For the dead
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
I know I’m speeding, but I’m already late picking up Nate from school. He’ll be fuming at me for making him miss the first half of his soccer practice…again. There he is, standing in his middle school pick-up line, shaking his head.
“Aunt Julie, you’re late again!”
“Sorry, Nate. I had to work a little late today, that’s all.”
“But we’ve got the championships in three weeks, Aunt Julie. If I’m late again, coach said he’s gonna bench me.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll talk to the coach. With all that money your mother’s paying, there’s no way he can bench you. Besides, you’re one of the best players he’s got. Who can compete with that cute little freckle face?”
“Aunt Julie,” he says with a sigh. “Please don’t make a scene with the coach this time.”
“What? A scene? Since when did I make a scene?”
I say this as I pull onto the main road leading to the soccer field.
“Remember when you got on the coach for yelling at me? That wasn’t cool, Aunt Julie. All the kids made fun of me for that.”
“But the coach should know better, Nate. He knows your family’s been going through a lot with your father in the hospital and all.”
“Aunt Julie…please. Just don’t make a scene this time. In fact, just let my mom handle the coach.”
I tousle his hair as he pulls away, grimacing.
“Okay, Nate. No scenes. Promise.”
I park the car and jump out of the driver’s seat to help him with his gear. He goes through the motions while avoiding my eyes. Though I lean in for a hug, Nate turns away and runs off toward the field.
Surprisingly, he stops, turns and waves at me with that beautiful forgiving grin.
After I get back in the car, I turn on the engine and check the dashboard clock. 5:30 pm. I only have thirty minutes to get across town to pick up Melissa from her dance class. So I jump on the highway, driving at top speed. I let the windows down to let my hair fly. Feels good. Feels good to feel free.
I barely hear my cell phone ring. Quickly, I roll up a window and stick an earbud in my ear before answering.
“Jules, it’s me.”
“Oh hey, Shelly.”
“Did you get Nate?”
“Yeah. Just dropped him off at practice. He was mad at me as usual.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it…he’s just a kid. He doesn’t treat me any better and I’m his mother!”
“Nate’s just going through a lot, but he’s a tough cookie.”
“I know. Are you on your way to get Missy?”
“Yeah. I should be there right at six.”
“Okay. Thanks, Jules. I couldn’t do any of this without you. You’re a Godsend.”
“Anything for you, Shell.”
“Jules, guess who called me today?”
“What? The police? For what?”
“For Daniel. I was leaving the hospital and walking in the parking lot to my car when my cell rang. It was the police telling me that they arrested Daniel again.”
“Oh, Shelly…I’m sorry. What for this time?”
“Stealing. What else?”
“Shelly, he’s hurting the most, you know. He’s at an age where he really needs a father figure.”
“Jules, I’ve heard that line one too many times. I’m sick of hearing it.”
“But Shelly, it’s true. Daniel’s seventeen. He didn’t finish high school. He’s not thinking about his future. It’s like he’s lost.”
“Well, he needs to get it together real fast ‘cause I can’t take this anymore, Jules. I don’t even have the money to bail him out. I can’t sleep at night. Every time I go to bed, I’m wondering where he is. It has to stop already.”
“Shelly, this is something that’s too big for you. You’ve got to go to God on this one.”
“Jules, that’s for you, not for me. I go to church on Sunday, that’s enough. You can do all your little prayers…I’m way too busy for that.”
“Shelly, it’s the only way. It’s the only way God can really step in and help you guys out until my brother gets back on his feet.”
“Back on his feet? Jules, Mike is in a coma. He’s not getting back on his feet.”
“Shelly, don’t say that. You’ve got to have faith.”
“What are you talking about? Forget faith! You need to listen to the facts, Jules! The doctor told us that he’s practically brain-dead. He’s not coming out of this. In fact, they told me….”
“What? They told you what?”
“Jules, they told me this morning that I’ve got only one week left to make a decision.”
“But I thought you were going to get a second opinion? You said you were going to have him transferred to another hospital to run some tests, remember?”
“I know what I said, Jules, but things have changed. I mean, with Daniel’s new arrest and the juggling with Nate and Missy…it’s just too much.”
“Shelly, what are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I’m thinking of taking up my sister’s offer and moving us to be near her. She can help me with the kids a lot better. I mean, you’ve been doing a great job, but Jules, you’re busy with your own life. It’s just too much.”
“Shelly, I think you’re making a big mistake. You can’t do this. You can’t give up on Mike. He’s your husband…my brother. You can’t just pull the plug on him.”
