Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Psalm 23 - Part 3 - Serenade

When last we left off, we were waiting for my dad to wake up after a super big and complicated (and successful) brain surgery.

During that first month, I brought my violin to the ICU a lot.  I filled the evening hours with everything from bluegrass to Beethoven, from ancient hymns to modern hallelujahs.

I thought about how David would be summoned to come and play for King Saul. 

The scriptures say when David played for Saul, his mood would miraculously change. Each time I would play for my dad, his blood pressure and vital signs would improve.  He might not have been able to show it, but I think on some small level he was aware I was there. 

And isn’t that one of the deepest comforts of Psalm 23?  That we’re not alone? 

Whether it’s God’s declaration to be with us in the valley of the shadow of death, his pledge to make a table for us in the presence of our enemies, or his assurance of dwelling in his house forever…his presence is the consistent promise. 

My musical offering was my way of showing the same thing:  I’m here with you.  I might not be able to do much, but I can do this one thing. 

My humble and sincere prayer was for the anointing God has placed my talent to help bring healing to my dad’s spirit, even as the medical staff was doing everything in their power to help bring healing to his body. 

Through this small thing, I was praying and believing the truth: “He restores my soul.”

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Psalm 23 - Part 2 - Surgery

In January of this year, my dad underwent a major surgery to remove a brain tumor.  If ever I saw a valley of the shadow of death, that's it. The uncertainty leading up to it, the recognition of the seriousness of the surgery itself, and the incredible journey of recovery we are still walking.

The tumor was about the size of a golf ball, compressing his brain stem, and beginning to severely affect everything from his ability to balance, to speak, to swallow, and even to stay awake.  Praise God, it was not cancerous, but it certainly wasn’t benign. It was also in the most complicated and hard-to-reach part of his brain.

An extraordinary team of surgeons, 2 major procedures, and 23 hours of surgery later…the lead neurosurgeon used the word “elegant” to describe the outcome.  I’ll never forget that.  He said he couldn’t be happier with what he had seen and experienced in the operating room.  Actually, after seeing the post-op MRIs and observing just how much the tumor had worked itself into the critical parts of my dad’s brain, he was surprised my dad had been functioning at all.  (That’s my dad for you, stubborn and resilient).

All of that sounds really great.  And it is.  So where does Psalm 23 come into the mix?  After the surgery, it took my dad almost a month to wake up.  That first month in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, when things were more touch and go than anyone really wanted to admit...there was Psalm 23. Reminding me that He is with me. He restores. He comforts. He promised goodness and mercy. I will fear no evil.

...more about that first month tomorrow.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Psalm 23 - Part 1 - Opening Thoughts

Last Sunday, I had the wonderful privilege to share with my church family about what Psalm 23 means to me. I'd like to share with you too. I talked for about 10 minutes, which is way to much to put in one post, so stay tuned over the next few days.  I'll break it down into bite-sized chunks. :-)

Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is one of those passages I don't think about all the time, but when I need it (or when God wants to remind me of the truths in it), it bubbles up to the surface. It is part of the fabric of my life -- part of the roots and rhythm and legacy of faith given to me by my parents and church family.
  • When I get too busy or chaotic:  “He makes me lie down.”
  • When I am jealous or feeling forgotten:  He reminds me these are “green pastures,” “my cup overflows,” and He leads me “for His name's sake”...not my own.
  • When I am convicted:  “His rod and staff comfort me.”
  • When I am worried, affronted, or afraid:  “He is with me, I will fear no evil.”
  • When my life seems to run counter to everything my culture says is important: “He is my shepherd,” “He anoints me,” “He leads.”
  • When I want to focus on here: I remember “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Because it's not about here, it’s about there.
As meaningful and true as those thoughts are, they are kind of general too.  As I continued to meditate about what Psalm 23 means to me, some very recent and specific things came to mind.

...more on that tomorrow!