Two years ago on this day I sat on this bench. It was across from the elevators on the fifth floor of Duke University Hospital.
We had been in the hospital for over two weeks already, but only in the past week had the circumstances become dire.
My husband laid down the hall, not far from where I sat, on life support. His sick heart had already stopped once. If he did not receive a heart transplant within a few days he would die.
After only two years of being married and after years and years of begging God for a husband, He was asking me to give my new husband back.
My heart was broken.
That morning, as I sat on the bench, his heart surgeon came to me with the news. John was matched with a heart. They were going to make the trip to take a look at it in just a few hours.
The transplant started at around 9:38 that night. Our family and several friends stayed up until it was finished at 5:30 the next morning.
The story is intense, filled with drama. Each tick of the minute hand of the clock was like jumping over a cliff. I never knew when they might come and tell me it was over.
I tell this story often. I write about it often. I can’t help it.
This is the story of my God and His majesty. With each of those minutes ticking God sustained me. I felt His supernatural peace for the first time in my life. I still don’t know how that can be except that it is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible explains to us more than once the importance of moving forward and not dwelling on things of the past.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19).
But at the same time God tells us the importance of remembering.
In Samuel 7 the Israelites call out to God to help them defeat the Philistines. God came through for them, and this is what is written:
“Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, ‘Up to this point the LORD has helped us!’ So the Philistines were subdued and didn’t invade Israel again for some time. And throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the LORD’s powerful hand was raised against the Philistines. (1 Samuel 7:12-13).
Samuel put that stone there between the two towns to help the Israelites remember that God had answered their prayers.
The Israelites are known for their forgetfulness. Over and over and over again in the Old Testament we see them pursuing God, forgetting God, turning away from God, and then begging God for forgiveness again. Reading their stories I often wonder how they could be so dense. Why couldn’t they remember God’s mercy from the previous dozen times and stop the same idolatrous behavior?
Over the past two years, though, I have forgotten often what God did for me during those days sitting on that bench outside of the elevators on the fifth floor of the hospital.
I forget that God heard my prayers. I forget that God gave me what I needed. I forget that God was in control. I forget how close to God I was during that time.
I simply forget.
You might think that these years since my husband’s heart transplant have been filled with love and roses everyday.
That’s not the case. The past two years have been hard just like any other years.
Mainly because I forget. I forget the truths God taught me and the peace I felt during those days in the hospital, and I start trying to operate on my own again. Just like the Israelites did. For some reason I think that I have the small stuff – the everyday stuff – like expectations in marriage and dealing with family members and learning to be a mom for the first time.
On the scale of life, the everyday seems like the easy stuff.
For me heart transplants are easy. Giving my life to God every. single. day. is what is hard.
Today I don’t face a heart transplant, but I face other circumstances that seem so small I can take them on all by myself. Really God is asking me to remember Him and allow Him to take them for me.
“Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord. (Psalm 107:43)”