This is a recounting of our years of Lyme Disease and the treatment process God used to shape and form our lives these past almost 6 years, as well as the miracle He gave us one Easter Sunday. It is told by my beloved David.
Let me begin by painting a picture for you. It was December of 2010. I had just wrapped up my degree at CBC in Abbotsford, given away my single bed, jumped in my car with the rest of my earthly possessions and struck out for Olds Alberta.
Waiting for me there was the sweetest girl you could ever hope to meet! We were set to be married on Jan 1, 2011, starting the year off with a bang. It all went off without a major hitch! And we were off to the start of our new life together. Frankly, we had our plan, and it was all pretty well laid out. 2 nights in Red Deer, a week in Edgewater, a few days in Beechy Sask. and a few months in Greece and Turkey before returning home for graduation and Spring Adventure (MB Mission’s first step in the long term discernment process), followed by overseas mission work in what is often coined ‘the hard places’.
All went well – that is until we arrived at our hotel room the first night – and they told us that they had not cleaned it, and it was not available for us – to a girl in her wedding dress at 11:00 at night. I was not impressed. It should have been our first clue that our plans were not to be as we designed them, but we were seriously naïve!
About midway through our time in Greece Katie began feeling really miserable. She began to feel weak, nauseous while driving, having massive headaches, and unknown to me she began to fight depression. We finished our time overseas, came home, and things continued to get worse. Her joints became compromised one by one, starting with her right knee. We began to seek help, and discovered that we both had Candida really bad, which can cause all these symptoms.
So we treated that, and in fall of 2011 we were both cleared of the yeast overgrowth. But Katie’s health, although a little better, and more stable for sure, was not yet back to normal. But she is the toughest person I know, literally, and she was still going as hard as she could.
We were up north at the time and I was operating equipment when one day I got a phone call while I was in the bush. Dad was on the other end of the line, and his words were not subtle, nor measured. ‘Shut your machine down and come to the hospital. Katie was kicked by a horse.’ I asked the normal question, ‘Is she ok?’ And my world was suddenly upside down and as he responded a little panicked, ‘I don’t know just come to the hospital.’
Dad is not one to panic over injury, in fact we were in FSJ because he had recently broken his back by being thrown by a horse – after which he carried on as normal for 2 weeks, just trying to ‘work out’ the pain. So panicked myself, I tried to remember how to shut down the processor I was working in, feelings of helplessness washing over me. After a moment I stopped, prayed and gathered myself.
Finding my truck I made it to town in record time. I walked into emergency and found Katie laying there with my mom at her side, the right side of her face a bloody mess. She had been double barrelled by a young horse she had just started to break. One hoof in the face, the other in the shoulder. Miraculously, she had only a massive bruise on her shoulder, a good sized slice to her jaw and a dislocated jaw. We knew multiple people who had died as a result of similar injuries, and so we were more than a little thankful for the outcome of hers.
As Katie always does, she attributed it wholly to God, while me, may God forgive me, explained it in my ignorance with the story that her shoulder must have taken the brunt of the force, pushing her face away from the other hoof as it connected with her jaw. What a fool I was. Maybe that happened, I don’t know, but I know God did save her from a much worse injury one way or another. Why is it that rather than choosing to give God the glory our first response is so often to provide a naturalistic explanation? Did I really want to remove the necessity and effectiveness of God’s daily presence in our lives that badly? I mulled over it again and again as we would tell very different stories in the next weeks, and realised that my view of God is so small. Rather than looking for opportunities to give God the credit I looked for every possible means to exclude the admission that His hand was in the everyday of life. May God forgive me for stealing his glory and ascribing what was due Him to random chance!
Although she recovered from all but the dislocated jaw pretty quickly (she still wrestles with that today), the rest of her health began to spiral. And although we tried to pursue further medical help, we received no hope from doctors that they were going to identify the cause, and her condition worsened. Frankly, I ignored how bad it was. Working 12 hours a day made it far too easy to do so, and I really did not understand the pain that Katie was going through that next year. Walking was becoming difficult for Katie, and she really did begin to fear what her life might look like. I was scared too, but I ignored it.
The following summer we went back to Mongolia. We had both been there before, but this time it was a disaster. Katie could hardly walk, the food they eat was really hard on her mentally as the high sugar content made the depression that much worse, and frankly, I was a fool in so many ways, not supporting her in her gifts but rather cutting her feet out from under her, sometimes in front of the team we were supposedly ‘co-leading’.
