Wait for the Lord
A wizened old doctor peered over the top of his wire-rimmed glasses. The moment I’d dreaded had finally come.
“It is time for you to decide if and when you want me to remove life support.”
Monitors beeped in the background of this intensive care unit. As the only family member, I wanted to make a confident decision – but how?
“I will leave you alone for a while and check back when I finish my rounds.”
As the doctor’s white coat swished past the room’s sliding glass door, a strangely oppressive presence seemed to enter. “You are now in charge of the destiny of this person you love … and no matter what you do, you’ll live with regret.” I sensed myself recoiling from the bleak voice of Despair as it injected my heart with doubt and dread.
The respirator sighed with each imposed breath. I gazed at the bed full of bloated legs and feet – at the bulging purple spider veins crawling over the shrunken eyelids.
Another shadowy presence emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, to strike my heart another blow. “You’re the only one in a position to do what must be done … just pull the plug and don’t look back.” The voice of prideful Presumption shook me to the core.
Insecure shivers prickled down my spine. Panicked, I only wanted to hide - escape - flee this room where confused voices taunted me and Death waited like a beast stalking its prey. I felt weak, sick to my stomach, and paralyzed by the gravity of the situation.
Almost involuntarily my trembling hands opened a drawer in the table next to the hospital bed. I discovered a Gideon Bible, turned to the Psalms, and began to read.
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”*
Wait? How long can I wait here in this room with such a critical issue hanging over my head?
The Bible lay open in my lap where my eyes remained riveted on the word “confident.” Occasionally I glanced at the round face of the room’s wall clock. The second hand crawled up and down, up and down. Five minutes, ten, then fifteen passed. How long must I wait in this place of indecision before moving ahead with confidence?
My gaze shifted to the unconscious face before me. I wanted to be strong, to take heart, to believe confidently in my heavenly Father to provide. And yet my own feeble resolves were inadequate.
Female laughter from the nurses’ station in the hallway interrupted my wait with a dose of reality. Surely those women confronted life and death on a regular basis. Could I make this decision alone – even yet today?
“This is a lose-lose situation. You can’t win.” Despair taunted me with hopelessness.
“No big deal, just do what has to be done.” Presumption prodded me with arrogance.
I shuddered in response to those threatening voices and intentionally flipped through the pages of the Gideon Bible to the book of Matthew.
“…change and become like little children…”**
Children are confident, I reasoned, because they don’t have to be in charge. They’re dependent, but also expectant.
“Lord, I’m in a tough spot … I’m practically sweating blood! I don’t want to be in charge, I only want to believe You are! Inspire me to do the right thing.”
The minutes passed, although I stopped watching the clock. Instead, I closed my eyes and retreated inwardly – to some quiet heart-spot - and waited.
The wheezing and clicking of the machines seemed to transport me beyond time and space. I began to envision myself pushing aside huge, dark shapes – perhaps Despair and Presumption – and embracing a shimmering armful of Light – Hope! Suffering, pain and loss all shrank in the presence of this all-encompassing Light.
I was enveloped … enlightened … enabled and suddenly confident.
The doctor’s voice shook me from my reverie as his face appeared at the doorway. “Have you had a chance to think things through?”
“Yes – I’d like you to remove life support.”
“Do you feel confident in your decision?
A surge of relief filled my soul – not because of my decision to end a life, but because of the goodness of God as I confidently prepared to witness a human spirit transfer to the eternal land of the living.
* Psalms 27:13,14
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