hurt.
Sarah’s kindness and tenderness had come from her Daddy. Sarah thought (Rom. 8:14-17) about the Bible word “Abba” and how that word meant Daddy. Anybody could be a Father but Daddy made it a special relationship, Daddy is pure soul; that’s where the soul, the person, the child developed from; the values, the feelings, the work ethic, the understanding.
She remembered the times Daddy had patiently and defiantly stood in the breach when her Mother had raged through the house in hot fury and frightened her and her two younger sisters with verbal assaults.
She remembered how they would cringe, big eyed, clutching each other and sometimes crying behind Daddy’s legs while he defended them. Strangely enough it had appeared to add to her Mother’s anger when her daughters had grown even closer to Daddy and ever further from her. They finally divorced and the four of them were relieved to see her go. The girls had flourished under Daddy’s lovingkindness, direction and selfless giving. She was her Daddy’s Daughter.
Sarah didn’t know the coming battle would also test the limits of her tenderhearted kindness.
Sarah thought about when she and Joe had started going to church. She had experienced her salvation event first. (John 3:6-18 then 1Pet. 1:23 then 1John 1:1-7) After the astonishing reality of meeting the God of glory and the unsearchable riches of His love during her born again, salvation experience Sarah was on pins and needles about Joe because she was scared to death he would refuse (John 6:44 & James 4:8) God’s drawing through the Holy Spirit.
Then, ten months later, Joe had accepted Jesus as his Saviour and Sarah’s world was once again safe and secure. Joe was tough and strong too and she counted on his strength, his patience, his loyalty and his lovingkindness.
Sarah didn’t know there was a total war coming and that war would test the oneness of them to the limits of their relationship.
They had prayed together for Joe’s Mom at home and they prayed for her separately, silently in their souls, in the car. Then Sarah prayed a silent prayer for her Daddy. She felt God was starting to work in Daddy’s soul with His wonderful drawing power; He just had to be! She’d give anything if he would just get saved. And that caused Sarah to start remembering the frightful, horrid, sweat-soaked, suffocating nightmares, the chilling premonitions and satanic attacks she’d had about her Daddy being in a terrible car wreck.
Maybe she had somehow misunderstood and it was really all about Joe’s Mom and the relief brought by that thought made her feel guilty. She looked back at tiny Ruthie in the warm, secure, sprawled innocence of a four year old and her heart grew warm and full. How in the world could a Mother ever say she hated her child? She noticed Joe’s strong fingers were white from gripping the wheel. With easy, married familiarity she put her arm on the back of the front seat, she gently massaged Joe’s neck muscles and she silently prayed for her Daddy as the car sped through the inky blackness of night.
FAR, FAR ON ANOTHER ROAD
BESIDE A SMOKING WRECK
A LONELY TRAFFIC COP
MADE A TRAGIC CHECK
WITH HIS PISTOLED-LEATHER BELT
THE WIDE-HATTED COP
STARED AT THE TWISTED STEEL
‘TWAS ANOTHER AWFUL STOP
THE BLOODY, BROKEN BODY
LAY DEAD BEYOND REPAIR
YET, THERE WAS A MOVEMENT
AND A GASP FOR PRECIOUS AIR
HE CALLED FOR THE MEDIC
AND SHOOK HIS HEAD IN AWE
SOMEBODY MUST BE PRAYING
FOR LIFE TO BE IN WHAT HE SAW
Joe had several brothers and sisters and some of them were already there when Joe, Sarah and Ruthie entered the receiving unit at the hospital. It was one of those strange things, the timing of it, that life sometimes dishes out. At that instant one of Joe’s brothers answered the courtesy phone, he motioned to Joe and said; “You’ve got a call”.
That was unusual, really out of the ordinary, a chill of dread raced over her and Sarah stared intently at Joe as he took the phone. She saw the color drain from his face, his features twisted with shock, he motioned Sarah to him and the great sinking dread was a spreading darkness in her soul.
Joe hugged her close and whispered; “Your Dad’s been in an awful wreck, he’s dying and they’re taking him to the trauma center in Huntington, WV! My family will take care of Mom, let’s go!” Pain! Pain like she had never known shrieked through her as Joe carried Ruthie and led Sarah shaking, faltering, shrinking, sobbing to the car.
