Thursday, October 27, 2011

Make Straight Paths

This past Sunday night, our pastor preached a sermon on the power of the Holy Spirit.  In that message, he said something that gripped me in such a way that I don't think I'll ever forget it.  It was along the lines of, "The hardest decisions we make aren't a matter of right versus wrong.  They are left versus right.  You stand at the crossroads and both options are desirable.  How do you know which way to go?  Which is the better way?"  He continued, "There is a way that is more desirable to the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes patiently waiting for that answer is the hardest part.  But, the Holy Spirit will give you an answer if you seek Him."

We stood at those very crossroads one month ago.  And, I wouldn't say they were some countryside, light traffic type of crossroads either.  Whichever road we decided to go down, we knew we were going to desperately NEED the Lord to go before us because it would be some treacherous territory.  So, we did what we always do...we analyzed, listed out the pros and cons, flipped the coin and did the same for the other side.  We talked about the "what ifs" and the "if nots".  We talked and talked, mulled it over and talked some more.  We'd imagined ourselves going down one road and then we'd slam on the brakes because fear would jump into the backseat.  I knew that with our decision making abilities, or lack of, we'd be here til kingdom come with little progress.  This was getting nowhere and it was obviously time to give it over to the Lord.

As I prayed, I asked the Lord to tell us in His Word what we should do.  I had never done this before.  Because the weight of the decision was so heavy and would affect my child in a tremendous way, I wanted to see His answer in black and white so there would be no doubt.  I prayed, "Lord, please give us a verse in Scripture that reveals what Your will is.  Help me not to lean on my own understanding.  And, help me to be obedient to whatever You say."

That entire scene played out on August 31.  The prayer was said through tears, in the darkness of night while driving down the interstate.  We had spent the day with my oldest son at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.  We had walked in hoping that the physician would do his little examination, tell us what we should do and  then throw the ball into our court so we could make the final decision.  However, there was a slight problem...there was no ball.  The doctor's opinion, advice or direction was never offered.  There was only, "I would LOVE to do surgery on Jacob, BUT I'm not saying you SHOULD do surgery."  Over and over, he'd say this line.  The only thing we were able to pull out of this man, when hard pressed after our asking three times, was, "No, I would not do this surgery on my own child.  It is just too invasive and I know how much pain he'd go through."  Then, he was quite honest in adding, "Normally, once I tell parents that this surgery is the only option to cure this problem, they hit the door."  He waited for our reaction and we just sat there; the door didn't move an inch.

I explained to him that we did our homework leading up to that day, we knew he was going to tell us this, the shock had run it's course and we were wanting to know more information.  So, he settled in and took our questions.  There was not a whole lot of information to give because, again, he honestly said, "I do this particular surgery on a normal (meaning non-cerbal palsy) child ONCE every over year."  Whoooaaa.  See what I mean...treacherous territory here.  The Lord must have filled that room up with His power and kept our minds calm because the doctor's track record of keeping parents in that seat and not already out the door was one set of parents every other year.  And, we were now the second.

Hoping he'd relent and take the bait, we fished around that tiny little room, probing for his advice, hoping for a nibble but got nothing.  As frustrating as it was at the time that the doctor didn't point us in either the left nor the right direction, I'm am now ever so thankful for his neutrality.  I know myself well enough that I would've allowed his decision to heavily influence mine.  Instead, it turned from Jason and I desperately seeking the doctor's direction to Jason and I desperately seeking the Lord's direction. 

I prayed fully believing that He would reveal that specific yes or no answer through Scripture.  I have to admit that I did tell myself, "It's not going to say, 'Jacob shall have thou hip surgery' in the Bible, but something along those lines will be good enough."  HA!!  I don't think the words "God" and "good enough" should ever be in the same thought.  How could God, who is perfect in every way, ever be linked with just "good enough"?  But, here I sit, guilty of believing His divine Word for us could not possibly give us a specific answer but it could give us a "good enough" answer.  I'm sure the Lord was thinking, "Dear child, you still have so much to learn about Me."

