September 10, 1988 –
- Brett and Bunny were married in a church but certainly did not exchange their vows before God nor consider Him as even a small part, let alone the center, of their marriage.
April 20, 1993 –
- Brett and Bunny had their first child. A beautiful little 7 lb. 6 oz. baby girl was born at 5:21 p.m. in Alma, Michigan. No praise was given to God for her healthy little body or sweet little face.
May 24, 1993 –
- Brett finished the electrical work and the three Biddingers moved into their first family home. No prayer of thanks was offered. No blessing was prayed over the home.
June 24, 1993 –
- Brett was in a near-fatal car accident and flown to Grand Rapids. If someone cried out to God and asked for His intercession, His preservation of life, it was not me.
Brett was in the hospital for 31 days. Most of it was spent in ICU. The crash team was called to his room more than once and it was two full weeks before we knew for certain that he would he live. I can’t really say he slept, more so he floated in and out of consciousness in a room with glass walls for constant observation. The tubes in his chest and down his throat forced air into the collapsed lung and the halo screwed to his skull aligned what was left of his crushed spine. The traction apparatus above his bed held his broken femur in the air until he could survive the surgery necessary to fix it. Still I did not pray.
I slept on couches in the family waiting room for many of the 31 nights. I listened to the doctors explain his paralysis — nipple line down, no use of hands, will not walk. I watched the nurses dump medicine down his feeding tube. I saw the fear on his face each time he regained consciousness. I guarded him fiercely and sat for hours in the hard, orange, plastic chair beside his bed listening to the hum of his respirator. I sat. I guarded. I watched. But I did not utter a single prayer.
Our baby girl took up residence 90 miles away from us with my parents. My Mom bundled her from head-to-toe in the dead of summer because the hospital was so cold and they shuttled her back and forth, with the help of friends, almost daily. My Dad’s right arm has to be two inches longer from all the miles he carried her crossing that parking ramp and skywalk in her baby seat. Her visits were the only time Brett showed real interest in being awake. The change in him was so marked when she was there that the nurses noted it all throughout their charting. And yet, no thanks was given to the One who had given her to us.
Oh, others were praying and praying hard. But I was not. And still He did not leave me. His thoughts concerning me never wavered from the unfailing love He professes in His Word. I have no recollection of cognizantly crying out to God during that time. But He must have been whispering straight to my heart because I found myself standing in line at the hospital gift shop with a Bible study on the Book of Isaiah in my hand. I wish I could tell you that it was the beginning of a passionate, consistent walk with God but it was not. I did do the Bible study though and this morning, with the anniversary date of the accident approaching, I felt oddly drawn to dig it out and read through the questions and answers on its pages.
It is so strange to look at my responses. I know it was me but the young woman who wrote those words is such a dim memory. I think I’ve worked so hard to leave her behind that I’ve almost forgotten that God loved her too. Does that make sense to you? He loved that girl who gave Him no consideration as deeply as He loves the one typing these words.
His affection was as firmly fixed on the woman who wrote “He is powerful and He protects even the weakest follower” 20 years ago in that Bible study book, as it is on the one who desires to write for His glory today.
His heart was just as consumed with the girl who read Isaiah 5:1-6 and scrawled, “God has planted many seeds in my life, from the time I was a small child. He sent people into my life to tend them, but they were ignored. Finally, He has let the cows trample me. Too much sin has left me a wasteland.” as it is with the woman who clings to the truth of Isaiah 61:4 and knows that the ancient ruins and places long devastated in her were destined to be restored.
Oh, how He loved the one who wrote “God has guided me through many troubles only to receive nothing from me. For a long time I have used the excuse that you can’t pray when you’re in trouble if you don’t pray when you aren’t” and then finished the thought by wondering, “But what if these things were brought to my life for precisely that reason. Is the Lord trying to get my attention?” And oh, how He loves the one who now confidently answers, “He will always bring beauty from the ashes– if not on this side of Glory, then on the other. My God is good. My God is faithful.”
I guess the point of all this reminiscing is to say that you, Sweet One, are always and have always been on His mind. There is no point on the timeline of your life that He has not loved you. No matter where we are on the spectrum of faith, He’s always about the business of loving us. Rather we acknowledge or even notice Him is an entirely different matter but I assure you based on the authority of His Word that the One who was, the One who is, and the One who will be has always been with you.
And somewhere, in the back of her mind, that younger version of me knew that truth too. She knew He was there and when she finally began to speak, she knew His heart was listening. This is the final entry from that Bible study so many years ago:
“My understanding of this changed. My heart believes that the Lord is listening. God hears all my prayers and He answers them. At times not the way I want but all my prayers are answered. His thoughts are higher than mine . He sees the whole picture. I don’t. I can trust Him for the outcome.”
Well said younger me. Well said.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV