Tuesday, September 1, 2009

While in surgery...thoughts on born again

It is 10:30 am as I start this...not sure what time it will be when I actually post it. A lot of breathing deep today. A lot more waiting. So thankful for this technology that provides information to so many as we surrender choruses of prayer to God. I guess we could have gathered around the hospital - surely all holding hands - we would easily surround it. But there also seems right now to be something very right about us being where God has each of us - at school, at work, at home, running, walking, in the bathroom - wherever God has you - he is right there with you - right here with me - right in the operating room with JK.

Jake won't be out for quite a while. Debbie is making Sue take her to get a pedicure - that is a treat for her - not me. Honestly last year she made Jensen and I get one with her for my birthday. Easily top 10 worst experiences of my life - Jensen too. I like having my feet rubbed (like Jake - family thing) so that was the hook. This lady had dead fish for hands. Plus I have the ugliest toenails ever - I felt bad for her. Probably the fish hands were because she did not want to touch me. She is probably still in counseling - Jensen and I have recovered, barely. What was I thinking - I felt the need to go hunting afterward. For me today I will go wander around Best Buy for a while - that is as good as walking at the beach...maybe better. I often wander around with something in my hand that I think I should buy and then put it back before I leave - the guy in the yellow shirt says, "good-bye you cheapskate."

So it is a long day of waiting and reading, contemplating and praying - eager for this mountain of a day to peak and that we might descend to the valley. Hoping that what seems to be the top is not just a plateau with another upward climb behind it.

This morning at 4 am Jacob had another seizure.

Debbie was with him and alerted the nurses. Wondered for a little while if the surgery would still be on. Though we are not sure the why behind it, most likely it is caused by the dead portion of his skull and the infection around that area. If nothing else, it says to me we are moving in the right direction - yes the surgery is necessary - though it is so scary - it is the necessary pain we must walk through to get to that valley.

My worst fear returned to me last night - loosing one of my sons. Like a familiar evil discomfort - grabbed me and pulled my heart down to my feet - not the fear of my own death - fear of Jacob's. There was no reason for it - okay there is - anything can happened in a moment - I know that too well. But there was nothing new - okay there was - this is a major surgery - messing with a major area of his body. I am trusting in doctors that I do not know well - I have not seen what they do - have not experienced how they do things. There is so much unknown to trust.

I was listening to a song this morning by Third Day called Born Again. Whenever I hear those words I am thrust back high school. I can still picture the yellow and black paperback book that my parents had by Chuck Colson. I picture the alter call at Los Gatos Christian Church and every Sunday resisting to go forward and become one of the Born Again freaks who had no fun. I knew that I needed to get right with God - but it could wait - I needed to have "fun" in high school and it was obvious that these Christians did not have fun - just look at the choir robes they had to wear. So my freshman year I was at Hume Lake for a winter camp with the youth ministry. I think I went because of course there were very cute girls going - and well, it sounded like fun. I was so insecure though that I would not talk to any of the girls hardly even wanted to talk to guys.

I was late one evening for the chapel - they made us go - the only seat was up front. Insecure, afraid, awkward, pretending I was cool - the guy preached about death, hell, eternal darkness, etc, etc, etc. He invited people to go forward - the door opened right next to me and I ducked in. I do not want to go to hell - that does not sound fun. So I prayed the prayer - said the steps - followed the words that would make me acceptable to God. I felt relieved. When I go home, with my "get-out-of-hell" free card I went back to school and proceeded to have fun. Nothing really changed in my life. For me now the words "born again" are negative. Because of my experience and my choices - the way I framed things, "born again" is a guy who stands up and points his fingers at people in condemnation and hatred rather than grace and love. Far too often we make spiritual matters about conforming to fundamentals that we deem to be most valuable: do's and dont's, behaviors, external conformity. It is actually the very thing that Jesus sought to correct and that he was confronted on. The Sabbath was about stopping all the busyness and worship God not the rules that were added. The Temple was about worship, holiness, repentance and not about making money. It is not about grandeur and position or thinking we are better than anyone else.

The real picture of "born again" is a conversation that we have been able to eavesdrop on between Jesus and a religious expert-teacher of the day, Nicodemus in John 3 - right before the infamous John 3:16. It is a spiritual matter and it involves death. I really feel like I missed that part when I was in high school. It is impossible to experience "eternal life", "the kingdom of god", "born again", without death. Nicodemus struggled with this, "how can someone be born twice?" Jesus basically told him that like me I was trying to add God into my box - my framework. The reality is that spiritual matters by their very definition and miraculous and outside of our box. So to get to the life with God - the spiritual part - there must be death. The blessing is that Jesus took on that part for us. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son."

Just like Nicodemus this is really weird and hard to understand. But through the death of Christ we have access to an eternal relationship with God and through Jesus resurrection we have his presence now. It is not just about staying out of hell so that we can have fun - it is about experience the presence of God now on this earth and throughout eternity and have the freedom that comes from being in relationship with God.

Perfect love casts out all fear. I write all this because one - my greatest fear is losing my son to death. Not for him because I know he will be with God - I fear it for myself. But perfect love casts out all fear. So even in the midst of my greatest fear I know that the presence of God is far greater than anything else I may know. That sustains me and strengthens me and gives me hope.

God meets us right where we are, calling us to be his child, to be born again it is up to us to accept this and start to seek God through each moment. We simply confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead and we are saved - we are born again. God is in the midst of our everyday life, waiting to get our attention, we simply need to respond. (see Romans 10)

It is now noon - time to go to Best Buy... still waiting. Thanks for listening as I wait.

Peace and Hope,

Tom (Dad)


Anonymous said...

Surgery is happening. We're praying from Riverside. Asking God to give wisdom and skill to the doctors that goes beyond what they know and that they will recognize this superntural dynamic, and desire to know it's source- like Nicodemous did.
Tim & Judy

Sharon Shenk said...

Surgery may be over by now. If it is, then Jake is in recovery. May Jacob know the presence of God - in his induced sleep, in his awaking, in his mind, in his body, in the depths of his soul. May he experience that presence in every moment of his days and nights and in every fiber of his being. Our family continues to pray for yours every day. You are blessing all of us. May we be a blessing to you too. And may Jacob grow strong enough to surf again.

Cindy Todd said...

Thank you for your thoughts Tom. A good reminder and a good look into your heart. We continue to pray... Loving your family, Cindy

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in the midst of this great trial. You are a Blessing. Know that Jacob and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Even though I do not know you, I do. We worship the same Lord and are part of the same family. I recently sat in the hospital while a family member was in surgery for 10 hrs. Waiting is so hard...but God is always faithful..
With love and prayers

Anonymous said...

A-MEN, Tom. You've hit a "homer". I pray for you several times a day. As I told some friends about Jacob and your family, we held hands and prayed for God's perfect will for all of your lives. He never fails. Our faith may get a little suspect sometimes but God never fails. He walks every step of our way with us. Oh, the joy of knowing HE loves us.!!!
Hanging onto His grip. Bill Cundall

Anonymous said...

Thinking and praying for you all right now. I read the blog at least twice a day....loved the pic of Jacob smiling at the wrestling. Your updates are SOOO appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Tom, I am so moved by your word... I love your blog, I love how u open up your heart to us, share the truth of how hard this whole process is to BELIEVE and TRUST. So much GOOD NEWS, is coming to us through this journey. U are touching a lot of hearts... hopeless are finding hope... Keep it up.
And we are all with you praying and speaking to one another about the mircale we are all involved in together of Jacob... You all are so loved... thank you..