I originally wrote this as a guest post for Vickie Petz Henderson’s blog, myrightsideuplife. She’s a terrific writer and a good friend. I encourage you to check her out. You’ll be inspired.
A feeling like a sharp knife stabbing me in the stomach caused me to scream in pain. It was searing and intense. Then it was gone. In my twelve-year-old mind I was certain when the pain subsided everything was fine.
I had been lying on the couch and throwing up for several days as our family tried to enjoy a week’s vacation in the Greenhorn Mountains of California. Attributing the symptoms to a stomach virus of some sort, we all assumed it would soon run its course and I would be able to rejoin the family’s activities.
I was the tough kid who never whined in the dentist’s chair, cried when I left skin on the sidewalk or complained about much of anything. So when the piercing scream struck through the quiet of early morning, my parents went into immediate action.
Mom turned off the pan of oatmeal she was cooking on the stove and Dad began to dress. “We need to get her to a doctor. Something is really wrong,” Dad spoke in a soft voice. Thinking since the pain had passed I was perfectly fine, I tried to persuade my parents to stay in the cozy cabin nestled in the mountains so we could continue our vacation. “I’m fine. Really! It just hurt for a few minutes and now it’s gone. Please don’t make us leave because of me!” I implored.
We need to get her to a doctor. Something is really wrong
Ignoring my pleas, in a matter of minutes my parents had me and my sister in the car and were headed down the winding, narrow roads of the mountain pass to the tiny medical center a few hours away.
The young and slightly confused looking resident on duty asked me and my parents several questions. As a twelve-year-old girl who had not yet started her menstrual cycle he concluded that the pain in my lower right abdominal area could be from an ovary, my appendix or an intestinal issue. His best advice was for my parents to make the remaining six hour drive out of the mountains and to the office of our regular physician.
By the time we reached Dr. Woods’ office he had seen his last patient and was preparing to close for the day. His nearly forty years’ experience made it easy for him to quickly diagnose my ruptured appendix. He had my parents admit me to the hospital and he left to scrub in and prep for surgery.
As a child, I had no idea how serious my situation was or what the surgery would entail. My only experience with a hospital had been a tonsillectomy six weeks prior, followed by popsicles, presents and a slightly sore throat.
With a ten hour time span between my appendix rupturing and the beginning of surgery, the infection had spread throughout the entire abdominal cavity and left its trail of poison. A nice long incision, a complete abdominal suctioning and sixty-six stitches later, I was sent to recovery.
For a few days my parents and the medical staff were not sure I would make it. I was a seriously ill child whose condition warranted concern. When my veins collapsed a small incision was made on the inside of my ankle and a narrow tube inserted to provide the fluids and nutrients my body needed. My bowels had not resumed functioning and I lay limp and unresponsive for days. Dr. Woods, a Christian physician, advised my parents to pray.
For a few days my parents and the medical staff were not sure I would make it.
As my mother sat by my bed providing the night watch and allowing my dad to go home for a few hours of rest, she continued pleading for God to save her child. And in the dark of the night she heard God’s voice speaking to her asking this, “Is she mine? Have you really given her to me?”
“But of course, Lord,” Mom responded. “You know we dedicated her to you when she was only an infant.”
“But do you truly give her to me today? In this situation? In this hour? Is your heart willing to relinquish her to me?”
“Oh Lord, surely you don’t mean you want us to give her up! “
My mom sat in the dark and cried for hours, a wrestling within her spirit like she had never known, an anguish too deep for words and only expressible through groans. Finally, just before dawn, she bowed her head and with a humble spirit told the Lord that if He could see down the road where her precious daughter would turn her back on Him and no longer follow His ways or His words, then He had her permission to take me that night.
It was the hardest prayer she had ever prayed but one she knew was necessary for complete obedience. Not unlike Abraham, she had been asked to give unto God the thing held most precious in the world by her heart…her offspring. Genesis 22:12 records God’s reaction, “Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Little did Mom know that at the same time she was facing her “Isaac experience”, my dad was at home spending a sleepless night in much the same way. When they discussed their experiences together later, they discovered the timing of when they had released me to God had been within minutes of each other. And not coincidentally just after her uttered prayer of “Yes, Lord, she is truly yours,” I opened my eyes and asked my mother if I could have something to eat.
Many times as a teenager and young adult the words of my mother’s prayer would reverberate in my mind. “Lord, if you can see that someday she will not serve you or bring honor to your name, then take her now.”
All of my life I obeyed and honored my parents out of the deep love and respect I had for each of them. But somehow knowing the prayer of dedication my parents prayed when my life was at its most fragile made me feel marked by God. I am HIS. He OWNS me. I’m certain that truth has colored my decisions and directed my path through all of my days.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” These words, recorded in Jeremiah 29:11, are often inscribed on the fly pages of books and Bibles given to graduates at this time of year. I believe those words became inscribed upon my heart when as a twelve-year-old child my parents offered up their Isaac to the Lord. I’m so glad they did.