Reclaiming the years the locust has consumed


Another week and another trip to Durango. Only this one would be a bit different from our most recent trips. This trip? My Sweet Al and I sat in the hospital lobby as we waited for an update from our son’s orthopedic surgeon.

No sooner had we located the coffee and made ourselves at home, the man of the hour appeared from around the corner. My son’s surgeon was twirling something that looked like a baton while sporting a comforting smile.

As he neared, we realized his baton was actually the 17-inch “nail” that had been placed inside my son’s leg three decades earlier.

Our 20-year-old son, who was full of life and nonsense, was celebrating his college semester break. Behind the wheel of his new Mustang, driving in upwards of 80 to 90 mph, he hit a guard rail in the middle of the interstate. Rolling his car end over end several times, he was partially ejected from the vehicle. Fortunately, due to his blood alcohol level, he said he didn’t know if he was laying in the middle of the desert off Interstate 10 or lounging poolside at a favorite resort.

He certainly wasn’t at a resort. Laying on the desert floor on a secluded section of highway, blood quickly created an outline around his body. A truck driver appeared out of nowhere as my son started to drift unconscious. The unknown man knelt by my son and talked to him for several minutes until the ambulance arrived. Once there, they asked him if he was alone, and if he knew who called 911? He didn’t. Oddly enough, the ambulance had a dispatch order to the location of the accident, but no time, date or caller information. Once in the ambulance, my son asked the EMT if he would find the truck driver so he could thank him.

His response: “There were no witnesses. In fact, we don’t even know how or why we got dispatched to this location.”

Thankfully, it is a rare occurrence that we should receive a telephone call at 4 in the morning. But I can tell you as if it happened yesterday, this was one particular call that we will never be forget.

“Your son has been in an accident. He has lost a great deal of blood and we are not sure if he will make it.”

After a quick drive to Las Cruces, N.M., we found ourselves waiting as doctors administered several blood transfusions. At one point, a doctor approached and said, “We need to amputate your son’s leg. Even if we try to save it, it would have to be made permanently straight as there is so little left to put back together.”

My only response, “God can put my son’s leg back together and make him walk again.”

After a handful of initial surgeries, one of my son’s doctors called me to his office. “Your son’s knee has been destroyed and what we were able to save of his leg was not set in alignment. If ever he is able to walk, his leg could crumble under his body weight.”

This last surgery, like those that happened before, was one for the books, and certainly not painless. That said, he is not one who likes to speak power to pain or to spotlight the unnecessary. But if you ask, he will tell you, “It’s all just part of a process.”

To be honest, there seems to be more parts of this “process” than we would have ever imagined.

I had already prayed and trusted that my son would walk again. Part of the process for me, to watch everything that seemed to go wrong, to be made right.

That night, I waited with a prayerful heart. I’m not sure if I was asleep or awake. But one thing is for certain: I saw three images hovering at my son’s bedside working diligently repairing his leg. When the doctor came in the next morning to do his evaluation, he was stunned and had only one thing to say, “His leg is straight.”

I told the doctor about the angels I saw working on my son’s leg overnight. I’m not sure he believed me. Perhaps he even thought I was a bit punch-drunk. But to this day, I can still see the images God placed on my heart, of those who worked that night, to make things right.

For 30 years, our son has walked with a steel rod and several pins inside his femur. He has so many pins and screws in his tibia that you would think you were looking at a laced-up pair of hiking boots if seen under an X-ray.

There will be more surgeries in store. In as much as I want to honor process, it does cause me to ask God, “why” or “when will this all end?” And why wouldn’t we ask those questions? It seems like we are plagued with hurt or loss or inability almost every single day. To put it into something we all can understand, that same hurt, loss or inability takes on a whole new identity. Time. Not only do we wonder how to deal with something, now we are left trying to understand how to speed up or reset time.

In the Book of Joel, God has promised that he will restore and redeem the years the locusts have eaten. Gnawing locust, swarming locust, creeping locust and consuming locust have certainly taken their toll on this family and many, many others.

Redemption comes, but it doesn’t come with a click of the finger. It comes as part of a process, and even that, just one act at a time. In order to put things back new, God intricately works things through to completion. While all we are interested in is the finish line, for God, it starts by repairing one bone at a time.

“When one part of the body is out of joint, then the whole body must be fitted and held together with which every joint supplies. According to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” — Ephesians 4:16.

This week we waited one more time in a waiting room for the doctor to explain about our son’s condition, next steps or things to be mindful of. We have come to accept that all of this information and guidance we receive is more than just a bunch of parts that need to be fixed, but part of an end to end process that has a greater finish.

Final brushstroke: It doesn’t matter how many pesky locusts have gnawed, chewed and consumed all that is important to us. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe that the damage we see isn’t beyond repair. Thankfully, we have a loving God who is in the business of restoring and reconciling everything to himself. And just like the time the locust has consumed, God promises to restore the years lost in the process.

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