AUGUST 29, 1995
"Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life." (Job 2:4)
Editor's Note: As you can see by the date, this journal entry dates back almost exactly 10 years. Before the Glory Road, I was writing for my own sanity and sometimes for the edification of our friends, journalizing my walk with God as He patiently brought me out of religion and into the Light, which as it turns out, is taking a lot longer than I first thought. J.A..
This is really an epilogue to the last journal chapter about the devil. That one was so long that I thought I had best start a new one (hopefully shorter). I was a driven woman until I got that piece finished. As I had said, I didn't ever want to write about the devil in the first place. It's not that I was afraid of him; well, not exactly. It is rather that God delivered me from having to deal with him years ago, and I have literally "given him no place," for years now. So, the thought of writing about him was VERY unsettling. However, God sort of took me by the scruff of the neck and said, "Write." I hedged by saying, "I don't have anything to say." The "voice," as one of our friends describes the experience, said, "Sit down and write." So, I sat down at the computer, and I wrote non stop. After the editing and the soul searching, and the hemming and the hawing, it was 24 pages or so. The reason for all the anxiety was not that I doubted that what I wrote was correct. No, in truth, those convictions have been burned into my spirit and soul as my reality. Nonetheless, I feel like, "So what? Who am I to say anything about that? I'm not a theologian or a preacher. I'm just a little kid." But, I had to write it. I really had to. I finished it completely on Sunday morning, thinking that I never wanted to see it or read it again, so emotionally worn out and trashed was I over the ordeal.
Sunday night, about 10:15, Lenny was waked out of a sound sleep with severe chest pains. I woke up too and asked him if he didn't think we should head out to the ER. He said he felt like an elephant was sitting on his chest. At 11:00 PM, we set out for the Kaiser Permanente ER in Woodland Hills, about 20 miles away. It was the longest drive I can remember.
Within 10 minutes of our arrival, they had Lenny hooked up with lights, and sound. He had a saline drip in his arm, "just in case," and was hooked up to a blood pressure cuff, and heart rate monitor, among other mysterious hospital kind of things. His blood pressure, heart rate and some other figures appeared on the monitor above his head, which the nurse read periodically (although it also appeared on a monitor in the nurse's station). The pain persisted even after 3 nitroglycerin capsules. An EKG told them that he had not had, nor was he having a heart attack. I breathed a sigh of relief at that, and hoped we could go home soon, but it was not to be.
They took a chest X-ray right there in the ER, and then later, wheeled him off down the hall in his ER bed for a cat scan. Based on what they saw, they concluded that he had a tear in his aorta. My heart sank as I knew that would probably take surgery to repair. The night seemed to go on and on. The little cubicles were separated only by a flimsy curtain and we could hear the moans, groans, curses, and family interactions of the various folks in pain and fear around us. In the main, it was sometimes amusing and sometimes sad, but it was not something I would recommend for an evening's entertainment. About 6:00 AM or so, a cardiovascular surgeon came in, having been called from home and no doubt, waked out of a sound sleep. He had looked at the x-rays and cat scan and concurred with the attending ER doc's diagnosis that Lenny probably had a tear in his aorta. They agreed that the best thing would be to transport him to Kaiser's Sunset facility because there they could run more tests and do surgery if needed. Eeeek! I really couldn't believe what I was hearing. Lenny urged me to go on home at about 7:00 AM because a) I was asleep on my feet, and b) I had to fax a counter offer to a buyer in Louisville, Kentucky at 8:30. I had brought his phone number with me when we left, but not the counter offer, or else I would have stayed there, found a fax in the hospital, and done it there. I hated to leave Lenny with all my heart, but I understood the wisdom of what he was saying. I confirmed with his nurse that they would transport him by ambulance with a doctor along, and that I could call her later to find out when that would take place, after which I could drive down there. With a heavy heart, and visions of my first husband in the CCU recovering after his triple Bi-pass surgery flashing before my eyes, I drove home.
I was struggling to keep my emotions in check as I drove home, tired as a worn out dog. I heard two voices in my head. One of them said, "You fool! You think you know everything, but you know nothing." That voice filled me with dread as I remembered the journal chapter I had just written about how the devil was powerless to do anything that God does not allow. Oh yeah? The second voice said, very softly, "My grace is sufficient for you." However, after writing non stop for weeks now, about the sovereignty of God, it is very apparent to me, that God's will is done, not mine. He might choose to take Lenny home, for all I knew. All night in the ER, I had prayed that God would spare him; that he would not take the love of my life from me right now. Would there ever be a good time? I think not. I knew I had no bargaining chips, no ace of trump to play, and no winning words to say, but I cried out to God to spare him, to make him well, to heal him completely. "After all," I said to God, "You fellowship with him now, and so You have him already. If You take him home, You'll have him, but I won't. Please, please don't take him." All that played through my mind as I drove.
