Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Time is an amazing thing. It is completely non-discriminatory. Each second is like the previous. Each minute follows upon another in the same manner. Our lives follow its rhythm. We live by it and die by it. It seems as though much of our lives is involved in waiting for something.

The family is now involved in a waiting game. As those of you who have read my recent blogs know, my father-in-law Lloyd Smith, now lay in a hospital bed recovering from not only bypass surgery but an episode in which his heart stopped.

Connected to tubes delivering medication and nourishment, he lies still, his chest rising and falling with each breath taken. Occasionally, he opens his eyes appearing to stare forward or at a family member. He moves his arms and once in a while his legs move slightly. The question at this point is simple: what does this all mean?

Hope keeps all thinking that this is a good sign. A sign that underneath the tubes and apparatus helping him to heal, a recovery is taking place that simply has not reached the surface. Simple movements of the hands and blinking of the eyes when opened are taken as something positive taking inside this head of the family. Yet, no one can be certain.

Doctors have been consulted as to the cause of the heart failure and, still, they know very little of what may have brought this episode on. When asked for a prognosis, they are unable to say much of anything simply because no, not even the experts, knows. "It's too early to tell," is the mantra of the day. Yet, human nature as it is, wants an answer now! Sadly, there are none. And so patience is required.

During this time, painful decisions are pondered and questions arise out of those decisions that spur more conversation. The grim reality of a loved one on the precipice of death slowly sinks in as the days pass by agonizingly slow. All through the conversations, each person has the opportunity to voice their opinion. As a bonus, they have the unique possibility of learning something about his or her siblings that they would never otherwise have the chance to find out. It is in moments of intense sadness or tragedy that we reveal ourselves in an intimate fashion in ways that we would never consider.

What appears to be a tragedy--the serious health problems of this beloved father--is in reality an important lesson for us all. God has His own good time. We live under the illusion that if we pray just enough or beg just at the right time, God will change His mind giving in to what we are asking. Somehow, we begin to think that we can negotiate with the Creator. But God's plans are far above our poor powers to understand or interpret. Through all of this, it is my belief that each member of the family is learning how a loving God is reaching out to them through Lloyd.

Through this difficult time we have had the opportunity to learn just how dependent we are on God. We are not masters of our own life! If we are to lead a life of peace and dignity, we must conform our will to the will of God. We surely can ask God to deliver Lloyd from his illness and restore him to health and we have every right to do so. But we also must remember that God's ways are not necessarily our ways. Lloyd, as sick as he is, continues to teach his sons and daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren the important lessons of life. Through his illness he has taught us strength, courage, and hope and complete trust and faith in the ways of a loving God.

And so the waiting continues. Our patience is thin. Our yearning for answers of any kind continues to occupy our minds. But, somehow, as we gaze upon Lloyd in his bed, we must remind ourselves that there is a purpose to this waiting. There is good coming from the bad. And there is hope eternal as long as we strive to follow the will of God no matter how hard or impossible it may seem. All of us sit at the foot of the Master who lovingly embraces us all with the sometimes harsh realities of life as a way of helping us understand His ways. How fortunate we are to have Lloyd as our teacher!