It was the eve before Friday February 13th, the day we were finally set to fly to California… but a missing blood test threw the whole trip off. Once again, cancelled flights, hearts hit the floor- could this be? I had waited 8 months for surgery and now one missing blood test that the local lab didn’t do might toss me at the back of the waiting list once again? We woke up before the sun rose to go to another local lab early Friday morning, to no avail- they couldn’t perform the test. We called hospitals all over the mid-Atlantic, and Jamie finally raced me to Johns Hopkins to get the test when they gave us the green light over the phone. They assured us we could have the test done and results in that very same day! Little did we know that this hospital in Baltimore would play such a vital role in our story yet to unfold. Getting blood drawn is typically no fun, but I felt like the man who drew my blood that morning was my angel. Without that test, everything we had planned and prayed for would have crumbled…and there was no telling when I would be able to schedule surgery again.
So we waited and prayed fervently for good results. The phone rang in the afternoon as we sat around my parents’ living room, exhausted, anxious, excited…It was Dr. Shahinian’s office to tell us the results! 118, perfect score! Our flights were booked for the next morning and the four of us were off- Mom, Dad, Jamie, and I. Oh what a Valentine’s Day celebration in the back of that Southwest plane with the heart logo glowing on the wall. All four of us in facemasks, such a romantic holiday with my man! Hand sanitizer pouring out endlessly, as it was flu season and catching even the slightest cold could cause my surgery to be cancelled. My cousin had prepared a travel goodie bag for my trip, which kept Jamie and me entertained and talking and playing games the whole flight across country.
Avoiding crowds and germs in LA is almost impossible, but we found hiking trails and beaches for every day leading up to surgery, in-between our pre-op visits. On Monday, February 16th I met the man who would save my life. He told me how tricky my surgery was. He spared nothing and sugar-coated not one detail, yet he looked at me with quiet assurance in his eyes, “I’m going to do this.” The risks were high, very high…but I needed this to save my life. On my journey leading up to surgery, I read a powerful book called, Take the Risk, by a brain surgeon who was one of my childhood heroes and favorite authors, Dr. Ben Carson. The words in that book gave me courage and hope, reminding me that certain risks in life are well worth taking and potentially highly beneficial for our good. The complications and consequences could be frightening if we step out into risk zones, but if we stay frozen in fear, the outcome could be far worse and we might miss out on the life God had planned for us. I felt ready to embrace this risk!
I felt confident that Dr. Shahinian was fully capable to do the best job on removing this tumor from such a precarious and delicate location in my brain. I knew my life was in his hands, and I also knew my life was in the Lord’s hands. I think now of one of my favorite quotes from the Chronicles of Narnia, when Mr. Beaver responds to Susan’s question about Aslan the lion being safe or not, “Safe?…Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” That’s precisely how I felt at this precipice in my life. I knew that what was to take place in three days was not safe. The adventure God takes us on is not always safe. The risks we must take to overcome are not always safe…but I knew with all my heart that the God who loved me enough to die on the cross at Calvary for me and rise again in triumph wasand is and always will be good.
Romans 8:28-39 is one of my favorite passages- will you soak in the power of these words with me?
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose…What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?… Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That kind of love is good to the core. The love He offers is eternal, so no matter what happens, no matter when our final hour here on earth arrives, we are safe even when it is not safe, because our good Lord Jesus has a greater plan, a plan that reaches far beyond the grave and offers the dawning of a new day for those who believe. In light of the chaos in the world and the terror on the news and the reality that we are surrounded by everything that is not safe, it is the most extraordinary promise to sink into the marvelous truth that our God is good! It is a thrilling life to live when we realize the risks around us are real, our earthly security is on shaky sand, but the Mighty Rock we stand on will never be moved.