“NOOO!!!” My Mom shouted. Normally she was pretty mild mannered. But now she was in the ICU after having a week-long series of chemo treatments. She seemed somewhat out of her mind. In addition to cancer and chemo, at this point, she was also suffering from what they call ICU delirium. Many patients in ICU get it due to the fact that they can’t get any sleep in ICU and they are typically on heavy medication.
I was standing by Mom’s bedside. Her mouth was full of sores from the chemo treatments so it was hard for her to talk and hard for us to understand, but we knew from her reaction that she did NOT want the medicine that the nurses were about to administer through her feeding tube. Every time they would begin to mom would say “no, no, no!” We tried to console her but she was adamant that she didn’t want that medicine, so she reached out, grabbed my hand, and said, “PRAY!”
It was late. Almost midnight if I remember correctly. I had been there all day except for going home for a couple of hours that evening for a change of clothes. For about six weeks we had spent days and often nights with Mom while she bounced from hospital to rehab to hospital, we wanted to make sure she knew that we were “with her” in this. I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, but I looked up at the nurses, one standing across from me on the other side of the bed, and one standing at the end of the bed, and I said, “we’re gonna pray.”
I prayed for Mom, that God would comfort her. I prayed that God would give the nurses wisdom, and I prayed that the medicine given to her would only help her and not harm her.
As soon as I was done praying, the nurse across from me quickly turned her back to me and put her hands over her face. When she turned back around, I could tell that she had been crying.
I leaned over mom and asked, “do you want the medicine?” She nodded her head “Yes”.
The nurse that got emotional during the prayer was with me all night. Mom needed a lot of care so she was constantly in and out of the room. Because of that, we had plenty of time to talk.
“WBGL is my favorite radio station,” she told me after finding out that I worked there.
“Do you go to church?” I asked
She went on to say that she doesn’t currently go to church. She’s tried. But every time she attends a church service she cries. And cries. And cries. She can’t help it, and she doesn’t understand why, but it’s embarrassing. So, instead of fighting the emotion that she couldn’t explain, and the embarrassment that came from it, she chose not to go to church at all.
“Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed by your tears.” I encouraged her. What you just described is such a beautiful thing.
Her story touched me. That used to be me. I used to be the exact same way. In fact, we all should be moved in such a manner.
To walk into a church, and to cry.
To not even know exactly why you’re crying. But you know that something is “different” there.
To feel God’s presence so strongly and the love that comes with it, that your only response can be to cry.
To feel that there’s healing going on deep within you. You may or may not even know what the healing is specifically for, but you feel it and you, cry.
To be convicted of a sin, and to release it to a forgiving, gracious God, and to recognize the beauty in that, and you, cry.
We all should have tears in church. Tears of brokenness, tears of forgiveness, tears from recognizing HIS presence, tears from feeling His love for us, tears from loving fellowship, and tears because Jesus died on the cross for us. I could go on and on listing a zillion reasons that we should have tears.
But often, we professional churchgoers, don’t have tears. Why? Because we allow ourselves to get caught up in everything else but God.
“I don’t like that song.”
“I wish we did more hymns”
“I wish we did more contemporary music”
“It’s too loud” “It’s not loud enough”
“That was a horrible sermon it didn’t speak to me at all”
“Did you see what the preacher was wearing?” “He acts way toooo cool for a preacher.”
“He speaks too softly.”
“He shouts too much in his message”
Come on fellow churchgoers. What if we went into church determined to not be a critic. What if we went into church determined to keep the Main thing, the Main thing. Keeping our focus on God. Not getting caught up in whatever weakness or strength the human in front of you has in trying to minister. But just getting caught up in HIM, Jesus, the ONE we say we're there for anyway, though we often ignore Him the whole service. Yes, HIM. Let’s be beautifully distracted by Jesus.
I had not seen, nor heard from the nurse since that event occurred, but for some reason, on Wednesday of this week, my mind wandered back to the above story and I thought, “I should write a blog post about that.” The very next day I went to lunch in Terre Haute. The friend I was with said hello to someone behind me. I turned around to see who my friend was saying hello to, and it was the nurse. The timing of it was so incredible to me, that I simply had to share the story with you.
Oh to make a life out of keeping the “main thing” the “main thing”. Something I often fail at but a journey I strive to continually live out.