SIMPLE TRUTH: Out of the pit

Published 12:22 am Saturday, September 29, 2012

By Charles Christmas

“He brought us up out of a horrible pit.” (Psalm 40:2)

After 62 days in three hospitals, my wife, Louise, was discharged to our house, a hospital bed, wheelchair, bedside table and the unknown of home healthcare support. It was primarily the Lord, my darling wife and me. She was totally paralyzed from the right knee through the toes, with the paralysis affecting the right hip and her digestive and urinary systems. Standing was impossible, and sitting in a bedside chair was limited to an hour.

While in the medical facilities, Louise would not allow me to aid her in transferring from the bed to the wheelchair, nor from the wheelchair to the commode. Now she had no one else but the Lord and me. Thankfully, however, I had been allowed to remain by her bedside day and night and had carefully observed every procedure. Though scared, I believed that I could do it all, no matter how poorly, and improve with experience. She had no choice but to trust me with it all.

The home healthcare service provided a needed support of visiting nurses, bath aides and therapists. Instead of needing those three intimate friends, now a few practical friends from our priceless praying church family were sufficient. The hour-by-hour journey was for both of us, and this was the way we wanted it. My slogan was, “Whatever it takes.” God knows that every responsibility for the ensuing three years was a welcomed privilege and joy for me. For the first time in our 65-year marriage, I had the opportunity of being available, without hindrance, to my wife 24 hours a day. In time, God would answer my prayer of many, many years to allow me to take care of her “until her very last breath.”

A very significant help came through our visiting therapist, Mike. He was a firm and insistent man whom Louise believed had “not one grain of mercy.” Their exchanges went like this: “I simply cannot do this!” “Oh, yes you can, Mrs. Christmas.” She hated him, but she loved him dearly. After several months, and with the aid of a walker, she walked down and up two front steps, could walk in and out of our church Bible class and worship center, as well as McDonald’s, restoring our tradition of Saturday morning pancakes. God’s word to us was being fulfilled: “Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees and be not disabled.”

Three and ½ months into our ‘pit’ experiences, the Lord gave us the best part-time caregiver. Brenda, an African American woman, was multi-talented, skilled and diligent. She possessed a compassionate servant’s heart. She was a committed Christian and a committed church woman of sterling character who was an enormous help in our coming up out of the pit. She became a real member of our little family and will always be loved dearly.

Unbelievable hours of happiness were experienced by Louise as she read dozens of Christian novels. The Lord used our treasured friend, Glenda, of the Chilton-Clanton Public Library, to route these sources of pleasure to our house.

There were little setbacks along the way. There were two times of severe depression and other minor dips. A fracture in the hip area required surgery. There were five very scary falls, requiring the medics. She also had to contend with sharp phantom pains. Little set backs, yes, but God would restore and move us forward.

God not only transformed her spirit and restored much of her strength, but multiplied her witness ministry. During a period of twelve months, seated in her wheelchair, Louise handed out 10,000 Good News gospel tracts. Some referred to her as “the Good News Lady.”

Only a few weeks prior to her life’s climax, the two of us took a 12-day automobile faith journey of 1675 miles to Memphis and Kansas City. We spent private time with each of our 14-member family, plus two missionaries we count as children. We had five major health issues during the trip, but God supplied. It was a mountain top thrill for Louise and me.

God had brought us to a life “out of the pit.” Here are some recent quotes from my wife: “The Lord has saved the best wine ‘til now.” “My husband and I have come to love each other even more than ever before.” “God has far more than met our every need.” “God’s grace has been sufficient in my infirmities.”

The word that our Lord gave me in the pit during the two darkest days of my life was fulfilled. Our loving Father, for our own good, was teaching us what we never could have learned without “the pit” experiences. His grace had become stronger in us than our bitter and dark feelings. Hopefully, it helped us to become at least a little more committed to him. I look back on our “pit” experiences as the finest three years of our 65-year marriage journey.

Next article: An Example of a Transformed Life

-Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His college appears each Thursday.