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A Testimony of the God Of the Final Moment

"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,'
when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left."
(Isa 30:21)

In the fall of 2021, Bonnie's older brother Rod fell into a medical crisis. He had undergone surgery, and that procedure had been successful, but he wouldn't rouse afterwards and couldn't breathe on his own. Elderly and made frail by chronic disease, Rod lay comatose, despite a few attempts to wake him, performed over the course of a couple days.

His wife had promised him before surgery that, should things not go as hoped, she would not prolong his life unnaturally by leaving him hooked up to machines. So, with his comatose state persisting, Marsha called Rod's two sisters, to let them know they were going to unhook the machine breathing for him at 8PM that evening.

But his little sister - my wife Bonnie - was not at all prepared to idly watch him slip away! A burden stirred in her to see Rod blessed and Christ glorified. And so, we prayed. We had been praying for a couple days already, but we prayed even more intensely, seeing the hands on the clock sweep relentlessly closer to the moment of truth.

Rod lay in a hospital bed in the next town over – nearly a half hour drive to our east. We headed there in the early evening and sat with Marsha and her daughter. There was also another woman with them, whom I had never met, yet obviously their friend.

We hugged Marsha and prayed with her, that the God of Comfort would give her peace. But Bonnie and I also assured her that we were still determined to see God get the glory and Rod get the blessing. We were against his sick bed becoming his death bed that night.

We sat for a bit in the cafeteria area. The waiting room nearest to where Rod lay was closed because of Covid restrictions. In fact, only Marsha and her daughter would be allowed to remain after visiting hours ended at 8PM. We were there to say goodbye to Rod and embrace his grieving wife. We would then need to leave. Only those two women would witness Rod's final moments, after the tubes were removed and the machines silenced.

But, as the five of us sat in that cafeteria, I engaged the third woman in conversation. It turns out, she was a lesbian minister of an apostate "church" in Elmira. Of course, that's not how she was introduced or how she described it, but this is my blog and I have chosen to describe her accurately.

As the conversation touched on what was about to happen, this woman, with a rainbow scarf draped about her neck, said, "The best we can hope is that he passes gently." To which I replied, "Well, if we are going to hope, then I am going to hope Rod walks out the front door of this hospital! I mean, there's no need for hope with the hopeless situation that is already unfolding."

The nurses only allowed two or three at a time to go into to see Rod. Marsha went with us when Bonnie and I got our chance to go in. Bonnie and I both prayed life over Rod. We invoked the name of the Living Christ over him and rebuked Rod's comatose state. At one point, I grabbed his leg and shook him a little, and called out, paraphrasing Paul, "Wake up sleeper! Rise from this coma and Christ will shine on you!"

We lingered for a bit and then walked back out to the cafeteria. We embraced Marsha once more and then left as visiting hours ended. Of course, we kept right on praying as we drove back home.

After we had settled in, Bonnie texted Marsha. It turns out, "pulling the plug" was anticlimactic because Rod simply breathed on his own. He lay there quietly breathing, showing no signs of imminent death. He then stirred and woke up! By 9PM, he was sitting up and talking with the family and nurses around him.

This was too much for texting to handle, so Bonnie called Marsha. She told Bonnie how one of the nurses said this was all just a "false hope" and that Marsha should reconcile herself to the fact that Rod was still likely to die that night in that bed. But Bonnie retorted, "No! That same nurse said he would die moments after pulling the plug. She was wrong then and she's wrong now, so don't listen to her!"

Well, I can report to you that Rod is still alive today, a year and a half after his coma crisis. He remains frail with chronic health issues, but he is also a softie now, prone to tears for both the sorrows of others and the little kindnesses of life that he might've overlooked years ago, when stronger and healthier. Perhaps you might be moved to pray for him? For grace in his struggles and for him to draw closer to the Lord in this final season.

Take heart, Theophilus! Our Lord remains true to His name, Emmanuel, and is still a very present help in time of need. Bonnie and I continue to set Him aways before us - because He remains at our right hand, we choose to not be shaken! I pray we all find what the patriarch Jacob discovered – that God is with us even when we are not palpably aware of Him - even when trouble follows behind and uncertainty lies ahead.

Jacob named that place Bethel – "The House of God" – and then moved on. But Jesus said we'll no longer worship God only on this mountain here or that one over there, but anywhere and everywhere - as long as we do it in spirit and truth. Wherever we go, His banner of love is over us. Believers never need to ask the name of the town they find themselves in, for it is always Bethel to them.

© Matthew Schilling May 2023

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