It was a mess, and we are still working through some of the pain of that summer, but God in his goodness has seen fit to bring about so much healing from our mess.
We came back broken. Our dreams shattered. Clearly our desires for our marriage were not being realised at the pace that we expected and hoped. We were in U-turn mode. Landing in Abbotsford, I began a linguistics and exegesis degree, Katie beginning a degree in counseling and then in worship arts. Her health getting worse by the day. By the end of that year she was unable to walk up stairs without pulling on the railing, and simply walking was a deeply painful experience. Standing for more than a minute was out of the question.
We had our first real scare in February of that year. Late one night I woke to Katie convulsing beside me in bed. Her back arched and her fingers in an iron grip, every muscle in her body was flexed taught. She was unable to talk, unable to breath, and convulsing violently. I have seen grand mal seizures before, and this wasn’t it. She was aware, but unable to do anything about it. As she struggled for breath fear shrouded the room and I fought for clarity. What do I do? Do I call 911? Why? So that I can watch my wife of two years die in their arms instead of mine?
So I held her, caressed her head, and not knowing what else to do, I asked her what to do. She managed to squeak out ‘pray’. And so I did; with abandon, and with passion, I prayed as I had never prayed before. Soon her muscles began to relax and she began to breathe again. We prayed, cried and didn’t sleep for a while. The next day she was markedly better and the following day better still! We were elated, Maybe God had healed her. But day by day the pain returned, and the despair and fear with them.
She later admitted to me that she was tempted many times to subtly set up situations where I could meet some of her friends whom she had a lot of respect and love for. Her purpose being that if she didn’t make it she would have at least done something to make sure I could be taken care of and remarry well if I wished. Internally, we had little hope.
Since being in Abbotsford we had pursued all kinds of medical options trying to find a diagnosis. One doctor had the audacity to tell her that if she woke up with a better attitude it would all go away. It is fortunate for my soul that I had class that day. I would have done something I regretted had I been there. But Katie, being the gracious person that she is smiled and said she would try it. More blood tests were ordered and she walked out inwardly hurting, one more nail in the medical profession’s coffin. Through all of this testing her results were not only ok, they were optimal within their ranges. The odd doctor that did care was frankly baffled, and either didn’t care to try and figure it out, or didn’t know how to go about it.
Things got worse, and we continued to kind of ignore its severity. I was working in and out of Fort St John for the summer, and again, it was far too easy to ignore what was going on at home. But as the summer rolled to a close, we could not ignore it any longer. Katie’s body was rapidly deteriorating. There was one thing in the back of my mind that we had not yet tested for. I knew through my wilderness medical training that Lyme’s disease was not well tested for in Canada, but that it is clearly here. Also, I had looked into it, and discovered it was also present in Greece, where she had had her first tick in the middle of our honeymoon.
Reliable testing is available in California through a lab called Igenex who deal exclusively with tick-borne disease. They are not bound by the same parameters as Canada and many other labs in the states that render their testing processes rather useless, catching only a small percentage of the positive cases. We had been told it was ‘expensive’ and poorly advised by a well-meaning medical professional to wait for that testing, as it was so pricy. Price was not relevant anymore, so I looked into it, and was a little disgusted when I discovered that ‘really expensive’ was between 600 and 1200 dollars. Anyway, time wasted aside we ordered the tests, and they were positive; two independent practitioners confirmed it. Lyme was present in Katie’s body. I don’t want to go into the detail of Lyme testing and treatment today, but suffice it to say that it is highly political, and very minimally understood by the medical community except by a select few. Only a handful of medical doctors know it, and a few naturopathic practitioners are learning rapidly. We wound up getting connected with specialists who use alternative treatment methods and have much better success than the typical courses of antibiotics.
Sept 20, 2013 is a day that will probably never be forgotten. We began treating Lyme. Katie’s body was strong, even though the Lyme was riddled throughout her body with a massively strong grip. By the time this began what we had experienced the previous February late in the night was becoming a regular occurrence. Her physical ability had deteriorated such that walks to the mailbox, about 400 meters were not possible, and I would piggyback her wherever we went.
