While I have never been confronted with a gun to my head or a sword to my neck as depicted in this video testimony from a Syrian Christian mother, nevertheless, like many of us with kids, I’ve had those moments when I, too, had to dedicate their lives to the Lord for whatever purposes He might have for us.

crying babySuch a time was the day I took our youngest daughter, Kelly (the significance of both her first and middle name is Fighter or Warrior; something we didn’t comprehend when we gave her that double barreled name) to Hermann Hospital in Houston TX for what I thought was a routine exam when she was about 9 months old. Earlier that day, our pediatrician and chief resident gave us a “house call” after Lynn called to say Kelly had a high fever. Without cells phones in those primitive days, Lynn tracked me down at one of the offices I might be visiting that day. Several hours later I received a note that I should take Kelly to Hermann. Not thinking it was that unusual to take a child to the hospital, I eventually arrived at home to take Kelly in our one and only car (indeed, how primitive).

Upon arrival, it took another hour filing out typical paperwork before I could find her doctor waiting impatiently for me. Wondering why it took so long, I explained the lack of phone and single car. That’s when he took Kelly in his arms to perform a standard test I’d seen other pediatricians do with our other 2 daughters when they, too, were infants. Testing Kelly’s neck, he suddenly put her in my arms and said, “I think I know what she has” and without hesitating got a syringe and performed a spinal tap/lumbar puncture. Then, as the milky liquid dripped out, he gave me the most unprofessional signal you never want to see on a doctor’s face. Tears came to his eyes and he uttered, “I think she has H-flu (bacterial) Meningitis.” Not being a medical doctor, that sentence had little impact , but the most unimaginable words he spoke next slammed against heaven’s gate: “Go call your wife to come immediately. She might not make it through the night.”

How quickly we face death.

prayer handsAfter I got Lynn on the phone and somehow found an angel of mercy (the pastor’s daughter from Bethel Independent Presbyterian Church who lived just down the street from us) to come to our house to babysit our other 2 girls, I ducked into the lonely chapel to pray. Actually, it didn’t turn out to be much of prayer time but rather a worship service. As Romans 12 says: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Lifting my hands in surrender and praise, I remember crying out to the Lord God Almighty that He is always worthy of our praise. Always. He knew that our oldest daughter, Betsy, was already diagnosed as “mentally retarded” with a severe seizure disorder and a IQ of 50. (In fact, that’s why that Chief Resident knew us so well. He is the one who had correctly diagnosed Betsy’s seizure disorder after many visits to numerous other doctors.) Although I knew I didn’t need to remind God of any of those details, I did tell him that as a family we would accept whatever He had in mind for Kelly. Somewhere along the line, I learned that the side effects of H-Flu might be brain damage; buildup of fluid between the skull and brain (subdural effusion); hearing loss; hydrocephalus and/or seizures. For all these possible conditions, I surrendered, gave thanks and worshiped the Lord for giving us Kelly, if only for those first nine months.

It’s amazing what happens when we lift up holy hands (Ps 134:2, 1 Tm 2:8): God meets us to extend His hand of mercy and grace. I was offering Him everything as a living sacrifice and thanking Him for fearing and wonderfully making Kelly when I heard Him say inside the temple of my heart, that He would heal Kelly and make her a light to and a fighter for the nations (Isa 49:6). Little could I comprehend the vastness of His promise or grasp what He had in mind for her. 37 years later, Kelly continues to grow in grace, never having any of those devilish conditions and is active bringing the light of Christ to the nations.

As I said, I have never had a gun to my head or a sword to the throat, but for those of us who have walked in the shadow of death while hearing Satan chant “Where is your God now?”, my position is clear: lean on His Word. “In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.