It was almost one hundred and fifty miles of shock, tears, pain, dread, despair and passionate supplication before the throne of grace for God’s intervention into the tragedy. There was silence too, pain drenched silence, heavy, leaden, choking, smothering silence as the car knifed due east on I-64 under Joe’s strong, skillful hands in the cold, dead winter night. Good, strong, dependable, faithful Joe; her Joe! Neither of them knew bonds were being forged that night which would last a lifetime. “And they twain shall be one.” And they were.
Sarah would not be refused and against all the rules they let her see her Daddy. BUT: When Sarah saw him in the trauma/surgery unit bed the numbness of shock was all that kept her from fainting into a dead, crumpled heap upon the floor. Daddy was swollen, broken and torn beyond recognition, the grey stamp of death. His head was burst both front and back. There was a deep line IV into his heart, IV’s in his arms and ankles, the awful tracheotomy tube, the suck and wheeze of the respirator, a catheter.
There were mysterious fluids, tubes, leads from diagnostic equipment, bloody treatment debris on the floor, Daddy’s blood, glass and dirt debris from the wreck were still on him as the hospital staff fought a desperate, losing battle to keep life in his broken, swollen, terribly wounded body. HORROR! “I’ve got to pray! Oh God, help me Joe!” And they did.
Joe and Sarah fought, they fought through the panic and terror (Heb. 4:14-16) and laid their tragedy and their naked souls upon the throne of grace in teeth clenched supplication to obtain mercy and find grace in their time of soul shattering need there in that place called Everlasting. They laid their prayers at the feet of the living Son of God, Jesus, our Great High Priest of glory; “In Jesus name, let him live! Let him live! Let him live!”
(Titus 2:14) We Christians are a peculiar people and we see things differently (1John 2:1 & Heb. 4:13-16) Jesus is our Advocate with God, He’s our High Priest too, and in that far place called Everlasting surely Jesus turned and looked at His Father with tender, tragic eyes; (Rev. 5:6) lifted His nail scarred hands in supplication and softly spoke; (John 12:36) “Heavenly Father, Sarah is a child of my light, she’s your daughter (Rom. 8:17) and thus my sister because My blood is upon her and she is cleansed white as snow. Please Father, (Mark 14:36) Abba, please extend Thy scepter of mercy to her.”
AND: None of the medical people knew exactly how they did it but somehow through the swirling struggle they managed to stabilize him. But we know, you and I, and Joe and Sarah, we know how they did it; don’t we?
Horror was added upon horror when they came and told Sarah and her family that her Daddy, laying there so grey, and so cold, and so still in the intensive care unit, was brain dead and he’d never come out of the coma and it was time to start thinking about removing the life support. There was simply too much damage for the brain to be alive. The word NO shrieked through Sarah’s soul. NO! Sarah was stunned when her family actually started considering that option and Sarah was aghast at the cold cruelty of the discussion. NO!
Sarah is a big woman and strong-made but she felt like a cornered wolf and she considered herself to be surrounded by a baying pack of mangy hounds and cornered wolf tough is how she savagely fought them to a silent standstill, and Joe, God bless his loyal, loving heart, was right there beside her.
“He’s my Daddy! I’m the oldest Daughter! It’s my decision! It’s not your business; it’s my business! Daddy’s not saved! My Daddy’s not brain dead. Daddy’s got to have a chance to get saved! While there’s life there’s hope! He’s in there someplace and he can’t help himself!” Those who knew Sarah best knew she wouldn’t back down and they knew she wouldn’t run.
Her hands were doubled into fists, bitter tears, slightly crouching as if to throw herself upon them, her lovely countenance was drawn, white, and strangely enough, almost ugly in its flat lipped, snarling, stubborn, determined resolve and she gritted through clenched teeth; “I’ll die before I let you murder my Daddy in his helplessness!” Case closed. Sarah won that battle hands down. But there was a more desperate, exhausting, soul numbing battle on the way Joe and Sarah could never imagine.
Days and nights blurred and ran together until it was all grey. Food tasted like some weird, soggy cardboard. Showers were sometimes. Sleep was rare as Sarah fought her lonely, hopeless battle day, after day, after day. Endless pain and savage shock after savage shock. There were countless decisions, questions and surgery permission forms to be signed.
