“You are with me”

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My husband jerked the steering wheel but still grazed the parked motorcycle with our car. 


It was the second minor driving accident in two days. 


Being the calm, soothing wife that I am, I asked, “What is WRONG with you? Just because everyone else here in Asia seems to drive like a mad man doesn’t mean that you can. Can’t you SEE????


His negative answer surprised me. “Not really. I seem to be loosing my peripheral vision.”


Several doctor visits later we received the diagnosis: Keratoconus, degeneration of the cornea.


We learned that although most keratoconus patients can have vision restored with rigid contacts, Mark’s eye couldn’t hold a contact. 


His clear cornea tissue was so thin that his eye was actually pushing itself outward from the inside. His right eye was shaped more like a football than an orb. 


As you might expect, It is difficult to balance a convex lens on a cone shaped cornea.  Every time the optometrist placed a contact lens on Mark’s eye, his eye would spit it across the room. 


“So what are our options?”


“Cornea transplant,” was his shocking reply. 


Mark’s Taiwanese doctor continued, “And you probably don’t want to have it done here, as organ donation is rare. As you know, Buddhists believe in reincarnation and we don’t want to go into the next life missing a vital organ.”


“I do perform some transplants, but I will be frank. The corneas that we receive are mostly ‘seconds’ from the states. They aren’t the best quality.” 


Thus began a year and a half journey. We packed up our Taichung apartment, flew back to Texas and Mark was put on the cornea waiting list. The sobering fact is that someone else must pass away before a transplant can be harvested.


Even after Mark’s transplant was completed, there were complications. The mother tissue didn’t take kindly to the foreign cornea. For 16 months, Mark was miserable as his eye attempted to reject the transplant. 


It was a long and dark sixteen months. Both literally (with 15 watt bulbs in every socket) and emotionally. 


Yet, as we walked together through the valley of shadows, we discovered something that the Psalmist learned thousands of years prior:


It’s in the valley that our Shepherd walks the closest. 


Go back with me to Psalm 23. When David begins his prose, he speaks of his Shepherd in third person.


“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”


But when he begins his trek in the shadows, he no longer speaks about the Lord, but directly to Him. 


“You are with me.”


Mark and I found this to be true not only through the transplant journey, but at each and every juncture where our road narrows and the shadows deepen. 


Maybe we stop finding options to talk about prayer and begin to actually do it.


How about you? How does your conversation need to shift?