November 2013

What’s the big deal? After all, it’s just a very small piece of card. Forget that you’ve had it for 60 years? Easier said than done.

The responsible lady said that “you don’t remember things you see long enough to drive safely. Your awareness of some things is not what it used to be. It has nothing to do with you personally,” she said. “It’s just this ailment, this Alzheimer’s that you have. That’s the problem.”

But none of that eased the pain for Kathleen, a fiercely-loyal and determined lady who would do anything possible to support her husband, The few strategies and things that literally enabled me to cope physically and thereby remain in the ministry through those years of sickness were the result of her constant reading, searching and sacrifice. So this matter of driving represented something of what she was.

Frankly, I was secretly afraid that this assessment would not go well but I had the assurance that whatever the result it would, in God’s loving providence, be for the best.

But when Kathleen left with our daughter to turn the driver’s license into the Road Traffic Authority, I knelt down alone and wept uncontrollably for at least thirty minutes. I felt we had lost a piece of our being, something very important and valuable.

I cried because my heart ached for Kathleen to have to go through this. I cried because I couldn’t forget that her “card” and the ability to drive me around these past 23 years had enabled my ministry after I had lost my ability to drive due to MS. It was a profound loss that could never be recovered!

But God never takes away something without giving us something just as precious and valuable in its place. The “little piece of cardboard” was taken and a photo ID issued in its place. And when God takes something valuable, He is doing something in us that will enhance our real persons.

It almost sounds like forced optimism and feels somewhat hollow at times, but it is true. Our God, our Faithful Creator, is working on our “photo ID” and will not be satisfied until He forms in us an image like unto that of Christ, our Perfect Saviour! Yes, it hurts! Yes, we had our hearts set on keeping “the card” for several years yet. No, we can’t see much good out of it yet! But God said it’s all good and we desperately want to believe Him. In His protective presence is peace, joy and security for our fear-tossed souls on a dark and uncertain sea.

My surgery for the cochlear implant took place and I am presently moping around with my generous dose of nausea, dizziness, imbalance and general grumpiness! The surgeon told me today that all is healing normally and that I would be ready for “switch-on” of the device in a week’s time. That involves some detailed programming of the device before the magic moment.

But for 80% of the recipients, the magic moment of “switch-on” is a bewildering experience of foreboding, electronic gibberish! And it takes from 6-12 months of work and practice to realize the full benefit of this magic device. The brain has to learn its language, they say. This small computer that processes the sounds has been surgically imposed inside my cranial space (skull) and physically wired under the skin behind the ear and through the bone down into the cochlea. Quite the deal!

My verse for the surgery was Proverbs 20:12, “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.” I printed it out on a little paper and gave it to the surgeon, the leading cochlear implant surgeon in Sydney with around 300 operations under his belt. I told him that I believed in prayer and had prayed for him as he used his many skills to operate on my ear that God had designed.

He thanked me kindly and related the story of the Australian, Dr. Graham Clark, who was among the first in designing and implanting a workable bionic ear. His father’s deafness had inspired him to keep working despite countless failures and criticisms from skeptical friends who thought he was whacky for continuing to try. But persistent Dr. Clark said, “I believe I have a directive from God to someday succeed!” I’m so glad he did!

My “switch-on” occurs in a week’s time. I wonder what we will hear first when we are “switched on” in heaven’s glory!