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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fear, Hope, and the Sovereignty of God


I don't want to write this post. I'm uncomfortable with the topic. I do not by any means think that I understand all that it suggests or entails. And to tell you the truth, I'm more than a little frightened by the implications and personal responsibilities that may come as a result of exploring it. For these reasons (and many others), I'm going to go ahead and post anyway.

Twelve years ago this past January, I sat in a hospital room, and stared at a tiny pink being my wife had just birthed into this world. Little Kayla, wrapped in a striped cotton blanket, lay in a clear plastic bassinet just a few feet from me. I looked at her and wept. I wept the kind of tears that seem to be gouged from the pit of your stomach, the kind of tears that burn going down your face...the kind of tears that speak of despair.

I spoke to God that night, thru my tears. For little Kayla was so small, so helpless. I just couldn't reckon with the fact that I was suddenly responsible for keeping this precious little one safe. I told God, "There are too many variables, too many threats. How can I possibly keep her safe from all the horrors of the world?" I told God, "I can't do it." I figured I could take care of myself pretty well. I even fancied I could take care of my wife. But this, this tiny human being was so utterly dependent on me. I just knew I couldn't do it. I told God all of this. He already knew.

The next morning, I left the hospital for some real food. I went to Shoney's for a little breakfast bar action. And guess what I did? I cried in my hash browns. I'm serious. The waitress came over, saw my little hospital bracelet and my tears and asked, "Did you just have a baby?"

"Yessss," I sobbed.

It's an awesome, fearful thing to know that a little one is depending on you. It's an awesome, fearful thing to KNOW that you can't possibly do what you MUST do. I knew then that God must do what I cannot do. He must protect her when I fail.

Except, I'm wrong.

God must not do anything of the kind. He may protect her when I fail. Or, He may allow something to happen. God is sovereign. It is His absolute right to act or not to act as He judges. It is an awesome, fearful thing.

Fast forward to this past Sunday evening. My wife was not home--on her way back from the shore. I was alone with my four children, three of whom were in bed. I had just sat down to write upstairs in my room. I picked up my headphones, and started to put them on. I like to listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack when I write. It both puts me in fantasy frame of mind and also blots out the world of distractions. I paused, looked at the head phones, and decided, not tonight. The thought actually entered my mind: "Better not."

Not five minutes later, before I could even finish a paragraph, I heard a loud and terrible crash on the kitchen floor. It was the smack-thud-crash that can only come from a body hitting the floor…hard. "Kayla!" I yelled. No answer. "Kayla?!" I was on my feet now and racing down the stairs. "Kayla, you need to answer me."

I found my firstborn daughter (now 12) lying on her side and quivering. I called her name. She responded at last as if waking from a dream. "I fell. I fell, Daddy." I looked around. I didn't see any blood. I assumed she was okay, except for being frightened.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I was on the step stool. I had the worst headache I've ever had. I blacked out."

That scared me. What she said next, well, I can't even explain what that did to me.

"Daddy, help me. I can't feel my legs."

I couldn't believe it. I'm thinking, no way. You are way over reacting to this fall, kiddo. I started to poke her in the legs...the usual tickle spots. She didn't even flinch. In the flurry of activity that followed, I layed her on her back and put a thin pillow under her head. I told her I loved her and that she'd be okay. I called 911.

911 told me an ambulance had been dispatched and would be there in 4-5 minutes...minutes that, by the way, felt like lifetimes.

Kayla suddenly said her stomach felt weird. She said her hands were getting tingly. I held her hands. I brushed the hair out of her eyes. I called 911 again. I asked was there anything else I should be doing. Was there anything I could do? They told me to wait. I hung up.

Kayla told me she was losing the feeling in her arms. She kept pleading, "Daddy, Daddy!" Then, she said her vision was getting blurry. She looked up at me, and I felt like I could see her drifting away. "Stay with me, Kayla. Stay with me. I love you, Kayla." In that moment, I thought her eyes could close at any moment...for good.

My son Tommy had come down. I told him to get me a damp wash cloth. We put it on her forehead. That helped some. Kayla seemed to be awake. But she was in pain and terrified.

The paramedics came. They stabilized Kayla and tested her legs. They confirmed what I feared. Kayla had no feeling of anything below her waist. They told me that we would be taken by helicopter to Shock/Trauma at John's Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

I spoke to my wife. I felt numb. This couldn't be happening. But it was. I went with Kayla in the helicopter. It all felt surreal. One minute, Eldersburg. The next on a landing pad atop a tall building in Baltimore. After that, it was like an episode of ER. There really were about 12 different medical personnel surrounding my daughter. They did test after test, spoke in shouts and in whispers to each other. I didn't much like the whispers.

