Friday, July 3, 2009

The Great Surgeon

Friday morning, July 3rd. We got to the hospital a bit ago and they are not letting us in to see Jake yet. They are changing his dressing and a group of doctors is evaluating, trying to determine what his state is for the upcoming surgery. He is currently on the roster for surgery today, but that could change at any moment. The surgery is plan A, but the doctors gave the impression that it is not likely.
He is on 40% oxygen support, which is decent news compared to the 100% that he was on last night. But as we have seen yesterday, that can quickly change. His state is still very critical.

Last night was really difficult. I was praying for a miracle. But just the fact that he is still alive is an answer to prayer. And, who knows, maybe there was a miracle last night. But God never answers prayers on our terms, on our timeframe, according to what we think is right, because he knows our true needs. He is the great maestro of the universe, that orchestrates all the instruments in the correct tune and timing, to create a beautiful, aesthetic masterpiece that we call existence, reality. So I say to you all: welcome to God's reality. Seek to be in tune with God, to sing his song that brings breaking to our hearts of stone, then healing to the newly made hearts of flesh
Last night we were praying and I fell apart. I began weeping in terror at who God is. I don't mean to presume to have had some "spiritual experience," but to whatever extent it is true, I saw God. Or at least a part of who he is. I realized that I was deathly afraid to pray "Lord, your Kingdom Come. Your presence come." Because, I am convinced that when he does come, it is frightening and painful, because it means that God will in his love divorce us from the things that are not of him. He will rip us apart until all the things that are not devoted to him have passed through his purifying fire.
So I was scared. I didn't want God to take from us anything more. I am already in so much pain, I don't know how I could handle any more of him. Which is why I offer us, as a Body, up to complete brokenness. My hope is that God has already performed a miracle in preserving Jacob's life, and all he can do from here is give - give back to us as much of Jacob as he knows best. (O Lofty Lord, don't think me presumptuous! You are lofty, but I also know that you lowered yourself to the depths for me - so I approach you in the boldness of brokenness. You know my heart).
Anyway, back to last night. I was scared. I began to confront God. I felt his presence, which was overwhelming and terrifying. I wept as my parents held me. Whatever it was that God sent, it scared the crap out of me. It scared me even more, because I was asking this same presence to come descend on Jacob. How could he go through this?! Or maybe he already has/is.

This presence, this overwhelming Thing, is the very thing that we must dive into and embrace in courage and love. It is painful and horrific. Such is this life, because we go through a lifelong process of God coming down in love to dispel darkness from us. Which is an incredibly painful process.

Pray that Jacob would undergo surgery today, whether it be human or divine. God is the great Surgeon. Surgery is an invasive process. It involved cutting, cleaning, replacing, transplants, stitching, anesthesia, etc.... but it is what we need. It is God making himself known to us, sending out his Spirit, and we are never the same. In his fervent love, he soils his holiness by pinning us down on the ground to rip out of us what is keeping us away from him; all the while we are struggling and screaming for him to stop.
This is the crazy love that you will open yourself up to if you are willing to join into the cause of the Kingdom of God. It is painful. It sucks. You will be considered a loser by the standards of this world. But God will be with you. His presence is near. His presence is here. The filthy red cross has conquered our fear.

So, in fear and reverence we raise our ragged sail, torn and ripped by storms, to the winds of God's love. We have confidence that all of this is some great surgery, some divine invasion into our spiritual Body (including ALL OF US!) in order to dispel evil and bring us into His glorious light.

One more thing. I pose this question to all of you, and am open to discussion. How in the world do I find joy out of this? Aren't we supposed to rejoice in trials? Faced with the gravity and dread of looking at Jacob's swollen torso & head, knowing that his lungs are infected, knowing that he will never be the same, knowing that everything could change every day, I don't even know what that statement means: "rejoice in trials." The funny thing is, a verse that I have held on to since I was 12 is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 -
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly
of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ
may rest upon me.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content
with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and
For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I don't even know what this means now. I definitely feel weak. I think we take this passage and say "when we are weak is when we become strong or find strength" and try to use it as encouragement. But maybe the truth is "weakness = strength." We are strong in Christ when we are weak. So we have to be weak.

I am going to see Jensen up at Camp Hammer today. Pray that he is emotionally ok and able to enjoy himself. Pray that I can just have a brief conversation with him about what is going on, but then that we could just hang out.

