Ever since my first infusion of it in 2007, I have dreaded Cathflo–and not just because that spelling drives me nearly berserk each time I see it. Cathflo, or TPA, is a medication used for maintaining infusion ports, among other things, and it has historically been extremely helpful. However, my experience of it has always been fraught with difficulty in some form or other: first, nurses at an infusion center placed too much emphasis on side effects for any personal comfort; then, about three months ago, the TPA didn’t infuse properly. That, coupled with some negative associations that really have nothing to do with the TPA, have combined to make life a little more challenging during those monthly infusions.
Yesterday was particularly difficult. I was already feeling overwhelmed and needed little help from this infusion. Then, too, I was consumed in many a spiritual worry. I know–I should have heeded Jesus’ words not to worry and gone on with a joyful heart–but the Lord still has much work to do in my life. Yesterday’s concerns were twofold–first, that I simply wasn’t feeling terribly close with God, despite my efforts at daily worship and Scripture reading; also, that I really hadn’t had many people to discuss the things of the Lord with over the past several months. And, my beloved readers, you have no idea how much you need to discuss Galatians with someone until said individual(s) are caught up in their own busy lives, and you must resort to journaling about Galatians instead.
So begins the narrative about the needle and I. A few minutes of distracted singing while the procedure was being performed, some manipulating of claves and IV-like tubes and syringes, and then the TPA was left to do its work. Oh, yes–did I mention that part of the TPA process involves waiting an hour–in my case, a sixty-minute timeslot filled with crawling, anxious seconds?
My beloved readers, never underestimate the power or the love of God.
About ten minutes into all of this, the phone rang–a nuisance call, I thought, some call about an upcoming conference or a meeting that would soon need to be scheduled. The area code wasn’t local, though–perhaps…
And then, I recognized it. No one I know has that particular area code save Spirit-Filled Nurse.
Now, you really can’t grasp the depth of this without a bit of background. I first “met” Spirit-Filled Nurse as an infant, just before I went into surgery. While I don’t actually remember any of this, my mother was quite concerned about the outcome of the surgery. S.F.N. approached her without hesitating–without even stopping to inquire about what she believed–and said, “I’m going to stay right with that baby, and I won’t stop praying until the surgery is over.” There is no doubt in my mind that she did just that. Over the years, S.F.N. stayed in touch with our family. She has always had a simple, worship-centered way of communicating, so we established common ground very early. I’ll never forget the time she phoned when I was in first-grade.
“Hallelujah!” she exclaimed, as soon as she heard my greeting. No small-talk, no questions about school and friends, just praise.
“Hallelujah!” I replied without reservation. “Oh, I love Jesus…”
And so it went. That first conversation laid the groundwork for all that was to follow–every discourse from that time to this has been so filled with the love of the Lord that there remains little time for anything else. And that’s exactly the way we want it.
And so it was yesterday: As soon as I took the telephone from Naomi, Spirit-Filled Nurse filled the room with encouragement. “I just got your letter… I loved it–oh, He is worthy to be praised!”
I should note here that being able to communicate with S.F.N. often seems like a miracle in itself. She has a thick, beautiful accent, which is wonderful to hear if you’re meeting face-to-face, but sometimes impedes communication over the terrible phone connection we always seem to establish. Martha, Naomi, Hannah–even Jedidiah!–say that I’m the only one who can consistently understand every word she says. I think that’s the work of the Holy Spirit…
“Yes, He’s worthy to be praised,” she continued. And then, “And everything’s going to be all right.”
Not that I had said anything about my concerns, mind you. But I’m convinced that S.F.N. has the gift of prophecy, whether she knows it or not. Once, many years ago, I was in absolute anguish over a beloved brother and sister in Christ. I didn’t want to get into the details, though, so I said something innocuous. “Please, pray for me–PRAY FOR ME!” Her response: “Don’t worry. They’re all right now.” Now, aside from the power of God, how did she come to talk about “them” when I was asking for prayer for “myself”?
That said, “everything-will-be-all-right” coming from her almost has a tendency to sound as though it is coming from the Lord. Immediately, I was filled with peace regarding the procedure at hand. Then, too, there was a deeper peace–that all the cares and concerns with which I had hitherto been burdened would be used to glorify God, and/or taken from me in His time. Praise His name!
There then commenced the prose-psalm that S.F.N. has taught me ever since I could first communicate. It’s a song of sorts, sans music notes–a dramatic poem for two voices, without rhyme or meter or rhythm. Pure, glorious praise of God’s grace, glory and love–and of a quality that renders all other discussion superfluous. Case in point: I’m pretty sure Spirit-Filled Nurse has retired, but I don’t know that for a fact and I have no idea what else she may be doing. She has continued reading the Word–that’s what counts.
Back to the poem. Without either of us intending it, it does take on a rhythm–a musical quality that is absolutely joyful, but that I have never been able to establish with anyone else. But, if you want to talk about the Lord sometime with someone whom you feel is like-minded, this is how it usually works: Person A says something about His greatness, and Person B agrees and rephrases it, then adds a second and related point. Person A then takes the new point, clarifies it, and adds on to it–but all of this in a mere three or four phrases. Most of my conversations with S.F.N. go something like this:
“Hallelujah! He is worthy to be praised!”
“Yes, so worthy… He is wonderful, so wonderful!”
“He is wonderful, and He will never leave nor forsake you. Remember that.”
“I will remember, and focus on Him. Ever and always.”
“Yes, you MUST focus on Him! Don’t let the enemy attack you–”
“Because greater is He Who is in you than he that is in the world–”
“Yes! Great is He!”
“Great is our Lord… By His wounds we are healed…”
“We are healed! And saved and restored…”
“Restored, at peace with God. Hallelujah! He is worthy!”
“Worthy to be praised… Well, I’d better go now.”
And so we hang up. The entire conversation has taken less than five minutes, but everything that was ever worth saying has now been said.
And that was how it went on the day of the Cathflo. Mere seconds, a river of peace. What I came away with–and hold in my heart to this present hour–is that our Lord is in control of even the most unpleasant of circumstances; that He will take my burdens if I cast those cares upon Him; and that He will never, never forsake me. And, if that weren’t enough, I have learned one more joyous thing from this whole experience–that the Body of Christ has not abandoned me either–Spirit-Filled Nurse will make sure of that.
Addendum: I’m sure many of my readers are already familiar with the worship song “You Alone Are Worthy of My Praise”, commonly known as “I Will Worship”/ It’s a wonderful call-and-response anthem, reflective of what S.F.N. and I do. What’s more, it can be played in nearly every musical style–from upbeat praise to on-your-knees worship. The version I’m thinking of is by the English worship leader Martin Ball and appears on the album COME TO THE THRONE. ACTUALLY, the version I’m thinking comes from a Victory church and was sung by Ready-Writer and her family in 2003, but I never recorded that version and so the rest of you will just have to settle for Martin Ball!