My wife arrived. It felt even more surreal. Kayla got a CatScan. And as my little girl's body slid into that imaging tube, I thought I saw her foot twitch. But the doctors told us, she still showed no sign of feeling or movement below her waist.

Kayla was taken to Pediatric Intensive Care, hooked up to IV's and a half dozen monitors. Every hour or so, a neurologist or surgeon came in and tested her. Kayla cried out, "This is the worst thing that's ever happened to me."

But somewhere around 3 am, Kayla suddenly started showing improvement. Her pinkie toes moved. Then her ankle a little...even her leg. By noon the next day, Kayla had regained most of the motor control of her legs and feet and toes.

Many tests and hours later, the doctors could find nothing wrong with Kayla. They gave her a clean bill of health.

God healed Kayla. The neurologist told us that they see things like this once or twice a month, but it never heals this fast or this completely. "Incredible," she said.

I know God healed my daughter. I am overjoyed and thankful. But I am also still feeling sober, even a little sad. Because, I know God might have chosen not to heal Kayla. She just as easily could have been paralyzed for life. She might have even died...right there in my arms on the kitchen floor. I suspect if either of those latter events had occurred, I might not be writing this post at all. I'm a little afraid of the thoughts I might have given air to.

God is sovereign. That means that He has absolute and exclusive right to any and all things that transpire in the universe. And I praise Him for being sovereign. I am SO glad that He is in charge, and not I. He gives life. He takes life. He is God over all things. He does not cause evil. He allows it. And He redeems it.

The events of this past weekend left me shaken. At one point, while Kayla was being wheeled from intake to the ICU, I prayed, "God, see! See, I told you I couldn't take care of her. I told you." But God already knew that.

God is sovereign. And it's an awesome and fearful thing.

39 comments:

Brent said...

That was by far...one of the most powerful entries I've ever read.

Reading that, it brings back the important things in life and puts you back into perspective again.

It also makes me truely glad that we are Christians...and what could be more powerful than to have the God that created the universe...hearing and anwering your prayers?

And what does the sinner have to turn too in his time of need?

I'll be remembering you and your family in my prayers.

-Brent

everlastingscribe said...

Oh, I am so glad that she is all right Wayne, an echo of yours and MaryLu's gladness I know but I am glad. And you are very right about what you said here.

S. J. Deal said...

Oh thank God she's alright. I've been praying for you guys since it was mentioned on the message board.

-Shane

(Great thoughts by the way.)

L.B. said...

As Nebuchadnezzar eventually acknowledged in Daniel, God does as He pleases. He is free to heal or not heal, but I am glad that in this case He chose to heal.

The transcendent breaks into our lives in big and small ways all around us. Your debate partner for the last few posts, would likely see these "signals of transcendence" in naturalistic terms, as having purely scientific explanations. May God give us all eyes to see His hand at work, when it is at work.

davec777 said...

Oh my word. Praise God that she is fine. What a thing to go through for all of you! I read recently on another blog that the more we loosen our grasp on our children, the tighter God has them in His grasp. All of us with kids are challenged in this area .... My prayers are with your family.

Stephanie

Gabrielle said...

Oh my... such a powerful post. I'm so happy that she's alright! I saw Mr. Davis's post on Dragons In Our Midst asking prayer for that and I freaked out. I'm happy for you and your family, and I praise God that He worked His miracle in this situation. I'll continue to pray, Mr. Batson. :)

Pais Charos said...

I'm so glad that she's all right. I know that feeling of utter helplessness, but that was when my mom was in the hospital. *HUGS*

Christian_Fantasy_Adict said...

I've been praying for you, for Kayla, and the rest of your family, Mr. Batson.

Praise the Lord indeed for the gift of healing, both inside and out!

I glad that you have been able to draw such lessons out of such occasions, as is the purpose of tribulation.

I pray that things will keep streaming uphill from this point forward for you, and that the Lord will bless you for faithfully enduring this.

Matt Stvan said...

Praise God for healing her!

Had I known this was going on, I would have been praying for you from the beginning...I'm sorry I missed that message board post.

What a wakeup call...I guess sometimes God gives us those from time to time to remind us that he is God, and he is sovereign. I thank God that he is also a good God.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Wow, Wayne. Wow!

I can't imagine how hard it is to be a parent. It definitely does require trusting God for what you hold most dear and precious.

Your post juxtaposed to yesterday's news about Stephen Curtis Chapman losing his little daughter is stunning.

God gives and God takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Becky

Robert Treskillard said...

We'll be praying for Kayla's continued good health, and that there are no lingering after effects.

zaphir said...

You just made me cry. I commend you, that's not an easy thing to do.

Oh, I am so glad that she's okay! I have been(and will continue) praying for your family.

Never Alone.

Tiara said...

Wow!

I wish I could have known about this earlier, I will be praying for you and your family.

