At some point in the night, I went from the chair beside Wes’s hospital bed to the couch at the window… the shade was down to darken the room but I was suddenly aware of the bright overhead lights in his hospital room. The morning had come — and true to the testimony, all I knew of that morning was that Providence had risen before the sun.
I thought back on the previous Wednesday afternoon… I’d come in to the dining room having spent the better part of the day working in our gardens. I was doing some preparation for a talk I was to share the next evening and in the course of my reading, I came across a verse–and I recall I had fully intended to look it up in my Bible, but I decided to keep reading. I’m glad I kept reading, as the profundity of the verse and a very present application would have been lost on me at the moment. Only a few hours later I would recall what I’d read and I would praise the Lord for His *living* Word.
A new heart also will I give you,
and a new spirit will I put within you:
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,
and I will give you an heart of flesh.”
I had shared this with Wes, we’d talked about it many times in the previous day. All the while we knew the Lord had, indeed, gone before us. We’d asked the Lord to make the way before us very plain. Before we went to sleep, we’d prayed and thanked the Lord for His graciousness to us, for His presence, for the work He was doing; we affirmed to the Lord (and to one another) that our times are in His hands. Then came the morning.
A couple of different cardiologists had come into the room; the cumulative readings on the monitors and other tests showed that Wes had had yet another heart attack. It seemed the whole atmosphere had changed: now more serious were their voices, now more urgent were their discussions than the previous had been. It was sort of like when you get that note on your computer screen that the battery power is low and then you get another screen message that alerts you your computer will soon shut down and you scramble like a crazy to find your power cord to plug it in before your computer shuts off and you lose whatever work you were trying to finish. But not really like that at all.
Dr. Ryan was talking with Wes and at some point said, How ’bout if we just do this? Wes was sitting up in his bed, saying he knew there were several others scheduled for surgery in the next couple of days and that he’d be happy to wait his turn — especially for those whose needs were more serious. I can’t recall the whole conversation exactly, but it was complete when Dr. Ryan replied, How about if we just do this right now?
That set in motion a flurry of activity and preparation for surgery. There was no time to check off the boxes in the “care checklist” booklet we’d received. No time to accomplish all those pre-surgery tasks and procedures. Somewhere along the way Wes was given some pre-op info: You’ll be on a heart-lung machine, we’ll do this and that, you’ll experience this and that, after the surgery you’ll have such and such… it’s all sort of a blur to me now.
Through the hallways, in the elevator, down the long corridors… Do you have any other questions? Do you have on any jewelry? Your wife can hold that wedding ring for you… Through that door is the third-floor waiting room… The nurse will inform you when he’s successfully on the heart-lung machine and the surgery is underway… We’ll take good care of him… The doctor will talk with you when he finishes the bypass grafts… Do you have any other questions?
I kissed him… took his glasses and his wedding ring… and through my tears I tried to remember to smile… to be brave.
It didn’t really dawn on me at the time, but over the next few hours I would come to see the gravity of the situation. It was not a normal surgery day. Not a single soul was in the third floor waiting room of the beautiful Cymbaluk Tower… no one at the desk… no lights on… no noise at all. It was surreal. And I realized the Lord had answered our prayer. He’d made the way very plain. Our times are in His hands.
Hannah came in… she put Wes’s wedding ring on her finger behind the ruby ring he had bought for her many years ago… she cried as she said she never knew that inscription was inside his gold wedding band. Be there.
Be there… his earnest prayer for all our children: Be there.