People, as they came and went, were like shadows; except for Joe; dependable, kind, loving, loyal Joe; he had to work and keep his job, pay the expenses, do the laundry, he kept the house going. Joe loved her and that was enough and he visited her. Joe was alive, and warm, and real, he could never be just a shadow. “And they twain shall be one.” Joe was the rest of her and she was the rest of him.
Then there was little, four-year-old Ruthie. Ruthie stayed with her and was her miniature Master at Arms in Sarah’s long, desperate battle against death and hell.
Sarah chose her weapons and strategy at the very beginning. Her weapons were prayer, the Bible and herself. Her strategy was simple; don’t quit, don’t ever give up. It was all she had; it was everything. She spent her time reading the Bible aloud to Daddy, praying sometimes aloud and sometimes silently, talking endlessly to Daddy and she bathed his hands and face; Forty-six days, forty-six long, endless days and nights from the beginning of it to the ending of it.
Sometimes she and little Ruthie napped in a chair, sometimes on a pallet on the floor, but they kept at it and they never faltered; especially the praying. Little Ruthie prayed too; “Jesus, please Jesus, please don’t let my Papaw die and go to hell.” Sometime during this time Joe’s Mom got to come home; it was a light stroke, they stopped it in time and with medication she would recover.
READ (Eph. 6:10-18): The nurses came and went as their shifts rotated. They cashed their checks, admired the “for sale” items, decided between their wants and needs, bought their goods and loved their families. They went to their boyfriends or to their husbands, to what family they had OR: those unfortunate few, going home to their loneliness.
They did, in one fashion or another, what all people do everywhere. They administered their jobs and went about the business of living their lives. Most of them, those who were unbelievers, were unaware of the gloomy, smoking, stinking, spiritual battlefield around Daddy’s bed.
They, the unbelievers who were unaware of the tender God of glory, had seen life and death before; sometimes patients lived and sometimes patients died, it didn’t really matter, they yawned indifferently because the patients, like lab rats, were only bodies, pieces of meat, statistics, a name on a chart and they efficiently went about their business. It’s an unwritten hospital law: “Don’t get too close, protect your sanity, don’t get attached or the pain and loss will drive you crazy!“
(Eph. 6:10-18) But the Christian nurses, the more spiritual ones, those few who were closest to God, they did see and they did understand Sarah’s spiritual warfare.
With the spiritual understanding given them through the Holy Spirit of God they saw that Sarah’s spiritual shield of faith was slashed and cut, they saw that her breastplate of righteousness was fiery dart scarred, her shoes of the gospel of peace were worn thin, the truth that girded her vitals had been struck and battered and her helmet of salvation was dented and bent from the blows of hell as Satan, the devil, used all his weapons to defeat her; (Luke 4:2-13) Deception! Doubt! Defeat! Fear!
Her sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, though chipped and nicked, was still held high as this fierce Daughter relentlessly fought her terrible battle (Eph. 6:12) against the invisible forces of evil for the eternal soul of her Daddy, there in the intensive care unit. (2Ki. 6:15-17) Those more spiritual nurses could also sense the angels who helped Sarah fight. And those nurses silently joined their weeping Sister in prayer while they went about their work; sometimes even at home too, when they were alone. Every prayer was important.
One day she thought she felt Daddy’s hand move when she bathed it. Hope! Hope like a white-hot lance thrust through her whole being! Did it really happen? Dare she try? Sarah bent close, almost touching his ear and her trembling lips whispered timid words; “Daddy, if you can hear me squeeze my hand. Daddy, please?”
She could hear her own heart beat as she breathlessly waited while an endlessness stretched out forever. There it was; so faint she thought she might have imagined it! The coma was gone! VICTORY OVER DEATH! She was weak with relief and wilting with thankfulness; her hot tears poured like streams from a silver spring AND: she praised (Rev. 17:14) the Lord of lords, the King of kings and (Josh. 22:22) the God of gods.
(Rev. 5:8) Nobody could see them but angels busily gathered her tear bathed prayers of thanksgiving, (Phil. 4:8 & 1Pet. 1:2) scented with the sweet odor of the sanctity of the living Son of God, and they took them to the throne of the gracious, Almighty God of Forever and stored them in a great golden vial (Rev. 8:3) where they would be placed in a golden censer to be offered, with much incense, upon the shining, golden alter before the throne of God; (Rev. 11:19) and surely, surely lightening flickered and the thunder of pleasure rumbled there.