Despite where we were at in our fight, we didn’t fully admit how bad things were. Not really. Day by day life was changing, and Katie was able to do less and less. By October she was unable to walk around the house without difficulty, using an office chair to get around. The simple things in life were not an option for her, and I began to take over the domestic responsibilities. She could not stand to do dishes, carry anything, she was so limited. By this time every joint in her body was compromised. They ground and popped, exploding with pain at any moment.
Lyme disease is an autoimmune disease that attacks all different parts of your body. And it always comes with coinfections. The Lyme introduces something called a microfilm which acts essentially as a camouflage netting protecting Lyme and this other series of diseases from detection by the immune system. The result is they run rampant and infiltrate all parts of the body, mimicking your DNA and travelling on your white blood cells. It is a corkscrew shaped bacterium that burrows into flesh and tissue, including muscular tissue, organ tissue, even brain tissue. Symptomatically it has over 80 possible symptoms, of which Katie had most of them at one point in her journey – except for number 73 – tender testicles!
The most debilitating were the limited movement, the intense pain she described as the feeling of a bomb going off in her body, severe dizziness which caused her to pass out regularly from a lack of blood flow, neurological symptoms which caused her to pass out randomly, speak unintelligibly, and in the worst stages hallucinate, usually in a semiconscious state. Along with these were the convulsions which would change from time to time, but often included her inability to breathe. I don’t know how many times I gave her artificial resuscitation through out treatment; but sometimes up to 4 or 5 times a day. I will never forget the feeling of holding her while she struggled for breath, trying to gauge when I needed to step in and force air into her lungs.
Not that long ago I was asked by a friend as I related our story how I dealt with it, how I was able to leave her for even a moment. My reply was that at some level I had to entrust her to God. I can’t save her at all times. We took precautions, and I tried to be home as much as possible, but life needed to carry on, and frankly, I needed to spend some time in another frame of life. Also, it seems simple, and maybe foolish to some, but I didn’t think about it too much. The pain and fear was too deep, yet near. There is no way I could sustain such a level of emotional anxiety for that long a time. Fear, at least the immediate terrifying fear, was pushed down and replaced by a knowledge that Katie needed me to be her support and comfort, able to care for her in any way. Don’t get me wrong, we cried together so many times. As much as she needed me to be strong, she needed to see that in the depth of my heart I was deeply hurting through her pain. She needed to see my tears as much as I needed to shed them.
Through it all questions raged. Especially at the beginning, when it seemed to be spiralling out of control. Job’s words were such a comfort for me. In chapter 23 he addresses the perceived absence of God in his suffering. ‘But if I go to the east he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When He is at work in the north I do not see him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But He knows the way that I take, when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.’ Job 23.8-10 Essentially, Job is saying, God, I do not see you here, but I know that you have fashioned my steps even in calamity, and when I have walked the path of fire I will come out a different man in your sight. This has been such a comfort to me when the days are dark, and I can’t see past Katie’s pain. Even when we can’t see him, he is there, he holds us, and he has a good purpose in what he is allowing us to pass through.
Oct 27th would test our resolve. It was the end of a conference, lunch time on Sunday afternoon. Katie had spent much of it in our room, coming down to lead worship on Sunday. We headed down to the café for lunch with good friends before everyone headed off for home. We got seated, and not much else before Katie indicated that we needed to go to our room now. I picked her up, walking was not an option, and headed for the elevator. We got there, and one of our friends was there also with a chair from the restaurant. We no sooner got in the elevator than Katie was fully passed out and limp in my arms. I got her into the chair and we sped up to our floor. I gave Eric our room key, picked up Katie’s limp body and made the long trek to our room, leaving the chair as a surprise for the next guest who found themselves in that elevator!
We got to the room, laid Katie on the bed and Eric prayed over us. Katie woke to the sound of Eric praying over us, tears streaming down her face. The question needed to be answered today. God! Do you care? We were both at the end of what we had in our strength. Surely God, if He saw us, would have mercy on us now! As we lay there and wept Katie began to play back all of the promises that God had given her over the past 10 or so years, promises that have yet to be fulfilled. And tears streamed down her face wetting the white linens of the hotel bed as her pain flowed.
