Do angels surround us?
Several years ago, my son Christian and I decided to ride and try out his new bike. We were living in Santa Barbara at the time, and rode all the way to the pier and drove out on the wooden planks amidst all of the crowds of summer. Different languages were overheard in every direction and I thought at times we were in a foreign country due to the lack of English being spoken. We stopped for some popcorn and candy in Christian’s favorite candy store, fed some pigeons and every hungry seagull and jumped on our bikes for home.
I tried to make it a fun game, to take our minds off the pedaling. I asked Christian what would God want him to do if we took the video games out of his bedroom. Let’s try and listen and see what God says. Christian got quiet and said “invention, high flying, planes, yellow and paint”. Hmm, not sure what all that was. But a good practice to listen to God. “Oh ya mom. At surf camp a few weeks ago Jacob told us to listen to God and see what He wanted to tell us and God said to me ‘I will be returning my child and it will be very soon'”. Of course to Christian, that was just another day with God and he didn’t know why God would tell him that. I’m thinking I’m a little freaked. Did God really say that? Why would he tell Christian that? Did someone tell Christian that and he just thought it sounded cool? Why do I always doubt Christian really hears the things he does from God? It makes sense that God would talk to Christian. He doesn’t have all these unbelief systems in place like mine that take forever to process anything I hear because I think I really didn’t hear God…..I want to be like a child! Like Christian!
We worked hard to get up the hill at the Biltmore, and then enjoyed the coast down the other side. Wham! I heard a loud noise behind me and knew it had to be Christian. I turned around just in time to see his bike tilt up in the back as his head rammed into a fence post, twisting his head back. I screamed, threw my bike down and ran to him, knowing he had to be seriously hurt. I cautioned him to lay on his back and wait to see if he was ok. Some bikers stopped to see if we were ok, and eventually we were able to get him up and walked him over to the shade.
Unbelievably he seemed a little shaken, but had NO injuries. The way his head hit that post I was sure he would have a neck injury, at least scrapes on his elbows and knees. Not even a scratch. What a miracle! Do I believe that God’s angels were around him and kept him from getting hurt? Absolutely. I praise God that Christian was ok. I’m stunned that he wasn’t hurt and kept thinking as I drove him home that I needed to be ready to take him to the hospital. Surely something is broken and he just doesn’t know it yet. But no, the next morning, nothing. Why did God allow it to happen? I don’t have a clue. Maybe God is showing me that Christian really can’t see and I need to think about that very real possibility. Recently he had been diagnosed with macular degeneration, but I just didn’t understand how that could possibly be. Now I was beginning to understand how well he had compensated all of his life.
We went back to the spot a few weeks later to try and figure out what happened. As we looked down the path, I realized there were two white lines designating where bikers and walkers were supposed to go with arrows going up and down the path. About half way up the hill were two rubber poles stuck in the middle of the white lines, to keep automobiles from going up the hill. As we looked down the hill at the white lines, we realized that if you looked at a certain angle, the poles looked like part of the white line. Not something that I would see, but something Christian would see with his vision being the way it is.
Don’t worry about tomorrow
Suddenly I realized all those times that Christian had gone speeding off on his bike, coming too close to cars, people and other riders, me screaming and cringing and at the time thinking it was just being new at something and learning the rules…now I realize there was a whole lot more involved. The reality of what just happened began to hit me. Could we ever let Christian go off and ride his bike by himself without someone to show him the way? Will Christian ever be able to drive a car? Will he ever be able to take a girl on a date? Will he ever be able to drive his children home from the hospital? You can see how I quickly spun out of orbit with worry.
