Just typing the number 30 is a bit surreal. Yesterday I copy pasted all of these updates over to our Axis Ministries Website so people would have an easy way to access the posts. For those that don’t know, Kelli and I, when we aren’t updating from the PICU at Doernbecher’s, spend our time split between pastoring at a wonderful church in Lakewood, WA and growing a ministry to marriages and parents. As I was copying over all the updates I was slightly shocked at how many updates there were, and even more surprised when I considered you all have actually been reading them. Remember, that was never the original plan. These updates were meant to be a way of communicating with our family and close friends. In fact, if you check out AxisMinistries.ORG you’ll see that originally Alyse was writing the updates. That quickly became too much for her so I took over. Why would I think anyone else would want to keep up on my grandson? But, as we’ve said multiple times, God had plans that involved way more than just Justus!
I’m grateful for everyone that has taken this journey with us. I’m most grateful for the thousands and thousands of prayers that have been lifted up to the throne of grace on Justus’ behalf. Justus has really improved. As I listened to the doctors on rounds this morning, it almost made me cry when I considered where we were just a week or so ago. What used to be a litany of medications and lines and wires connected to Justus, not to mention his ventilator; has given way to a couple of seizure medications given with his feeds and a pain medication he’s being weaned off of. They’ve actually begun talking to Alyse and Jason about making plans to move them out of the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). Which by the way should be great news, but after being in the PICU for nearly a month, there’s some anxiety for mom. In the PICU it’s a double-edged sword… their constant checking up on you can be annoying, but when you have a really sick kid there is some comfort in that. We are all so thrilled to be even talking about the possibility of moving. We’ll let you know when it actually happens. As you can see from the picture, moving everything from his room is going to be a major undertaking!!!
So with Justus improving, we still find ourselves back to asking some questions. The biggest question is, did God heal Justus or was he going to get better anyway? I ask the question this way, is it coincidence or providence? And just to be clear, I’m not going to fully satisfy you with an answer – not by a long shot. But I can tell you; I came into this experience with what I considered a decent handle on dealing with that question. But, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, there are things you learn about God in a storm; certainly that has been true for me. Almost losing your grandson and watching your daughter hurting gets you to think about things.
One of the neat little bonuses to being at OSHU Hospitals, in our case Doernbechers, is the tram. They have a tram that runs from the hospital on the hill down to the waterfront. I’ve seen it for years driving by on I-5. Almost all of onsite #TeamJustus have been on it multiple times. Until yesterday, I had never ridden the tram, and two of my granddaughters wanted to ride it. So, along with Kelli, the four of us went to ride the tram. When we arrived, the tram cabin was pretty full and they were getting ready to close the door. The driver looked at me and said, “You can get on, but it’s going to be cozy.” I told him we were happy to wait for the next tram and he said that would probably be a good idea. So we watched as the tram departed. As I was standing there I began thinking about things I would normally never think about. First, I wondered if trams like this ever wrecked? Then I thought, what if the tram that just left crashed? We would feel like that was an answer to prayer. But when we declined to go on, a single rider behind us immediately jumped at the chance to get in the cabin. So was God mad at her and let her get on at the last minute so He could spare us? (I told you these storms make you think about strange things) Is God like a puppet master orchestrating when people get on trams to die and when they don’t?
Obviously, the reason for all the thoughts, were back to “why Justus?” And after all this praying, is him getting better these last 48 hours our answered prayer? Once again, there’s no way to know. But I would tell you, and I’ve mentioned it already, this is why your worldview is so important. Is there a God or isn’t there? Because if there is a God, then the very next question is, what does God think about me? Well if the bible is true (which I believe it is), then the answer is, God loves you. God is love! So if God loves you, then He loves your neighbor, and He loves Justus and He loves the baby next to Justus that has been crying for days. I know some of you thought, “Well surely God is going to instantly heal Justus because then thousands will see that God is real and commit their lives to Jesus.” The problem with that thinking is, when Jesus was walking the earth He performed amazing miracles right in front of people and yet they walked away. No, a miracle isn’t going to convince you of God. It might affirm your worldview, but it won’t, by itself, convince you.
