My good friend and colleague, Jean Wise, passed away recently. I spoke at his funeral.
Thirty years ago this past July, I brought Stacy and our young daughter, Andrea, to El Dorado. I was fresh out of Pediatric residency from Oklahoma University in Tulsa, and eager to start solo practice. Jean Wise was among the first physicians we befriended and he and Mary, Jeremy, Ben, Heather, and Beau became fast friends and church-going families.
Jean’s skills as an ENT were cemented in my mind the day a family pet dog mauled the ear of one of my two year old patients. The parents had snatched the bleeding child up, scooped up his detached ear lobe out of the dirt, and run to the hospital.
The entire ear had been severed and I didn’t know what could be done. Immediately Jean took him to surgery, reattached the lobe by inverting and burying it in his scalp so that it would get blood supply. Amazingly after months of care and further surgery, Jean managed to almost completely restore that child’s ear. It’s worth saying again…I was very impressed by Jean’s skills as a surgeon.
Jean was also a fine Christian man eager to serve the Lord who he loved and cherished. Once he and I even flew in his small plane across the country to a impoverished California border town to share our faith and medical skills together. He passed his Love of the Lord and other great qualities on like a baton to his children. Most of you already know the story about Jeremy and Ben. The courage that he and Mary imparted to their family is not trivial, and they stand as beacons of character in a dark world.
I came to see my old friend earlier this year. I had heard that Jean was ill, and I just felt prompted that I needed to see him soon. Despite the all-day drive from Georgia where we now live, I came and enjoyed several hours with him. I’ll never forget that despite his already advanced Parkinson’s disease, he offered that sneaky little smile I remembered when he said, “You came all that way just to see me?”
On a very close personal level he helped me and Stacy. Within two years of our arrival in El Dorado our youngest daughter, Laura Michelle, was born with fetal isotretinoin embryopathy, a severe birth defect caused by a medication that Stacy was prescribed. This drug has a high incidence of birth defects, and Laura had very small ears and ear canals. Jean was the only ENT that could place ear tubes when it became impossible to treat her infections otherwise.
Jean and Laura have more in common that just a medical relationship though. Like Jean, Laura was severely affected by her illness. Stacy and I took care of her until at age twenty-four when she passed away suddenly on April 24, 2012. Like Jean and his family we had prayed and prayed and prayed for healing.
Standing in the foyer of the funeral home Stacy and I suddenly, in just one moment, discovered how much God had heard our prayers for Laura, as she passed the secretary this poem I had written many years before. Let me share it with you.
Forever and A Day For Laura Michelle
…now being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.—Philippians 1:6
I started praying for a little child the other day.
‘Cause I was sure that was God’s way
To heal that little one and make her whole.
I was sure of this royal goal.
Her little body was twisted and turned.
Oh, how in my heart the desire burned,
For her wholeness all at once to see,
And then to be all that she could be.
As I prayed, the Holy One spoke quietly
To my inner man on bended knee.
How long will you wait, how long will you believe
For this miracle that in your heart I’ve conceived?
I thought only momentarily, and said,
God, I’m your servant, I wait in your stead
If it be a day, a month, a year or three,
I’ll wait, I’ll wait, I’ll wait, this miracle to see!
Days, months, years passed by,
And it seemed the Lord waited, I don’t know why,
To heal my little girl, such a precious sight,
So small and frail, sometimes I would just cry.
But His words to me would echo,
And in my spirit man, I knew it would be so.
How long will I wait, how long will I believe,
For this miracle that in my heart you’ve conceived?
Forever And A Day,
That’s the only way
To stand in faith, for this my child.
Though it seems her healing hides,
it will only be a little while.
Standing in that foyer the three of us stood in stunned silence. The date on that poem was April 24, 1992, exactly twenty years to the day that the Lord took Laura home. My Heavenly Father had used time and this poem, as only he can, to comfort Stacy and me, and to show us that he had been there with us all those years. Our prayers had been answered. Laura was truly whole and healed.
Our Father was then, and is still now, faithful to all those who look to him. As we stood there then in that funeral home for Laura, and as I stand here now sharing about my friend, I declare to you that like our Laura Michelle, Jean is finally healed and finally home.