We have extreme gratitude toward all of you. Make sure you are getting rest as well - if you can't sleep, pray yourself to sleep. Rest in prayer.

As I said before, I am plenty irritated, angry, confused, and enraptured with God. I think we try to avoid this becasue we think that "God is always good, so we shouldn't be angry." But I am finding that this passionate anger is actually an outpouring of intimate love between him and I. I am angry, but I trust him. I love him more than life. He is so more than a friend.

I'll leave you with the words of C.S. Lewis through a conversation between the Pevensies and the Beavers about Aslan the lion, The King of the Wood, Son of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea:

"Is he - quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver; "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or just silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

He's the king. He's the great surgeon.

Into Marvelous Light we are all running,
(sorry for the long post)


Kimberly said...

I have been reading all of your posts and am inspired by your willingness to talk about the tough stuff: anger, confusion, questioning God. Know that there are many, many of God's children praying for Jake and your family, myself included. When I was in nursing school over 30 yrs ago, I had a rotation thru the burn center and remember well the emotional toll that families and staff members pass through on a daily basis. This is not and will not be an easy road. But, thru your postings, you are a strong witness for the God of Love, and the sacrifice that he made for us.
I am a member of TLC and have heard the Family name, although I do not know any of you personally. I am also the mother of 3 special needs daughters and have spent many days at the bedside of one. And, speaking as that mom and as a nurse, my advise: rest when you can, eat healthily and walk routinely and accept all help that is given. This is more difficult for the male members of the family, keep this in mind. Your family is in the thoughts and conversations and prayers of many. God give you strength and peace.

bedrington said...

Hey Robbie, Kirkendalls,and everyone connected virtually through this all too real situation.

I know you know this song by Chris Tomlin ("Everlasting God")and I think that they are a great encouragement and describe life as a Christ follower, no matter what the situation may be.
Without further ado, here they are:

"Strength will rise as wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our Hope, our STRONG Deliverer
You are the Everlasting God
The Everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary

Our God, You reign forever
Our Hope, our STRONG Deliverer
You are the Everlasting God
The Everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary

You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles."

God is all sufficient.
May God's peace come over and bless you now!

Brett Thornhill said...

Last night I got a text message from one of you to pray. And so I was praying. It was past midnight and I suddenly got to the point where I was afraid to sleep. Like, if I went to sleep and stopped praying, the battle would be lost. Like my prayers and not everyone else's makes the difference. But God sees us through. He hears our prayers and the prayers of the saints. I did fall asleep praying, pleading for Jacobs life. And I woke up doing the same.

Robbie...I don't know if I can be the one to tell you, but the "joy" in this...look at all the people who love you. The hundreds of people who are rallying behind you. Praying fervently for jacob and your family. that doesn't happen. God knows there is darkness, and he knows there is a struggling in our hearts to understand where the joy can be, but the joy is in the coming together of the body. The rallying of people who don't know each other, total and complete strangers actually acting like brothers and sisters in Christ. The joy cannot be seen. It cannot really be felt but maybe, maybe in light of Christ, we can glimpse it.

Brett Thornhill said...

this is actually ali ramin but I'm at my friend brett's house.

sttarrrr said...

Dear Kirkendalls,
I do not know how to contact your family in any other form, so I am going to comment your blog. My name is Starr Cellona and just a month ago I graduated from Aptos High School, so Jake is one year younger than me. I did not know him personally, but I know who he is, and have seen him around. I just wanted to wish your family the best and let you know that I am following your updates and the newspaper stories as well. I have talked to many people from the high school in Jake's grade as well as my own who have been worrying about Jake and desperately searching for updates as well. There has been plenty of talk and concern for Jake, and I just wanted to let you all know that our prayers and thoughts go out to him, all of us. I just believe a large amount of his classmates and friends or acquaintances, like myself, do not know what to do, but I want you all to know that we are here and are definitely filled with astonishment and worry. Get better, Jacob. I hope everything goes well with your life. I don't know you well personally, but you seem like a great, deserving person. Do well.
Starr Cellona

Sharon Shenk said...

I don't know you, but I believe that God is dancing with joy over the love that sisters and brothers in Christ - all over the world - are pouring out and the prayers that are being raised to Heaven in petition for Jacob's life. If our true purpose here is to "know God and to glorify Him forever," then you and your family are walking in that purpose.
Thank you for the privilege of sharing in your pain, your hope, your faith walk. I will never be the same.

ammer said...

