Sunday, March 8, 2015

Struggling to Breathe in A Holy Gathering Place

There is a young man across the room from me at the moment. The room is our sitting room or living room or family room or den, whatever you were raised calling such a place where people gather to visit, talk, laugh, cry, pray, read, etc.

For the past three and half days he has gathered himself in our such room.

His entrance into our lives began many years ago when he was much shorter, smaller and perhaps just a bit more innocent--though innocent is quantified here in amount, not quality. He is now simply years farther into his poor choices and thus any supposed positive quality to his state of innocence has been further depleted over the course of time.

The same could be said of all of us who exist somewhere along the continuum of sin. Many of you reading this have the overwhelming privilege of salvation which has renewed your state of innocence before your Creator. This young man has not yet experienced that privilege as his own.

Last Thursday he showed up. That's what he does. He shows up. We know not when or where nor length of time in between installments of his presence, but we can be sure that he will find his way to our house.

Actually, he has become a more frequent visitor since last month when he solidified his choice to stop attending secondary school. At that point he became not only a frequent visitor to our home, but also to Geoff's office, the Early Adulthood Office, where young men and women of New Hope are guided into their future via life counseling and assistance in further education be that vocational or academic pursuits.

He has few family members, no mother or father. His brothers are all older and most often live away from their houses, as they've chosen to work in other cities or villages. This young man has been left to fend for himself over the years. When the brothers happen to be present there is little to speak of any good relationship between them and the young man. Both sides play roles in this relational deficiency, no brother in this scenario could be absolved of sin against the others--them of neglect toward him and he of disrespect toward them. The situation is close to hopeless.

When he showed up last Thursday he had medicines and a clinic sheet in his hands, stating that he felt "malaria," which can mean, real malaria or just a headache. I probed deeper and what he described were classic symptoms of real malaria. The clinic staff recommendation, given he tested negative that day for malaria, was for him to see how he felt over the course of the next few days and return if he worsened. I made sure he understood the medicines given him and encouraged him to return to the clinic if needed.

Being that we were taking a short break in the middle of a packed homeschool day, we shared break snacks with him and he went on his way.

Friday morning he showed up at our dining room table at 7:30 looking a bit more sick and reporting a night of vomiting. With the clinic not opening until 9 a.m. and an impending French test looming over our heads, I started him on malaria treatment, gave him tylenol, fed him the little he said he could eat, and made some ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) for him to begin drinking. Then we all disappeared from the house and settled into our school banda as the French teacher and the test had arrived.

Each time we had need to re-enter the house we found him deep asleep on the couch, unaware of our nearness to him despite our loud noises.

He ate very little lunch, but at least continued drinking fluids. At 2 p.m. I noticed his breathing was becoming labored. He was posturing himself to maximize air flow and a nice juicy, painful cough became more frequent.

At this point Geoff was about two hours away from the house having spent Thursday and Friday in Kampala getting, among other things, another CT scan completed. CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH, BY THE WAY--NO SIGN OF CANCER!!!

I had no way to get this very weak young man to the Kiwoko hospital down the road, so I kept my eye on him until Geoff arrived.

A storm was coming, the sky blackened, the wind kicked up everything in its path and I truly wondered if the young man would make it until Geoff arrived with the car.

As Geoff pulled up the hail showered down and I had to abandoned the patient temporarily as I frantically shut windows against the rain blowing 2-3 feet into the rooms.

I briefed Geoff as he unloaded the car. Geoff agreed that he didn't look good and a fever of 107.9 confirmed it! As the storm raged we sponged him down with a cool cloth, gave him more tylenol and pushed the ORS. When the storm let up we both went with him to the hospital.

A number of tests were run, but results were delayed so we all came back home and spent until yesterday afternoon not knowing what foreign invader we were dealing with, but pumping fluids and tylenol into him. Finally, yesterday afternoon's results ruled out some heavy hitting diseases and found a raging infection which we are now blasting with IV antibiotics.

I was up a couple of times in the night to make sure we stayed ahead of his fever with tylenol and fluids. (He had spiked in the 106 and 105 ranges last evening!)

This morning we decided I needed to stay home with him while the family went to the church service (Geoff is leading today and Toby is running the sound board.)

Thankfully, he is doing much better this morning, but is still fairly weak. I didn't want him to sink into a day on the couch with nothing to fill his heart and mind, so I fished out of the DVD shelf a Louie Giglio series someone gave us in 2013 in Long Beach.

Have you seen, "How Great is Our God"? You need to if you haven't.

Louie seemingly spoke directly to this young man who has been struggling to breathe for a little more than 24 hours when he said that God promises: "When you think you can't take one more breath, I'll give you enough to keep going. And enough to keep going on, and enough to keep going on, and to keep going and to keep going, and to keep going. You keep hoping and I'll keep causing strength to rise when you hope. And you'll feel like you have been swept up on the wings of eagles and you will run and not get weary and walk through it all and not faint. HE said I will hold you. Even when you let go of Me I'm not going to let go of you. . . We will never, not be carried by the strong hand of a universe-making God and He will bring us through. That is the promise of the everlasting God!"

I noticed a body response from the couch as he heard these words and could directly relate it to his current circumstance.

We finished watching the DVD and he was shaken, but not in a feverish state. It was the spirit of God impacting him with the truth.  I asked him if he believed that God cared about Him, that God made him and is giving him every breath of life. He responded, "yes." And we prayed together thanking God for life and breath and His care.

The room was very quiet and heavy with the real stuff of life--God's presence and His truth ordaining our lives.

He wanted to watch more, so we watched, "Symphony," which is an incredible journey through God's creation and how all of His creation praises Him.

I am grateful for this opportunity to care for this young man. To give Him truth, To be a point of place where he can experience God's love and care through His people.

He continues slowly to improve, by the way. His breathing has stabilized and his fevers have been non-existent as the day has progressed.

It is these kind of interruptions to life that reawaken me to the reality of the needs in our community. Fatherless children become wayward young men. But, in these opportunities to show love, care, truth and compassion, perhaps he will see what he has yet failed to embrace all of his years at New Hope.

O Lord, let Him truly see YOU. And grant us more opportunities to offer him a holy gathering place where He sees your love in action and is able to receive in himself the ability to breathe You in without struggle.

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