1:2 He Neither Slumbers Nor Sleeps
In my last blog post titled Brain Salad Surgery, I told you that something unexpected happened after I became addicted to, and subsequently “cold turkey’d” Oxycontin pain medication. I was in excruciating pain every waking minute of every day. I didn’t think I could take much more. I often wondered if I wanted to continue living. This took place about five years before my brain surgery in 2006.
One evening as I was putting the last dirty glass in the dishwasher, a word popped into my mind: Chiropractor. Just that one word. Chiropractor. Huh! A chiropractor is the last person I’d think of. I had gone to a chiropractor right after I broke my neck. After he placed his hands on each side of my head and twisted my neck to the right and then left, I had decided I would never go back. It took a week to recover from the appointment.
A couple of days later, I was folding laundry. Chiropractor. That was it. There was no linking train of thought that helped me to understand why that word was entering my mind.
Several more times that week the word inexplicably popped into my mind at odd moments during the day and night. Chiropractor. I continued to ignore it. There was no way I was going to allow a chiropractor anywhere near my neck again.
Then, one morning I couldn’t take the pain any longer. I got on my knees in my living room and literally cried out to God. I begged him to tell me what to do. I reminded him that life was becoming unbearable. “Please, tell me what to do, I cried. If you don’t, I’m done.” I got up off the floor, wiped at the salty tears running down my cheeks, and walked over to the front window. Chiropractor. Again.
Is the Lord trying to tell me to go to a chiropractor? That would be weird. I glanced out the window, noticing the sun and shadow on my front walkway. A magpie pecked at something on the sidewalk. I watched for a moment and then laid down on my couch.
Two hours passed. A ringing phone startled me out of a sound nap. “Hello Linda? This is Betsey, your massage therapist (I hadn’t seen Betsey in several months). You have really been on my mind lately. There’s someone I want you to see. He’s a chiropractor.”
I froze, holding my breath for what was next. I recognized this as one of the many God moments I had experienced since coming to know Him in 1975. There’s a certain feel to these times. My hope for the Lord’s help was waning and my heart was in my throat with anticipation for what was next.
I continued to listen to Betsey, mostly interested in this chiropractor’s name and phone number. Once I had them, I hung up my phone and dialed. The chiropractor answered the call himself, and after I explained my situation, he gave me an appointment for the following day. I could hardly sleep that night.
Within four visits, over 80% of the pain left my upper and middle back. Apparently, there were vertebrae completely out of alignment that didn’t show up on any x-ray or MRI I had had. I wanted to leap; I wanted to dance; I wanted to do cartwheels down the street! I wanted to grab total strangers and tell them what the Lord had done for me. The freedom I felt filled me with joy and I was on an emotional high for weeks. These sweet times when I have known God to come through for me have kept me going when I have been tempted to lose my faith and remind me that I can trust him when trials came along in my future…like having to have brain surgery right in the middle of fulfilling my educational dreams.
Fast-forward five years to 2006. I am in the hospital bed in the ICU at Brotman Medical Center after waking up from brain surgery. My family is with me.
My oldest son Bruce, born when I was just seventeen, made his way over to my hospital bed. His red-rimmed hazel eyes peered into my face. I took his hand and placed it on my forehead. Someone in the room groaned and he yanked it back.
“Does that hurt?” His eyes widened and he furrowed his brow. I realized I must have been the one who groaned but I was having trouble hearing myself. In fact, I realized that I couldn’t hear much of anything except the sound of my own breathing.
“No, I like it. It’s cold,” I mumbled. My head hurt. An ice pack would’ve been nice right about then. I felt a desperate need to reassure my son. I touched his dark hair. Relief flooded his face. Everyone else in the room seemed to breath a collective sigh of relief to hear my voice. I wanted to make them all smile. “Don’t worry,” I wanted to say. But I was not at all sure they didn’t need to. Someone needed to. Something felt terribly wrong.
I became aware of the sound of my own breathing. I seemed to hear my breath twice for each breath I drew. My breath roared in my ears, like the sound of a waterfall. A second later, in between breaths, I heard my breath again. I held it and listened. I let the air out, the sound expanding as it left my lungs. Again, the sound of my breath repeated itself when I wasn’t taking a breath. “That’s odd,” I thought. Adrenaline began to drip into my bloodstream, readying me to fight against some unseen enemy. I pushed against it. It’s a miracle I’m alive. I have nothing to fear.
I glanced over at the precious faces standing near my bed, at those people I cared about more than life itself. It came to me that I was seeing two of everyone. Each image was about four feet apart and up to the left. I shut my eyes and shut out this new Noah’s Ark world I found myself in. And I slept. I was alive, and that was enough for now.
In God’s infinite wisdom, He did not give us the ability to see into our own futures. His mercy and grace are for today, for these moments when we need it now. We look back at times of great darkness and are surprised by the things we have survived. But He who sees it all ahead of time, is not surprised at all. So I quite trying to see what my own future held and went back to sleep.
He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121:3-4