Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Help (02/20/06)
TITLE: Cody's Scar
By Birdie Courtright
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“The man just called, but he wouldn’t leave his name.” said Cherie, my secretary. My job was only a few blocks from the hospital. I grabbed my jacket and headed for the E.R.
Glancing around the waiting room and seeing no one familiar I introduced myself at the desk as Cody’s pastor, hoping that would gain me some information. I silently asked God to cover that title for the moment, promising to repent later for stretching the truth a little; I was after all, just a Sunday school teacher. To my amazement I was led down a hall, hastily thrown a gown and mask and ushered directly into an operating room.
“Who are you?” the doctor asked, obviously not pleased with the invasion.
“Kid’s pastor” answered the nurse who had briskly shoved me toward the doors of the O.R., no questions asked.
“This is anaphylactic shock”, she explained, her hands rapidly moving from one instrument to the next. “We’re trying to open a breathing passage, but there’s so much swelling I can’t get a tube in. We’re out of time.”
She never looked up at me as the nurse nudged me forward to enter into the tightly knit circle of people working frantically to save a child’s life. The sight of blood dribbling from Cody’s throat; the knife slicing through his skin with such remarkable precision caused my knees to buckle for a moment. I took a deep breath and reached for his limp hand. As I began to pray, the room grew quiet and the frantic efforts paused. The nurses moved back, heads lowered. A few Amen’s echoed through the room as I finished.
“It’s in!” the doctor shouted.
The nurses crowded back in, silently forcing me out of their way. One began barking orders, another; vitals. The dramatic effort to save Cody was back in full swing.
As quickly as I had been ushered into the O.R., I was ushered out. I asked at the desk for Cody’s family. “The boy was brought by ambulance”, the woman said. “You arrived just a few minutes after he did. His family isn’t here yet.”
The doctor appeared a half hour later.
“We almost lost, that time. Two more minutes and we wouldn’t have saved him.”
She began asking pointed questions about how well I knew the family. “This child was given prescription drugs that belong to his Grandmother.”
Sensing Child Protective Services would be entering the scene any minute, I said as little as possible and thanked the doctor for allowing me to be with Cody during the surgery.
I hastily scribbled a note to Cody’s dad, signing it ‘Pastor Lily’ and asked her to deliver it. Time to make a quick exit; if they decided to check out my credentials as an afterthought I’d be sunk.
After Cody’s release from the hospital, they came to church a few times.
They were the untouchables, third generation gang members. Cody’s mom was in prison. A chaplain requested we make contact with Cody only a few weeks earlier.
It felt like a failing effort. This was the family I was sure we could never help. In the end, the help that arrived wasn’t us. It was never us. We were simply placed into position; inadequacies and all.
I remember feeling like a fake every time I met with Cody’s family. I wasn’t prepared to deal with people who held such a blatant disregard for anything respectable. I choked back my shock and cloaked my misguided judgments behind the smile of a loving Sunday school teacher. I admit; it was tough coming to terms with my feelings. However, there was nothing fake about the compassion that led me into that operating room.
God had a defining moment planned, when He would begin to break the cycles over a family who had known too much violence, too much abuse, too much addiction. He’d left His mark on Cody in the language they understood. Not the scars of bullet wounds and stabbings like his dad’s, but Cody’s wound would tell its own story. Light had begun to pierce the darkness. In Cody’s world, scars speak for themselves.
“Where’d you get that?” a girl asked, pointing to Cody’s throat.
His hand moved toward the incision. It was healing, but it would never fade completely. “God gave it to me,” he answered.
The seeds of change had been planted.
Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. Ps. 67: 3 NKJ
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