So many poignant pictures of first responders and victims are on my phone and television today as we once again remember 9/11. So many memorable pictures have come out of Texas following Hurricane Harvey; the same will be true after Irma hits. They have reminded me of a story in my life from 1998 because so many pictures have been of helping hands – hands reaching out of boats to pull people out of homes and off of bridges, hands carrying a woman who is holding a child, and hands from one person to the next stretching across moving water to get a man out of a sinking truck.
My three year old son, Jehu, had finally been potty trained and had fractured his wrist falling off a mulch pile on our farm the week before Thanksgiving. A fractured wrist was nothing to us in those days, just one more incident in life on the Jackson Farm.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving we hosted a church gathering at our home; all day long, when our children asked if they could drive kids around the farm on our modified golf cart, we responded with an emphatic “No.” Lots of children and a golf cart is a mixture for trouble – at least from our personal experience. However, the day wore on and the pleas continued until, after most of the company left, we finally acquiesced, saying, “You can get it out, but only a Jackson can drive.” So, an older Jackson, Miriam, began to drive children around the farm.
At one point, as she loaded the golf cart up with children, Miriam told her brother Jehu there wasn’t enough room for him on that trip and she began to pull away. Unbeknownst to her, he had begun to climb into the back of the golf cart by placing his little foot up on the rear tire. When she drove off, the tire immediately torqued his left leg underneath the golf cart. All of the children standing around looked on in horror, realizing something bad had just happened. Screaming commenced.
I was sitting in my den with a few other ladies when suddenly a teenage boy burst through the door carrying my little Jehu. A wave of nausea swept over me as I took one look at his leg and told someone to get his father. We laid him on our bed while my doctor-husband assessed him, confirmed what was obvious to all of us, and splinted his leg. We gingerly placed him in the back of our car while Robert (my husband) called an orthopedist who met us at the emergency room of our local hospital.
The good news – the fracture missed his growth plate; the bad news – all three bones in the leg were broken. The good news – the doctor said he would make a full recovery. The bad news – he spent a few days in the hospital in traction, and then the doctor applied a hip spica cast. Anyone ever seen one of those? A long leg cast is on the broken leg; a short leg cast is on the good leg and a bar holds them apart. The cast wrapped around his hips to the waist with appropriate openings – so much for potty training!
Over the next weeks through the Christmas holidays, Jehu’s three-year old indomitable spirit caused him to move everywhere he wanted to go by dragging himself along the floor. His clothes were my mop during that time and were forever ruined. We didn’t let his immobility stop us either. We bought a fancy new red wagon and pulled him everywhere we went – to restaurants, to Christmas celebrations, to church. His grandmother gave him a huge bean bag upon which he plopped himself for eating and sitting – well, lying. He couldn’t sit.
Our family with Jehu lounging on his bean bag while in his hip spica cast
Because he seemed too far away upstairs in his room with his brothers and because we were concerned about his pain level, we lifted him up on a green camping cot on my side of our bed every night. Our bed was higher than his cot, so all night long he slept – with my hand reaching down to his and his hand reaching up to mine. My hand grabbed his little hand, and held on tight. Thus, all became right with his three-year old world. His mommy held him literally in the palm of her hand.
As I wrote elsewhere last week, “the rain falls on the just and the unjust.” There will be hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, disease, broken bones, financial failures, and death. I don’t pretend to understand it all, but my God is in control and does not look down from the ramparts of heaven and say, “Oops, I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
God is also reaching to take your hand and mine to bring us “up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay” and to set our “feet upon a rock making [our] footsteps firm,” (Psalm 40:2). We will still suffer the consequences of living in a fallen world, but He can remove the bitterness, the anger, the turmoil, the fear, and the heartache. He can replace them with courage, purpose, joy, and a peace this world will never understand.
When the rescuers arrive with reaching hands, in our desperation we do not hesitate to grab hold for dear life from our sinking boats. When the hurricanes hit, so many, from weathermen and journalists to civic leaders and businessmen, call for prayer, but then when the storms depart, we suddenly forget that for a moment we were a people of prayer. (I began this blog a week ago but am about to post it on 9/11. I remember the prayers of a sorrowful nation sixteen years ago.)
Lord, help me call upon you day in and day out. Help me grab hold of your extended hand for all of my days. Help me know your palpable presence, Jehovah Shammah, right smack dab in the middle of the eye. Then come what may – all will be right with my world.
*Jehu enjoyed cross country running in high school and currently participates in many outdoor activities including rock climbing as seen in the featured image-a picture from his Colorado rock climbing trip this past spring.