Daddy couldn’t see, he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t eat but Daddy was alive in there somewhere, somewhere in that awful devastation of wreckage. Like all of us Sarah couldn’t see a pivotal day of realization was coming at her like a freight train; a pivotal day not many days hence. Sarah read, prayed and talked with greater certainty, a burning, pounding hope and a vast new energy.
As the days passed Sarah realized her Daddy was starting to comprehend more and more. “It’s daytime Daddy. Can you hear me?” Compared to what it had been, Daddy’s squeeze was robust but it was still terribly fragile, frail and weak. She looked at his skeletal hands and remembered the Christmases, his hands carving the Halloween pumpkins; broad, muscular, strong, hairs on them; his hands carving the Thanksgiving turkeys, the birthdays.
She saw his glad smile there in the sweetness of her memories and she heard his big laugh. She remembered the times he had picked her up and swung her high and how she and her sisters would crowd and jostle around his chair and shove each other for the favored spot on his lap and him still in his work clothes too! She remembered his advice when his beauties started dating boys; real boys, real dates. Sometimes he was just downright silly. “We’re big girls Daddy, we know how to handle ourselves.”
But Daddy still worried and gave advice and some of the boys were afraid of his forbidding scowl of warning. His looming presence; stocky, muscular, hot laser eyes; those boys who didn’t pass that threatening, sweating, stammering test simply didn’t ask for dates anymore. They never came to the girls’ house again. Daddy always grinned and said; “Those kind of boys ain’t worth much anyway, just empty pretties out for what they can get without ever realizing other people have feelings too.”
Those days were gone and she could never appreciate them now like she should have then, Sooner or later that’s a realization we all arrive at about someone, and it’s always too late for us to do anything about it. Scalding tears poured down her face and she felt as if she would smother to death. When she could breathe she whispered; “I love you Daddy. I love you with all my heart.”
That’s the pivotal day Daddy squeezed her hand twice. That second squeeze had to mean; I love you Daughter. I love you with all my heart too.” It couldn’t have been anything else. Daddy would never defend her again but, if it was called for, this loving, darling Daughter would die at the gates of hell fighting with all she was, every bit of her, for her Daddy’s eternal soul.
That’s the pivotal day she realized it was raining an early March rain. She hadn’t even noticed that February had gone on into March. She loved the warm, gentle rains of spring but this early spring rain was sure to be cold; but still; she cracked the window just a bit and stuck out her hand. The rain was cold, she pulled her hand back and looked at the raindrop there on her hand sparkling under the hospital lights.
I wonder where you’ve been sparkling little raindrop?
I wonder what you’ve seen before you made this stop?
Perhaps a drink one time, part of a storm for sure.
Dark and muddy once, another time sweet and pure.
I know for a fact that you’ve always been,
part of God’s creation, you’ll be back again.
Perhaps a drop of sweat on a tired grimy brow,
on a farmer’s weary face as he walks his plow.
Once in an orange, another time a tree.
Perhaps in a peach, then the deep blue sea.
Maybe part of a birth, then in an old man,
at his tired death, but back again.
But for this trip, you came special to me
here on my hand, a blessing for free.
Were you at one time, so precious and so dear,
upon Jesus’ lovely face, a large sparkling tear?
That’s the day Sarah sadly turned away from the window. Daddy was alive somewhere in that broken body and Sarah knew they would never laugh and run in the spring rain again; at least not in this life.
That’s the day Sarah fully understood this life isn’t much; eternity is on and on and this life is right now; (2Cor. 6:2) yesterday is gone and tomorrow never comes. This life is actually a time God gives us (Mark 16:16 & Rev. 20:10-15) to decide if we want to go to heaven (John 3:15) to be with Jesus OR: to go to the lake of fire (1Cor. 4:4) and be with Satan the god of this world. It’s that simple.
(John 8:12) Sarah didn’t know it but that’s the pivotal day God sent Sarah an inspiration based upon His Holy Scriptures AND: God would use that inspiration to touch me and to someday touch you with the blessing and beauty of His magnificent love, grace and mercy.
