Have you ever stood in the surf while ocean waves rush toward the shore? I know many of my midwest readers have not. The larger the waves, the greater the anticipation and the greater the danger. I like the smaller waves but the big ones make me uneasy. They hit with such force that they throw you toward the shore and then, just as you regain your footing, the water rushes back into the ocean working to drag you with it.
I recently finished reading Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s the amazing biography of Louis Zamperini and is the best book I have read in quite a while. “In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.” (Amazon – click here to order)
Zamperini’s story of determination and survival was such an inspiration to me while I moved from the liver transplant waiting list to a transplant recipient. His struggles were intense and sometimes difficult to read but entirely worth reading. On days when I wondered if I would survive this disease, I’d read of Louis and gain strength from his story.
One section that gripped, stunned, saddened and simultaneously brought me relief, was the description of the end of WWII and the horrific results of two nuclear bombs. I had never known the force of the shock waves until reading Hillenbrand’s descriptions. Entire city blocks were swept away by the sheer strength of the waves. Even the airmen in the bombers that dropped their annihilating payloads were tossed around like rag dolls when the waves reached them.
The news of my needing a liver transplant hit my family like a bomb. It swept me off my feet like an ocean wave and then dragged me behind it. Now, even after I’ve been transplanted, shock waves still blindside me. Today was one of those wave days.
A faith-shaking wave of pressure hit me today. The bomb dropped long enough ago that I now have times when I stand peaceful and wave-free for days. I’ve had a few days already where I’ve felt totally normal and healthy and even forgotten the 12-14 inch scar running from the center of my chest to my right side. And then? Waves.
Today we learned that Robin did not get the job we thought might be perfect for her and us. Today I learned that Robert, transplanted April 12, has been sent to hospice to die. His kidneys have failed and his bile ducts have stopped working. Today I was back on my couch with soreness toward the back of my right side. It’s most likely a muscle but the wave whispers, “That’s the back of your liver.”
My faith is strong. God is good and I know it and have lived it. Still, the waves are real. Waves of fear and depression hit me and try to knock me off my feet. Some have succeeded and sent me scrambling to re-establish my footing. Thankfully, I have built my life on a Rock so no sand foundation can be swept from beneath me.
Bombs hit each of our lives. Broken relationships, disease, accidents, unemployment, fire, death and other bombs rock us. When we survive the initial blast, the shock waves remain and keep rolling on. The challenge is to strengthen our footing so those waves can’t sweep us away or toss us around.
“On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.”
—Edward Mote (1797-1874)