© 2005 Betty
week my husband and I made the long trip into town to his cardiologist
for his now annual check-up. On our return home we had planned to
withdraw money from the bank in order to pay our mid-month bills.
January is too often a lean working month for musicians. While waiting to turn left into the
shopping center where our bank is
located, we found ourselves stopped at one of the longest traffic
lights in Austin (on South Lamar) that has become a favorite
haunt for transients and professional panhandlers.
As we inched closer to the light I
could feel my husband growing tense. Our car was third in line
along the innermost lane, curbisde--a virtual sitting duck for
the needy, hemmed in on all sides. I watched as an old bum picked
up his sign and started walking toward us. This was going to be a
really long light...
One year and one month ago my husband
had suffered a near-fatal heart attack. A clot in his main
coronary artery had suddenly and without warning blocked off the blood
to his heart, the Friday night before Christmas. Afterward, his doctors related to us that
a crack had formed in the small amount of plaque which, at
had begun to line my husband's arteries. They said a large clot
then formed to repair the crack, shutting off the flow of
blood. I asked if poor diet or lack of exercise has contributed
to his illness and they answered, "no." They said there were some
things in life we just couldn't control but that stress was more
probably a factor. (Since 9-11, my
husband had not been
himself. He had seemed less at peace, more agitated. Little
things provoke him more...waiting at interminable lights, standing in
long lines, filing insurance claims, paying our bills, professional
bums on every street corner preferring handouts to honest work....you
get the picture.) They
gave me photographs of his heart
"before" and "after" as a memento of his miraculous delivery from
death's door. Those pictures tell it all.
Now as the old bum reached our van
window, I drew breath, expecting
from the love-of-my-life a verbal
explosion typically prompted by just such annoyances. Certainly
such irritation on his part might even have been justified as a
consequence of his having to wear a new heart monitor for 24 hours to
ensure all his coronary pipes were indeed clear. Suddenly he rolled down the window.
I leaned back, stiffening,
awaiting the outburst.
Instead, my husband reached into his pocket and pulled out a large $
bill and folded it, pressing it into the bum's hand and smiling, said, "There you go, brother. God bless
you!" Whereupon the old bum took the bill, grasping
my husband's hand in his, quietly asked me, "Take your husband's hand there,
sister." As I reached for it, the old man began to
pray. Right then and
there at the traffic light...
"Dear Lord, we thank you for bringing us all together here today.
Lord, we ask further that you would give us your strength today,
enabling us to withstand this life and to do your will. And we
ask these things, Lord, now, in your precious name. Amen."
Immediately the light changed and cars began rolling toward the
"God bless you, brother," my husband exclaimed, smiling and
waving at the bum who was now also smiling and waving.
My eyes burned....
It might have been something if my
husband's heart doctor had prayed with us. But he
didn't. He was really busy; his waiting room was
filled. Instead, our
gift had come from a less likely place. It was a huge
gift, too. My husband's face was the image of peace.
Neither of us was in any way prepared for what had just
transpired. In fact, in many ways we have daily grown more
cynical and weary of too many crises to count the past twenty years,
and too little evidence of good will among men. Most days anymore
it's more every man for himself as we slog through life without a map,
without a flashlight--controlling nothing--hanging onto the last
vestiges of hope we can muster, grieving our mutual mounting losses, while
acknowledging that there
less and less guarantees in this old life.
Nothing brings it all home, though,
like a heart attack.
And yet it is within those least
places, those darkest valleys where the Lord God may often be
found. And it is when we are least expectant that His love can
most surprise us. God's book says He chose unlikely ways to
reveal His love to us. In
stables, and street corners and sidewalks. Not often via the
proud, nor the powerful--but by the humble, the lowly, those bent down
to the dirt by life. The poor in spirit. He says has chosen
to reveal His incredible Love for us thorough what He calls "the foolish things of this earth...."
(1 Corinthians 1:21-29)
Later on as we drove home in silence,
momentarily at peace, I wanted to call everyone I knew. I wanted
to tell them His love can and
does lift us up from fear, loneliness and despair. How He
promises to turn no one away. (John
6:37) And that He can
be found when and where you least expect Him.
Indeed He can.
Pass it on.
Questions? Email me HERE.
Need more Encouraging Words?
June 28, 2004
June 8, 2004
Want someting short to post on your refrigerator?
Try our Notes