Dramatic clouds over a lighthouse.

Messenger to Floor Eleven — 1

This Night

It was evening when he came. I was already settling in for the night. Teeth brushed, face washed, moisturizer applied.

I was eying the back-loathing cot, contemplating the sandpaper blanket, considering the concrete pillow. As much as I disliked the set-up, there really was no better option for sleep.

I padded quietly over to the single bed, and checked on the man lying there, tubes attached to him, cords a-plenty connected to various monitors.

Studying the numbers displayed on the screens, I pretended to know something of what they meant.

“Seems stable for the night,” I mused, assuring myself that I’m right.

It was about then that the messenger came, disturbing the quiet of the hospital ward, up there on Floor Eleven.

The messenger stayed only a few moments, so the interruption wasn’t a long one. But it was a lasting one—still today, I owe a transformation of sorts to his visit.

Nervous as a Cat

Early that morning, like every morning, a lab technician had quietly appeared, switched on a light, and drew blood. She did it so early, like a polite vampire coming to collect its portion, in the wee hours of every day.

Later on, that same that morning, the doctor arrived, and we heard the verdict.

“How were the labs today? How is this trending? Up? Down?”

As I leaned in to hear the doctor’s pronouncement, I felt like a nervous little cat, waiting near my husband’s bedside, eyes darting, tail flicking.

The Routine

We endured this little routine, and played this waiting game every day. He might recover, all on his own. It looked less likely as the days added up. He might need the operation. That particular operation would change our lives for good.

Each morning, after hearing the doctor’s plan of action, I’d leave the hospital and take a good long walk. I would usually visit the nearby Starbucks.

This was “our time,” God and me, when we’d talk things out, while I walked around the great big city blocks. When I returned, I would attempt to have my “devotional time”, attempt to concentrate as I read the Bible. But my mind wandered.

Mostly I still felt like that cat. Hair raised on the back, tail still flicking.

I tried to feel that peace that God says He will give us. Jesus said, “My peace, I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you.”

Cool. So…where was it, exactly?

Why wasn’t I experiencing it? Was I supposed to do something, like pray a certain prayer, or pray a certain way, or what? I mean, I had released this into His hands. Repeatedly. So, where was that peace?

Floor Eleven

In the evenings I would take another good long walk again, this time around Floor Eleven. The possibility of sleep was greater, I reasoned, if I could get good and tired.

On this particular night, just as I returned from my walk, I encountered some of the power of God’s love for me, through the voice of a stranger, a messenger sent from above.

I had made my usual rounds, round and round the ward, out to the elevators, down to the nurses’ station, and back.

Just across from the nurses’ station was the large family waiting area, where I would hang out sometimes, during the day. I’d read every piece of compelling literature they offer: brochures describing lots of bright and cheery topics:

  • End Stage Renal Disease”
  • “Options for When Your Kidney’s Fail”
  • “Hemodialysis”
  • “Peritoneal Dialysis”
  • “Preparing for Hemodialysis: Your Fistula”
  • “Renal Transplantation”
  • “What to Eat: ESRD and your Diet”.

Fun stuff. As I neared my husband’s room, I picked up the pace. Was he still OK? When I’d be with him in his room, I would feel a pressing need to get out. Then, when I would be out, I would be anxious to get back – was he OK?

That particular night, on my final lap toward his room, I spied two dialysis machines: each one waiting its turn.


They were parked outside two rooms, no doubt ready for the morning’s dialysis runs. We’d learn all about them, later. In fact, within a week, we would enter that complicated world.

But I didn’t know it then. I hoped against hope that the PKD was not progressing that quickly. Dialysis machines held for me a certain dread.

I eyed the refrigerator-sized contraptions warily. I quickly skirted past these ominous sustainers of life, with their strange knobs and screens, and their ports aplenty.

These monsters that sucked out the blood, cleaned it up and returned it again—would one of them galumph its way into our room soon, maybe tomorrow?

Bedtime Prayers

I made it back to “our room”. Yes, he’s doing fine. He’s sleeping nicely.

OK, time for bed. Let’s end this miserable day. All washed up, I tend to my patient. Staring at his placid face, I hold his clammy hand.

I find myself once again breathing another desperate prayer.

“Oh God, won’t you heal him? I know that you can! Would you, please? Oh, God, he’s so young!

It’s like my prayers were on a sort of continuous-play loop of pleading. An alert was probably sounded in the mail receiving office in heaven:

“Scared wife’s repetitive, desperate prayer for husband in hospital, coming through–again”.

Poor God. I wonder what He thinks of these fear-based, whining complaints, dressed up as “prayer”. Does this sort of pleading accomplish much? Well, maybe. I mean, it’s good to talk to God, really about anything. But I was stuck in this particular scared/pleading-for-anything-but-this mode, and needed out. And He knew.

Maybe that’s one reason He sent the messenger. He may not answer our prayers in the way that we want, but He is present, and He does answer.

Like He did that night. He brought me a messenger, dressed up like a man. And with him, He brought me that peace I’d been seeking; the kind that doesn’t make sense, that surpasses understanding.

Suddenly, I heard him.

The Messenger

A voice, near our room.

“Hallelujah, Lord Jesus Christ!” the man’s joyful cry softly intoned.

