I'm reading a book this week that was sent to me by a couple of ladies from home. I have never met them, but they know Dave and they sent a package with him to Omaha last week. I finished it today and the words inside of this book brought new meaning to me as our family continues this journey with our sweet Ashley. The name of the book is When I Lay My Isaac Down. I knew instantly that I would love this book. What a beautiful title! It is about unshakable faith in unthinkable circumstances and I will no doubt read it over and over again.
As I read page after page I would say to myself, "I needed to hear that." As the author made comparison to Abraham's faith in his God I would say to myself, "I need to have that."
One chapter in particular is called "Stretcher Bearers". While I read this chapter I was reminded by the author of a story in Luke that I remember learning as a child in Sunday school. I even remember coloring a picture and gluing the man onto his stretcher to take home with me. I hadn't thought about this story in many, many years, but as I read through this book it took on new meaning to me. Jesus was speaking one day and he was surrounded by a multitude of people. The crowd was so great that you couldn't even get through the door of the house to see him. A man who was crippled by a palsy was carried on a stretcher to the place where Jesus was. The part that touched my heart like never before was this, he was carried. By whom? Who would pick up this man who could not walk and make sure that he made it all the way to the One whom he believed could heal him? Not only did those "bearers" of his stretcher take him to the house where Jesus was, but they went to extraordinary means to make sure he got to see Jesus. The Bible tells us that when they could not enter the house because of the crowd they took the man onto the roof and moved the tiles so that they could lower him into the midst where Jesus was. When Jesus saw their faith he told the man, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." The man was healed. How beautiful! To have friends like that! To have a group of those surrounding you who would pick you up and carry you to Him when your could not reach Him on your own. They were literally his stretcher bearers. They bore the weight of his burden and carried it to Jesus for him.
Before Ashley Kate's birth I would have never seen this part of the beauty of this story. I saw that Jesus healed this man. I saw that his faith made him whole, but I missed the part about his friends. Those who got him to Jesus. I think this part of the story is beautiful! Oh, to be that type of friend. I may have never felt the importance of the role that these "bearers" played in this man's life. Now I can say that through her life, her struggle, her battles, and her triumphs I know exactly what those stretcher bearers must have meant to this man. I have been picked up and carried to Him. My burden which seems so heavy some days as though it might crush me is carried to Jesus by those of you who chose to come along side of me and carry my "stretcher". When you are given the opportunity to see those around you become the physical hands and feet of Jesus you will be forever changed. I pray that I will not forget what He has taught me though each one of you. I pray that I will someday in someway be able to do the same for others. What a blessing this book has been to me the last couple of days.
The ways that you have carried our stretcher are so very numerous. I always fear that I will fail to mention my appreciation for some act of kindness toward us and that someone may wonder if it were received. Tonight I want to say that first and foremost your prayers have changed our lives. The burden that you pick up and carry for us on a daily basis is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for us. In addition to those prayers you allow yourselves to meet our needs or comfort our hearts in tangible ways as well. Without your support it would be impossible for us to survive this season of Ashley's story. How humbled I am each time I receive a note, a card, a letter, a story, a word of encouragement, or a gift from you. Please allow me to say thank you to and for :
the lovely trees of fall created by my sisters first and second grade classes. Ashley loves the trees and the many colored leaves. I love your notes of encouragement. Thank you boys and girls.
those who sent me this book. I was so encouraged and blessed.
the one who sent the "HUG" last week. It is beautiful and I love it.
the adorable hair items that were sent to us girls. I never found your name anywhere on the package, but I want you to know we loved them!
my sweet friend who stopped by tonight a gave me the opportunity to "snuggle up close" to my family as I drift off to sleep. I still cry each time I glance over at it. Thank you.
those who joined in prayer for us last night. Ashley was weaned off of her oxygen this afternoon and no one can explain why or how? (That always makes me smile.) Your prayers spoke to my heart.
each one who gladly accepts the difficult task of "bearing our stretcher" on those days when I am too crippled to take myself to the place I need to be. I know what a tough job that is.
Tonight I just want to say Thank you again. Thank you for loving us. For praying for us. For carrying us. For "bearing our stretcher" in the many ways that you do. I do thank God for you and for your presence in our lives and in her story. Good night my friends. Trish