"I’m on my way, but you may get there before I do.”
I can still hear the sound of Bryan’s voice cracking as he spoke into the phone. He’s a force of a man. The Irish son of a California cop. He’d stayed on his feet through fights that would level most of us … but not that day. There was no fight left.
The call came as I was working in my little country school district office with orange walls and no windows. The air was stale but you could hear a pin drop in there. Bryan’s voice was shaky, but he spoke clearly. “Zach, Liz’s dad just died. He had a heart attack and is being transported to Newberg Hospital. I’m on my way, but you may get there before I do.”
I looked at the clock, got up and began to make my way to the hospital. Though I was moving as quickly as possible, it felt like slow motion, wading through a chest deep feeling that time was moving but I wasn’t.
I was doing my best to stay ahead of the fog, but I could feel it settling in. On the drive, a million thoughts passed through my mind. I tried to imagine how things might go once I arrived. What to say. What not to say. What to do. Finally I arrived. The hospital doors hesitated in front of me, staying shut just long enough for me to realize that none of that mattered. Once they opened, once my friend was in my arms, we were together in a place where words and works can’t go.
Being stripped of our wisdom and strength is a strange thing. There is a terrifying beauty to that kind of honesty. So terrifying that we spend most of our lives fortifying ourselves from true vulnerability. And yet it is beautiful, because it is familiar. The moment we are born we are received by hands more capable than ours and in Christ, His capable hands will welcome us once again when we die. But “midway along the journey of our lives”, we forget. Most days, our wisdom and strength are sufficient. Most of the time our hands stay busy with immediate things until they are interrupted.
When Jesus says, “you must be born again,” He invites us to be received into hands more capable than ours and to rest there. He longs for us to experience the mystery of those hands holding us throughout the journey of our life until our strength finally gives way completely.
I found those hands holding me as I held my friend at the hospital doors that day. All I could do was silently pray, “Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you.”
There are places where no words or works can go. Places where no pre-arranged plan, no earthly power, can meet the needs or take away the pain. I don’t know where the next place like this will be for me, but I am aware that I am already on my way, and that you may get there before I do. So may we both be reminded that the same hands that hold us today will hold us when we get there. May we find rest in those constant and capable hands.