It was Friday morning at 9:00am when my cell phone chimed announcing an incoming text message from my sister in law. “Our Ladies retreat is this weekend titled, Lord Teach Us to Pray. We had a couple of cancellations. We are looking to bless someone. Would you like to come and join us? We just wouldn’t be roomed together….”
A Calvary Chapel Women’s Retreat YIPPEE! I answered, “Yes, let me call Don right now.” As I anticipated, his response was a resounding yes, go! In a matter of hours I was packed and on my way to Murrieta Hot Springs Conference Center.
It was an awesome weekend with great people and awesome teaching. My “take away” was from a class on marriage. I thought to myself, after being married close to 35 years, not much fazes me.
Michelle Randall had my full attention when she prefaced her talk with, “I’m sure point one will make some of you cringe or make your hair stand on end.” It was – know your role as a wife. She asked us to turn to Genesis 2:18. “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” I had read that verse plenty of times and knew it like the back of my hand. She then asked, “Do you realize that your role as a wife is to help your husband?” Inwardly I gasped. Not only did I cringe but my hair also stood on end!
Michelle continued with a few more incriminating questions.
· What is important to him?
· What makes him happy?
She summed up the first point with… It takes death to have a marriage (meaning death to our own selfishness).
I am always grateful after I’ve been complacent; God prods me to never stop growing. Regardless of years in marriage, I had taken mine for granted and had plenty more to learn.
Wrapping up the retreat they asked women to share what they received from the weekend. I shared that one point to the group and confessed that I want to be the “helpee” not the helper! Yet I was eager to get home and be a better wife.
Climbing in my car to leave, I plugged in my cell phone. I had four messages. Thinking to myself, my adult kids all know where I am at. Why are they messaging me?
I drove off the grounds anticipating the nearest Starbucks. In the drive-thru I read my messages. A second message from my son stated Dad was not well and had walked out of church strangely. He was concerned….. CALL ASAP.
My husband was home with the symptoms of a stiff neck, sharp throbbing pain in the back of his head and bloodshot eyes. He was quiet and not himself but waiting for me to arrive to go to the hospital.
“Brent, you need to get him to the hospital now or call an ambulance! Numerous things could be happening and I’m too far away. Don’t waste time. If you don’t get him to go, I’m calling an ambulance!
Hanging up, tears began to flow as I prayed, “God, please! I’m going home to change. Give me that chance. You wouldn’t bless me with this retreat only to take him, would you?”
Arriving at the hospital ninety minutes later, I walked into his room. Thankfully, although a full waiting room, they had taken him in immediately and started tests. The CT scan came back clear, but they were sending him for a MRI.
Sitting alone as they wheeled Don out, Satan wheeled in his own invisible gurney of fear. The assault made my heart pound while my mind raced with terrifying questions:
· Or is having a stroke?
· Remember what happened to my Dad?
· Or just recently my friends husband?
· How will I survive?
· How can I live without him?
“Lord, I need help right now. I want to run to my friends for comfort, but I am coming to you first. I know you love Don more than I can even imagine. Give him peace. Help me stand strong even though my knees are wobbly. Lord, I trust you but I am so afraid….”
Through a process of elimination the diagnosis was a pulled a muscle at the top of his neck near his brain stem. Because of the location, it caused those scary symptoms. We were sent home after ten hours in the emergency room.
It has taken a week later to write this story. Yes, God answered my prayer and I am mindful of the time God gives me to learn I can trust him with every facet of my life.
But Lord, could we please NOT do this lesson again?