It’s easy to forget that some things are not as they appear. It’s easy to forget because when we turn on the TV; we are constantly bombarded with negative news, covered up with the current crisis, COVID-19 – a silent, invisible enemy…yet most of the time, we do not look away, we do not turn it off; instead we stay captivated by what the news is creating – Fear.
As believers, we understand we have an invisible enemy. In John 10:10 Jesus states clearly, “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” and so I was thinking about how do we fight Fear?
We fight fear with Faith. And how do we strengthen our faith?
Romans 10:17 “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” Our faith is strengthen through reading the scriptures, through worship and through the testimony of others, through hearing and seeing the miraculous power of God in others’ lives.
We fight fear with Faith. And how do we strengthen our faith – By Hearing. And how do we fight with Faith? Prayer is your weapon.
Stories and testimonies strengthen our faith; they give us a foundation of Hope and while walking out faith, our weapon is Prayer
As I have been thinking about this throughout the week, I was reminded of all the ways now when I look back on the weeks leading up to Townes’ transplant it is so obvious the Lord was working on his behalf, it is so obvious that he was strategically moving things in place. And he used his people to do it, he worked in and through them for us.
But no we couldn’t always see it. And no we definitely couldn’t feel it. Sometimes the weight of our circumstances and the weight of the unknown and what was in front of us was too BIG, it felt as if the enemy was winning. But the reality is that there is only one that is victorious! “But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57 – and if he is for me, than who can be against me? (Romans 8:31)
Today I was imagining a game of chess, where the Lord was ever so calculated and strategic in placing his men. And while at points during the game, the winner may seem to be in question, in his game of chess, only he gets to claim “Checkmate.”
There are three doctors a part of the pediatric transplant team which we learned upon our time in the PCICU is different that the pediatric cardiac surgeons and the pediatric ICU doctors, among others. All of these doctors work together, and no they do not always share the same opinion but at the end of the day, we watched them work in Unity with each other.
Unity – something my husband, Scott, had prayed for throughout our entire tenure at Vanderbilt. He knew we would be facing decisions outside of our expertise, outside our entire scope – not only are we new parents but we are also not medically inclined in the least bit.
I believe the Holy Spirit must have placed on his heart the importance of this simple word – Unity. We witnessed this prayer answered more times than we can count.
So today I want to share about how even though my eyes could not see these things working together, the Lord was ever so intentional in his love, protection and provision for Townes, this is only one example.
Back in early to mid-March (right before COVID really took hold and Scott and I both could with Townes at the same time – now that feels like a lifetime ago!) one our transplant doctors told us that Townes would need to go to catherization lab to have another CATH procedure done because the pressure level in his right atrium was beginning to get too high. This is something the doctors had discussed with us since the beginning, we knew it was a possibility that our son would require this operation the longer we had to wait on a match. And so, it appeared this would be the week – he was scheduled for a procedure Wednesday morning.
Anytime a procedure is needed for anyone, young or old, you know there are always risks, the potential for complication and you have to weigh these against the benefits. So our doctor thought it was time – from looking at the echo he believed the procedure would be relatively simple and a stent could be put in to widen the atrium and create the passage necessary for the oxygen to move from the heart to the lungs. Keeping Townes’ lungs in the best health was of the utmost importance.
I remember when Scott called to tell me, I said,” okay, we knew this was coming” But it was Monday, and a lot could change…
Starting Monday evening I started to feel uneasy. I wasn’t sure why. I just assumed it was because my 5 ½ week old son was going to go back into a surgical room and I was facing all the emotions that come with that. And, I, his mother, am helpless to do anything to fix it.
By Tuesday, the Fellow on rotation came in to discuss the risks and have me sign off on the authorization. The more he spoke of the procedure the more uneasy I began to feel, but I thought, well once the Cath doctor (and hopefully the one who did his first procedure) comes to see me and discuss, I will feel better.
And more Bad News…the doctor whom we had built a relationship, the one who even prayed with Scott and I before I was wheeled back for my c-section was on vacation. Nothing against the other doctors. We know they are skilled, fabulous doctors, but we had built a relationship with our first doctor. We trusted him.
