A love of a lifetime…
I remember the vow my husband and I made to love each other until, when old and gray, death would part us. It wasn’t something I’d ever dwell on. Death and all it’s gory details never interested me, although the thought of life ever after did. As believers, my husband and I knew the hope of heaven would one day soften the sting. We spent thirty-two years making memories to cling to for such a rainy day. In sickness and health, good times and bad, we’ve held on to the promise of the bond—not only between us but especially with a God who loves us unconditionally, with all his heart.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest is love.1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV
Forever changed and rearranged
One day last month, my husband texted me: “I’ll be home early. Let’s go for a walk.” Within minutes, I laced my walking shoes and grabbed the Gentle Leader harnesses for our two dogs. I had no clue about the drama that would unfold, or that in an instant, our lives would change forever.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but take heart; I have overcome the world.John 16:33 ESV
God with us
We never made it out for the walk that night. Hubby’s upper back and minor chest pressure sent me into wifey warrior mode. Within the hour, I watched in complete horror as my husband suffered a massive heart attack in the emergency room of our local hospital. After he flat-lined several times, a doctor’s words reached my broken soul. “I’ll do everything I can to save him, but without a miracle, it’s likely his heart, brain, and other organs may have sustained severe damage. Right now it’s out of our hands…It’s moment by moment.” Although he reassured without promise, his compassion and faith consoled us. Once again, even in the most wicked storm of our lives, we leaned on God’s promise: “I am with you always.” We believed it with all our hearts because he loved us first…with all his.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God whose word I praise. In God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?Psalm 56:3-4 NIV
Belief and eternity
One hour seemed like an eternity. Our pastor held our hands and led us in prayer right there in the hallway. Random people and nurses bowed their heads too. My four sons and I clung to each other until the blur of activity settled. After a while, most of the emergency room crew stopped working on him. Beeping monitors quieted. The reality that this might be my final chance to let him know I couldn’t let him go, didn’t register. All I knew was I had to see him if only to touch his face once more. I needed to beg him not to leave me. A nurse opened the curtain and took my hand. “You can have a few moments.” Her smile pierced my heart, but her face was ashen with a hint of sadness. “Think positive thoughts. Believe he’ll hear you.”
One last whisper
Fear gripped my throat and threatened to crush all our tomorrows. I prayed he felt my kiss when my salty tears drenched his bare feet. “God, please hear my prayer.” After the doctor motioned me to move closer, I whispered in Dennis’ ear and kissed his face. I watched as one rouge tear slid down his cheek. “Please don’t leave us. We need you. Stay with us…I love you.” The words fell from my mouth as I held back gut-wrenching sobs. I didn’t know if he heard my voice but his pulse went from twenty-something to sixty and then they rushed him away to the cath lab.
Mercy and grace
In those terrifying moments, I witnessed how God moved mountains in a crowded emergency room to send forth another testimony of His mercy and grace. It isn’t about us. We deserve nothing. This is about a God who hears our plea. The one who already conquered death once and for all heard my heart’s cry. He is the Lord of miracles who sees and gives and loves with all His heart.
I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.Psalm 71:1 ESV
Till death do us part
Four days later, my husband woke up from sedation. Monitors, pumps, and tubes filled almost every inch of the room. With tears streaming down my face, I watched him struggle to speak. Then, as I leaned closer he said, “I love you, baby…I’m so sorry.” As if he knew the terrors I witnessed and the possibilities of what else our family might have to endure. Later, he told a story of the vivid purple sea of color he saw and how he heard lyrical voices and serene hymn instrumentals, which he followed—and somehow, they led him back to us. Once again, God heard our prayers and showed us he can make a way where there is no way, and give life and breath back to the dead.