Back in March 2005, I became very sick, I started feeling weak and my feet and legs became puffy and swollen. We went to the doctor, and he said that when you are puffy you should drink more water to help your kidneys flush everything out. We didn't do blood tests because we did not have much money at the time.

I went home, drank lots of water and went back the next day. (Which was Tuesday) And the next. On Wednesday things seemed to be getting better, My blood pressure (which was too high) had gone down, and I was getting more oxygen.

The next day, however I felt much worse. I had been lying on the couch all day for the past week, because I was too weak to walk much, and by Thursday was throwing up about five times a day. On Thursday I could barely walk to the car, and I remember wondering how I was going to make it outside the next day.

When I got to the hospital, they found my blood pressure had gone up dramatically, and my oxygen level was so low that they admitted me to the hospital. They did blood tests and x-rays and found that my lungs were filled with water (I was basically drowning in my lungs) and that my potassium levels were high enough to stop my heart. My blood count was also at 13. (20 is critical)

They life flighted me to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City. I actually was very calm the entire time. In the helicopter, I remember thinking that it wasn't very often that you had the opportunity to be on the threshold of death with nothing to do, and plenty of time to think, and decide exactly how you felt about the fact that you could die at any moment.

I decided that everything was alright. I did not know if I would live to make it to the hospital, but I knew that God was in charge, that He cared about me, and that whatever happened would be best for me. I knew that if I died I was ready and that it would be my time to leave. Having decided that, I laid there and quietly looked out the window.

After I got to the hospital I was taken to the ER and later to an Intensive Care Unit. They did lots of tests, but they didn't tell me what was wrong until the next day. My kidneys had failed completely and I was going to need dialysis or a kidney transplant and medications for the rest of my life.

I am still on dialysis, and I have learned a lot from my experience. If I could choose not to have gone through it all, I wouldn't. I would still like to be off dialysis without having to take medications, and I feel that God does plan to heal me someday and that I may not have to carry this burden for all of my life, that I just needed the experience so that I could learn from it, and that after I learn all I am meant to God will heal me.

I know that God is watching over us. He does let bad things happen sometimes, because He can turn them to our good. I would like to leave this scripture with you: (For those of you who don't know me, I belong to the LDS church (aka. Mormon church) and we include the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price as scripture in addition to the Bible)

Doctrine & Covenants 122:5 & 7-9

5 If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;

7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
9 Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.

Tiara

fire phoenix said...

Man. Such an amazing post, Mr. Batson.

I remember when I was doing a preformance with some people. It was one of those preformances that take a lot of work and a lot of time. Our director works midnight shifts too, and one night while he was thinking over ideas for the play, a huge sense of hopelessness and worthlessness came over him.
He also works in a place where he couldn't pray aloud or get down on his knees to ask God aloud to help him. He seemed to be helpless against this spiritual attack.
But then, as he told the rest of us, he remembered he had brought his iPod. He used the Christian songs on it to encourage him and help him through. And he never, never brings his iPod to work.

Almost like how you decided not to listen to your Lord of the Rings songs, Mr. Batson.
God is awesome.

Elliot Reed said...

Although I don't believe the Doctrine & Covenants as part of the Holy Bible, I often find much rest in Psalm 139:7-12:

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.


That's an awesome story of God's grace and never failing love.

As Rebecca Luella Miller quoted Job, so I agree: God gives and God takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

~Elliot

WayneThomasBatson said...

Hi, Tiara

Thanks for sharing all that from your life. It truly sounds like you went through an ordeal and came out with the right attitude.

I would respectfully ask though, in the future, not to post LDS scriptures here. I feel a kind of shepherding instinct with the folks who visit here, esp. the younger kids. I know the LDS writings are very important to you, but I do not want readers here to be misled into thinking I support LDS doctrine. I hope you understand.

Alassiel said...

That was a really powerful post. It is often so hard to not ask God for what I want, but for what He wants. I've been praying for you since I read it, and asking others to pray too. I wish I had known earlier so I could have been praying all week.

Sapphira Adi said...

I have to admit that I'm speechless. That was an awesome post. I can only imagine the terror you, your family, and your daughter went through. It is a great example of God's love and mercy. A true miracle. Which is a little strange because I'm talking about miracles on my blog right now, too:)

Sapphira

Sapphira Adi said...

I have to admit that I'm speechless. That was an awesome post. I can only imagine the terror you, your family, and your daughter went through. It is a great example of God's love and mercy. A true miracle. Which is a little strange because I'm talking about miracles on my blog right now, too:)

Sapphira

Paris said...

I'm so glad she's alright. While I was reading it I was, like, ohmigoodness! I've heard stories like this before, but it impacted me more. Our God is a great God.

