Do Not Cross the Red Line

A Lesson in Trusting God

It was a full day of meetings, coffee dates, and paperwork.  I was now settled under the covers and drifting off to sleep when I heard the chime on my phone.  I thought, “I’m not a slave to my phone! Whatever it is can wait.”  Then I turned over and went to sleep.

The next morning I woke to discover a frantic text message from a friend. She sounded upset and confused and was asking for help.  Eight hours had elapsed since she sent her S.O.S. I called but got her voice mail and could only leave a message.

I felt awful.  And mad at myself.  And worried. What  was going on? And why oh why didn’t I check my phone? I went to the kitchen and fixed a cup of Earl Grey tea and headed to the living room where I picked up my Bible and sat down to discuss this with God.

As I was praying, a scene flashed through my mind from several months earlier.  A scene from the hospital.

That evening in February I walked alongside the gurney as my husband Phil was being wheeled to the operating room for surgery to repair a fractured wrist.  I was glad to be with him.  But just before we reached the doors, the aide stopped me.

“You can’t go across this red line.” he said.

I looked down and there it was – a bold line of red tape a few feet from the swinging doors of the operating room. I bent down to kiss Phil goodbye and watched as they wheeled him in and the doors swung shut behind the aide.  It was time to let the experts do what the experts do.  Which was to anesthetize my husband, cut open his broken wrist, pull some pieces of bone together, screw in a metal plate to hold it in place and then sew him back up.  I wouldn’t have a clue what to do.  I didn’t belong in there.

I wandered up to his room on the third floor and sat on the day bed by the window. For a few hours I prayed and checked the time and watched TED talks and checked the time. Very late that evening, they rolled him into his room.  And once again, I was with him. I could whisper soothing words. Tuck in the blanket. Turn out lights. Place a glass of water on the table tray.

When I knew my friend was having a hard time, I wanted to be there for her.  She needed me.  Part of my job is to be there!  Or is it? Could it be that in the same way I wasn’t needed or equipped or allowed in the operating room, I wasn’t supposed to be there for my friend that evening?

I imagined standing at the door of the operating room and pictured Jesus holding my friend in his arms. He smiles at me and says, “You don’t need to come in.  I’ve got her. Go have a cup of tea.  We’ll be back.”

As I thought of that scene, my heart grew calm. Whatever was going on that night in her life, he was right there with her, taking care of her.  Without me.

God’s peace settled over me.

Story by Jan Morrison

Jan and her husband Phil have been with AIM since 1992 and currently live in Nairobi, Kenya.  Jan is the Women’s Mentor for Africa Inland Mission’s Eastern Region, and provides support and pastoral care to AIM’s women in Kenya and Tanzania. She believes missionaries are encouraged when they are heard and can process life with those who have experienced and understand the circumstances unique to missionary life.


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