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.Zephaniah 3:17 ESV
My miracle man
Pneumonia, heparin intolerance, blood clots, Afib, and a transfusion followed, but somehow Dennis grew stronger. Walked further. Thank you, God, for answering our prayers. Hubby remained in the CVICU for over two weeks before he was stable enough for triple bypass surgery. Several emergency room nurses stopped by daily to say hello and encourage his progress. A few mentioned how they shared the news about the guy who had a heart attack that lasted over an hour and survived. “It’s obvious,” one said, “God’s not done using him.” Like me, his doctors and nurses knew something supernatural happened…People referred to him as The Miracle Man.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures foreverPsalm 138:8
While I believe we witnessed several miraculous moments during Dennis’ hospital stay, I know there’s only one Miracle Man. His name is Jesus: The son and image of the one true God who not only gives and takes away; he’s the great physician who nurtures, heals, and loves us—with all his heart.
Although I’d rather learn from times of joy, I’ve seen how God proves his love over and over in my darkest nights. When life’s worst tragedies threatened to rip my family apart and render us useless vessels, he never failed to hold us up. In times when tragedies invaded our cookie-cutter world to steal our sleep and vigor, or if we were too numb to even breathe another breath—One name: JESUS, is all we needed to remember.
Wind Breaker and Way Maker
Without faith in my unseen God, there’s no way I could have endured what my eyes have seen, my hands have touched, and my heart has felt. Whenever fear, sorrow, and anger crash into our lives like a tsunami, might we only need to look up to the heavens—to the one who controls the wind and the waves…and the doctor’s hands? He alone gives peace, strength, and hope when we’re numb with fear or at our most broken. Above all, Jesus modeled such love for us that endured the cross. Let’s believe each step taken in faith might lead to real love; for it’s not our words, but sacrificial action that proves the meaning of unconditional love. Agape.
The color of our love
Each unbearable circumstance is bearable in love (Galatians 5:6). It’s the kind that shines the most beautiful shades of our favorite colors to a dark and dying world. Mine happens to be purple. Yep. It’s true. My favorite color led Dennis back to me. If that’s not a God thing, I don’t know what is.
The good, bad, and ugly
During a month of sleepless nights after his heart attack, my chest hurt, as if my own breath was ripped from my lungs. I’d wake up gasping every hour: My cue to pray and cling to one of Den’s dress shirts that never made it to the dry cleaners. Life as we knew it ceased.
Puppies, piles of mail, and much-loved family staying to help with the daily motions only pushed me right up to the edge of what I could endure. Still, I searched for happiness in the weeks that followed. The outpouring of concern, meals, and prayer from our church helped in tremendous ways.
Although frustrating moments of exhaustion and unexplainable sadness still occur, I now choose to remember the miracles more than the pain. There are many reasons to be thankful, even for ugly scars and the trauma of the worst days of our lives.
Don’t forget to share
What if telling our worst stories helps us to see the beauty in each moment we’re given to share them? Knowing God’s not done writing our stories might help us to rise above the day-to-day struggles. Right? So, for the rest of my days, I’ll sing and share about the goodness of our great unstoppable God—Oh how he loves us, friends ~ With all his heart.
Please keep Dennis and I in your prayers. He’s finally eating, taking short walks, and has embraced the long road to full recovery ahead. However, he lost lots of weight and muscle mass, so he’s quite weak. Even so, I say he looks amazing. Don’t forget to join the conversation in the Inspire A Fire blog comments section below this post. I’d love to hear from you! Stop by my FB or Instagram pages for stories, scripture quotes, and the every day la, la, la. https://joannclaypoole.wordpress.com/
I wish you love, blessings, and joy on your journey. Heaven will be worth it all.JC
In addition, my thanks: PIXBAY photos: Feature image by Free-Photos from Pixabay. #1 lg image by Karen Warfel from Pixabay. Gallery #1 TL image by Victoria Borodinova from Pixabay, TC image by Barroa_Artworks from Pixabay, TL image by oo11o from Pixabay, Bottom image by Pexels from Pixabay. #2 Gallery TL image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay, TC image by DarkoStojanovic from Pixabay, TR image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay, Bottom image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay. Gallery #3 TL image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay, TC image by Pexels from Pixabay, TR image by sheriyates from Pixabay, Bottom image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay. #3 Lg Image by Alejandro Tuzzi from Pixabay, #4 lg image by Free Photos from Pixabay