As Eric prayed, Katie wept and I sat simply spent with nothing left to give, Katie asked that we read the story of Lazurus. It took a ridiculously long tome to recall where it was despite my youthful pride in always knowing where the shortest verse in the bible was (or so I thought). But eventually we turned to John 11, and Eric began to read. As he read, Katie saw Jesus with her sitting on the bed. ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’ Katie wept even deeper, Jesus spoke to her, saying that He loved her. Assurances and promises came to us that day that we have leaned on ever since. ‘This will not end in death.’ ‘I love you. ‘I won’t heal you now, but it is for my greater glory.’ ‘I love you.’ ‘Jesus wept.’ In fact, all four of us wept that afternoon as we lay sat, and stood near the bed. Katie and I wept out of our pain and joy that Jesus loved us, Eric wept to see two of his friends hurting so deeply, and most importantly of all, Jesus wept, as He sat with me on our bed, holding Katie alongside me.
If we thought dark days were in our past, we had no idea what dark days were. So many times in the next months we would cling to these promises, and honestly, I reminded God many times that it was later; He could heal her any time! But we knew. Despite the daily prayers for healing we knew that it was out of our human desire, not His call that we prayed. Yes, we believed that He wanted to heal Katie, that He wanted her well, but we knew that it was not yet His time. But we prayed anyway, reminding Him of what He already knew.
In the months that would come Katie continued to get worse. Although she would have the odd better day, she was never without the excruciating pain and dizziness. She woke up in a heap on the hardwood more times that either of us can remember, or care to count. There were days where hours would pass while she was in a state of semiconsciousness, unaware of what was happening, her body in too much pain to register things normally. Doing anything with ease had long since fled, and now more unexpected results of the pain began to show.
Her body, racked with pain began to desensitise itself. That is the best way I know how to explain it. Imagine a sound board with a bunch of different channels. If the levels are too high on one channel, you adjust it so that you get a good mix, and if the overall volume is too high, the master volume comes into play. Well, Katie couldn’t turn down the pain levels in her body, but her body couldn’t handle the pain, so the master had been slowly turned down. It got to the point where the everyday things we do for our general well-being that are triggered by discomfort were no longer being heard. She no longer registered that she needed to go to the bathroom or eat until the need was so great that it was aggravating the symptom picture of her whole body. She did not register if she was hot or cold. So I had to become really good at guessing and learn to ask questions that you don’t normally have to ask an adult. Do you have to go to the bathroom? No. A minute later, ‘Actually, I really have to go right now.’ It was a little weird at first, but became a point of humor in our battle. I had my checks. I would touch her nose to gauge her temperature, watch the clock for how long it had been since we made the long trek to our least favorite room of the house, the bathroom, and always give her more food than she wanted when I knew it had been a long time since she ate. I learned a lot about patterns that we never pay attention to, but I will leave it there for you to wonder!
As I said, the bathroom became the most dreaded trip we had to make. We spent a lot of hours there, and going to and from in all manner of consciousness. One day while lying on the bed after a particularly miserable episode Katie said sluggishly, ‘I think we need a new bathroom.’ At first I thought it was a result of her semiconscious mind, but soon realised it actually was an attempt at humor.
But it was in the bathroom – that most austere room – that the life and death decision of our battle was made. It was mid to late February 2014. We were more than a little battle weary, and Katie was getting worse and worse. Despite what we had heard in October, we both could not see how this battle was going to end with Katie’s health. She was on a newer round of treatment, and this one was hitting her really hard. After a process of discernment we decided it was indeed necessary to make the fated trip to the bathroom. On our arrival there, she did what she needed to do, and then slipped into another world. But this time it was not the world of fragmented turmoil that often accompanied her delusioned speech. It was one of peace. Her face was fixed to the right, beyond the bathroom window, and she asked me if I heard them singing. I replied in the negative. She told me there was a river, with angels singing on the other side. She was in such peace. They were calling to her. A boat was poised on the river bank, waiting to take her to the other side. She reached out and took my hand and asked me to come with her.
With tears in my eyes I told her I couldn’t come with her, but if she went now, I would come find her when I could. Clearly, my response unsettled her peaceful vision, and she slowly came back to the bathroom. We finished up the necessities and I carried her back to the bed, where she finished out her semiconscious state. Upon returning to our world, she would relate to me that she had been given the choice to cross the river and meet Jesus, or to stay here with me. I will never know why she chose me, not really. So many times she called out to Jesus in the middle of the dark and pain filled sleepless nights to take her home. Here was her chance!
