As I sit here typing this today, only one verse of Scripture is present in my mind…
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
– Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)
Sixty three days ago, around this time, I received a phone call from home. I had been mentally preparing for this call for years; it’s the call that you know is inevitably coming, but you’re not exactly sure when it will happen or who will be the subject. My mother simply said these words to me, “They’ve taken Bobby to the hospital in an ambulance. He wasn’t feeling well and his heart rate is low.” Those are the exact words that she spoke to me on October 14th around lunchtime. They are forever burned into my mind. I will always remember the clarity of my feelings, as my mind tried to wrap itself around the horror of what I feared was coming. My fears were correct, and I was unprepared.
At that point, my mom was unaware that only a few feet from where she was standing talking to me on the phone, the paramedics were already defibrillating her husband of over 50 years. We were both unaware that the fight for his life had already started, in the driveway of their home, before the ambulance ever left their property. That way would lay the foundation for a couple of weeks of extreme physical stress, days of sleeplessness, and emotional fatigue on a level that I had never experienced. I was unprepared.
This has been a long journey, but God has been so good. God has granted strength, when no strength was to be found. He’s granted peace in the middle of the storm, and, on more than one occasion, He’s visited with me while I sat alone in my truck, in the middle of the night, on the third floor parking deck of Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, and calmed His desperate and often faithless child. He’s been good. You see, God was prepared.
Today, my father’s recovery has reached a point where we’re now looking at a possible release date from rehab of next Wednesday, December 21st.
It’s surreal in ways to image all that has transpired over the past two months. I’ve crammed a lifetime worth of worry into a schedule that was ill-prepared to fit it in. It’s taken a toll on me and my mother as we’ve watched events unfold that we had no positive control over, but God was always in control. He was always there, sometimes in the background, but mostly, He was right up front performing daily miracles that we obvious.
When I pray, seldom do I fail to ask God to be conspicuous to me in my life and circumstances. I want to see Him working, to see what He’s doing, and I want to join Him there. Honestly, I don’t often recognize Him at first, but that was not the case in my dad’s situation. He was conspicuous…almost daily, and I’m not talking about the peace of His presence. I’m referring to miracles in my dad’s health…miracles on a large scale…miracles that could not be explained by medical science. As I look back on the last two months, I find myself more overwhelmed with what God has done than at any other time in my life. I thank Him for being so obvious. I thank Him for simply coming in and taking over a very bad situation, a situation where I was hopeless for any control.
Today, my father sits on the cusp of his release from cardiac rehab. His ankle is still swollen, and we’re praying that swelling subsides soon. He can not go home until it does. His voice is back, his swallowing is back, and he’s eating great…and he’s finally eating a regular diet. The report from his cardiac surgeon, after only one visit, was that his condition is good enough that they do not need to see him again, and there will be no additional surgeries. He’s walking and moving well. He needs no help getting in and out of bed or standing, and his checker game has reached heights of professionalism that probably surprise him. He’s almost there.
It’s been a long time since my father left his home by ambulance on October 14th. His presence has been profoundly missed, but the miracles have been profoundly obvious. The journey, which is still not over, has been rough, and I can feel the effects of it to this very day, but we’re close to an ending…a happy ending. Thank you all for your prayers, and to God, my Heavenly Father, thank You for Your relentless pursuit of me and my family through this entire situation, and for being active and present in ways that I would have never imagined.
Mom and I are looking forward to a great Christmas this year. It’s our prayer that my father will be with us, happy, healthy, and restored by the hand of the same little baby Jesus who entered our world so long ago...the baby, born for sacrifice, who would become King. Jesus is our Savior, Redeemer, and King, and He is, without a doubt, my father’s Healer.
Thank you again, my wonderful friends, for your prayers and kind words during this time. Please continue to pray with me that dad can make it home before Christmas, as we celebrate the gift of a reunited family. I'm looking forward to that possibility!
The two most recent Facebook updates are below…
December 8th, 12:23 PM
Update on dad…
I just wanted to let everyone know that dad is doing great! He's up walking a lot these days, riding stationary bikes, alienating the staff at the rehab by beating them senseless in checkers, eating well, and his voice has completely returned to one of clarity and strength.
He has two upcoming doctors appointments for a swallow evaluation on tomorrow and Monday. The therapists believe that he will pass these evaluations, and we're praying for that exact result.
As of yesterday afternoon, he was cleared for a regular diet, and he ate a baked chicken breast...in his own words, "the best chicken breast he's ever had." So, no more ground up mystery meats! He's still on thickened liquids until the results of his swallow study are completed, but that should be very soon.
He's now able to get up without the assistance of a bed rail, and this is a huge step forward. That was one of our greatest concerns upon his return home, but he can do that alone now, and he's getting better and stronger everyday.
The only news that was a little disappointing is their decision to hold him until after the New Year. We certainly wanted him home before Christmas, but we don't want him home before he's ready. So, we will gladly accept their determination to hold him until after January 1st, and we'll be looking forward to 2017!
Your continued prayers are still appreciated!
December 14th, 8:30 AM
Update on dad…
We are encouraged today, because dad's planned release date from rehab is next Wednesday, December 21st! He has experienced another episode of swelling in his ankle, which, from my understanding is just something that he will have to live with from time to time...it's a result of the surgery. If that swelling is gone by next Wednesday, he will be home in time for Christmas! That would make the total duration of this event 69 days long, and we're ready to have him back!
If you would, please pray that this swelling will diminish and that he will be released on Wednesday, December 21st!
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!