As it goes in the world of critical care for children, we have very quickly (and so far very successfully) weaned little Ned off of the jet vent back to the conventional vent today!! The doctors would like him to remain stable on the conventional vent for 24 hours prior to the heart surgery to fix the coarctation, so as it stands at the moment, Ned's surgery is a go for Tuesday! While the medical staff seems extremely excited about his progress and their ability to move forward, I am feeling apprehension about sending my 3-week-old son off to yet another risky surgery? Please pray that I will again be able to find a place of peace and comfort in completely surrendering my son into the hand of the Father. When we've been through a time of stability, I find it difficult to face going back to the rocky places (which I fully expect to have some rough patches after surgery) even though I am being led and protected by the good shepherd. In the times of stability, I am lured into believing that I am able to maintain some semblance of control over our situation. However, there is no truth in that emotion and I am fully aware that striving to control my life doesn't offer near the peace and blessing that resting in total surrender does.
There have been very few medical changes over the weekend other than the vent change. Ned received a new breathing tube when they changed his vent because his was leaking air because the tube was too small. The doctors beleive making that change, made it much easier for him to adjust to and accept the vent swap. They also put a very small tube in his side on Saturday to let out some air that had gotten between the exterior of his left lung and his side (a side effect of the jet vent). I think they are planning on leaving that in a couple of days and then removing it although on the last x-ray, the patch of air is already completely gone!
With Ned's surgery coming up this week and the thoughts of so many people praying for his healing, I have been consumed with thoughts concerning intercessory prayer. The reason it has been so on my mind is that I have always had a difficult time with the whole concept. I'll explain...I just always believed that God had set forth a plan for each of our lives and that prayers that made attempts at changing his mind seemed pointless. Most of this belief was confirmed after Patrick, my brother, died in a car accident. I just felt certain that had I woken up that night and prayed for his safety, his fate would have been the same. And I still completely believe that. So, do I believe that prayers lifted up for Ned may impress God to allow him to be healed? Yes. Here is what I have concluded after some study. Intercessory prayer is prayer that is completely on behalf of others. Prayers that, if answered, bring nothing to the faithful saint offering the prayer on the behalf of someone else. If I had woken up and prayed for Patrick that night, it wouldn't have been for his benefit, it would have been for mine. So many sentences in that prayer would have begun with "I". "I" need Patrick here, "I" don't know what "I" would do if something happened to him, ect. While Patrick would have been the subject of my prayer, the blessing would have been meant for myself. That's not what intercessory prayer is..... In Exodus 32, when Moses returned from Mt. Sinai where he received the law of the Israelites from the Lord, he found them worshipping the golden calf, God was angry with them and told Moses He intended on destroying them. Moses interceeded on their behalf and pleaded with God not to destroy them. He approached God by reciting God's word and His promises to Abraham and his descendents. By communicating with God in this manner, the Israelites were spared. So, I have learned a great deal about and come to understand that as Jesus is interceeding with God on our behalf for our sins, we can certainly intercede on the behalf of others so long as our intentions and motives are pure.
I also wanted to share something that jumped out at me the other day. I was reading in Matthew chapter 14....one of my favorite passages. The more I read about when Jesus walked on the water, the more I learn from it!! Anyway, I have for some time noticed that Jesus "made the disciples get into the board and go on ahead of Him". In other words, He pushed them out into the middle of the lake into what He knew was going to be a raging storm. Although Jesus knew the storm was coming and His disciples were going to be in danger, Jesus took the time to get alone with the Father and pray. But what I most most struck by this time is that not only did Jesus wait until the 4th watch to save the disciples, even in the midst of their panic, Jesus walked toward them. I know, for me, at times when I feel like I'm in the midst of a terrible storm and I'm feeling afraid, I want Jesus to run to me, swoop me up and end the struggle immediately. But, my ways are not his ways, his timing allows us to reach that place of complete surrender because we have exhausted all of our own resources. I'm sure that as that storm picked up, those disciples had tried every effort known on this Earth to get that boat to shore. They had probably attempted to row in while dumping buckets of water back out over the edge. By the time Jesus came to them "walking" on the water, they had struggled enough on their own that they were at a point of accepting that He alone had the power to save them from their storm, Just as He alone has the power to save us from our storm. I'm just praying that our family can keep our eyes fixed on him without getting distracted by the wind and the waves so that we can walk with him over the storms that threaten us at the moment.
Thank you all for your continued prayers. I hope this entry makes sense....I can hardly hold my eyes open tonight so if this is incomprehendible, I apologize. We are, of course, asking that you continue to pray for Ned's health, the doctors healing hands and discernment with regard to Ned's best interest, and our ability to surrender our child unto God and to trust Him completely with little Ned. We love you all so very dearly!!
Betsy, Travis, Jack & Ned