Jacob's surgery would be to correct an intoeing problem.  The medical term is femoral anteversion.  Once babies start walking, their feet rotate slightly inward.  This should correct itself by the age of 2.  However, this doesn't self correct in approx. 10% of children.  In those children, the intoeing should self correct by the age of 8 when children establish their adult walking pattern.  There is a teeny, tiny 1% of those children this doesn't happen in and Jacob is among them.  We thought it would just have to be something that he lives with and had resigned our thoughts to such.  However, this summer we noticed he was starting to fall a lot.  We thought maybe he was clumsy or not paying attention.  We'd scold him and tell him to be more careful.  Then, the falls started getting worse.  The black and purple bruises, falling down steps kind of bad.  The researcher in me started doing my homework to see how we could "fix" this problem.  Maybe some physical therapy, maybe some heavier shoes, maybe a little karate to help with his coordination...  With what little information is available on the internet, I learned that my small efforts would do absolutely nothing to correct this problem.  If the degree of the rotation is greater than 50 degrees, then surgery is the only solution.  Jacob is 70+ degrees.

The problem lie in the hips, not the feet.  The only solution would be a complete bilateral (meaning both) hip surgery.  The surgeon would have to completely cut through the femur bones, derotate them and reattach with plates and screws.  Now do you see why parents hit the door?  Do you see why we had to let this thought settle for several months before we could even sit and have a nice little chat with the doctor about it?  Had some bruises not been so big and so purple and so fresh on his little body while we were there, we might have bolted.  But, we knew that if we decided to be reactive further down the road and not proactive now, we could have a little boy who could get injured more seriously from a broken arm or a concussion or who carried emotional scars from the inevitable teasing that will come his way.  Also, once puberty sets in, this problem gets much worse.  The knees and ankles aren't designed to overcompensate for the work that the feet can't do.  Shooting pains start to set in and then joint problems.

The point of this story is not to medically enlighten people on femoral anteversion.  But, because we have elected to have our child endure this major surgery, we have gotten many questions regarding why.  The why is because we aren't just parenting Jacob for today.  If we were, we would never, ever think about this surgery.  The pain he will feel and the torture of helplessly watching him endure it will be more unbearable than I can ever imagine.  Jason and I both want to turn and run away in complete fear when we think about it.  We have gotten to know "the look" that washes across the other's face when we start to second guess ourselves.  We can see doubt in the other's eyes.  Without words, we know the thoughts that are being processed and the tentacles of fear that are gripping.   In those moments, we confidently remind one another:

"Make straight paths for your feet so that if any part is lame,
it will be healed rather than injured more seriously." 
Hebrews 12:13

We asked. 

We waited. 

And then we received. 

There IS a way that is more desirable to the Holy Spirit.  Make straight paths.  Give Jacob the confidence and the courage as a grown man to boldly profess the Gospel down all the treacherous roads he will travel.  He loves the Lord with all his heart.  He knows more about what the Bible says at age 8 then I did at 28.  Through His Word, written in black and white, the Lord has directed us to make straight paths for his little feet so that one day, those big feet will not stumble.




That God can and will speak specifically through His Word.  Ask and then wait to receive.  There was no neon sign, no audible voice, no revelation in a dream.  The answer came simply from picking up my Bible.  Not the left path nor the right path.  It is the straight path; the path that leads to promised healing.

(We are also on a second medical journey, one that is very different than the first but just as difficult, that I hope to share with you soon)

1 comment:

  1. You had already told me this story, but to read it again really moved me. I so admire your full confidence in God. So many times we think we can handle things, and that's where most of us mess things up. If we are still and patient, and truly have faith in Him, He does reveal himself and bless us in ways we never imagined. Thank you for sharing this story with us. So many people are praying for Jacob and your family, and God has shown what HE wants and He will take care of everything. Love you!