Hope, So…

Dave Smith

The Sunday afternoon stroll seemed a good plan.  Unusual September warmth and humiditidididitity, as the forecaster of my youth used to say, very high made the venture more July-ish than fall.  Crinkly, crackly already fading leaves littered the brown-green yard along the sidewalk, musked into my nostrils and provided a pleasant invasion that hinted at winter to come.  The Packer game would end my day in typical season fashion, a contest with my long-favored Atlanta Falcons.  Not so much that the team meant more, but I’ve always liked their color scheme and logo.  I crossed my yard and stepped across the in-bloom petunia’s and gladiola’s adorning a small patch in front of the newly repaired porch that had caused many stumbles in my sojourn.  Inside, I plopped into the recliner and began a cool down in air-conditioned pleasantry.

Who’d have thought a wandering stroke would choose just this moment to invade my mind, a gentle numbness creeping across my vision, my cheek, and through my mouth.  Having had TIA’s in the past year and a half, I recognized the visit and began the protocol protection against this unfriendly guest.  My thoughts clear and action unsteady, I checked the mirror and saw the droop, ran the tongue-twister questions about Peter Piper through my brain – but they would not exit in voice.  Fear came.  A garbled 911 call.  I again sat.  My right side sorta took a little break.  Amazingly soon a blue clad officer came – then the paramedics-then the whirlwind of actions and questions with responses stumbling out of me.  My world now voices and jumble and a hazy search for some kind of foggy clarity.  None came.  Lugged downstairs, outside, onto a gurney, into the ambulance – faces all over the place, just eyes and voices, and….

“Stay with us David.  You gotta stay awake man.  Stay here!”  I heard and my eyes, though I knew open, didn’t focus. My hands were folded across my bubble of a belly.  “Stay here man…” And I prayed.

I hoped, an earnest request for healing, for survival, for good care.  I also put all of this in His hands, mentally spoke and truly believed that my journey would be His to guide.  I hoped for strength to get through what lay on this path, what maladies might linger.  I thanked Him, knowing He would be with my family in its worries and stresses in the hours ahead.  Tired, so tired… “Stay here David!  Talk to me…”  No, I’m visiting with God right now and my mind laughed, not my mouth.  And then, deep in the soul of me, I knew, I felt a new word, a powerful word.  With it came a settling, like a sway-back-and-forth-float-down settle of a leaf free falling to end its struggle to cling, its hope for salvation.

Assurance.  I didn’t have hope anymore.  Didn’t need hope, shouldn’t rely on hope.  I believed, I am assured.  In this journey and in all my moments, hours, days ahead, I am assured God is with me in Jesus Christ and every step will be guided by His Holy Spirit.  No bright flame of realization, no thunderous acclamation.  A quiet settling – “Stay here David” – back to this moment, this event and knowing God is with me, what fear need I?  Hope died.  The divine plan for me, not so much.

And so assured, this day I continue recovery, still in unusual September 85 degree heat, and back at this keyboard. I giggle a bit as weird words emerge from the tappy tap of a healing hand.  I’ll walk today.  I’ll love the crinkly crackly leaves musting into my thinks.  And I’ll hold Jesus’ assuring hand.  Hope, a good grace from God.  Assurance the answer in Jesus Christ.