Robbie grew up wearing the title “The Cheeseburger King.” He loved, loved, loved McDonald’s cheeseburgers. He wasn’t able to read, but he knew the Golden Arches when he saw them. Whether they were on a building or simply adorning a bag, he knew they signified there was something good inside! We crisscrossed the country frequently when he was younger and we would try to distract his attention if we saw the Golden Arches off the highway in the distance. If he saw them before we did, he would hone in on them and cry, “Da! Da!”—the only times he would ever try to say Dad—as if to say, “Dad! Stop, Dad! I see McDonald’s!” Do you know how many McDonald’s there are off I-80? I think we must have stopped at every one of them at one time or another! The rest of the family got mighty tired of MD’s, but if Robbie had had his way, we would have hit them all clear across the country on every trip!
In 2001, after being on a ventilator for several weeks, and heavily drugged with anti-seizure medicine, Robbie lost his ability to swallow and received a feeding tube. For a time, we tried to coax him into at least trying to eat something by mouth. I remember clearly our last attempt. We took him to McDonald’s and he turned his face away from the cheeseburger that he had so loved. We didn’t try it again. If he couldn’t be tempted by a McDonald’s cheeseburger, he wouldn’t be tempted by anything. It broke my heart to think that Robbie would never again enjoy the simple pleasure of having something good in his mouth to eat, or something refreshing to drink when he woke up in the morning.
Fast forward to September of 2013. We were on our way to a weekend family event. We stopped at a McDonald’s along the way with my daughter’s family for a little break. Whether it was because we were with the kids, or just seeing and smelling those old familiar treats, or simply being in his once-favorite place again, all of a sudden Robbie decided he wanted to try to eat! We were scared to death he might choke and aspirate, but Bob cautiously tried him with just a tiny bit of ice cream on a spoon. We could see his throat muscles working as Robbie swallowed! He eagerly ate that entire ice cream, bit by bit! All that weekend he insisted he wanted to eat, even reaching for the fried chicken on my plate! Of course, he didn’t get it, but we did carefully allow him some soft, easy to swallow treats.
A couple weeks ago I told you that since then Robbie has been enjoying things like jello, pudding and yogurt, and progressed to foods like eggs, beans and spaghetti. Well, this week Robbie had his first McDonald’s cheeseburger in fourteen years! I wish you could have seen the look of wonder and joy on his face when he took that first bite! I don’t know who was more excited, though—Robbie or Bob and me! For so many years, we never dreamed we would get back to this point, but here we are—seeing Robbie get stronger and better all the time. We have pretty much taken him off the liquid diet and he is eating regular meals now with only a few limitations.
And the good news doesn’t end there! That same night that Robbie ate the cheeseburger, he decided he was done with being confined to the bed, his recliner and wheelchair! Robbie has not walked in fourteen years, either. I was in the kitchen when he saw one of his favorite little pillows that he likes to play with on the floor in the other room. He got down off his bed, crawled on his hands and knees to the pillow (about 12 or 13 feet away), put the pillow in his lap, scooched back, and climbed back up on his bed! I had seen him sliding off the bed and come running, but when I saw the look of determination on his face I just stood back in amazement and cheered him on! “Go, Robbie, go! You can do it!” Who knows what he will do next! During those years in which we saw Robbie steadily declining in strength and abilities had us believing that he would never regain what he had lost, but now we dare to hope again.
These things had me pondering this week about the unexpected blessings God brings into our lives. Things that we didn’t even dare to hope for. Things that surprise and delight us when we suddenly realize we have just witnessed a “God-thing.” Things that move us when we recognize the loving hand of our Heavenly Father touching our lives with His love in extraordinary ways.
Oswald Chambers, in his book My Utmost for His Highest says it far better than I can. In The Graciousness of Uncertainty, he writes,
It doth not yet appear what we shall be. (1 John 3:2) The nature of spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty, consequently we do not make our nests anywhere… Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness, it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God …He packs our life with surprises all the time… Jesus said, “Except ye become as little children.” Spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, but uncertain of what He is going to do next. If we are only certain in our beliefs, we get dignified and severe and have the ban of finality about our views; but when we are rightly related to God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy… “Believe also in Me,” said Jesus, not – “Believe certain things about Me.” Leave the whole thing to Him, it is gloriously uncertain how He will come in, but He will come.
Breathless expectation! I love that phrase! What is God going to do next?? I may not be sure of many things in my life, but I am sure of God! I may not know the next step, but I am sure He does and He will lead me. I may not know His plans for me, but He does! I may not know how He will provide, but He will! And far beyond just the ordinary, everyday blessings which He showers upon us, come those unexpected blessings! Chambers says, “when we are rightly related to God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy… “
We often shake our heads sadly when something tragic happens and say, “Well, you never know what a day will bring forth.” Chambers says this phrase should rather be said every day with a feeling of glad expectation, breathless expectation. “I can hardly wait to see what God will do today!”
Why should those little miracles, those little “God-things” be unexpected? Our hope is in Him! If we truly trust Him as a little child we can expect Him to surprise us! Psalm 62:5 says, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Philippians 1:20 tells us “according to my earnest expectation and my hope” that Christ will be magnified in us! Let us then live in breathless expectation to see what He will do next! What a day may bring forth may just be something amazing!