Kidney failure. The weight these words carried left us reeling. A huge tree had just fallen on our world scattering any sense of calm. Phil had endured a month of various tests, one quite painful. This was the result.
Life was good. We had our little family and hoped one day to have another child. We were starting to save money to buy a mobile home. Now this. Had God betrayed us? Was this some cruel joke?
No. God is not the player of cruel jokes. He is our loving Abba Daddy. He had many things to show us. Ways He wanted to ‘grow us up’ in Him. It was time for us to go through the school of ‘hard knocks.’ We needed to learn total dependence on God as well as what it means to have Him provide all our needs.
One Dr. told Phil to quit his high-stress job, because if he didn’t, it could kill him. Terror seized our hearts, a brute beast that held on with fierce tenacity.
God what are you doing? My heart cried out. Anguish became my constant companion for awhile. I spent a lot of time writing in my journal, pouring out my wounded heart to God and asking why. I didn’t share it all with Phil. I felt I had to be strong for him, but inside this fearless woman was a bundle of raw emotions.
I remember one night in particular. We were on our way to the hospital. Phil was in a bad way. His brother Myron was driving. As the car sped along, I sat looking out over the Willamette River, tears streaming down my cheeks; crying out to God, again asking Him why. His voice spoke clearly in my heart. “He will not die because of this.” Calmness came over me like the sweet scent of roses in bloom. Fear no longer held me captive.
Three-and-a-half years later we sat in an office with a Dr. from the transplant team of UCSF, discussing our options. Finally, the option I’d been waiting for came in the form of a question from the Dr. “Is there anyone willing to donate a kidney to you?”
My hand shot up and with enthusiasm to match the excitement at a ball game, I said, “Me!”
Phil had fears about that. The Dr. buried them with words of assurance.
We underwent blood tests to see if we were a match. After that, numerous tests were done to determine if I was healthy enough to undergo that kind of operation; one, the day before we were scheduled for surgery at UCSF.
The night before surgery I looked out my hospital room and beheld the San Francisco skyline. Beautiful. Serene. A gloriously lit cathedral was my focus as I pulled my Bible and journal from my bag. I recorded my thoughts that night. I had no fear. God was as near as my next heart beat.
His calm presence enveloped me with a peace that was not to be shattered; it was a peace borne of the Spirit. I was assured with these words from John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
I knew no matter what happened all would be well, even if one of us were to die on the operating table. Even that thought brought no fear – I had the peace the Bible talks about – peace that passes all understanding.
The morning of the surgery I still held calm assurance close to my heart like a shield. Phil and I were in the same room prior to surgery – we said, “See ya later.” We were wheeled off to surgery in operating rooms right next to each other.
I woke up feeling groggy and asked, “What time is it?” That’s how calm I was. I knew without a doubt that all had gone well and Phil was fine; that the Master Physician had guided the surgeons’ hands start to finish.
September 16, 1997 – a day forever etched on our hearts as the day God gave us a wonderful gift – the gift of allowing me to give my precious husband the gift of life. All that remains of those difficult years are physical scars, the emotional scars having been wiped away by our loving heavenly Father.
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