I recently had a friend ask if I had a scripture that meant something to me…. one that I turned to, held closely, or relied upon in moments of trial or stress or fear.
There are a few, I replied, thinking of the words that I’ve whispered to myself or said out loud to our kids, our friends, or even to God, Himself, at so many of life’s events in our last few years.
As I quickly went through the catalog of words I’ve turned to over and over, my heart rested on what has come to be the one that almost hums in the background of long drives, meetings in doctors’ offices, surgery prep areas, and too many moments in between to count.
…..When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I…..
This was my go to. The one that reminded me of all the other promises we’ve held so tightly to.
I understood the words of the Psalmist here with ease. Being from South Texas, flash floods are something we are all very familiar with. What starts as a easily managed trickle of water can become a raging torrent in a matter of seconds. Our local rivers are known to rage and boil with shocking strength. They carry away everything in their path with ease….except the rocks. Not the small pebbles that line their beds but the big solid rocks that are anchored to the earth itself. Some lay in the center of the regular flow, others sit above them….out of reach of all but the most furious floods. Yet they all share the same ability. They stay anchored no matter what around them is carried away. As the waters rise, the animals affected will continue to seek out these rocks, climbing higher as the flood waters demand. Ever sure in the safety of the rock that is higher than they are.
When my heart is overwhelmed. This week, I almost couldn’t say the words. What has become a regular, almost normal, in our lives, fight with Cancer was joined this summer by my husband being involved in a major accident. One that has taken him out of work for nearly 4 months. One that required surgery to fix an injury that means his hand will never really be ‘the same’ again. As we digested that information from our perch on the rock, that injury was joined by another, even scarier one. This time at the hand of the dr administering injections to alleviate herniated disks, also brought on by the wreck. The needle punctured my husband’s ‘dura’, the covering of his spinal cord and caused a ‘cervical spinal fluid leak.’ The fluid leaking causes totally debilitating head pain. Like a migraine on steroids….and because of the leaks location, there was no easy fix. Time will usually allow these to heal, however, the normal relief felt by laying down was not being enjoyed by the man I count on for everything. The leak was too large, the fluid loss too great. The pain never stopped, only increased with movement, sound, light….
Overwhelmed….this week I became the definition of the word. I’m usually pretty good at putting the hard things in their own compartment, dealing with the daily demands as they come, and taking on the contents of those compartments in small bites. Handling the things I can fix and praying, hoping, fighting through the things I can’t.
This week, well, this week there was truly no way to do any of that. There was nothing about what we were facing that I could fix, nothing I could put in my trusty compartments and take small bites of.
It was ALL too big, ALL too scary, ALL too overwhelming.
I found myself watching my handsome, strong, and confident husband laying in a hospital bed, day after day, in so much pain, the strongest IV meds offered no relief. As the days progressed, he was unable to sit up, stand up, talk, or move without so much pain that we were facing a decision that could either stop the pain and fix the leak or cause more damage. Allowing the leak to continue was bringing risks like brain bleeds and stroke. Fixing the leak was a bigger unknown. We heard words like quadriplegic and respiratory failure.
OVERWHELMED……that was my heart in a word.
I couldn’t hear my trusty background mantra. I couldn’t find a silver lining. All I could see easily was the fear attached to the words repeated by each white coat that walked through the door of his hospital room. I felt as though the rock I had become so familiar with perching on was closer to the flood waters below, than it had ever been. Scratch that- in all honesty, I felt about neck deep in those waters.
I didn’t know how to pray for this. The words just wouldn’t come.
Sunday morning in the hospital came after a long and hard Saturday night. Nothing was helping, no medication, no position in bed, no gentle hand….the man who has seen me through every moment of the very worst days of my life with more love and kindness than I’d ever known, was angry and short tempered from pressure in his head and meds given to him. The nurses told me to prepare for ‘personality changes’ from the medication they were trying and the neurologist told me not to be upset by anger from pressure in his head. They suggested I go for a walk while he caught a 15 minute rest brought on by a large dose of IV meds. As I exited the elevator with every intent to head to my car and cry in semi privacy, I caught view of a sign, that I wasn’t looking for but one that drew my heart toward it.
I slowly pushed the door open, knowing I would escape if anyone else was inside. It was empty so I walked to the nearest chair and sat down. My tears came in a flood worthy of South Texas rains. ‘Help’ , I pleaded. That was the only word I could manage. Help!
My overwhelmed heart broke at the feet of the One I trust to hold my family safely. The One we know to be the rock higher than us. ‘Help!’
Now wouldn’t it be cool if right here I could tell you I returned to that hospital room to a completely healed husband?! Yes, I hoped so too BUT we would spend 6 more days in the hospital. Holding on to the rock and praying for a miracle. We would be surrounded by literally hundreds of voices bombarding heaven for my husband. We would feel those prayers as we saw another procedure fail, much greater pain, and more scary words. But holding on to our rock, with no end in sight, we finally, gratefully, saw healing!
Our week didn’t end because we repositioned our feet on the rock, the difference was I could hear that hum of hope again. It was faint some hours, I needed to be reminded by 2 life long friends to listen to it and not to the words of fear repeated over and over, but it was there! Because, just like those rocks I know will remain time and time again after our rivers rage, our Rock will not be moved by the floods of this life. Our circumstances will not change the rock that is higher than us and even when the waters rise to overtake us, we will not be swept away as long as we stay reliant on the place our heart can rest above them. We are still facing some scary stuff but sometimes that’s just the way life unfolds. I will continue to rely on that steady hum of background music that reminds me to hold on to the rock that has been here since time began and who won’t be moved by the floods I’ve yet to face. I wish I could tell you that it was going to be smooth sailing and clear skies from now on, but I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case. What I can say with certainty is this, He heard my simple plea and helped my feet stay firmly on the rock above my flood waters.
From the ends of the earth I will cry out to thee!
When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock, that is higher than I.
Whatever you may be facing today that makes your heart feel overwhelmed, I pray you receive peace to hold steady to the rock higher than your flood waters and that you are comforted with a renewal of your faith to see you through whatever is carried away around you.
As always, if you need a listening ear or a friend to pray for you, please feel free to use our contact form on our website! One of our team will be happy to reach out to you!