My sweet Benjamin went to a birthday party last weekend. I was feeling well enough to take him (thank you God!) so off we went. He had a blast at this party, all thanks to Mr. Reptile Man. This sweet older gentleman has a business of bringing all sorts of creepy critters to parties. With a room full of five-year-olds, he may as well have been Jack Hanna himself – the kids loved it! After a couple hours of petting and holding spiders, bugs, lizards, frogs, turtles, and snakes (that’s right, big ol’ scary lookin’ ones too!) I left with a happy little boy holding an orange balloon. The whole ride home was filled with excited chatter all about how awesome that was and “Mama, wasn’t I brave!!” over and over! It was precious. He was equally excited about playing with this balloon with his sweet little sister. “Abigail is gonna love popping this up in the air with me, Mama, she loves balloons!” He was right, she does.
The balloon lasted about three minutes.
Benjamin isn’t known for thinking things through all the way, (no clue where he gets that from) and despite our warnings, he let his 2 ½ year old sister play with this balloon…in our front yard. Not a good idea.
While I walked across the street to our best friend’s house quickly, the traumatic event happened. Not five minutes after I left, I walked back. I didn’t even get to the driveway before my husband yelled “Boy did you just miss two hysterical little kids!” As I got closer, they didn’t look injured, but their tear stained cheeks told me that I had missed some sort of drama. I saw Benjamin. I saw Abigail. I did not, however see the orange balloon.
“Abigail let my balloon go into the sky, Mama, and now it’s gone forever.”
“Oh buddy, I’m so sorry that happened, I bet she didn’t mean to do that. We tried to tell you that the balloon wasn’t a good thing to play with outside in the open sky.”
Ryan told me that they both just flat out lost it! Benjamin was crying and upset with Abigail. And Abigail was crying and upset with the balloon. It wasn’t pretty.
But, life goes on and so did our day. There were a few more moments of lamenting off and on throughout our evening, but overall, they did pretty well.
Then morning came.
It is our custom, for whichever kids who are awake when it’s time for Daddy to leave for work, to join me in a big family goodbye. Rain or shine, cold or hot, we group up on the front porch and yell “I love you Daddy!” “Byyyyeeee Daddy” and we always do as Abigail suggests “Gotta wave with two hands!”. This morning it was just Abigail who was awake. (Abigail has been the first to rise a lot lately. Me and sister friend gotta have a come to Jesus meeting about that!)
So, as I sat on the concrete and nestled her into my lap, we looked to our right and watched Daddy walk down the sidewalk. Then, the quiet, early morning stillness was shattered with…
“MAMAAAAA, LOOOOOK!!!! There’s Benben’s ballooooooon!!!!”
Sure enough. I turned my head, looked straight out into the middle of the yard, and there, floating about two inches from the ground, was the little orange balloon.
What are the odds?
That it didn’t pop?
That it didn’t float away to China – or at least For Worth.
Instead, that it landed in the smack dab middle of our yard, completely unscathed?
She couldn’t get her little bare feet there fast enough – through the sticks and the mud, she ran to grab that balloon. Waving goodbye to Daddy was all of a sudden moved down on the totem pole of importance. She couldn’t wait to get inside to tell Benjamin.
Poor Benjamin still had about an hour before he actually had to get up and get ready for school, but she didn’t even get inside the front door before screaming “Benjaaamiiiin look, your balloon came back to you!!!!”
What are the odds?
Now, I’m not a betting person. I don’t judge those who gamble or play the lottery. Ryan and I just generally don’t. I mean, we have. We played the slots on our honeymoon cruise. We bought a lotto ticket once and won like $28. Hey, it was $28 more than we had before. But, overall, we don’t’ play the odds. And we generally don’t beat the odds.
But, friend - God does. Every. Single. Time.
I know this because He has shown it to me time and time again throughout this medical roller coaster. And never more so than this week.
For those of you who don’t know, I have tried to get into the Mayo clinic twice before. Tried two times. Denied three times. Gee, thanks Mayo. I had resolved to be happy being a mustard gal and thanking God for what I had.
So, a few weeks ago I was blessed enough to attend a staff reunion for the Christian camp I worked at for ten summers. One word can describe it – joy. I was giddy to be back on camp grounds. Overjoyed to see the faces of beloved friends, some of whom are really more like family. One of which is a man named Spike. (We all had “camp names” we went by – mine was Pele J I was a soccer stud. You know what they say, “The older you get, the better you were!”)
Spike was the Executive director of the camp, and when I first started at the wise ol’ age of seventeen, I had to check in with him to leave campus. I was the first person to ever be allowed to work there that was a minor so he took this pretty seriously. After some time, I came to know him as “Dad”, mainly to mock the fact that I had to report to him over and over. Anyway, Spike is an amazing man and I grew to really love him like a Dad. I worked under his leadership for ten summers and count myself blessed to know him, his incredibly wise and godly wife, and their five precious kids.