After meeting with the Cath doctor Tuesday evening, it become clear that from their perspective a stent would be risky due to the size and shape of his heart, that a balloon may not widen the atrium enough for the oxygen circulation and so they may have to use wire but they couldn’t know for sure until they went in. I believe his words were, “We will make a game time decision.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I have played sports long and competitively enough to know that sometimes your strategy changes, sometimes your opponent’s surprise you. So you either change your plan or lose but this seemed different.
When we got home Tuesday night, I told Scott I was nervous and anxious. I think we may have taken communion more than twice that day. I just kept thinking to myself, you are not a doctor, you don’t see what they see, you are just nervous because it’s a procedure, etc, etc.
I barely ate. I barely slept.
We got to the hospital earlier than normal that Wednesday morning. We prayed, we read Psalm 91 and we took communion. We asked others to join us in praying for our sweet boy that morning.
Still I remained uneasy, queasy even. Where was that peace of the Lord?!
The procedure was scheduled for 10:00 am. Around 8:00 am the ICU doctor on service came in to do his normal clinical checkup. When he finished before leaving the room, he looked at us and said, “He looks great. I don’t know why we are going to the Cath lab. We could create a bigger issue on the back end. This makes me nervous.”
I don’t know about you, but that’s not exactly what I want to hear my doctor say. All I thought to myself was “I think I may throw up.” And I am sure Scott did not need me to say it, he could see it clear as day all over my pale ghostly face.
Thankfully, Scott was a little more in control of his nerves than me. He responded, “have you spoken with transplant or the Cath doctors yet?” … “No, but I am on my way.”
Not only are we coming down to the wire on Townes’ procedure but now one of our doctors doesn’t think it’s a good idea?! – not to mention I haven’t eaten in about 2 days because of my nerves…now I am about to come unglued.
Before I even had time to collect my thoughts, the other CATH doctor walked in to talk to us. Thankfully, he didn’t get far before Scott stopped him to ask if he had spoken with our ICU doctor. He said no, so Scott ‘strongly’ suggested he come back after they had met.
Well let’s just say when I walked by the main desk about 10 minutes later, I saw them both in what seemed to be a very intense discussion. A discussion I knew could only be about one thing: Townes.
Now it’s 9:15 am and I have mentally started counting down the minutes to 10:00 am. I see our transplant doctor walking down the hall towards us – when he enters he says, “they can’t put in a stent as I thought due to the shape of his heart. We are doing another echo to decide if he is going to Cath lab today.”
The echo was completed. It showed the gradient pressure in his atrium had decreased…not a lot…but enough…
All doctors stood in agreement…we would NOT be going to the CATH lab today! Hallelujah. Unity.
There are so many lessons tucked away in this one story, but the biggest lesson is that you fight fear with faith and use our main weapon, prayer. And our prayer wasn’t specific to Townes’ procedure or even his condition, it was a prayer for the team the Lord placed around us. A prayer that Scott started praying from the beginning of our journey in the hospital is the prayer that protected our son from the possibility of creating a bigger issue later.
Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when all of God’s children live together in unity!” Amen and Amen
At the time, we knew again it was still possible he may have to go to the Cath lab but for now we will rest in the provision and protection of the Lord. I now believe and know that my unease was not because he was facing a procedure, it was because it wasn’t what was going to be best for him.
The Tuesday before Townes received his heart – we were told that we needed to schedule him for the Cath lab, that we had “kicked the can down the road” as long as we can and so it was schedule for the following week. The last thing our transplant doctor said after telling me he was scheduled for the Cath lab was “we really just need him to get a heart.”
Yes, we do and Yes, Yes, we did! The Lord does as he promised, in him we can and must trust. He is always working, no we can’t always see it with our physical eyes but may we lean into the eyes of heart. 2nd Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”
Every step of the way, the right doctor at the right time was assigned to us. This was not be coincidence. There are so many ICU doctors that rotate that this particular doctor we had that day we hadn’t had in over a month nor seen. It was not by accident he was our doctor that day.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” Numbers 6: 24-26
So as we start the process of going back to a new “normal” let’s remember our God is bigger. He is moving behind the scenes, strategically aligning his army to say “checkmate.” He is working on your behalf and mine even when we can’t physically see it. And while we wait, fight fear with Faith and use your weapon – Prayer.
Jeremiah 29:12 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
In Faith –