This is a sermon by MacArthur that I go to again and again in times of suffering - when I need to fill myself with truth.....

jcouchman said...

Ali is right - the joy in all this is the work God is doing through the situation. No one is happy the Jacob got hurt, but look at the outpouring of love that's resulted. Look at the hundreds upon hundreds of people - regardless of what church, or denomination, coming together for the sole purpose of lifting up your family and specifically, your brother, in prayer.

You don't have to be "joyful" that Jacob, and the rest of the family, is having to go through this. But you can be joyful that you have this avenue to share your story. You can be joyful that God is allowing you to put to words your struggles. You (and your dad) are being allowed to put into words what so many of us think as we're going through life's valley's. This valley happens to be a little deeper, and a little darker, than life's every day valley's, but the struggle is the same. The doubts, the anger, the fear. We all go through varying degrees of that as life's troubles assail us. God is using your situation to teach you, as well as those of us taking this journey with you. That is the "joy" of the situation. That in spite of the struggle you're facing - in spite of the anger and the doubt and the fear that you're fighting with - God will, if you allow him, use you.

Matthew Anderson said...

Praise the Lord for what we have in Him. We have life eternal. Praise the Lord for his promise, that even through the fire in our lives we have protection. He has the rights to our souls and that is the most incredible thing that could be possible. Thank God for the love and the life of Jacob, I pray that Gods will be done, for his will is greater than ours. I'm praying and asking others to pray for Jacob and your family, Robbie. We're all behind you. Lord God thank you for your amazing grace. Be with the Kirkendalls, Lord. Hold onto Jacob. Thank you for his life, Lord. Thank you for his future as well. Thank you for our collective future, whatever it may be, Lord, because it is a gift, for it comes from you.

Dr. Suzanne Mallery said...

Your parents were youth leaders in my youth group when your aunt Kirky and I were Jacob's age (your aunt and I were friends). My family has loved yours for a long time, even though you and I have never met (my mom still has your parents' wedding program tacked up on her bulletin board - and no, it's not a bulletin board of wedding programs, theirs is the only one there).

I won't presume to know your experience or to tell you that in some way you should be experiencing what many people perceive as joy. I'll give you my own personal thoughts on this, for whatever they are worth. I'm not sure that joy is just about "if you're happy and you know it..." or finding some way to see this situation as a good thing that you can be happy about.

When you talked about your anger toward God today, you mentioned that you are "finding that this passionate anger is actually an outpouring of intimate love between [God and you]." This seems more to the point to me. The opposite of love is not hatred or anger or any of the other passionate engagements but indifference. For whatever it's worth, my own experience has been that the essence of joy has been God's engagement and presence and the fact that God suffers with me, even in times when I have been suffering too deeply for words and even in times when I am unable to sense God or experience his presence. It doesn't always feel like happiness or ecstasy - it is for me the deep inner knowledge of God as home, even when my experience is of being lost in the middle of a sandstorm and I feel my life and existence is being ripped apart. This doesn't mean that I feel happy necessarily (or guilty that I don't) or that in some way the net effect of adding all my feelings at some time comes out positive. Perhaps some would say this isn't enough to be called "joy." For me it is enough, and not because God is "safe" but precisely because God cannot be contained.

I think it's true that Jacob will never be the same, nor will any of the rest of you. This is a terrifying prospect, precisely because God is not "safe" or predictable. But I believe, like you, that God is good.
Suzanne Toombs Mallery

Rebecca said...

