Senior Pastor Waited Outside With The Mother During Her Daughter’s Surgery.
Story by Colleen (Graham) Robertson
Since the day Jillian was born it seemed we were getting her well just in time for her to be sick. Diagnosed as a severe asthmatic, I soon became educated in my daughter’s care. I was provided with the basic equipment necessary for her daily maintenance. As well as adrenaline injections that proved to be essential in the emergencies that made their rounds about every two weeks. I will never forget that feeling of helplessness. I simply had no control over what had become for us a continuous episode of events from infections to seizures.
By the age of three years, Jillian required medication around the clock, with medication costs higher than our housing expenses. This routine continued for the next few years. Only with God’s help could we bear our affliction, and so, bear it we did . . . together.
The Lord was truly our strength and Jillian, His arms extended. In simple terms I’d have to say, Jillian was our burden with blessing. Resilient, full of spunk and topped with red bouncy curls. Jillian was joy to each of us. Always the little witness, I can remember one particular morning as I was running late for an appointment, irritated by the frustrations that were clearly possessing my morning. I didn’t hesitate to express myself. To rant and rave without ceasing, you might say. I glanced over at Jillian, totally oblivious to my spouting as she gazed out the window from her booster seat. Then, with appreciation and excitement that seemed to be unmatched, she said, “Look Mommy! Everywhere you look you see God’s miracles!”
Immediately my cranky disposition was changed as I looked at the world around me through the eyes of my child. Jillian was surely blessed with a style of ministry all her own.
As Jillian grew, her bouts with asthma became fewer and farther between. However, her attacks remained severe, and these widespread gaps between bouts only revealed other symptoms. Symptoms that had otherwise been hidden and/or confused by her asthma and medications. An arrhythmia was found, confirming an abnormal heart disorder. All these years Jillian had been battling not one, but two serious conditions.
After the evaluation of her case, doctors perceived her disorder as potentially fatal, recommending she have a catheter ablation as soon as possible. The ablation was an alternative to open heart surgery and proven to be a relatively low-risk procedure. However, once inside the heart it would be imperative that the doctors be able to trigger the arrhythmia in order to locate and ablate the abnormal tissue. This is a lengthy process lasting from 6 to 12 hours. Nevertheless, if successful, it would prove to be a permanent cure.
Consequently, Easter Sunday, we found ourselves checking Jillian into Children’s Hospital. I once read; “Faith is putting all your eggs in God’s basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch,” and this particular Easter, that is exactly what we did.
In a large, darkened room in Children’s Hospital, I lay there quietly as I prayed. Across from me, resting peacefully and trusting God completely, lay my “Curly Girly.” Now thirteen, and still ever so much the fine example of faith and joy, is Jillian. As I prayed, I was overwhelmed with reassurance; The Lord neither slumbers nor sleeps and He was taking care of my Jillian. Feeling a sense of peace, I was soon fast asleep.
The morning sun had yet to break through when I waken to Jillian’s soft voice, “Mom, are you awake? I think something’s wrong with my IV.” So began our day with the harsh reality of the event that lay before us.
My thoughts were persistent, insisting I should share with Jillian the Lord’s assurance. Finally I surrendered. “Jillian, last night as I was sharing with the Lord my concerns for you, I was encouraged with this assurance: “Although you will be asleep for a very long time in surgery, The Lord will neither slumber nor sleep. He’ll be taking care of you.” I tried not to cry as I felt a trickle down my cheek. “I just know the Lord wanted me to share this with you.” I explained.
Then, with the usual twinkle of her blue eyes, she shared with me her dimpled smile. “Don’t worry about me, Mom. I’m going to be fine! I think The Lord must have meant that for you, because I’m fine! Really! I don’t even need this surgery. I’ve been healed!” she said with certainty.
“Well, if you don’t mind, as the Mom, I think I’d like a second opinion on that!” We both just smiled.