Seeing me at the reunion, I think was tough for Spike. He had always known me as the fun-loving, lively, athletic, crazy type of person. The woman that stood, ok, lied down, before him at the reunion was far from that. He knew I’d had a tough few years, but I think there’s something different about actually seeing a person that makes it more real. He left that reunion and very shortly thereafter emailed me asking if he could help in any way. “At least let me make a phone call, Pele, that’s the least I can do.” He reminded me that Camp Victory, the camp he and his family now worked at, was twenty minutes away from The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. What are the odds? I totally had forgotten about that. Spike hadn’t. And God hadn’t either.
When Spike emailed me again he said “I have a friend who is on the board of directors at my camp now, he is a great Christian man and a doctor at Mayo…let me just see if he can help.” I agreed, thinking “It doesn’t hurt to ask, right? But really, what are the odds?” I knew that my own doctors had tried to make phone calls and get me in over the years, so it was pretty much impossible to think that a phone call from a camp director would be do any better. Clearly, I had forgotten that God beats all odds.
The next day Spike emailed me and said that his doctor friend was very interested in helping and to email him as soon as possible. So, I did. I told the doctor who I was and thanked him in advance for having a heart to help me. He asked for my story so he could get a better idea of how to move forward. I told him to sit down and get comfy, it was a long story.
I explained to him about the other times I had applied to Mayo and that the reasons I had been denied were clerical errors and miscommunications. I also explained to him that the reason I had tried The Mayo clinic in Minnesota was because THE renowned specialist for the condition I had was there at Mayo. He was the guy in the entire country equipped and knowledgeable in the area of multiple spinal fluid leaks I suffered from. I sent this email to Spike’s doctor friend at about 6:00pm and hoped that I would hear back from him within a few days. I checked my email before bed only to find out that he had emailed back within an hour and said “Oh yes, I know the specialist you mentioned, I’ll call him tomorrow. Don’t worry Pele, we are going to make this work.”
I was stunned. There must be hundreds of doctors at Mayo and he knows the guy I want to see? I couldn’t help but keep thinking, “What are the odds?”
Through the course of another week, we emailed back and forth and he explained to me that the specialist I needed to see was out of town, but that he would keep working on it. This man is a family medicine doctor, so my case was far out of his expertise, but he didn’t seem to care. He genuinely wanted to help. The next week I touched base with him and asked how it was going. Again, I let a few hours go by before I checked my email to see if there was any news. But, when I checked it, I had not one, but two emails from him.
The first - “Hey Pele, I’ve been reading over your history and I know we can help you. We are going to make this happen. Go ahead and send your records to us so we can formulate a plan. And I will try to get a hold of the specialist again today. I know this has been a long road for you and I can’t imagine having to go through what you’ve gone through, but stay positive, Pele, I know this will work out!”
The second – “Great news! The specialist reviewed your case and he wants to see you! You are in. Get those records sent and let’s get this process going. I’m so happy for you!”
I just stared at the screen. I re-read it over and over to make sure it was true. Was I really accepted to The Mayo clinic? Was I really going to be traveling to Minnesota sometime in the next few months to be under the care of the best doctors in the world? What are the odds?
Friend, it doesn’t stop there. A couple days after getting the news, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. I answered it and a lovely lady with a very thick Northern accent said “Oh yaaa, I’m MAHrcy from the MAY-yo Clinic in RAHchester MinneSOHta. I am calling you to set up your schedule of appointments. Can you be here this Monday?”
That’s right, friend. God did in less than three weeks what I couldn’t do in more than three years.
God beats all odds.
Don’t believe me? Read the Bible.
Just ask Gideon. His army was whittled down from thousands to three hundred. And his enemy? Was their army whittled down too? Nope. (Judges 7-8) Judges 7:2 “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her,”
Mary was just a simple teenage girl. She was a virgin betrothed to a man; how in the world would she bear the Son of God? (Luke 1) Luke 1:27 “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Sarah’s bones were creaking and her sight was failing – you gotta be kidding me that now her belly would be growing with child? (Genesis 17-18) Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Lazarus was dead for days. He should have stunk up the tomb, but instead he walked right out. (John 11) John 11:15 “And for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”
Shadrach, Meshach and Adednego not only weren’t killed by the fire, but they didn’t even smell like smoke! (Daniel 3) Daniel 3:26-27 “So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.”
The other disciples stared in amazement while Peter walked across the water like he was walking upon dry land. (Matthew 14) Matthew 14:31 “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him."You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"”
And speaking of dry land, not only did God turn the ocean floor into dry land to walk upon, but he did it again with the raging Jordan River. I’d consider that better than double or nothin’! (Exodus 15 & Joshua 1) Exodus 15:2 “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.” Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."”
Jonah should have drowned.
Noah should have been committed.
Jesus should have stayed dead.
But God doesn’t play the odds. God beats them. Period.
Now, let me be clear that God doesn’t always “play the game” like we would like for Him to. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have chosen this road for myself, had I been given the option. But, I wasn’t given the option. God was dealt the only hand. I must remember – “God wants for me what I would want for me, if I only knew what He knows.”
He can be trusted. And whether or not you get your way all the time, nothing is too big for Him. So place your bet on Him. He is a sure thing.