I am so glad to hear that they have been able to reduce the O2 Jacob is receiving. I am praying that God will empower his body to fight the infection and grow healthy tissue to repair the damage. After reading your latest posts I find myself thinking that the battle the family is fighting right now, to know how to hope, to handle all the ups and downs and conflicting feelings is the same battle that Jacob will fight once conscious and rehabilitating. You are going to be able to give him insight and encouragement for having gone through these struggles now as he works through the days ahead. I know you wonder how can you possibly rejoice. From my perspective, I see that you ARE rejoicing in God your Saviour every time you call out to him. You are rejoicing that you are not cut off from or without knowledge of a God who is present with you. A quick look at others without that hope is more than enough to see the difference. Instead of an uncaring vacuum of space you have a living and vital relationship with God and you are constantly, minute by minute, trying to comprehend everything that comes through the context of your relationship with him. I believe that IS the rejoicing Scripture speaks of. It's not a feeling of gladness, it's the deep certainty that you are loved and your response to that love. I see in each posting you make that you are indeed rejoicing in that relationship and the certainty of God's love and provision. We have asked for Jesus to come, funny, that's all he asks of us too, and you are chasing hard after him. I pray for you that God will wrestle with you until he frees you and that your communion with him will exceed anything you can ask or imagine. God, we ask you to heal Jacob today, that the infection will subside, his skin will heal, his lungs and kidneys will function and that any as yet undetermined injuries will spontaneously respond to your healing touch. In Jesus we ask these things. Love, Becky

Phaidra Campbell said...

Hi Robbie. I do not know you personally but I am Summer's sister and had the great opportunity to meet your brother by my surfing habit when I am in town in Santa Cruz. I am following your blogs and am praying for him daily. He is an amazing person of which it is evident to me and many others God has chosen to be one of his blessed. I want to encourage you with your question on how to see the joy or positivity in this situation.

The Lord says in Romans 8:28 " And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those what are the called according to His purpose." However, you may not see good or joy in this situation for quite some time. You do not see it now because the things on your mind is your brother and him surviving now...of what it should be on. Joy may not come for many years...but when it does, you will know it is from God. I have just realized the Joy of a situation that happened to me 15 years ago and I know I was not suppose to realize the joy until I was ready for it.

Currently, because I am away from this, I see certain aspects of joy. Some of which I will share with you: your willingness to open up and talk about real feelings that you have with God, you and your parents extreme devotion and love is being revealed to people who do not even know you or them, humanity of which those who love God are coming closer to him and those who did not know God are also seeking and coming closer to him through this, joy that your brother can teach you something that will stay with you for the rest of your life and you can share with your future family.

Do not cease praying for Jake, yourself, and your family and friends. Thank you for setting this site up, I am immenslely saddened by Jake's injuries, but believe that God performs miracles. Whatever it may be, God is God and nothing can change that...and the best thing about it is that he loves your brother.

God bless, Phaidra

gramahuny1 said...

Robbie...I read this today..a quote from Oswald Chambers: "The aim of the Christian saint is 'that I may know Him'...My goal is God Himself, not joy or peace. Not even blessing, but Himself, my God." And from what you write and express here to us who are watching and "know" him, you are hanging on to Him as Jacob did the angel....and not letting go...and demanding, pleading for His Presence. And if that is truly the goal..."to know Him"...then it would seem He has taken you to a deep place with Him. Maybe the joy is realized later....I dont pretend to know, but you are in a special place and we stand in awe. Debi Massey

Laura Bennet said...

Hey Robbie! Wow - what a testimony your blog is. Thank you for taking the time; I know it is healing and helpful to write out what you are experiencing and feeling, but it is also challenging and encouraging to us who are reading. My husband and I went to sleep praying for you all last night. Can I say thank you?? Your suffering is causing us to come to the Lord even more closely as we wrestle with the questions your family's situation presents. It is changing our lives as we pray "obnoxiously" and discover how deep our faith really is (or isn't) in some areas. The Lord has given you great wisdom and your love and trust and understanding of Him is tremendous. Joy? I hear it in your blog. That may seem strange, but the joy in trials isn't because of the trial as much as it is a result of us seeing the Lord more intimately. He is our joy. We have joy in Him even in spite of the trial. You DO have joy. It is evident in what you have shared. At one of the very worst times of your life, you are experiencing Jesus and that is joy. Over the past few days of praying we've asked many questions(probably not as many as you) but something clicked for me today because of a passage in My Utmost for His Highest combined with some things you have written. Why do we pray? Does it make a difference and change what God will do? Does God need us to pray? I've come to believe that he asks us to pray so that we can be a partner in the miracles he does - and that is great; but today I thought that it isn't so much to get something we ask for as it is to come into His presence - face to face with Jesus. Maybe that is the point of praying; just to become more intimately acquainted and reliant on him. Thanks to all of you for allowing us to walk with you in this. What a privilege. We love you. We will continue to pray for Jacob and all of you, not only because we believe God wants to answer us, but also just to become closer to him. Love, Laura Bennet(Huff)