According to Romans 8:18, our present sufferings are insignificant compared to the glory that will soon be revealed to us. Many of us, however, have reason to doubt that our present sufferings are at all insignificant.
For anyone who stood by Jonah’s bedside for any of his sixty-six days in ICU, they would agree that his sufferings were hardly insignificant.
But not so for Jonah. I’m convinced that the prayers of the hundreds of people whose lives Jonah touched lifted him up far above his earthly sufferings. He lived those sixty-six days in the shadow of a great and protective wing. God gave Jonah the Spirit to endure, and this Spirit shone from him throughout his ordeal.
When I told Jonah that Jesus loved him, he answered, “I know.” When his mom and I sang him the song “Jesus Loves Me,” he asked us to sing it again. When he called one of his nurses a “lunatic nurse,” I suggested perhaps that he thank Jesus for her. Without hesitation he said, “Thank you, Jesus.”
It is through Jonah and his grace to bear endless days of discomfort, to celebrate his thirteenth birthday in the confines of a hospital ICU room, that I saw a glimpse of the glory we are all promised, and that he is now fully experiencing.
I was given another glimpse when God gave me a vision. As I prayed for Jonah during those sixty-six days, I saw an angel over his bedside. Jesus was at his left, and, because I’m Catholic, naturally Mary showed up to be at his right side. I believed they were truly present, an unseen energy and potent spiritual panacea.
Later, when Jonah left us to be with the angels, I had another vision as I prayed. I saw him from behind, standing beside a white-robed figure. Turning to the man next to him, they now stood in silhouette as Jonah tugged on the man’s sleeve. “Let’s play tag!” Jonah said.
The man was Jesus, and as he nodded yes, Jonah called, already taking off, “You’re it!” And both were gone in a whisper of light, like the pure spirits they are.
There are forces around and within us that we have only begun to comprehend. When you make the time to pray, to be still, even for a moment, it’s a powerful source you’re plugging into. It’s there, beyond the blue “within the shadows of a wing,” where the unseen stand watch.
And run like the wind.
“Beyond The Blue” – Josh Garrels from Josh Garrels on Vimeo.
Stand on the shores of a site unseen
The substance of this dwells in me
Cause my natural eyes only go skin deep
But the eye’s of my heart anchor the sea
Plumbing the depths to the place in between
The tangible world and the land of a dreams
Because everything here ain’t quite what it seems
There’s more beneath the appearance of things
A beggar could be king within the shadows,
Of a wing …
And let go, of all, we cannot hold onto
For the hope, beyond, the blue
“Beyond the Blue” by Josh Garrels
“I tell you of the world for which this world groans and toward which it strains. I tell you that beyond the awful borders imposed by time and space and contingency, there lies what you seek. I announce to you life instead of mere existence, freedom instead of frustration, justice instead of compensation.” ~ “Christ the Tiger,” by theologian Thomas Howard
“Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle