By Melissa McLaughlin
The fog descended like a fuzzy gray blanket blurring out any sharply focused thinking. The day before, my husband was admitted into the hospital after experiencing an unexpected health issue. Unsure of what lay ahead, we listened carefully to the doctor’s plan of action with deep gratitude for the medical care since the alternatives were limited.
As one day flowed into the next, our days soon took on a new rhythm. Instead of waking up to the scurry of the weekday schedule and rushed morning coffee, now as the sun rose my mind turned to thoughts of a new day at the hospital. My goal setting included tackling the required chores at home, followed by slow-paced days with my husband in his hospital room.
We passed our time with music, chats, prayer, Bible reading, TV, visiting and napping. The minutes ticked by lazily. Though there were other tasks to “accomplish” at home, the one true agenda item was to simply enjoy the time together.
In order to stretch my back and remain in good health for myself, I made use of the hospital hallways and grounds for periodic walking breaks. On one such walk, I happened upon a hospital courtyard. Though the skies were gray and overcast with the threat of passing showers, the courtyard shone like a gemstone in a dark mine.
Whispers of Grace
First I noticed the welcoming garden tables and chairs and a gentle garden pool with softly trickling water. As I continued, huge hydrangea bushes caught my eye, not quite ready to bloom, but so full they bent over the sidewalk in a loving salute to passers-by. As I drew near, behind the bushes I discovered tiny yellow rosebuds, my mother-in-law’s favorite flower! Followed by pink roses, my mom’s favorite! A smile grew in my heart.
Gazing at these small touches of beauty in a place of great illness, I felt God’s presence whispering grace and peace into my soul. Though my mind felt foggy from the long stretches of waiting, God found a way to shine his pure, sweet light into my world.
Then and there I remembered the story of Elijah.
1 Kings 19:7-13 NIV – The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
If you find your mind, heart or soul has grown foggy with illness, unexpected waiting, unrelenting stress or unwanted detours, I encourage you to be still. Look, watch and wait for God’s touch. He may come through the reading of scripture. Maybe you will hear His voice in a kind word from a stranger. Perhaps a song with words that speak directly to your heart. Or maybe, just maybe, you will see God’s touch in the world around you. In the world He created. The same creation, formed by His hand, that sings His praises alongside us every day, day in and day out. If only we will stop and listen.
May you pause long enough to hear God’s whisper of grace today.
Tips for caregivers: CareGiving.com