Following the instruction of that inspiration Sarah asked Joe to bring her a tiny push-button flashlight. That light would be Sarah and her Daddy’s communication device; leave the light off for “no” OR: turn the light on for “yes”. Who has ever heard of anything like that; a flashlight? God figured that one out, told Sarah to do it and she did!
Sarah read scriptures from the Bible and sometimes she asked Daddy if he understood. If the light didn’t come on she’d patiently explain until the light did come on. One day she asked, even though he couldn’t talk, did he know he could pray in the silence of his heart. The light came on.
She’d frequently told Daddy about Jesus and His purpose of salvation since the beginning of their ordeal; yes, even while he was in a coma. (John 6:44 & 12:32) One day she read to him and she asked him if he felt like God was drawing him. The light didn’t come on and it broke her heart.
Through some beautiful, supernatural insight she carefully and tenderly explained how it was when God drew her. The light came on! With her filled heart breaking with joy and her hot tears flowing she gently kissed his shrunken, stubble clad cheek and she whispered; “Daddy, oh God, Daddy I love you with all my heart.” The light clicked on twice.
Time, man’s concept of time, didn’t matter in that place and late that night she asked Daddy if he wanted God to save him. After a long, breathless hesitation the light came on. Sarah sensed that was enough, it was time to hush and she retreated to her chair and snuggled Ruthie close.
It was a while before she slept and when she did sleep her cheeks were still wet with her tears. And again the angels gathered her tear soaked prayers and presented them to God and I cannot help but believe (Psa.69:16-17) God smiled a wonderfully tender smile (Psa. 23:6) of goodness and mercy at His dear child, asleep, snuggled with her own sleeping child, there on her tear soaked, prayer strewn battlefield.
When she awakened Sarah sensed when they “talked” this time it was somehow going to be special. She prayed, then carefully got to her feet so she wouldn’t disturb little Ruthie; she went to the bathroom. After she finished, she washed, brushed her teeth, combed her hair and carefully examined her reflection in the mirror. Olive skin like hers too easily shows dark circles of strain around the eyes and hers were huge. She was tired, so tired she thought she would die.
Well, if that was what was required, she’d die on her knees in there beside Daddy’s bed; then she went to him. From long association she knew he was awake because there was that odd tenseness of waiting about him. She took him by the hand, quietly kissed his cheek and spoke; “Good mornin’ Daddy”. The light came on.
Even as she spoke she was staring at his face and she was compelled to ask the question, compelled by the tears that flowed from the corners of his eyes downward toward his ears and on into the tear stained splotches on his pillow.
Tenderly and softly; “Daddy has God saved you?” It was a breathless, poignant time; so tender, so tender. Then Daddy’s light came on! VICTORY OVER HELL and Sarah almost smothered to death with the unutterable joy that overwhelmed her.
She hugged the ruined, frail, scrawny body close and she cried great, gasping sobs of thanksgiving and relief and she remembered Jesus had said; (John 8:12) “I am the light of the world.” and Daddy’s light had come on!
And Daddy? His broken, twisted, tormented, sightless, voiceless body did not recover and he needs total care. After all these years Sarah still visits him every day there where he lives, caring, giving, nurturing. They while away the tender, pleasant hours as she reads God’s Word to him, they “pray” together, they “talk” together, Jesus in His Holy Spirit person visits them, the light clicks on many times and Daddy’s tears stain the pillow when they talk about the gracious, merciful, lovingkindness of Jesus, the Son of the Living God.
Sarah looked at me; “Jim, I’m not tired from all the yesterdays because they’re gone. Jesus will come and get us pretty soon, we’ll go home with Him and together Daddy and I will run across the green fields of glory.” The light always clicks on when they talk like that.
(April, 2011) Little Ruthie? She’s Ruth now, a big girl; no little girl name for her, and she also has two younger sisters. She’s fourteen, going on fifteen, and she’s started a prayer group at her high school; she’s busy with her own web page for teens and it tells those teen viewers how to find Jesus and how to know Him better. That tiny, precious bit of fruit didn’t fall far from the sturdy tree of “And they twain shall be one.”, Joe and Sarah. (Prov. 22:6) “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Daddy lived like that for ten years and the year Ruth started her prayer group and webpage Jesus took Daddy home.
GOD BLESS YOU.