A Blog by Jennifer Aulthouse

A heart for those who want more of God. A desperate plea for those who don't.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Handing Over the Paddles

There’s a visual formed in my mind lately of a man lying on a hospital bed. His eyes remain closed and the life-support beeps away. He’s lost inside a coma, although I’m not sure if it’s a medically-induced coma, or if it’s due to natural causes or whatever disease or injury may have put him there. With the machines going, his breathing seems absolutely fine. We are all alone, or so it seems, as I sit watching him, having something at stake in how greatly I care for this man. But a few times, I’ve wondered if it’s been best to pull the plug purely to put us both out of our misery – either he’ll make it or it will finally be over. What happens when I do so, though, convinces me that I have to grab the paddles. I charge his chest, crying out for God to save him. He opens his eyes, recognizes me, and we reconnect for a little while, but then his eyes begin to close and he drifts back into his deepened sleep, and the machines beep away, and again I sit there watching him, wondering what’s to come of all of this. Because I don’t know what will happen if I’m not there holding the paddles......can I just close the door and walk out of the room and trust the machines to keep him going? How long can I go on with this saga?

There’s something I know God’s been leading me to loosen my grip on for a long time. And I’ve done so. It’s something precious to me, something that I really don’t want to lose, but also wonder if perhaps whatever good was designed to come out of it already has and that it’s time to move on. The man in this vision is the personification of this very special treasure.

But I also sense that maybe when, in my vision of this man, the plug is pulled and I start to panic because of the signs I see in front of me, I’m assuming that his death is quickly on its way. Maybe what is appearing to me as an indication of impending doom is in fact an indication of something else entirely.....maybe behind the wailing beeps and underneath the bodily failures lay the seeds of revitalization and renewal. Maybe I’m not supposed to concede this precious thing’s death but instead concede its death as I know it. Maybe it is going to re-enter my life someday in a new way, one that I could never take credit for creating, saving, or even imagine was possible.

But maybe it won’t.

Either way, I’m tiring of pulling plugs and holding paddles and feeling the anguished tension inside of not being able to walk away, as if the life and death of something cherished rest in my hands. I must realize that I am not the Great Physician, and I can’t force healing onto something that isn’t meant to be healed, at least not back into the state it previously existed in. I also can’t trust in my ability to determine what will come of this seeming dormancy. It’s time to trust that the patient is in the real Physician’s hands; trust in the Physician’s judgment on what is best for everyone involved, and also trust that the Physician knows how valuable to me the patient is. And trust that when I leave the room, leaving my beloved patient in the messy, agonizing state that he’s in, the Physician will come and find me when and if the patient awakens into his new life, as He would want me to celebrate, too.

Sometimes the greatest measure of self-control lies in our willingness to unleash the unknown.

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