Anonymous said...

woa! up above someone posted twice. oops. i think i've done that before too... ;D

missunderstood.princess said...

wow that must have been a tuff thing to go through i'm not sure i could even imagine.... i think God lets those types of things happen just so he can do a miracle as if to say to others, ' see i'm real why don't you just believe it allready?' he may have just used your daughter to save a life! God bless and have a rockin day!

Patrick said...

I'll be praying Mr. Batson; thanks to the Lord your daughter is recovering! This was a very poignant post!

joshjlowe said...

I almost have no words to put into this entry. Even if I did have any words to say I would feel like they weren't enough. When I read this I could almost feel a small taste of the fear you must have had during this horror. I am so very glad that God healed Kayla.

Justin B. said...

Wow... that was really powerful and it really reminds me so much of some of my own darkest times...to which I do not wish to post.. as well, I am not very comfortable with sharing them with many (only me and two other people know of some of the dark tribulations I have been through) While I have always been on my own personal search for redemption/meaning; it was not until I stared and confronted death's very eyes when I saw just what my very life meant, and how God became more than just a charicature but a very real medium to me. My experiences in tenth grade and even some of those drifts through shadows are some of the most ravaging, but most meaningful periods of my life. Its this very experience which brings me to where I am now currently working on a vampire story which illustrates this very point, finding meaning in a world that can be so twisted but filled with light if one just looks close enough. Thanks for sharing this incredible story Mr. Batson, you had me in tears as I read this. I cannot imagine the panic that prob. ran through you as your daughter became paralyzed. I will continue to pray with all the rest who know of what happened. God bless your daughter and your family! This story gave me hope in when I most needed it!!

Bryan Davis said...

Wayne,

We have been praying for you at the Davis household and will continue to do so.

Bryan Davis

TheDramaQueen said...

Oh thank God in heaven she's okay! I'm sorry you had to go through such a scare!
Drama Queen

Rebecca said...

Praise God!

Tiara said...

O.K. I understand. The scripture I posted still makes a good quote though, even if you don't consider it to be scripture.

I will just post scriptures from the Bible from now on. Here is one:

Isaiah 41:10

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

By the way, I sent an answer to your last e-mail, a little while ago. I would like to make sure that you got it.

Tiara

WayneThomasBatson said...

Thank you all for the outpouring of prayer and sympathy. Kayla is doing very well now. Sore knees, but no sign of any of the other scary problems.

And thanks for understanding, Tiara. I did indeed get your email. However, I haven't yet been able to formulate a reply.

Haley said...

That was very powerful.

I'm glad that your daughter is alright. I've been praying for her and for you ever since I saw that it was needed on the message board.

Katie said...

Oh, what a tremendous entry! Just to grasp the absolute power in the post..just makes me feel..'wow-ed'!

God is truly amazing, is he not?!?

God does hold that authority to heal or not heal. Someone from my church had a 10 year old daughter who was hit and killed immediately by a car just as she was crossing the road to get the mail. That was the toughest time for that family....that was a different situation,but...itwas obviously her time to go.
I just Praise the Lord that Kayla is all right!

marissa said...

wow! i'm glad she's alright! i'll keep praying for her and your family!

Shelby Marie said...

Will be praying! Please tell Kayla I said hi and that I miss her.

Daniel said...

Awesome post! I'm glad it turned out okay. You're right in that God may have chosen not to heal her for His own reasons. As a father myself, I can understand somewhat the feelings you went through. My kids never went through anything near that but I have intense emotions where they're concerned. God is definitely good!

Anonymous said...

I've been praying for you since I heard about it on The door within forums, but to hear that she's okay, is really heartening! Your post is really making me realize that some of the most valuable things in life are not things that we have or buy are even find, it's what God gave us!


My family and I are going through a tough time right now. We have some financial trouble. But all through this time my family has gotten closer, we've spent much more time together. I think that in gaining worldly problems, we've gained spiritual blessings, which are more wonderful.
Well, I hope you don't mind the rattle of a 11 year old!

Araken said...

That is incredible! Stuff like that is faith-building and awe-inspiring. Even as I was reading I couldn't help but pray that she would be alright by the time I finished reading. God be praised!

Enchanted Etymologist said...

I'm sooooo glad your daughter's alright. Love your writing!

Hawke Fam said...

Haven't been on your blog for awhile and just read about Kayla---wow!! God is good!! I have been in a similar situation, only I was the one lying on the floor, and although my healing did not manifest as quickly as Kayla's it did manifest and I got to see and feel what an awesome God we serve! You should know and probably already do, that your daughter is a very brave young lady!! I am so....glad that everything turned out the way it did and I don't know about you, but I definitely pray for those I see in wheelchairs, or sick in anyway as the Lord leads----life is precious and the Word of God is real!!!! We are praying for you and your family......