In an effort to change the subject, she asked me to reach for her literature book from a nearby table. “Oh yeah, I was supposed to read my part in class today. I wish I didn’t have to miss” she remarked.
I handed her the book and excused myself, as I went off to the next room to freshen up. It wasn’t long before I heard, “Mom, come here! Listen to this! It’s my reading for today!” She began to read to me from her literature book a portion from Anne Frank’s diary.
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the heavens whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made the heaven and earth.
Behold, He that keepeth thee shall neither slumber nor sleep. The
Lord is thy keeper. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy
coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”
Once again the tears began to flow as I felt the presence of the Lord.
When Pastor Chris, Jillian’s youth pastor, arrived he was ready to sit out the duration of her surgery. Soon after, our Senior Pastor, Rev. Whitlow arrived. Rev. Whitlow was quick to suggest a word of prayer. I can’t remember word for word his prayer for my daughter that day, but there are a few I will never forget . . . “For God shall neither slumber nor sleep. He is watching over you, even now as we pray. He will guard you and keep you safe. Amen.” Jillian, now bubbling over with excitement, was eager to share with Pastor Whitlow how his words had just served as our third confirmation to the Lord’s assurance.
While we were still sharing how the Lord had encouraged us, the orderlies came in to take Jillian over to surgery. As she wheeled down the halls, wearing her fluffy pink pig slippers, she sang a happy tune: “God is bigger than the boogie man . . . and He’s watching out for you and me!”
After only six hours, we were informed they had called it quits. They had been unable to trigger the arrhythmia necessary to successfully complete the procedure.
I broke down. “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t! And Jillian . . . Jillian will believe she’s healed. I know her, I know what she’ll say!” I cried, I cried like never before. As I too had been so sure this was our answer. I was sure that this surgery had been God’s means for her healing. Confused at my response, Pastor Chris questioned me: “What’s wrong? This is a good thing, isn’t it?” I tried to explain: “You just don’t understand. The doctor’s told us this might happen. It means they couldn’t find it! It means they’ll have to try again when she’s older!” As I cried, my thoughts were of how I could help her? I knew only too well, she would be carrying on as if she hadn’t a care in the world. How would I protect her, yet, encourage her? How would I hold her back, yet, not break her spirits? My mind continued to race and my tears continued to flow. Pastor Chris spoke up, “Well, I believe she’s healed!”
I too had felt sure this was our answer to prayer. Only now, as the pressures of the world seemed to be closing in, I wasn’t so sure anymore. But sure is the Lord, and surely He knew how I would again recall His Word. His Word that He had given and confirmed three times that I might hold on to it, and hold on to it I did, tight! As I was certainly going to need it in the days and weeks that lay ahead.
We quietly waited in Jillian’s room until her doctor came in. “Well, how’s our patient doing?” he asked but not allowing her time to answer. “Did your parents explain we were unable to do the ablation?” “Yeah, it’s all Marty’s fault” she said. “Marty?” He questioned. “Yeah, Marty. He’s a guy in my youth group. They all prayed for me. Then, Marty prayed that when you went in you wouldn’t find anything! I’ve been healed!” she added with her usual spunk.
Under these unusual circumstances her doctor allowed us to take her home without the use of a heart monitor. We agreed to phone him immediately if she should develop any problems.
It has been since April of 1998 that surgeons made their ablation attempt. Today, nearly two years after her surgery, Jillian is nearly sixteen. She has had no signs or symptoms of heart trouble. Even the asthma has scarcely revealed a trace. Her doctor told me recently they have no record of anything like this ever happening before!
Jillian is active in youth group, Bible quiz, band (oboe), color guard, piano, fine arts, baby-sitting and school.
Jillian’s dream is to someday become a doctor.
Will Jillian see her dream come true? Will her physical battle resume? Even her doctors can’t say for sure. But, of one thing I am sure, the Lord will neither slumber nor sleep, He is her keeper now and forever more!