Somehow, I got home. We had, of course, left all the outside lights on when we left the night before. As I turned the lights off, the thought washed over me like a wave of cold salt water that I have never stayed in this house by myself since we moved here. I never think about how remote this place is, but I did then (Our home was located in the Santa Monica Mountains, 5 miles out in Carlisle Canyon, outside Westlake Village, CA). Our neighbor's dog, Chica, was out back by the pool. She visits us from time to time, and I walked out there to pet her. "Oh Chica" I said, "you've come to comfort me. Thank you." The comfort and empathy in her soulful brown eyes was short lived, however, as I noted a drowned mouse in the pool. It hit me like a fist in the gut that if Lenny were to die, God forbid, I'd be in deep poop with this place (10 acres, lots of maintenance). I fished the mouse out, threw him over the wall to his reward (probably to be eaten by something bigger than he, something not particular about soggy meat), and felt myself close to a fit of hysteria. I said to myself, "Well, you have a choice here. You can lose it and have a fit, which may be premature, and won't do much good anyway, or you can do your work and have a fit later, if you need to." I went inside and kept busy until time to call the buyer. He took longer than planned to call me back. So, I lay on the bed and fell asleep. I woke up when he did call, and then got up and faxed him the contract. By the time he signed it and faxed it back to me, and I faxed it off to the other agent and escrow, it was about 10:00 AM.
At that time, I called the direct line to the ER which the nurse had given me. I talked to the doctor who was on the case by this time. He told me that they weren't transporting Lenny to Sunset but were admitting him there at Woodland Hills. I asked him if that meant he didn't think there was a tear in the aorta, and he said he didn't think so. My heart leaped for joy at that. I was able to eat a bit and then sleep for a couple of hours. I took a shower and drove down to the hospital, getting there about 5:00 PM. By the time I got there, they had done a total of 2 chest X-rays, a cat scan, 3 EKGs, an MRI, a treadmill, and lots of blood work. They had decided definitively that it was not his heart, and whatever it was, they could do more tests on him as an outpatient, but meanwhile, he could go home. I was so happy! So very happy to be bringing my honey home with me.
What does all this mean? I don't know. I just don't know, but I suspect that somehow, when we make great proclamations of faith, like I had just done in my journal, God comes calling to collect our words. Besides, Lenny always says to God, "Do what you will, Father. I am in your hands." This whole episode reminds me of when I had the "lump" in my breast. I was terrified to go under the knife, afraid it was cancer, and the whole bit. Lenny prayed for me, and amazingly, when they went in, there was no lump or anything else there. I was not spared the surgery, but my fears of malignancy were unfounded. Lenny had one of his mystical experiences last night, which is better related by him. The upshot of it is, however, that he encountered a dark entity, one of the little minions of the destroyer. I think that's all I'd better say except that this dark spirit was led into the light. Call Lenny for more details. (These kinds of mystical happenings are best shared one on one and not second hand.) As for me, at some point through this ordeal, I saw, for lack of a better way to explain it, a hand squeezing Lenny's heart. I assumed that it meant we were experiencing this trauma so that God's power and mercy could be shown to us, which it most certainly was.
Today, Lenny feels terrible, all weak and wrung out, and he has a little fever and a cough tonight. I suspect he's caught the cold which the ER nurse was dispensing via her coughing, (along with the nitroglycerin and the blood pressure medicine). In any event, I feel more than ever that we are in God's hands, that He has complete control over our lives. The reference to skin in the title, by the by, is from the book of Job. If you'll recall, God had just pointed him out to Satan as "a perfect and an upright man, one, that fears God, and eschews evil." Satan's reply? "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, 'Behold, he is in thine hand: but save his life.. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown" (Job 2-6) I suspect this is why some have concluded that Satan is the left hand of God (doing the dirty work). Job was certainly a better man than I am. His response? "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips" (Job 2:10)
Satan was correct that there is nothing like looking death, or open heart surgery in the face to give you new perspective on what you hold dear. That's what I mean when I say God comes calling to collect on our words. Life is the litmus test of our theology. I suppose it goes without saying that God is all and in all, and I want to say here that I believe Lenny was healed. When I left at 7:00 AM, he was diagnosed by two doctors as having a tear in his aorta and they were planning to send him to Kaiser Sunset because that's where they do the surgery. Lenny said a doctor came into his room after I had left and said, "While we're waiting for the ambulance, we're going to do an MRI so that they can take you into the operating room when you get to Sunset." After he left, "a presence with tremendous authority, power and glory" came into the cubicle. Lenny said he "knew that he knew" right then that they would find nothing. Sure enough, they didn't. When they did the MRI, nothing showed up on it. Was it an angel who appeared? Whatever he was, God sent him. He heard my cries to spare my beloved. Thank You, Lord.
One last thought is that recently I wrote about Elijah and the Zarepath widow. That's the story about the time when God sent Elijah to stay with this widow woman during a severe drought in Israel. At first, she refused to help him, saying she only had a handful of meal and a little oil with which she was going to make a small cake for herself and her son, and then die (II Kings 17:9-16). Elijah assured her that God would provide, and sure enough, the scripture says that, "the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke by Elijah." I had written that we have one more escrow and that's it. With tongue in cheek, I said to Lenny, "When our one escrow closes, we'll make a little cake, and maybe a house payment, and then we'll die." Well, that escrow closes tomorrow, but praise the Lord, I guess you figured out by what I just wrote, that we opened a new one, consummated while Lenny was in the ER; and there's an offer coming in on one of our listings on Friday. So, come help us rejoice, my fellow travelers on The Glory Road, for there's still meal in the barrel and oil in the cruse, and Lenny doesn't have to go under the knife. The Holy One of Israel is still good, still God, and our ever faithful help in time of trouble. Bless You, our rock and our redeemer. "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
Post Script: We still have the paperwork the hospital filed on Lenny's condition, in which they concluded that the first tests by which they determined he had a tear in his aorta must have been in error. Such is the medical community's response to the miracles of God.
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
The Glory Road
This writing was uploaded to the web 8/28/05,
by Jan Antonsson, webmeister,
and last updated 10/14/08.