Holding Together

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Riding in the back of a Taiwanese ambulance is not for the faint of heart. Especially if it lasts for three hours. 

Only the night before, my 17-year-old daughter experienced her first ambulance ride from an accident site to the small, rural hospital in Kenting. She and her friend, Kristen, had been in a scooter incident on the streets of this village resort community. I was thankful that her school nurse “happened” to be on vacation there, too, as she rode with Hilary to the clinic that night. I didn’t find out until much later that that particular ambulance driver had been drinking. 

Because the missionary doctor had detected a possible fracture within the cervical column of Hilary’s neck, he had emphasized that she wear a neck brace until she was under the care of a neurosurgeon. Although she wore one on the previous night’s ambulance ride, neck braces were not standard equipment in all emergency vehicles. Locating one, even when using what I thought was the correct Mandarin vocabulary word, proved impossible.

After a lengthy and frustrating search, we decided to make the trip without the brace. I would do my best to stabilize Hilary’s neck with my own hands

Hilary was not sedated and went in and out of consciousness during that ride. Since she was obviously in pain, I prayed over her continuously and sang praise songs when I didn’t know what else to do. 

Although there was a young nurse in the jumper seat, I’m sure I unnerved her by my assuming presence. As best I knew how I tried to keep Hilary stationary throughout the 182-mile trip with two gentle but firm hands. I felt ridiculously helpless.

As we pulled into the emergency entrance of China Medical, I was thankful to remove my hands in exchange for the hospital-provided neck brace. As personnel eased Hilary out of the ambulance, I saw the light come on in our driver’s eyes. Smiling, he quickly opened the glove compartment and pulled out a sterile, unused neck brace. 

Is this what you were looking for?” he said in excited Mandarin. I agreed, forcing a weak smile. I thanked him for his safe ride and turned to follow my daughter’s stretcher into the ER.

Later that evening, while reading scripture aloud in Hilary’s room, I came upon this verse: “And He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). Beside it, in the margin, I’d once scribbled a note: “And fixed in a position of resting in Him, you will find that He holds all things together.

In those simple words, He reminded me that He’d been in charge the whole day. Amid the foreignness of the situation, He had been the One to hold our entire family together. And with or without padded medical support, He had stabilized my daughter’s neck.

Regardless of my weakness, Christ Himself exists as the Great “He,” existing even before time. When my unexpected arises, and I feel unprepared, I can rest assured that He is already there, waiting for me. He is present, onsite, before I arrive, in both joy and pain. He promises that “When the earth and all its people quake, (He is the One) Who holds its pillars firm” (Psalm 75:3 NIV). 

Thank You, Father, that I can collapse into Your restful Arms, knowing Your Hand will hold my brokenness together. Hold me stable for the long ride. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.