"Whoa Whoa Whoa"

Kate and I had just returned from Duke Oncology. We laid on the couch after a good cry, processing the latest turn in the leukemia journey. Eventually, Kate got up and went out to run some errands and I sat alone in my favorite spot of our house. When I sit here, my older kids say that I am “assuming the position” laying long ways on our L-shaped couch, facing the TV and having six or seven pillows and three to four blankets within reach. The whole family would usually fight over this spot during family movie nights or football Sundays after church, but there was no battle today, at least not for the couch anyway.

In my spot, I have books and notepads, a bible, my phone and an iPad next to me, and when I put a wooden tray for my drinks on the ottoman, I am pretty much set for up to 10 hours. I checked my phone and saw that there was a text from Pastor Brian. In it was a verse of Scripture, Proverbs 3:8 in the King James version:

It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

I then thought to myself, “Wow, that’s exactly what I need physically. Thanks, Lord, for that word, it comforted me.”

Next, I opened my e-mail and noticed a friend had sent me a podcast where the speaker quoted scripture from the gospel of John. My new habit is (out of respect for the sender of the message) to open my Bible and find each new verse so that I can read it in context and discern whether I should highlight it for future reference. This particular verse didn’t really impact me, in fact, I can’t even remember what it was. 

But God apparently had me right where He wanted me to be and He wasn’t done with His message to me. As I was closing my Bible my eyes wandered to where chapter 11 was at the top of the next page, beginning with the subtitle “The Death of Lazarus.” I thought ‘blah, blah, blah. I’ve read that story before, nothing new for me there.’ But, with my bible partly closed as I am turning my head away, for some unexplainable reason my eyes start skimming John 11:1, then verse two and three and four and five. Why did my eyes do this? I don’t know, but with the Bible now nearly shut, I hear myself say “Scott, whoa-whoa-whoa! Wait a minute big guy, pump the brakes and slow down a second. What did verse four say?

 I opened the book and reread verse four. Then again, and suddenly, everything stopped; the clock, my breathing, my mind, maybe even my heart. 

 John 11:4

I looked up and said out loud, “Lord, for me?” 

No clouds, no smoke, no lightning or James Earl Jones voice. None of that. Just a smile. I felt it, God’s smile on me. I didn’t see it, I felt it. I looked down and re-read John 11:4 and with tears now rolling down my cheeks, I looked up again. 

“Really? Me, Lord?” 

This time I felt a grin, which is slightly different than a smile, somehow more intimate. Again, feeling it deeply. In my marrow, one could say.

Looking down, I stared at John 11:4 and tears dripped onto that page of my Bible. I was undone by this moment. It changed everything in my journey against leukemia.

After I regrouped, I called two pastors and two bible whiz buddies and asked if they knew the verse. They all hesitated, stuttered, then finally said, “No, it’s not a verse I recall...”

Hmmmm. 

Guess it was for just me in that moment. Wow. That’s never happened to me in the bible before. I am still undone! 

John 11:4.

Amen and amen