When God says “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”, I get it. I can only think about today and the impact his vision has on today. For today, it impacts the school he’s attending. We signed him up for a school that has bike trips every month or two. What kind of irony is that? Not knowing he had a vision problem that was so serious, we signed him up for an outdoor school. Except for that bike accident, there has been nothing in Christian’s life that would lead us to believe he had a serious vision problem. He wears glasses. He sits too close to the tv. He gets pretty close to his paper to read. But he’s never been clumsy or run into things! He seems to love his new teachers at Santa Barbara Middle School. Of course they’ve never had a student with Macular Degeneration (not many have!), so it’s all learn by experience for all of us. All the teachers are called by their first name (not sure if I agree with that), and they really seem to love kids and want to get them excited about learning more than what they are learning(very excited about that). I’ll be praying for them to know the creator of the Universe!
What’s In the Future?
What does the future hold? The doctor said Christian could lose his vision very rapidly, or it could stay just like it is for a long time. Macular Degeneration in children is very rare and they have no statistics. There is no cure. It’s something that happened at conception. We just have to make sure he stays as healthy as possible and he will have to tell us what he can and can’t see. Right now they could show us that several of the cells on the retina have died, causing him to rely on peripheral vision instead of being able to see out of the center of his eyes. Only problem is, Christian doesn’t want anyone to know in this new school that he’s different. Having paper enlarged, wearing glasses, Textbooks on cd, special equipment…not on his list of what you want to happen as a 12 year old. Remember 7th grade? Pain!
We’re beginning the difficult task of trying to switch from reading to listening, from writing to typing, to be read to from the internet instead of reading the information himself. At age 55, I have to admit I need Jesus more than ever. He’s going to have to give me a new brain to try and compute all these wonderful new programs Christian can use to ease his vision difficulties. I think I’m also going to need a lot of grace to be strong enough not to fall apart when I ache for my sweet boy. What I had imagined would be a young man full of laughter and life, involved in sports or music and taking the world effortlessly. What’s beginning to happen is a happy boy beginning to feel sad because of the “difference” he’s feeling now.
Christian changes daily. He’s full of laughter one minute and then the next, realizing that this is the age when differences stand out and make you not one of the “in crowd”. I know that doesn’t matter inside, but I can’t convince my 12 year old that what’s in his heart is more important than being popular. I remember, it mattered to me at that age too. I know that God will get him through this. Some people try to comfort me with “well everyone’s got issues”. Yep, that’s right. Somehow that doesn’t seem to quite hit the spot right now. Once again, I need to hear His quiet whisper that
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”. Isaiah 55:9
Tell me again, Lord, I need to hear You. To know there is a plan and a purpose for this pain I see and feel.
The school has decided that Christian will not be able to ride his own bike for their outings but will be able to ride on the back of the tandem with a very amazing teacher who wants everyone to participate (on trips that are on highways). He’s gone across America with kids on bikes and taken them to foreign countries. On trips in the mountain trails, Christian will have to ride in the car and meet them at the campsite. Christian wants to go across America, and he wants to fly a helicopter in the army some day. I get so sad inside, knowing he may not be able to do those things and then I agree with him! That would be awesome to fly a helicopter Christian! I pray that God will grant those things to him.
Some days I wish I didn’t have to see his pain. I hurt for him. But I know I wouldn’t want it any other way. I want to be there for him in the good times and the bad. I just pray God will give me the words to lead him to Jesus when it hurts; and that he will learn that Jesus is His comforter. But being mom, I just wish I could make it all better. I wish I could take his pain for him. But I can’t, so I pray and go back to that place I had with God when we had Lexie. Funny how that place changes from year to year. Wish I could always stay there in that place of total dependency on Him…but then I’d be just about perfect wouldn’t I?
We’re praying for a miracle and I love that Christian believes God can do a miracle. I just want to see that miracle today please. I’d love it if you’d pray too. A miracle to be a beautiful happy person no matter what his circumstances, and pray for a miracle to bring total healing to his retinas. No matter what happens, bottom line is trusting God with my boy.
“He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:11
I’m happy to report that Christian is 21 years old, just graduated from International Culinary School in Napa, and has gotten a job as a chef at one of the top restaurants in St. Helena. What a miracle! His vision is still considered to be macular degeneration, but he has learned how to live life to the fullest!