Months previous we had the conversation. I felt like I needed to release her to go home if she wanted to. It was a tear filled conversation that night as I bared my heart, the anguish of her pain overcoming my selfish desire. But today was a different day. Her struggles were by no means over. If memory serves me correctly, she did not walk a step that day. It was a Saturday, which often seemed to be one of the worst days of the week. She had made that trip to the bathroom four times during the course of the day, always in my arms, always inclusive of hallucinations and passing out. In contrast to the bright hope she had seen out the bathroom window across the river bank, her reality was hell. Literally for her, and we have taken comfort in that reality. This life is the closest she will come to the experience of hell. How hard is the reality that for those suffering who do not know Jesus, their suffering here is as close as they will ever come to heaven unless they turn and look to Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4 is a passage that has provided for us such hope in the midst of trials. There are a lot of passages that regard suffering in the Bible, but most of them address suffering for your faith. I appreciate the context of a passage, and although it could be argued that in some extraneous way we are suffering for our faith, it is really just the suffering of life that we are enduring, no different from the agnostic battling Lyme disease. But 2 Cor.4 addresses the trials of life. The entire passage has been such an encouragement. Here are the last few verses. “Therefore, we do not loose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what we see is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (V. 16-18). In these days hope came to us through these verses. We had more to look forward to. And I believe Katie will receive honour in heaven for suffering well, and continuing to point countless numbers of people toward Jesus through her faithful obedience and willingness to give glory to Him rather than fall into self-pity.
But Katie made her choice, those rewards would have to wait, and we pressed on. Appointments with our doctors became less and less encouraging. Her body was so sensitive that she could not handle even the gentlest of the testing without a negative reaction – which was convulsing and passing out in the office. I recall those testings well. I was with her, on the edge of my seat, ready to catch her if she began to list in the chair. What struck me most was the compassion we received from these men. They knew what was happening, and although they did not tell us at the time, their concern ran deep. I recall after one testing, Todd just put his hand on my back as I wheeled Katie out the door and as I looked into his face, past the pained half smile to what he wasn’t saying, we knew there was more they were not telling us. It was a look that you give someone when there is little hope, and a long road ahead. We would later learn what was going on in his mind.
2, 3 months is not that long. And despite the seeming endless days that we experienced each day, they flew by. In fact, the last year has flown by. Survival does a funny thing to time. Katie got worse and worse. My default was to look at the good days and not the bad, trying to give myself the illusion that she was getting better. But she wasn’t, and when she had the energy, she called me out on it. It is hard for me to explain, even to understand to be honest, and I have not walked her level of pain, but she has gained the ability to distinguish between what she calls deep pain and surface pain. Deep pain is core level pain that threatens to make your body shut down. For her, surface level pain was the bomb that was continually exploding all over her body, and the neurological symptoms. The deep stuff was scary. It was the internal hurt that threatened to take her life. I don’t know how better to describe it. Regardless of understanding, the point is that she knew her body was beginning to fail. She felt as if she had no reserve left, and anything could take her out.
So as Easter rolled around, the preposterous was on the table. Katie’s team was on for worship on Easter Sunday. She hadn’t even been to church in months. Unknown to me, she had felt as if she was to lead worship Easter Sunday since February, but hadn’t said anything. As it ruminated in my mind over the weeks preceding, I had an overwhelming peace that Katie was to lead on Easter Sunday. You have to understand, at this point she was unable to stand for more than a few seconds. Any exertion of energy, even a brief conversation often left her unconscious wherever I carried her to. And I was in protector mode, and have been for most of our marriage, but at this point I was really in protector mode, and it was the last thing I would have naturally done to encourage her to lead on Sunday. She had two criterion for leading. That I would be on board, and that the pastoral leadership would agree to it, knowing where we were at. Against all odds I told her I thought she should lead. She asked me to talk with Pastor Art that night, and I did. Against all odds, his response was yes, if we felt like that was what God was calling us to do, then he supported it, even though it didn’t make sense.
