Well, it’s been a couple of months since my last update from the hospital, and we are still here. However, the end is in sight! The doctors have said there is a very good chance that dad will be discharged this next week! Praise God for answered prayers! He has been so good to us in this time. Through my dad’s healing, my sustained strength and endurance, and countless others way, I have seen all new facets of God’s character and nature during our time here.
As we look expectantly to my dad’s return home, it has caused me to spend time reflecting on the last few months. While I won’t recount every significant detail, I have learned many lessons about myself, others, and God as a result of this journey which I do not want to forget. So, here are the highlights:
- The role of a servant. I have a fuller understanding of what it means to live truly desiring someone else’s comfort, well-being, and happiness above my own. Even when it’s inconvenient, or burdensome, or difficult, servanthood requires that I humble myself in order to be a blessing to someone else. I have scrubbed and cleaned my dad’s feet, including the removal of caked dead skin and clipping his toenails. I have changed dirty adult diapers. I sat in urine-soaked linens to help my dad move from his bed. There are countless examples, and the only thing that matters is that I’ve identified with Christ as Paul says: Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:3-5 ESV)
- The value of compassion. I’ve felt the immense blessing of a random act of kindness. I’ve discovered how to reach out to a person who is hurting through no connection except for a sense of empathy. I’ve grieved with strangers and mourned over people I have never met. I’ve found reconciliation in former broken relationships through a mutual need for encouragement and love. I’ve truly felt the weight of these words: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV)
- The absolute necessity for community. I found myself identifying with this quotation from the movie The Young Victoria, “you have been confusing stubbornness for strength, my dear.” I discovered that it’s okay to be weak and to let others be strong for you. I will forever remember my brothers and sisters in the faith who have empowered me throughout this time. Like Moses in Exodus 17, sometimes we need others to hold our arms for us when we’re in the heat of battle. It is glorifying to God, for he is sufficient in our weakness.
- The total and incomprehensible sufficiency of Christ. This has been the most important and the most difficult lesson by far. I have been doing Beth Moore’s study The Beloved Disciple over the past couple of months, which looks at the life of John. One of our lessons recently reflected on James’ martyrdom, the brother of John, in Acts 12. Our discussion centered on John’s emotional state during this event, and we were asked to consider: “would you be willing to live, and die, alone with Christ?” Until recently, I would have been quick to blurt out, “of course I would! Christ is all I need, He will never leave me nor forsake me!” While true, I admit that rash response would be more like Peter in Matthew 26, “though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Yet, in his constant grace, Christ has shown me the very real, absolute truth that: neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV). Even if the rest of my life were to be spent exactly as it has been for the last 3 months, I pray that in his grace my last testimony would be that Christ is not only all I need, he is more than enough.
I still have much to learn as I walk through each season of my life with Christ. And I confess that I have not honored God in every moment of the last three months. This season of my life has felt like a wilderness, and much like Jesus’ time in the wilderness, my temptations have tried to turn my eyes from him. I don’t claim to have come out of the wilderness spotless. But, as this season come to a close, I find myself more in love with Christ, and I have experienced his mercy from first to last.