In October of 2016 while sitting at the piano during Worship Band practice I was overwhelmed by the sense and conviction that our church needed revival. I prayed earnestly that God would reveal Himself with undeniable power. I repeated this prayer into 2017, albeit with less intensity. It was God’s prerogative to move or not but I was doing my part by asking.
On February 19 I went to the ER with excruciating pain. A blood clot had resulted in a fistula or hole in my small intestine. Over the next month of hospitalization I also had a bowel perforation and became quite septic. The doctors tried many procedures including putting a drain into my abdomen but the outlook was very grim. On two occasions they had my four children brought in so that I could have my last words with them. Surgery was not an option because of the danger and viability of survival. My family was told to take me home and enjoy what time I had left.
To be honest, much of this time is a blur to me. Psalm 34:4 says “I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears.” I remember praying through the fog and trying to express and confess how afraid I was and how worried I was for my husband and children. How would they go on without me? The Lord sent His peace while teaching me that He was in control and the earth would still rotate without my being on it. He gently soothed my mind and calmed my fears.
Friends in the medical profession urged my husband to get a second opinion. In mid-March I was transferred to the Mayo Clinic. I immediately had surgery to implant four drains into my intestines by a doctor who is the foremost authority on this procedure and “happened” to be on call that night.
The following weeks were very trying. I was denied liquids for much of the time and was fed through a port in my chest. The doctor had told me that at some time I would maybe be able to have a rare Diet Coke but she doubted I would ever eat again.
As I regained clarity my fears and prayers also became more coherent. I was never afraid of dying but now was afraid of living. My family would be saddled with my care and would have to adjust to the new “normal”. As my body tried to recover new fears assailed me. I could only utter prayers in my spirit yet somehow God’s presence was always near along with His peace. Each test and procedure was a new ordeal. I developed nosebleeds that required packing. I can only liken it to being in a prizefight without anesthesia. Through it all, hundreds were following my case on caringbridge.org and multiple prayers were offered on my behalf.
In the days following my surgery another doctor came into the room and proclaimed that he was going to “adopt me”. This doctor had confidence that he could perform a repair surgery on my abdomen in the coming year. This should have been great news to me as it was to my family. Instead, I remember breaking out in a cold sweat and experiencing abject terror at his words. The memories of the ICU, the ventilator, the thirst, the incisions, and most of all, the pain were just too fresh. In my heart I again cried out to the Lord and He heard me and gradually took away my fear.
After three months I was released to go home where I spent the summer in bed and attached to a suction machine. At this point I had five drains plus my port to deal with. My husband and children lovingly cared for me. I was hospitalized three additional times due to complications and infections.
In October 2017 I went back to Mayo for my repair surgery. I was strangely calm. Gone was the terror and the feeling of being afraid. Only God could deliver me from my fears, just as His Word said in Psalm 34.
The ten hour surgery was very successful. Even my doctor said that he had never seen anything like it in the 165 cases he had operated on. In the ICU he told me “it must have been all those prayers”. This came from a man whose medical opinion is sought by other professionals from all over the world.
In all I spent 140 days in the hospital and six months bed-bound. Today I am still recovering but I can eat what I want and drink Diet Coke.
Remember that prayer for revival back in 2016? I had many conversations with God about that over the past year. Why hadn’t He sent it? Why had my life been so derailed? I thought that God had a strange sense of humor. He did hear my prayer all along. His gentle voice taught me that revival starts within. I had arrogantly prayed it for and on others without recognizing my own need for personal revival.
As a pastor’s wife and long time Christian I should have some profound spiritual wisdom to impart after this experience. Unfortunately, I don’t. I just know that the Lord never left me and I knew His presence in a new way. Psalm 34:5 says “those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame”. There were many discouraging days when I certainly didn’t feel very radiant. Now I’m happy to be upright and functioning. The truth is, you can’t manufacture radiance or revival. It only comes from spending time in the Lord’s presence. We can go boldly to Him, without shame, because of the saving grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. The radiance may be bright and beautiful, like Moses coming down from Mount Sinai, or it may just be serenity, knowing that God got you through. Either way, revival has come.
Oftentimes in this fallen world, trust can feel impossible to muster up - even when it's God who we're trying to trust. How can we work toward giving our trust to Christ more in every aspect of our lives?