It was brand-new, burgundy, with touches of gold and the heavenly aroma of new leather. Like the proverbial little old lady and her car, I got it out only on Sundays and, when I was through with it, returned it to its proper place.
But it wasn’t a car. It was my first adult bible — burgundy leather cover with delicate pages edged in gold — a birthday gift from my husband in November, 1985. Until that day, I carried my childhood bible — white, zippered, name stamped on cover — to Sunday school and church. With help from the poetic rhythm of King James, I memorized countless verses. As I grew older, a question dawned on me. How much was I really grasping?
On October 31, 1995, I learned that a meningioma — a slow-growing tumor that grew to 3.5″ in diameter, about the size of a grapefruit– was homesteading smack dab in the bi-frontal lobe of my brain. Thank God, the seven-hour surgery on November 2 — the day before my birthday — was successful.The pathology report, that the tumor was “encapsulated and benign” was almost miraculous. Still,because the tumor had insulted more than one system in my body, I was looking at five more weeks before I could go home.
The first step to recovery was a walk down the hall. I was barely two days out of surgery when I graduated from Neuro ICU to fifth floor of Richardson Tower, the stop before Rehab. When Michael and Cheryl showed up at my room with a gait belt — a length of webbing with a buckle at one end — and announced it was time for my walk, my first thought was, “On these wobbly legs? I don’t think so!”
Still, I felt driven by two things: the desire to return to life even better than I ever knew it and my renewed faith, thanks to prayers lifted up by three congregations: my sister-in-law’s, my mother’s, and mine. With my hands firmly planted on Michael’s shoulders and Cheryl holding on to me from behind, I knew there was no room to fall. Inching my way down the hall, I began to focus on my favorite New Testament verse, Philippians 4:13: “For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Scarcely a week passed before I was approved for rehab. There, I was encouraged to wear street clothes and to resume my favorite activities: writing and reading. Knowing that Mike would be visiting me, that afternoon, I asked him to bring a notebook and my bible.
When I was little, I memorized Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want” in Sunday School. Yet, I knew very little about other chapters in Psalms, let alone the Bible, itself. So, when I wasn’t in therapy sessions, I sat in my wheelchair and explored other psalms.
Always loving the majesty of a thunderstorm, I was thrilled to find 29:3, “…The God of glory thunders.” Flipping to Chapter 150, I could almost hear the flutes, cymbals, and tambourines. A real-live spiritual pep rally that ended with, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
On December 1, I was released from Harris Hospital where I continued to recuperate. Every milestone — driving, teaching — required a wait. Then, I discovered 27:14 is all about waiting…on the Lord.
These days, even though my bible is an app on my iPad, I still have my rehab bible. Its pages are dog-eared and rumpled. Verses are highlighted and notes, scribbled in the margins. Still, whenever I pull it from the shelf, I remember when this gift became grace.