On the other hand, sometimes when things go badly, it becomes the reason we use to walk away from God. Think about the tram illustration. If someone who loves Jesus were to lose their two kids in a tram accident, they might say something like, “I can’t follow a God who would take my two kids!” So if God had delayed your two kids so they weren’t on the tram, then you’d be able to trust God? But what does God think about the other 25 passengers’ families? No, I believe you have to start with the premise, “There is a God” and work backwards. You can’t begin by proving God’s existence with circumstances – it will almost always ends up feeling like a coincidence. You begin with, “There is a God and He loves you.” Then you put your trust in a loving and sovereign God. God is absolutely able. God is willing also.
But after acknowledging the existence of God, here are two things I do know to be true – first of all, God will never violate my free will. In other words, I’m not a robot. God loves me enough to allow me to choose for myself – even to my detriment. There will always be consequences for our decisions. The second truth is that we live in a fallen world. The bible tells of Adam and Eve. We sometimes can miss the main issue in what happened in the garden of Eden. It’s easy to focus on disobeying God, but then the solution is to work really hard at obeying God. The real issue is Adam and Eve decided to turn their backs on God, in fact decided they could be like God. And so sin entered the world and ever since, we’ve dealt with the reality of sin; people turning their backs on the Lord. Put those two things together and you have the reality we find ourselves navigating everyday.
I’m not a theologian nor a philosopher, but as I have read the bible all of these years, I know what I believe. My free will, together with this fallen world, sometimes leads to some hard consequences. But God still loves me and He’s still for me. He’s capable of changing which tram we get on, but I’m just not convinced He does so very often. When disaster strikes, when the storms come, His grace is sufficient for you! And prayer is the vehicle to gain full access to that grace. When I read James 4, that inner battle becomes clear. The reason we fight and quarrel is because we’re selfish. We want what we want and when we don’t get it, then we do wrong things and have wrong motives to get it. But prayer is what gets our perspective with God corrected. With connection to God, it’s not that He changes which tram you get on, but He prepares you and carries you through whatever you face. God’s grace is sufficient.
So we absolutely believe that God is healing Justus. Slow or fast, it makes no difference. God’s grace is sufficient. Was Justus’ failed plasmapheresis a curse, an answer to prayer or just a coincidence? I don’t know. What I’m telling you is, it doesn’t matter. The right decision was made at the time. Then things changed. All along, I’m not hung up figuring out if the decision was right or if God was going to answer the prayers. I assume He is going to answer my prayers – just not always the way I’d hoped. Of course skeptics would say, “That’s convenient.” So no matter what happens, God wins. First of all, yes as a matter of fact, that’s true. But more to the point, the prayer and seeking the Lord is what carries us during the dark days. And then what gets us through the darkness is what we need to remember in the light. There is so much more I could say. Let me finish by saying, God answers prayer. And God wants us to pray. So we pray.
Finally, Justus made further strides today. The picture of the empty bed gives you another shot of his room, but more importantly, the reason the bed is empty is for the first time in nearly a month, we were able to take Justus outside. I don’t think there was a dry eye watching his sweet daddy and elated mommy pushing him outdoors followed by his Paparazzi entourage!!! He’s improving and we continue to pray for complete restoration. Thanks #TeamJustus for joining us. Tonight driving home, I looked up and was reminded in a clear and vivid way… the moon is round!!!
I want to rally #TeamJustus. You might have heard about Daniel Lyon, the 25 year old firefighter who was badly burned in the Twisp fires. He is at Harborview. We know the power of prayer. We also know first hand the encouragement of knowing when others are praying for you, even when you can no longer pray! Karen Alexander has sent his address and made the suggestion which I think is awesome for #TeamJustus to pray for Daniel and to send him a card to encourage him. Here is his address at Harborview –
Harborview Medical Center
325 9th Ave
Seattle, WA. 98104
So Daniel knows where this is all coming from and as a way to honor our little ninja Karen suggests putting in the return address –
#TeamJustus Prayer Warriors
Let’s bless him and his family!!!