Saturday, April 14, 2012

Love through a firehose

My breathing is getting easier, though with this silly oxymeter on my finger and Albuterol making me shake every two hours, my typing is not. Small potatoes, though, compared to the feel of clean air returning to my chest and lungs and the pleasant flavor of chicken and cheese on my tongue again. As the code blue alert rushes nurses into action down the hall to the fading sound of the nightly waxing machine skidding across the floor, making their way swifter, I breathe - breathe thanks to the Breath of Life - because today I can.

One of my Women's Club students, Rosa, came by to visit me today. She laid hands on me and prayed over me in Spanish. Three of the youth night girls came by with new socks and chocolates and hugs. One of our Sunday students, who now works at the hospital, popped in and promised to check in again. Meng Pu and one of his daughters were here the other day to pray over me. My little songbird, Maelynn, lifted my spirits with a song of joy. All my sweet friends and helpers and ministry partners and family, who already do so much for me on my best days, have come by for the same thing too.

They've all come in and out of my room over the days, and leave by lavishing so much love... and today it honestly puzzled me. Why do these people have so much love for me? I mean, I love them, and I know they love me, but this love seems so much more powerful and transcendent... like, for every teaspoon I try to dish out I get knocked over by a deluge waterfall. There's no way I can keep up with it, it's just too big, and I am overwhelmed. I do not deserve this love, and yet I basque in it. Because I know no person on earth has the power to produce this.

I'm not good at formulas, but I feel like I'm beginning to learn one... that when you join God in his story, he leads you to his Springs of Life, where he fills you, and overflows you, so that the smallness of you is consumed in the greatness of His love, drawing others to the spring to be filled to overflow, and their overflow flows back into you and you into them, and the more people who gather, the more his mercies flow... the power of a firehose dowsing us, blessing us, filling us more.

Dear loved ones, from my teaspoon to your garden hose tonight, be filled with his love.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Holy Ground

A rosy seam of sunrise pierced the horizon outside my hospital room window this morning, rising and warming the earth in the way I dream it did that first Easter morning of the Empty Tomb. Last night was dark and suffocating, working hard to inhale with a wheeze and exhale with a rumble, so tired and frustrated and discouraged, and thinking how easy it would be to just stop... but I kept hearing a gentle Master say, "Hang on 'til the morning..." I wonder how many of his friends he had to whisper that to on that first Saturday night, before the morning of the Empty Tomb, before hope rose again on a pink thread of dawn.

"There is hope beyond the suffering, joy beyond the tears,
peace in every tragedy, and love that conquers fear.
For I have found redemption in the blood of Christ.
My body might be dying, but I'll always be alive..."

With this morning came a small group of friends and family - my beloved gospel community - who surrounded my bed at that eastern-facing window and together we worshipped and prayed to our risen Savior.

"Oh death, where is your sting?
Oh hell, where is your victory?
Oh church, come stand in the light -
Our God is not dead, He's alive! He's alive!"

And suddenly the priority for this day became a matter of not just survival, but of praise and glory to God. If ever my body was a weak and broken vessel, it was today, and I begged for God's strength to be made perfect. The great gift I received in response was the number of ministers he placed around me all day to make that happen.

"Connie, what does it mean that the joy of the Lord is our strength?" It was given as a challenge for me to speak Truth, so I wheezed and replied: "My strength is from the Lord, and wells up as I delight in the things that delight his heart." The earnest response was: "He delights in this... He delights in you."

This evening came and brought more friends and family - more of my beloved gospel community - who surrounded me again and worshipped and prayed again.

"High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heav'ns Son!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O ruler of all."

"Two things You told me:
That You are strong and You love me,
Yes, You love me
Your love is strong..."

Lifting voices, singing truth and declaring commitment and submission... these things gave me strength today, and I felt the power of the gospel - salvation, forgiveness, redemption, and freedom - restore joy and health and life to me. This sterile hospital room, with its noises and machines, became holy ground.