So we began to prepare mentally and practically for Easter, which also happened to be Grad weekend. We had two good friends graduating from CBC and returning to Germany who had invited us to their Grad, and Katie felt like we needed to go to that as well. I was reluctant, but agreed. Over the course of the next week I shared with Katie that I though God was maybe going to heal her that Sunday. She didn’t really share my hope, having had the same hope dashed so many times. But it just made sense to me that as we heard God calling and responded in what was radical obedience for our situation he would honor that with healing Katie. I felt that it would be a prophetic act of obedience. Besides, is there a better day in the church calendar to be healed than Easter Sunday, with the power of the cross, the victory over death front and center? Regardless, it was a busy weekend ahead of us. Worship practice Saturday afternoon, after which Katie crashed hard, then a few hours later we had a Grad banquet to attend.
We attempted to time it well and shelter Katie as much as possible, but we were in a room full of people who loved her, and had missed her presence dearly at CBC the past year. It was a tough couple of hours. We stayed till our friend gave the second last talk. And then we bolted. We made it outside the building onto the steps before the convulsions started. So there we stood as people filed past us to their cars with Katie convulsing violently, unconscious in the wheelchair, me holding her from behind, and Luna holding her hand. Graciously, no one stopped to ask if we were ok. I think if a wheelchair is present people are more comfortable with weird unexpected physical episodes! Harry brought our car around and I loaded Katie in. With a final congratulation to Harry and Luna we were off. Unknown to us it would be the last time Katie experienced the debilitating effects of the neurological attacks caused by the Lyme bacteria.
Easter Sunday dawned. Katie had not really slept the night before, which was not at all uncommon, but never bode well for a day filled with more than normal amounts of activity. At 7:45 we were headed to the church for practice. It went well, and afterward we got Katie settled in the back room amidst pillows and cushions, doing everything we could to make her comfortable and limit the strain on her body. Shortly before 9 she called the team to pray for her. So everyone gathered around and prayed. 9:00 hit, and I carried her out to her seat. She proceeded to lead with gusto, as she always does! By the time the first service was over, she felt like she was on the edge.
It is hard to explain what a Lyme patient experiences, they often explain it the same way, even if they have never heard it explained before. The best way I can relay it to you is to imagine holding your balance on the edge of a cliff, where the slightest push from the wrong direction, even a breeze, will push you tumbling down to the abyss below. That is where she was after the first service. But with another to go, she rallied and I carried her out for the 10:45 start. As she began, she heard Jesus invite her to lead with passion. And she did. I was amazed frankly. I had not seen her exert so much energy in over a year! She began strong, and got stronger. We went off for the sermon, lay down in the back and came back for the closing song, a special request of the drummer, ‘My Redeemer Lives.’ There is a whole back story to that song, but suffice it to say it was a somewhat miraculous addition to the set that spoke the prophetic words ‘I am healed in his name, my Redeemer lives!’
The service concluded, Rosabelle, our pastor’s wife, came up to Katie with tears in her eyes and said, that was a sacrifice of praise, and prayed for us, giving us the verse from Psalm 31 that says ‘My times are in your hands.’ It goes on with David’s prayer that God would not let him be put to shame. God had honored our obedience, he has strengthened Katie, and while the rest of the church was headed home to turkey and ham, we headed home for a quiet afternoon. But it was not to be what had become the normal. Katie has an iron will, as any of you who know her a bit probably have discovered. Usually the routine for any extra exertion was her finishing what she had set her mind to do, and crashing, unconscious, minutes later. So what we were expecting was wrapping up the service, me picking her up and getting her straight to the car, hopefully getting her at least into the car before she passed out. But miraculously I got her situated, and she was doing ok, still engaged, and without any convulsions.
We both began to hope and wonder if God had maybe done something in her body. Arriving home there was a tear filled message on my phone from Katie’s brother two provinces away. We called for clarification and learned their church had held 48 hours of worship and prayer over Easter, and wrapping it up they asked for people to share. Tim was massively burdened by Katie’s struggle and in tears told a bit of her story and asked for prayer. The church gathered around Tim and prayed for Katie’s healing, having no idea what was taking place in Abbotsford at the same time, where Katie was probably laying on the floor trying to hold her own and preparing to go out to lead another set of worship. God is so good!
Unknown to us, two provinces away an entire church was wrapping up two days of intercession and worship with intercession for my Katie! We wept, we laughed, we marveled at the grace of God to heal in such a God honoring way. And after we got off the phone we played “My Redeemer Lives” and danced on the bed, our ‘mountain top’. It didn’t last long, Katie was still very weak. But as we crashed on the bed and continued to marvel, the next steps began to flood our mind. Who do we tell? Is this for real? What if it is a temporary reprieve as last February had been? It didn’t take long to have to decide. My uncle and aunt were passing through town that afternoon and were scheduled for a short visit. So we told them we believed God healed Katie that morning. And we told our families. That day we began to proclaim the healing work in Katie’s body. Moments of doubt would come, both for us and others, but we knew that Katie’s body was entirely different than it had been that morning.
