Recalled to Life

Recalled to Life

Dialysis

Once my husband stayed alive by artificial means. A large blood-washing station lived in our family room. He submitted to its cleansing effects six days out of seven. The cleansings took about 4-5 hours a day.

The rest of the time, he maintained a somewhat poisoned state. That’s because, for the other 19-20 hours a day, the waste-products in his body had nowhere to go. So, they stayed in his blood, until it was time for another run.

He existed this way for several years, awaiting a kidney. It’s kind of like being alive, but not really living; at least not in the way he knew, the way we had experienced life, once before, back then. Back when he could work, when he could think clearly — un-besot by waste products circulating around in his blood.

Transplant List

He wore a pager on his belt for years. We were instructed to be ready at all times; after all, the call could come at any moment.

Odd thing, that, waiting for someone else to die.

We waited for the call—bags packed, stowed under the bed. When might he be recalled to life?

A Call

Then, one day, unexpectedly, out of the blue, a call.

An invitation.

“Do you want to live again?”

“Yes,” he replied.

A perfect match, a donor, in New York. And older man, a giving man, who had said “yes” to the option to extend life to someone else, upon his death.

They would fly the organ overnight from New York to Seattle.

Dialyze tonight, we were told, then come in to hospital, super early the next morning. Meanwhile, the transplant team would order tests run on the kidney. Was it in good enough condition? Would it last long enough, for a man as young as my husband?

No, it would not. The team rejected the offer. False alarm.

Put the bags back.

Next time.

It’s an odd thing, like I said, to be offered an organ, a way out of that alive-not-living sort of existence…to be offered an organ, because someone else had died.

Another Call

The next call we got came not from the transplant center, but from a friend. No pager needed.

“Can you come to dinner next week?” She asked.

“Certainly!” We were delighted to come. We had their family over last time, and so the invitation felt perfectly natural.

But the offer was anything but. After dinner, our friend explained what she wanted to do.

She told us how she had gone to the transplant team, behind our backs, so we wouldn’t go though another roller-coaster ride. That crazy ride where our hopes rise swiftly, wildly careening once again over the top of the ride. Then, no, this person is not a match. Or they changed their mind. Or they are disqualified. And then hesitating before the free-fall, and plunging once again, down to the bottom, we go. 

After dinner, she told us what she had been up to. She’d been tested. She’d been approved.

It turns out our friend was a nearly perfect match.

Medical science calls it a “living non-related donor”, but we know better.

My husband is basically alive today because of grace.

Grace

God poured grace all over our lives, through this remarkably self-less act, from a woman with an abundance of courage, powered by love.

When our friend told us of her plan to donate her kidney, her reasoning was profoundly simple. She said, “I’ve got two kidneys. You don’t have any.” (Both my husband’s native kidney had to come out.)

She explained, “I can live just fine on one kidney, so I’d like you to have the other.”

We were beyond stunned—the room became very silent, all of us staring at one another, silence before the tears began running.

Yet, this gift — should he accept it, wonderful as it was? Objections arose in my mind, and it seemed like it would be nearly impossible to accept. How we wanted to escape this continually dialyzing, life sentence of end stage renal disease, from a disease known as PKD. 

But she would be risking her life! Would my husband be able to accept such an offer? Would he say “yes”?

Oh, how I wanted him to accept the offer! I wanted my healthy husband back. I wanted our old life back!

But at the same time, how was saying “yes” even an option? This woman was the mother of five children! She would be putting her own life on the line, risking their futures with her, in order to give this priceless gift for her brother in Christ. And then there’s the pain involved, the healing process to undergo, and the time lost from work. Oh, such a sacrifice. Unthinkable.

Maybe my husband ought to say “no, thank you”, hold out, and wait a little longer for his name to move up on the deceased donor list.

Unmerited Favor

I keenly remember the day I sought guidance from God, asking for permission to go forward, for peace in my heart if hubby did accept this gift. I was kneeling at my bedside, Bible open, asking the Father for His mind on the thing. Could we say “yes”? Was this His plan?

My eyes looked down to the open page from the passage in front of me. My Bible was opened to the letter to the Ephesians, chapter two. Now these verses are profoundly beautiful for all who name the Name as Lord and Savior. But on this day, they began to hold a special significance for me.

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Saved by grace. Each of us is offered this salvation, paid by Another. But it must be accepted by us.

Our friend was “gracing” my husband, kind of like Christ, “gracing” the world. Undeserved.

She wanted to give my husband this tiny organ, about the size of her fist. Here was a palpable, flesh and blood enactment of what it was to experience grace, in the flesh. My husband did not deserve this thing, this organ from another person’s body. He hadn’t been born with it. He hadn’t earned it. It was hers, not his.

He was graced.

Greater Love Has No One Than This

My husband’s donor—we’ll call her Tamie (since that’s her name) was once upon a time a little tiny infant, newly born.

This sweet little baby girl, born with both kidneys, would one day choose to give one  away to a little boy who was five when she was born. He lived across the state, this boy who had been born with PKD. (We’ll call the little boy Shaun, since, well you know).

Tamie didn’t know it. Shaun didn’t know it. But God had known all along. He had a plan, and it involved a special “gracing” in the life of Tamie. Through His grace, she could follow her desire to do this thing.

Grace—unmerited favor.

Adam didn’t know it; Eve didn’t know it; but God had known all along. He had a plan, and it involved “gracing” the world with His most precious Gift. We didn’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. Salvation. The life-saving gift of Jesus.

Only, when we were saved, Someone did need to die. Someone did need to give their life up, intentionally, for us to experience new life, eternal life, the best life, the only life worth living.

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Romans 3:21-23

When we say “yes” to Him, we are recalled to life. It’s even better than a call to come dine next week. An invitation, an offer, a choice. Wanna live?

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

A Prayer

Father, you provided a way, when there was no way. You saw a solution, though it would cost you the life of your one and only, dearly beloved Son.  And you did it all. We could do nothing to earn your love, or your forgiveness. Indeed, Your Word says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Give, I pray, to those who are seeking, the faith to believe and to humbly respond to your great salvation. You are worthy of our devotion, amazing, saving God that you are! Save, we pray, those who need Your rescue. Amen.