I unlaced my sneakers, slipped them off my feet, and placed them into the plastic bin. Patting my jean pockets to make sure they were empty, I walked forward as the TSA agent waved me on. My plane was scheduled to take me home in an hour and a half, and I would not be on it.
I could not have known that before the hour passed, I would be back at that security checkpoint, tears streaming down my face that was flush with fear and embarrassment. The TSA agent turned towards me as I spoke through cracking voice. “Excuse me… my plane leaves in an hour, but I am very dizzy…”
She had already rose from her seat, and was patting it, telling me to take a seat. With shaking hands I gripped my bottle of water as she called for medical help. “We are going to take care of you.” She assured me. Then she began praying out loud over me. Minutes before I had asked God, Show me what to do. Show me who to talk to.
Within minutes more security agents had arrived, circling around to shield me from the crowd of people making their way through the security gate. The paramedics arrived. “Where are we going, Sweetheart?” The EMT asked me.
“The hospital, I guess.” Tears slipped down my cheeks. “Oh. I mean Denver. I was going home.”
Time evaded me as the ambulance carried me to the hospital. All I could think about were the nine hundred miles that separated my husband from me. I sent a desperate text message to my dear friend who had dropped me off an hour before. “Can you come back to Memphis?”
When she arrived to my bed side, I was already adorned in a hospital gown, and I.V. in each arm. She told me of the two churches and various small groups in her town that were already praying for me. “Flight is booked” My phone buzzed with the text message from my husband. I prayed that he would make it to the airport in time to catch that last plane.
The nurse pulled back the curtain in my room to reveal a wheel chair. “They want a CT scan.” He explained.
“You’re going to be fine.” My friend whispered to me as the nurse wheeled me away, legs trembling and heart racing.
Despite my complicated health history over the past thirteen years, I had never had a CT scan. And as the technician wheeled me into the room, it struck me just how much it looks like something you would see on an episode of ER or Grey’s Anatomy.
He strapped me to the bed and positioned my head. “This should only take three or four minutes.” Then he disappeared into a small room separated by glass.
I was alone.
I closed my eyes and tried to take deep breaths as the bed moved into the white cylinder machine. It revved to life, and I couldn’t help but notice how the droning of the machine sounded a whole lot like the drone of the aircraft I was not on.
Three or four minutes stretch much longer when you are counting every heart beat, wishing to wake up, to not be alone. I tried to pray. But I was struck by the lack of peace. God, where are you? Have you left me alone in this room, with this machine, and nine hundred miles away? I heard nothing but the whirring of the machine as it orbited my head.
It would not be until the next day, with my husband next to me, searching his laptop to find us a flight home, that I would see it. I wouldn’t see it fully until we arrived home, and had some solid answers from doctors. Only looking back on it would I be able to see it–His presence. His sovereign, loving hand in the details.
From the prayer of a TSA agent, to a friend who refused to leave my side until my husband could arrive to take her place. From the last flight of the evening to bridge that gap of nine hundred miles, to EMTs making me laugh in the ambulance. From dear friends taking in and loving on our boys, to a week of meals from friends waiting for us when we made it home. Even in that sterile room with the white machine suffocating me in fear and loneliness–He was there. Never leaving. Never blinking.
Just as Peter stepped out of the boat only to nearly drown in his fear, so was I in those moments. Sometimes all we can see is the wind and the waves, the white machine and the nine hundred miles. And we teeter on the edge of drowning until we look up just long enough to catch a glimpse of Jesus’ outstretched hand. Sometimes we don’t see Him until we are actually back on shore. But He was there. “I believe, help my unbelief.” And He does. He works with our faith, no matter how small and full of holes it may be. He stretches out his hand.
In the darkest of places, when fears drowned out faith, He is still there.
He never leaves our side.