Tuesday, July 9, 2013


It was the fact that he used his deliberately calm voice that completely freaked me out. No parent wants to get a call that their kid is hurt. When that call comes from your husband, and he's using that deliberately calm voice and both your husband and son are in a foreign land, one that suggests special vaccinations and malaria medications prior to going, one that speaks a different language, one that requires two airplane flights and a three-hour bus ride to get to, there is only one word to describe the reaction.


Panic, followed by prayer, followed by the realization that you need a lot of people praying, and pronto. Praise the Lord for Facebook. Praise the Lord for family and friends who conduct your neurotic google searches faster than you can and send reassurances: "modern hospitals, not shamans," "most kidney lesions heal on their own." Praise the Lord for insomniacs who read posts at 2 a.m. and pray. Praise the Lord for friends asking others to pray, resulting in strangers praying for your child. Praise the Lord for friends who know when to distract with joking, juicy tidbits of stories and when to focus on Scripture.

More prayer, leading to peace, a dribble of additional information leading to panic, leading to more prayer, leading to peace.

Reading the official version of the event on the mission team's website today seemed odd to me. While by any objective standard their accounting is true and their praises justified, it totally misses my subjective reality of what happened.

Experiencing it in real time as a mother separated by nearly two thousand miles from her son, it felt different. My son hurt and really hurting. My husband detailing some extremely worrisome symptoms in our kid. Agonizing hours of silence. Another call at midnight. Rather than an all-clear, this call has words like internal trauma, bleeding, additional testing. An eternity later at 2 a.m., another call. Yes, bleeding, but not so much anymore. Yes, trauma and a lesion to the kidney, but a 1 on a 1 to 5 scale. Yes, concern for a jostling ride back to camp, but a day in the hospital for rest and observation first.

Objective summary and subjective experience are both realities in the Christian walk. Objectively, we know God wins; God is in control; Jesus loves us. We know that, really know that, to the core of our being. Subjectively, we go through things that scare us and hurt us. Christians operating in the objective reality show the hope that we have. Christians operating in the subjective reality show that we're human, you know, just like everybody else. Operate only objectively and people wonder if you can relate to them, to their very real troubles and pain. Operate only subjectively and people wonder why bother with faith if it makes no real difference.

Panic, prayer, peace. It's not a once and done. It's a moment-by-moment as we navigate life toward its conclusion and fulfillment in Christ. We need the objective summary, the end of the story from the perspective of the One who writes the story, for hope. We need the subjective to remind us of how much we truly need our Savior.

On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf, for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 1 Corinthians 1:10b-11

photo courtesy of Emily Neal


  1. What a handsome pic of my wonderful nephew!

  2. What a handsome pic of my wonderful nephew!

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  4. Taken by the inimitable Emily, focus of my previous blog post. Click on her name under Nathan's pic if you're interested in reading more about Emily!


  5. I love your perspective, Holly! Objective and subjective....both are necessary! Thanks for sharing!