What Will It Take?
9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the LORD his God was with him.
10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.
11 And they offered unto the LORD the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.
12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;
13 That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
14 And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.
16 And also concerning Maachah the mother of Asa the king, he removed her from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove: and Asa cut down her idol, and stamped it, and burnt it at the brook Kidron.
17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.
18 And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.
19 And there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa.
It has been said that God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy! He is pleased with our efforts, but he will not be satisfied until we are changed from slaves of sin to sons; saved, whole, clean, and devoid of all black marks.
I was just four or maybe five years old and we were living in Arkadelphia, where I was born and raised. One Sunday I was sitting in a pew with my parents at First Assembly of God Church. Out of the blue, I sensed God’s hand urging me to respond to the pastor’s invitation to walk to the front and say the prayer of salvation.
John 6:44 tells us that the Father draws us. The word there is ἑλκύω helkuo, hel-koo´-o and carries the active sense of the phrase ‘to drag.’ Now don’t mistake this to mean that he drags us against our. Rather think of it as his strong hand pulling us up and to himself, when our mouth utters the words ‘save me Lord’ but our being has not the strength to lift even as ritual toe. Helkuo is not the act of a taskmaster to a slave, but the merciful hand of a loving God eager to receive us!
It was around that age that I began talking about becoming a physician. My Dad was born and raised across the railroad tracks and my Mother birthed in a shotgun house thirty miles out into the sticks of Arkansas. Between them there were sixteen brothers and sisters, and none with an education or access to one.
About the middle of my junior year, I heard some of my fellow students talk about early graduation. That seemed to be right down my line since especially if I was going to be a doctor. Doctors face at least eleven years of education beyond high school. I may as well get going, I thought!
I finished senior English in summer school that year and was accepted into Henderson State University there in my home town. Stacy and I had been highschool sweethearts. We got married in my junior year of college, which turned out to be the best academic year of my life with straight A’s. I was accepted at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and started medical school at age 21. We matched with the Pediatrics program at the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa Medical College. While in Tulsa, our oldest daughter Andrea was born. When I finished the program, we moved to El Dorado, Arkansas, and excitedly started solo practice.
It was there that Laura was born.
She was severely disabled with a condition called fetal isotretinoin embryopathy. We loved here dearly, but were heartbroken, especially me. You see Stacy had been on a medicine that is very bad for unborn children. Despite doubly careful, Stacy had become pregnant.
Laura had been terribly affected by the medication. Her condition was almost as bad as most of the other severely affected children that were known at the time. I was terribly disheartened and sad. I don’t think I smiled much for the next two years.
You see I just knew too much.
In the course of Pediatrics training we rotated through the EOPC, a top-notch level three neonatal intensive care unit. The EOPC was a referral center for north Arkansas and southern Missouri. For that reason we took care of the sickest of sick newborns. The mortality rate was 30%. I saw so much there…too much.
Many of the things that I knew could happen to Laura, I suspected, and we indeed endured. A few years before she passed away, we were dealing with seizures that lasted as long as two hours or more. At the end the shunt that prevented fluid accumulation and pressure in her brain failed. Emergency surgery at first seemed successful, but two days later she had a major brain bleed. The next day the brain imaging confirmed that the breathing center was irreparably damaged. She could not breath without a ventilator. There was nothing more to do.
On April 24, 2012, at the age of 24, surrounded by her family, Stacy and I watched our little girl pass into the arms of God.
As preparations at the funeral home began, we collected photographs and other momentos to share with friends and family, and among them we brought a poem that I had written for Laura when she was a tiny little girl.
…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.
It sure didn’t feel like Laura had been healed. Had God been listening to our prayers all those years? We had stood strong like Asa, and even taken down the high places that he did not.
Standing in the foyer talking to the funeral home secretary, Stacy startled as she noticed the date at the bottom of the poem. By my own hand, I had written this poem on April 24, 1992, exactly twenty years to the day that Laura had died.
God had used time, as only he can, to show me that he is my Father, and he is faithful. Truly Laura is whole and healed today standing in his presence, waiting on us to come to her!
But the story of Asa continues, and God’s promise just a few verses down echoes in our lives. I repeatedly remind myself of it.
It took God twenty years to show me through Laura’s life that he is faithful. He didn’t heal her like I thought and hoped he would. He chose better for her, and I praise him!
So let me ask the question again. What will it take?
How far will you go to see our Father’s promise revealed in your life? Will you let him draw you where at first nothing makes sense? Let me leave you with the hope in this one last verse.
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.