This has been a truly amazing week.
There are some times in life you absolutely should look back on for months and years to come. Miracles leave an impression if they're examined and acknowledged. Unless you deliberately keep those memories alive they disappear; but if you keep them alive, they go into a folder in your brain that sticks around for a long, long time.
I have a friend who calls certain events “God's fingerprints” because they're something you can point to and say, “I saw God here today”. Many times when people ask a Christian person to talk about God, we're tempted to pull out the Bible and point to all the reasons why God is and why we should respect and worship him; but God himself urges us to look at the things we ourselves have seen God do and to pass those memories on to our children. It makes a huge difference to say, “This is what I saw God do” compared to, “This is what God did for some people a few thousand years ago.”
Please don’t get me wrong: I don't want to sound in any way like I'm devaluing anything God has done, whether it was two minutes ago or two thousand years ago. But an eyewitness is nowhere near the same as something from history.
The friend who looks for God's fingerprints suffered full cardiac arrest while out shoveling snow this week.
He is only 69 years old and was obviously feeling healthy enough to grab a shovel and start clearing the front walk in sub-zero weather; but while he was out there working his heart suddenly stopped and he collapsed on the ground practically in mid-sentence of a conversation with his daughter-in-law.
Before this story goes any further, there are two important things to point out: the first is that people who have a cardiac “incident” of this kind outside a hospital or without EMS already on the scene have a bad, bad, bad chance of ever recovering. I think the statistics were something very dreary along the lines of 2% - 9% discharge from hospital. This is because a person's brain begins to die the second it's deprived of oxygen: by 7 – 10 minutes, there is so much damage the person may never even regain consciousness.
However, the second important thing is what changed this particular man's chances drastically. It's his philosophy of life, the basic understanding that drives his outlook and therefore the decisions that have shaped him and his family.
One facet of this philosophy is the absolute belief that God looked at man and said, “It's not good for man to be alone.”
It sounds simple enough. I doubt you’re going to find very many God-fearing folks who'd disagree God said this. It's right there in the first chapter of Genesis, right at the founding of the Human race. It was the understanding that prompted God to create a woman for the man he'd just made. However, most of the same folks would look at that passage and conclude it was good for a man to be married.
It is good for a man to have a wife; but sometimes he had a wife and lost her, and sometimes he’s not old enough to have a wife, and sometimes it’s been difficult to find one, and sometimes he has a duty in life where it would be better for him not to be married. All these situations exist: but God did not say, “Usually it’s not good for man to be alone, but in some cases…”
Nope: God said, “It's not good.” Period. And when he made a woman, he actually ensured that no man ever has to be alone. Because the woman meant children. Children meant a family. A family is made up of grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins and second-cousins and eventually a huge network of men and women all capable of preventing any member of the gigantic Human family ever being alone. It's not good for us to be alone, whatever our marital status may be.
Because this man believes God and thinks about God probably more than anyone I've ever met, the outcome of his life has been different than anyone else I've ever met. Because he has this firm foundational belief, here is what we understand was his situation the day he collapsed out on the front walk: his daughter-in-law and another woman who's become a daughter to him were standing out with him having a conversation, which is the usual way he does any activity including weeding the garden. I'm not sure I've ever seen him do anything where he was just working on something. He is always with someone talking about something while he's doing the most basic tasks.
Not only were his daughters with him, but two of his three adult sons were working on constructing a house probably less than a hundred feet away, with their families spending the day in an RV parked on site so the children could take naps and live normal daily life close to their fathers. When he collapsed, one of his daughters ran to find the sons, who immediately ran back and began doing CPR on their father.
As near as they can tell, CPR began within two minutes of his collapse. Perhaps within one minute. He began breathing again almost immediately, which doesn't usually happen in cardiac arrest outside of hospital because there often isn't anyone around to respond, let alone this quickly. It’s not good for man to be alone.
Meanwhile, an EMS crew was only one mile away and was able to reach him within four minutes. They were able to shock his heart into a normal rhythm when it arrested again and he reached the hospital – one of the best heart hospitals in the state that “happened” to be only a few blocks away – with his heart already returning to a normal rate.
It's been a long week as we waited for news. He's been unconscious for most of it, since one way to allow the body to heal from such a shock to the system is to be sedated and kept very cold for a time until healing can take place. We still don't know how long he'll take to recover or what his full condition will be when he does, but right now the signs are extremely hopeful. It looks as if God did a miracle and is preserving this life -- and this mind -- for us (though I think that was a kindness to the rest of us more than to him or God, who would be delighted to be together). There have been many “small” miracles over the course of the week, like the first time he opened his eyes and smiled in recognition at his son.
There were other beliefs and truths that played into the situation and created their own miracles, such as that a complete reliance on God really does impart a peace that passes understanding. While our friend was still unconscious and no one knew for sure if he could even wake up, his wife – who loves him very dearly – peacefully took a turn being home and was met bringing the laundry upstairs for folding with a smile on her face. If that isn't peace that passes understanding, I'm not sure what is.
However, a huge part of the miracle of this life being preserved happened long ago and in tiny steps leading to that moment in the snow. The real miracle was the revelation that God really meant it wasn't good for any of us to be alone. It was the tenacity of belief, the conviction of this truth, that created a situation where the nearly-unsurvivable became survivable. And it's a big reason why this has been a very amazing week. Because we got to see the fruit of this belief one more time: and it's good and beautiful and very desirable for eating. It was a fingerprint of God, the mark of his hand on someone's whole life.
We are very privileged to have witnessed it; and we do not want to forget.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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