The following Friday confirmed it. Katie walked into the office of her doctors, and as she says, ‘Todd just about fell off of his chair.’ We told them what happened, and they tested Katie. They were not willing to say that the Lyme was completely gone at that point, but they also were not willing to say it was still there. What they did say over and over was that her body was in a totally different place than it had been the last time we were there. And then they confided with us that they really had been near the end of their ability with Katie’s case of Lyme.
Her body was weak, despite her outward strength, internally she was losing the battle. They found themselves at an impasse. If they treated the Lyme harder, it might have taken her out, and if they did nothing, well, the Lyme would get an even stronger grip. We left rejoicing, thankful that God had worked in Katie’s body. But he had not restored everything. Pain was still present, although the neurological symptoms were gone, and the deep pain was different. Her body started flushing mass amounts of toxins in every way. It was pretty painful and gross, but we were more than happy to be rid of them. The following month we received the news that the Lyme was out of the picture as far as treatment was concerned, but that her body was extremely weak internally and we needed to treat it as such.
The physical struggles were by no means over. She still had massive amounts of pain some days, usually associated with subsequent infections, like the lung and throat infection she fought for months afterward. Questions? We have had lots. Why would God partially heal? Why not just do the whole thing? I can try to answer, but I am learning not to presume I understand too many of God’s ways in my life. Suffice it to say that if I knew the pain that Katie would experience as a result of our marriage, knowing it was on our honeymoon that she contracted this disease, I may not have married her. I knew sanctification and growth would happen through marriage, but I had no idea how painful it would be for Katie. If I did, I may not have ever pursued her.
And I would have missed out on more than I can imagine. So what is God doing? I don’t know. I know he is teaching us, that he is giving us a season of recovery to heal mentally and emotionally from the struggles of the past years. I know we are still learning a lot. But I don’t know why. I think it is his grace that I don’t know why. In my senior NT theology class at Columbia Bible College, we held to four presuppositions about God. First that he is Good, Loyal, Faithful, and Just.
There is a lot tied up in that statement, and I have returned to the goodness of God so many times when the lights figuratively have gone out. I can’t tell you why, it is a choice that I have had to make, sometimes daily. Ravi Zacharias once said in a message that was quite formational for me, ‘God has given us enough to make faith in Him a very reasonable thing, but He has left enough out that we cannot come to Him by reason alone.’ He has been so faithful in my life and in Katie’s not just in these few years, but so many times He has shown His faithfulness, that we are confident when we can’t see the other side he is carrying us through for his good purpose. And we are learning to rest, knowing that God does not measure time in our way. He is a God of the journey, not just the destination. And He is not concerned about lost time. He has given us the time we need to do the things he is calling us to do.
I recently read a quote by Bonhoeffer, where in response to the question of what hour in history is most important, he responded that ‘this one’ is. Today, this moment I have the choice to trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God to me, a broken, questioning, faithless vessel. The outcome is not yet sure. We don’t know if there will be lasting effects of Katie’s battle with Lyme, and sometimes it fills us with fear. But we trust that whatever he gives us is good in his sight! Most days. There are days, like when I saw a friend walking with his wife. Katie had a particularly bad day, and anger suddenly rose in me at the inability to do the simple things together. It has been years since we have been able to go for a longer walk together without me carrying Katie home. Simple things we don’t take for granted anymore, but are learning instead to enjoy the simpler things, like the beauty of the sunshine, feel of the grass, and God’s deep love for us that does not allow us the superficial temporary pleasure of comfort and self-reliance.
My prayer for you as I wrap our story for the moment, is that you have been encouraged by the faithfulness of God. Whatever it is that you are going through in life, Jesus is going through it with you, sitting with you telling you that He loves you, and has designs for your good, and for his Glory. May that be enough. May these words encourage you to deeper trust through all the storms of life, and may it add to the faithfulness that He has shown each of you as you have journeyed with Him. We live in hope, and pray that you do as well.
Revelation 21 says, ‘And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”