Feeling pretty puny today. I only get sick about once every two years, which is pretty remarkable. But, I have been hit with the “cold” that so many others are dealing with and just out of of gas. So, I thought I would share a little story with you. It reminds me to pray in the normalcy but also in the crisis!
It was a typical Tuesday in mid November. We were in Tuskegee and had been loading left over wood from a wheel chair ramp for over half an hour. We had been on the road back and forth from three worksites most of the morning. As we were getting ready to load up and head back to Auburn, a man came running up in a frenzied panic. We could barely make out what he was saying but then he pointed behind him and yelled “there’s a man on the side of the road, I think he had a seizure”. Sydney and I sprinted over and laying perpendicular to the road, with his head just on the pavement, lay an elderly man.
His eyes were blood shot and glazed over with cataracts. His right hand was clenched in a fist and his left hand lay limp beside him. He breathed in gasping pants and lay speechless. I asked him if he was ok but no response. Looking at the man who called us over for help I asked him if he had called 911. He exclaimed he did not have a phone so I turned to Sydney and told her to make the call. As she ran to go get her phone, I paused, not quite sure what to do next. The man was breathing, although sporadic. There was no blood or seemingly other injury. Was he in shock? Was he having a stroke? During the fall, did he injure his neck? So many questions. All I knew was that his breathing was short, rapid, and sporadic. He was in danger of aspirating. The only thing I knew to do at that point was pray, and not to myself or quietly, but out loud where he and the man who called us for help could hear.
I placed my hand on the back of his shoulder and began to pray aloud. I prayed for Jesus to be with this man, to give him assurance that help was on the way and that he was ok and going to be ok. I prayed for God to calm his spirit and allow him to relax. Silently, I asked God to calm my spirit as well. As I continued to pray, the man’s breathing slowed and his tense body slowly relaxed. Although he still did not speak, it seemed for now he was stable. In fact, it seemed he was just taking a rest on the side of the road at this point.
Several people drove by, a sheriff arrived and even someone who thought I should turn the man on his side since he at one point had a seizure. Because he was stable and calm, I did not think this was a good idea. I was fearful of moving him in the event he had a head or neck injury. I asked this lady if she was a nurse and she said she used to be at which point I asked if she wanted to take over. She declined and left the site. (Maybe that is why she “used” to be a nurse). Finally, the fire department and paramedics arrived. We learned the man’s name was George and it seemed he was well known and had a history of seizures. After about fifteen more minutes, George began to move around a bit more. We sat him up and shortly after he was walking around. At that point, it seemed our time there was done, the professionals were now in charge. I continued to silently pray for George. During the entire time, I kept one hand on George just to let him know I was there and offered words of encouragement with short requests to God.
As we drove back to Auburn, my head was swimming. The “what ifs” hit me. What if he was having a stroke? What if he had still been in a seizure when we ran up on him? What if he was having a heart attack? It could have been so much worse! It took nearly fifteen minutes for the fire department to arrive and another five for the paramedics but it seemed like hours. What stood out in my mind more than anything else is what happened when I prayed. That was the pinnacle moment, the moment when he responded the best, when it seemed that God was right there with him and instantaneously calmed his breathing to a resting state. It was when I also physically felt and experienced the power of God.
First responders deal with this all the time and my appreciation for them has been deeply heightened. But, the lesson I learned that day, no matter what the situation, pray. Pray because God is active and moving. This world is NOT static, the plans are not SET IN STONE, and we can be the conduit of God’s active spirit and movements. And in this instance, it was important that George KNEW I was praying for him. He heard my prayer and for sure, God did. With Paul we exclaim, in all things pray! What a day and what a small opportunity to minister and extend the love of Jesus.
When at times we seem powerless, it is prayer that is our best source of power. Pray without ceasing.
Grace and peace,