This article is courtesy of Image Magazine
and appeared first in July, 1994.
I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. The anesthesia had made my mind cloudy. I was vaguely aware of activity going on all around me, but I couldnt seem to rejoin the world I had momentarily left.
I tried desperately to wake up but would fall heavily back into a stupor of sleep. Occasionally, I would be wrenched back into semi-consciousness by nausea, sweating, and dry heaves, only to fall back again into a deep sleep.
Finally I was awakened by the quiet. I observed my husband, Jack, sitting calmly near the bed.
How long have you been here? I managed to croak out of a sore and dry throat.
Do you need something? he asked. He was immediately by my side.
How long have you been here? I asked again.
Surprised he said, What do you mean? I brought you to the hospital last night and Ive been here every moment. Who do you think has been taking care of you all this time?
I had no idea. I had little recollection of what had happened the previous twenty-four hours.
But as I thought about it I had a vague awareness of a benevolent presence: hands that held the emesis basin for me when I was sick, that wiped the sweat from my forehead when I perspired, that gave me little sips of water when my lips were dry.
Memories of a voice returned. Someone had whispered encouragement to me in my sleep, calmed me when I felt panicked, talked to the doctor and nurses when I couldnt respond. Whose hands and whose voice were they?
I didnt know. Frankly I had been too caught up in my own pain, too overwhelmed with managing the difficulties I was facing to concentrate on this presence or its identity.
This experience has become an important analogy for me in recognizing the work of Gods Holy Spirit. We are the recipients of his continuous loving activity, but are completely oblivious to who he is or what he is doing in our lives.
At the time of my surgery I had been in need, and my own ministering husband had cared for me. It seems like a rather small thing in the grand scope of our lives togetherwhat one would expect from a committed spouse. But Jacks attentiveness is incredibly significant to me. It grows from the depth of our relationship as husband and wife, as friends, as companions, and as fellow Christians. He is an integral part of my life, whether I am aware of it or not.
Similarly, our relationship with the Spirit is a natural part of our relationship with God. It is actually an assurance, a sign, that we are in fact children of God. And by this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit. (I John 4:13)
Gods presence in our lives is not dependent on what we see, feel, or able to express. In fact, as Jesus told Nicodemus, The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
Jacks loving attitude and actions toward me are not limited to times of crisis. He cares, supports, and comforts me when my needs are clear and distinct and when they are not.
In Jesus farewell discourse to his disciples, he tells them he must leave but that he will send another. It is the paraklete (comforter, counselor): The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26).
As a lifemate Jack stands up for me in the face of my opponents, he also lovingly corrects me when I am wrong. He prays for and with me. He is committed to enhancing my relationship to the God we both serve.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of people knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
All of us have found ourselves in difficult and trying situations. Not all of us are blessed with attentive, loving friends or spouses. But each of us can have a relationship with God, a sense of his abiding presence, the comfort of having our needs met by Him, and the assurance of His working actively on our behalf. We can have a relationship that far exceeds what even a loving spouse or friend can bring.
How long have you been here? we manage to croak out of sore and dry throats.
What?" he asks. Do you need something? He is attentively by our side.
How long have you been here? we ask again.
Surprised he says, What do you mean? I brought you here and Ive been here, and Ive been with you every moment. Who do you think has been taking care of you all this time?