“Jules, what am I supposed to do, huh? He’s not waking up! Meanwhile, the bills are piling up. Daniel’s criminal antics are driving me up the wall! I can barely keep up with Nate and Missy. And if I’m late again at work, I’ll be fired. I’m at the end of my rope here!”
“I…I think it’s going to be best. I think it’s the best decision for all of us.”
“For us? What about Nate and Daniel? They need their father, Shelly. They need to have the hope that he’s going to pull through this. It’s only been two weeks since he’s been in a coma. He can still pull through this.”
“No, he can’t, Jules. The doctors told me it’s impossible. They said that even if he wakes up through some miracle, his brain is so damaged that he’ll practically be a vegetable. The only reason why they haven’t pulled the plug yet is because he never signed that ‘do not resuscitate’ form. Man…I wish he did.”
“Shelly, are you kidding me? Are you actually wishing for Mike to die? Are you serious?”
“Jules, I’m not trying to hurt you, I’m not. I know you love him. I love him with all of my heart and soul, but what kind of life is he going to have with brain damage? What kind of life are we going to have as a family with him like that? It’s not fair to him to suffer like that. This whole thing is tragic, really. But…I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”
“When…when are you going to tell the doctors?”
“I don’t know, maybe tomorrow morning when I go visit him before work. It’ll probably be around eight or so.”
“Shelly…please. Think about it. Pray about it. This can’t be the right choice right now. It just can’t.”
“Jules, I’m done praying. My family’s in turmoil right now. I’m on my way to pick up my son from jail…again. I can’t take this anymore! We’re pulling the plug on Mike.”
“That’s it, Jules. That’s my decision.”
“Glory to You, Lord!
Glory to Your Holy Name!
Glory to You, Father, Son, Holy Spirit!
Glory to You, Jesus, sweet Jesus!
Glory to Your Magnificent Name!
Lord, I love You!
Lord, I trust in You!
You are the only One who can heal my brother!
You are the only One who can bring Mike back to life!
You can do it, Lord!
I know you can!
You are the God of my life.
You are the God of all life.
You can raise the dead to life.
You have the power to destroy the work of Satan.
You have the power to destroy death.
Lord, bring Mike back!
Bring him back to his family.
Bring him back to his wife.
Bring him back to his sons.
Bring him back to his daughter.
Bring him back to me.
Bring him back, Lord.
Awaken his mind, his heart, his body.
Awaken him and whisper to him that he must live.
Remove the cloud of the coma.
Remove the cloud of death that hovers over him.
Lord, You are the ruler of all.
You have the power over all things.
There is nothing too great for You.
You are Lord.
Jesus, bless Your Holy Name.”“Raise Mike so that all will look and see that You are God!”
I know God answered my prayer. Early this morning, I called in to work and told them I had a family emergency and that I would not be able to make it in. I know what He told me last night…and He never lies.
So I make some coffee and settle in on the couch, with my cell phone in my lap. I can’t help but to smile to myself. I even let out a slight chuckle.
God heard me last night. He heard my cries. Even after I collapsed from fatigue and drifted off to sleep, He still answered me. In a glorious dream, God showed me exactly what He was going to do. He told me that He was waiting for my prayer. He was waiting for someone to come to Him with faith so that He can perform His miracle.
So now I am waiting for Shelly to call me with the news. I am waiting to hear joy and excitement in her voice. I am waiting for her faith and hope to be renewed in God.
Boy, I can’t wait to see Mike. He’ll be overjoyed to return to his family and put the past behind him. I know my brother. I know he will glorify Him the moment he opens his eyes. We were raised that way. We were raised to know that God has the capability of doing absolutely anything. God can bring life anywhere, to anyone, in any circumstance.
“I love You, Lord,” I happily whisper between sips.
Then, just minutes after 8 o’clock, my cell phone rings.
“Jules…you won’t believe this.”
“It’s Mike. He’s…he’s awake…and talking!”
“Glory to God!”
“Yes…yes. I…I can’t believe it! My husband’s awake!”
“Shell, God did it. He did it!”
“Oh, Jules! Thank you for your prayers.”
“No, Shell. Thank God. Thank Him. He’s the one Who did it.”
“Yes, yes. Thank God! Thank You, God! Oh Thank You, Lord. Thank You!!! Oh, Jules, I…I can’t believe it! God did this? God brought my husband back to me? Oh, my God!”
“Believe it, Shell! Hey, I’m on my way! Tell Mike I’m coming!”