There are times in our lives when we find ourselves speechless, even moved to tears. It might be seeing an immensely beautiful scene. I often hanker after my favourite spot, just below the top of the Port Hills near my home city of Christchurch, New Zealand. On a clear, still and sunny day I love to just sit on ‘my’ park bench and gaze in awe, speechless, looking down onto the blues and greys of Lyttleton Harbour and the bays opposite, with Mt Herbert providing a stunning backdrop. I always sit in silence, over-awed. Or the birth of a child. When Ben was born in 1991 in Timaru, I was speechless; the tears then caught up with me as I drove home and had to pull my old Citroen GS over to the side of the road and let them flow.
We never forget overwhelming moments such as these.
This week has had more than a few of them. In the face of seemingly impossible or, in the least, extraordinary odds, we’ve seen the most amazing thing happen. Last week here on the blog, I gingerly (and admittedly somewhat hesitatingly) raised the issue of the large and unexpected gap in our funding to buy our house. We did so encouraged by friends. But we did so encouraged by events 48hrs earlier when Catherine, hitting rock bottom, prayed, “Lord, if this house purchase is right, please by the end of the day, may we be offered £10,000”. A phone call came that night offering that very amount as a gift. And then came a message via Facebook from old friends the same evening, prompting us to check our bank account the next day. Exactly the same amount again. And since publishing the blog last week, not only has the entire amount been given, but then some more (where people have been happy) towards settling-in costs and to help reduce the mortgage burden and income issue for us on a pension and teaching assistant’s wage, or more particularly, for Catherine and the children in the times to come. We are simply staggered and overwhelmed. During these last few days as it’s been happening, we have known tears of amazement together, looks of astonishment as a family and a big sense of being loved – loved by Father and loved by his people, his family, our friends & family. As I’ve written to various folk who’ve given, I’ve often included words of St Paul –
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)
…that each and every person, both those who’ve passed us monetary gifts, but also those who’ve supported, loved and cared for us in a thousand different ways, has been a part of Father’s heavenly supply chain. We’re stunned. In the New Testament, we read “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Quite truly, we‘ve seen these words come alive. Thankyou.
Ben has – once again – had a rough week. As well as some cognitive decline, he’s had two or three ‘episodes’ over these last six days – low level seizure-type occurrences, but events where he’s remained conscious throughout. He had one while he was at home on Easter Day afternoon. Crumpling into a sitting position on the bathroom floor after he started to shake, he eventually got up onto his feet with our help, but as he stood, hugging hold of me for extra support, he started to shake uncontrollably, saying, “I can’t make it stop” with such anxiety and no small amount of fear. After quickly borrowing a wheel chair from the neighboring Rest Home, we got him out into the car and back to the Rehab Centre.
We continue to await news as to whether he can be transferred up to London sooner or later. In the meantime however, he’s had the great opportunity of being enrolled in a wide-ranging “Deciphering Developmental Disorders” (DDD) study which brings together doctors from across the British National Health Service Regional Genetics Services as well as scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, a charitably funded research institute which played a world-leading role in sequencing (reading) the human genome. Alongside this, Catherine, Ben and I have had samples taken to allow him to be tested under the epilepsy gene panel, a DNA-based test that sequences many genes implicated in rare forms of epilepsy – all at once rather than individually. We’ve been told that this is a technology which has only been available in the last year or two using something called ‘next generation sequencing’. The consultant says, “All of these genes are essentially implicated in rare forms of childhood epilepsy, hence we should not raise our hopes of a positive finding in Ben, except that some of these genes are occasionally implicated in later onset conditions as well as childhood forms. If nothing is found then the DDD Project is a good back-up because they (Cambridge, Sanger Centre) will read through all of Ben’s coding DNA. Of course, neither of these tests/approaches will turn up anything if Ben’s condition has nothing to do with his DNA make-up..”
The scriptures regularly speak about God multiplying blessings on His people. We simply have to hold onto the Easter reality of the Risen Jesus and be reminded of what we’ve experienced regarding our house this week, letting it bring us all hope and encouragement in Ben’s situation.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)