There have been many blessings resulting from even the darkest days during Dad’s fight with cancer. There have also been those exhausting struggles and trials that have threatened to pull us under the current of fear and despair. I guess one can never be prepared to stand by helplessly watching a loved one slowly fading away.
It was after one of those days that I was making my way back home from the hospital in Lufkin…my heart heavy and my mind tired. Dad had been so, so exhausted. His speech was slurred, he could barely hold his head up, and he had fallen asleep three times during his daily outing in the wheelchair . I had unloaded on hospital staff during a frustrating, emotinally draining meeting that seemed to get us nowhere in the fight to understand why Dad was not improving.
I always find it difficult to leave him. I fear it will be my last chance to say goodbye and have him return the farewell. I know you are not supposed to think that way, but such is the reality when dealing with a terminal disease like cancer. Today was especially hard for me. Dad was fast losing his determination and belief that he would ever get to go home, much less get better. Depression seemed to be setting in, and depression often leads to despair.
I had been driving for two hours crying out to God for mercy and direction. It seemed that the closer I got to home and to Charlie, the faster I drove. I could not wait to get to the comfort of home. As I drove past Grace Community Church, I fought the urge to stop in for Wednesday evening services. My heart longed to be in the presence of God’s people. I seemed to feel His very presence surrounding the complex.
I so desperately needed God’s direction. Dad needed a change…a change in hospitals, a change in doctors. He needed to be moved down to the medical center where he could be under the care of a group of phycisians who had access to cutting edge technology. He needed to be in a cancer facility that could concentrate on the latest set of issues resulting from his particular type of cancer, and one that had the resources to combat the effects of the intensive surgery he had undergone to remove the complex malignancy resulting from this cancer.
The surgeon had only been able to remove a portion of the malignancy that was attacking his body draining it of every nutrient and blocking body functions necessary to stay alive. The remaining cancer in both lymph nodes and surrounding area remained in tact. I had never felt so helpless. A change was needed and needed soon. As I drove, I continued to pray, begging God for his guidance and mercy. I cried out for peace if Dad was where he wanted him to be, and for urgency to act if not. The urgency to act only became stronger.
As I drove on through the tears, something drew my attention to my rear view mirror. My heart sank as I saw the red and blue lights flashing behind me. I carefully pulled to the side of the road mentally preparing for the lecture that was sure to come. Shining his light into my back seat, the officer cautiously approached my window requesting me to produce my driver’s license. In a stern, businesslike voice he asked, “Where have you been?” I thought this was a slightly strange question, but I honestly answered that I was returning home from the hospital in Lufkin where my Dad was being treated for cancer. Seemingly unimpressed, he asked if I was aware of how fast I had been driving. I confessed that I had several pressing matters on my mind and that more than likely I was exceeding the speed limit.
The officer’s expression softened slightly. He stood gently tapping my license on the ticket pad obviously pondering whether to write a ticket. He firmly reminded me that I would be of no use to my parents if I were to be killed or injured in an automobile accident. He lectured on about how I did not want to live with the responsibility of injuring or killing someone else as a result of my use of excessive speed. I nodded and agreed all the while fighting back the tears threatening to flood down my face. He handed back my license stating that it was customary to write a ticket for anything clocked over 77 mph, and I had been clocked at 80 mph. Under the circumstances, however, he had decided to let me slide on this one as long as I promised to slow down and drive cautiously. I gratefully took my license from the officer and thanked God for His mercy because I had fully deserved that ticket.
I pulled back onto the road, and the officer pulled in right behind me. This made me nervous, so I pulled over into the middle lane. The officer followed suit. By this point I was beginning to feel a little agitated. I continued along, cautiously watching every move I made as I drove. This scenario lasted another ten minutes or so, and then once again I saw the red and blue lights flashing in my rear view mirror. My mind began racing trying to imagine why I was being pulled over a second time. Did I have an unpaid ticket I was unaware of? Did Charlie? Was this a case of mistaken identity? Whatever I imagined at the moment surely ended with my being handcuffed and hauled off to jail!
As the officer approached the back of my car he said, “Don’t worry Ma’am, you haven’t done anything wrong.” My mood immediately changed from irritated to puzzled. The closer he got to the driver’s side door I saw a completely different demeanor than that of the stern officer I had spoken with a few moments ago. Instead I saw an humble yet professional officer with something definitely weighing on his mind. He said, “You are going to think I have lost my mind, but I could not let you go any farther without getting this off of my heart. The moment I saw your car speeding past me, God impressed me to stop you. I most assuredly had reason to pull you over, and I definitely could have written you a ticket, so I thought I had satisfied God’s requirement by letting you go without the ticket.” He took a deep breath and nervously continued. “As soon as you pulled away, however, God kept impressing that I was not done. I have been arguing with Him over this for the past 10 minutes, but in obedience to Him, I had to surrender.”
At this point he handed me a spiral notebook and a pen. He cleared his throat, then boldly forged ahead. “I would like for you to please write your Dad’s name down so that my wife, my family and my church can pray for him by name.” I broke down and began to sob. He continued, “I am a great believer in God’s divine power of healing, and I have a strong church family of believing prayer warriors. I can see you are broken, but God wants you to know that everything will be allright…regardless of the outcome, He is with you all, and everything will be allright…just follow His direction.” He went on to share that his wife’s father was a minister, and he requested my permission to pass the information along to him so that their church could be praying also.
I was blown completely away by God’s perfect timing. I was humbled by the fact that He used the most unlikely circumstance to reveal not only His mercy, but also His promise. I will be eternally grateful to a stranger who was obedient enough and brave enough to allow God’s words to flow through him providing encouragement not only to me, but to each member of my family. This man will probably never know what that simple act of obedience meant in confirming that God not only exists, He cares. Nor will this man realize the many lives who will be touched by the sharing of this occurrence.
My prayer is that you too will experience God through the obedient actions of one of His children…Dear God, help it to be me…