In the wee hours of the morning while peeling off my blue nurse’s scrubs before heading home to a house full of sleeping children, I said a prayer for a little girl who had been repeatedly returning to our pediatric unit awaiting a kidney transplant. Her mother was growing desperate as the weeks turned to months and the agonizing months had now become a year. I petitioned God to bring a donor and He surprised me by whispering, “Why don’t you do it?” I was stunned into stillness and sat down in the empty locker room to consider the invitation. Quickly I came up with an inventory of excuses; we have young children, losing six weeks of income while recovering would be difficult, I had never had surgery, there is a level of risk, etc.- but in that list of excuses I could not find a good reason to withhold life. On the dark drive home I decided to step into this story and was so charged up I could hardly fall asleep. As soon as the office opened I called the coordinator to schedule the initial screening bloodwork. The great news of our match came a couple months later on my 34th birthday and after a final round of thorough testing we were scheduled for tandem surgery.
During the months of waiting before the transplant I experienced many interesting encounters and conversations, but one left me rather unsettled. A friend expressed his surprise at my decision and stated that he would never support his wife in this. It appeared too risky and careless to him. I asked him what if it was one of his kids lingering on that waiting list- would he want others to be unwilling to help? He was adamant that the risk wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t safe, therefore it shouldn’t be considered.
Three years later I was in perfect health and my recipient was an honor roll high school student excited about her first prom. When I received the news my friend’s wife had just died of cancer- a woman in her early forties who had been in perfect health- I was shocked and heart broken for him and their family. My mind wandered back to that conversation and I pondered how powerless we are to protect our loved ones. It was sadly ironic that I was picking peas and pulling weeds in my garden while she was buried deep beneath.
Safety seems to have become a religion in our culture; if so, then fear is the god we revolve our lives around. We sometimes joke about the difference between childhood now and the freedom those of us in the 70s and 80s enjoyed, but fear is no laughing matter. It convinces us to grasp for complete control, and this need for control steals our peace and stresses our minds and bodies while simultaneously unraveling relationships. All this god has to offer is false security. What’s worse, while under the spell of false security we are left more vulnerable to the punches and groin kicks of life; they catch us by surprise and leave us disenchanted, limping and angry.
Please hear my heart- my kids were stuffed in car seats, suffered through swim lessons and taught to be careful of strangers. I am not trying to pick on anyone or criticize how many of us navigate a sometimes scary, painful world. I just want to see my friends live in freedom. I want to be free of the tyranny of fear. I want my family to pursue God and live life with all that is in them and not miss out because they were convinced to hold back and be “safe”. Yes, we need to walk in wisdom and discretion and be responsible, and this will look different for each of us. Despite the differences, maybe the ultimate question is the same for all of us: Where do I place my faith? Is it in my ability to skillfully navigate the storms of life (aka control), or do I trust the goodness of God, even when He won’t explain Himself or promise safety.
“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, I tell you.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
I am writing this because it is a current lesson in my life, not because I have it all figured out and perfected. I am still wrestling. Just when I think I have fear all bound up and safely tied down, it rises up and slaps me in the face, reminding me of my constant need for the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. I want to encourage you as I admonish myself
God is good and I choose to follow after Him and walk in faith and not be bullied or swayed by the lies of fear. I will not listen to those lies, instead
“ We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
2 Corinthians 10:5
To be continued next post