Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Sinkhole Syndrome

Faces etched with worry and our hearts full of concern, we found ourselves as young parents on the way to the emergency room with our 6 month old son Jared. Just the day before we had visited the pediatrician's office and left armed with multiple prescriptions to fight the double ear infection, pinkeye, fever, and sore throat. We had done the ear infection, pinkeye thing many times with our 2 year old daughter, so we knew the routine. But, this would prove to be anything but routine.

Within 24 hours, Jared's symptoms worsened. His fever rose and he became lethargic, crying frequently, and his eyes were now almost swollen shut. We called our pediatrician and in a serious tone he said, 'Meet me at the ER.'

After we arrived at the ER words like Spinal Tap and Spinal Meningitis were being thrown at us and I felt like I was living in a nightmare. The Spinal Tap was done only to be followed by more sessions of poking and sticking with needles to try and insert an IV in his tiny veins. This was more than either of us could bear and we were told to take a walk while persistent nurses did their work.

After the Spinal Tap, Spinal Meningitis was ruled out, but the doctors admitted they had no answers for why he was so sick. The course of treatment would be high powered intravenous antibiotics to fight whatever enemy this was that had invaded his tiny body.

I was allowed to sleep on a cot in his room and settled down for what would be the first of a week of nights in this cold sterile room. But, sleep wouldn't come as my thoughts were filled with scary scenarios and my heart was aching with the agony of fear and uncertainty. Where was my faith? Where was the peace that I knew a Christian should feel at a time like this? Certainly any parent would experience a degree of anxiousness in such a situation, but what I felt was over the top. I was terrified.

I had hurriedly tossed a few things in a bag as we quickly left for the hospital and grabbed a book that I was reading, Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald. As I read, the author talked about a phenomenon that had happened in Florida where streets, sidewalks, and apartment buildings had been built on ground that once had a stream flowing underneath. Now, years of drought and the unthinkable had happened. The ground was no longer stable, and a slight shifting of the earth, brought cars, lawn chairs, streets, sidewalks, and ultimately the apartment building tumbling into the chasm called a sinkhole. The illustration revealed that our lives can be built on faulty ground as well, and the troubles that we inevitably encounter in life will reveal how firm our foundation really is and what lies beneath the surface.

With a deep conviction, and tears of remorse and pain, I cried out to God at that moment. I knew that my foundation was faulty and that my inner world was operating from a deficit. I did not understand at the time, but I was living out of some incorrect beliefs about God and how He works in our lives. I had no solid idea of what my true identity was at the time, and as a result I was vulnerable to the lies of the enemy. I had a fear based mentality and and had no foundation of love from which I could draw strength.

But, God in His grace gave me the strength to make it through that week long ordeal and we left the hospital with a happy 6 month old in our arms. Though I still did not have revelation of the truth that my heart needed, I had experienced the sober reality that my heart had been tested and found lacking. I don't believe that God caused the sickness or had some elaborate plan to reveal my heart. But, instead He lovingly revealed to me the source of my pain and then comforted me right in the midst of it.

I left the hospital at the end of that week realizing that my private world was very much in need of ordering. I had found myself falling into a sinkhole and didn't want to go back there again. That experience was a defining moment in my life and through the years since then God has been so faithful to nurture, restore, and replenish the broken places of my heart. He's taken my blank slate of identity and written on it who He says that I am, and He's taught me truth upon truth so that I can more easily recognize the lies of my adversary. And now I know that I have a river of His very life, love, and presence within that I can draw from at any time and any place.

If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength. - Prov. 24:10