“You are the King of Kings, upon the throne!” he exulted.

“To you belongs all our praise, all our worship, all our trust and our adoration, too, O Blessed Lord Jesus!”

Woah. Wait.

What is happening? How does this work…here?

Who even is this?

I creep over to the door, and open it just enough to steal a glance. I catch a glimpse of him as he worships his way past everybody’s room. He’s walking down the same corridor where I had just been.

He’s passing one of the dialysis machines now. Then he turns the corner, and he’s gone.

I stare at the place where he had just been. I could still hear the voice, though, quieter, fainter, as he continued walking away. And then, the messenger, having delivered his message, was gone. The corridor was silent; and once more it was the somber, quiet Nephrology ward on 11 East.

Stunned, I walk over to my cot, and plunk myself down. I close my eyes, and listen.

Over and over again, I kept hearing the words, as they lingered in my mind. I heard that quiet, intense, and utterly joyful speech. This was a memory I did not want to let go.

Who Was He?

The man had not been young, and neither was he old – my age, maybe? He was African American, and I remember that he punctuated his words with his upraised hands.

“Most High, above all authority, all kingdoms, and above anything that is, you deserve all adoration and praise!”

“Glory to Your Name!”

“You will be exalted, O Lord, above the nations!”

What was my brother in Christ doing on the Eleventh Floor? Why was he worshipping the King, here, tonight? How does that even work? You don’t just walk around praising and worshipping God down the hallways of a hospital!

Or, do you?

Maybe this is actually the very place where we Christians take our stand and deliver a blow to our enemy.

I had never seen this man before, and I never saw him again.

Was he going through these same stresses, here on Floor Eleven?

Or was he actually an angel, and he just looked like a man?

Maybe he was a pastor, directed to go to every floor that night, and surround the rooms with praises to the Lord! I don’t know, but I do know that his prayer life revitalized my own.

Still stunned, I tried to work it out. I was intrigued, upended, enlightened, reminded. Challenged.

The Challenge

“Why?” I challenged myself, “are you choosing to stay fixed in this fear-mode? Where are your pleading prayers really getting you?”

Why hadn’t I considered another option? This option?

Just love God, anyway. Whether my husband lives or dies. Whether this ends well, or doesn’t.

Isn’t He always worthy of my love? My adoration? My worship? Isn’t He still good?

And can’t I just say so?

Could it be, that though I kept giving this hard thing to God, over and over again, that I hadn’t quite gotten it right? Maybe it’s not our problems we relinquish into His good care. Maybe it’s us.

I needed to give my self to Him. In abandon. In worship. No matter how this thing went down.

Worship Service, Here

Sitting on that cot, hubby fast asleep, I closed my eyes and began. I guess I started my own worship service, right there. I started to thank Him, naming everything that entered my mind. From my heart to God’s, I would honor Him.

And so I thanked Him for His great love, His sacrifice, His tender mercies evident in my life in so many ways. And then it started to come. The peace.

Don’t ge the wrong. I’m not suggesting some easy, formulaic 5-step approach to apprehending peace in the storm. I am still sometimes fearful, and weary, or grieving. Sometimes lost.

And yet, by choosing to walk into the throne-room just as surely as I had walked past those waiting dialysis machines, my fearing heart at last was still. As surely as I entered the courts of the Creator of the Universe and sat there a while in His presence, I could not help but be lifted up by time spent in His presence.


That night a settled, restful peace began to descend upon my soul, even as my focus was on Him. I began to enjoy His presence in a way that allowed me to fall into a restful sleep that night, even on that cot of steel.

Like a cat stretched out in front of the fireplace, I rested at last, surrounded by the warmth from Him.

Next morning I opened the Book.

It’s In The Book

Why hadn’t I seen all this great worship stuff this whole week we’d been here?

Here it all was! In the Psalms, in Isaiah, throughout Paul’s letters, and in the Revelation: all throughout God’s Word was this entry-way into the throne-room of the Father, this invitation to bow before the Lamb Who was slain.

(The Messenger to Floor Eleven; Part 2 post contains many of the verses I found that night. Hop on over and enjoy the goodness of God, displayed in these portions of His Word.)

I spent the next few days studying these verses, and writing them down. I began to gain the victory over my worries.

God is Good

And I would tell Him so.

Oh, the mercy of God. I needed to know these things, and He knew it. I needed to be reminded, empowered, and redirected for the hard years that were to come.

We can thank Him for His presence, in the storms. He cares so very much. He saw me there, and heard my desperate prayers. I’m kind of blown away when I realize how much love He had for me in that spot. He sent me the messenger, and the scriptures, and the peace.

I gave him more than my problems. I gave Him me.

I think He may have been as eager to give me that peace, as I was to receive it. And He knew where I would find it—in the changed perspective that accompanies worship.

Paul talks about that peace, the kind that surpasses all understanding, in his book to the Philippians, chapter four. So much truth.

Oh the joy, standing in His presence, even on Floor Eleven. May your joy be made full, and His peace descend upon you, as you give Him all your worship.

Bryan and Katie Torwalt express this beautifully in their song Praise Before My Breakthrough. Hope it blesses you!

For more worship, enjoy the Salty Playlist.