A Lamp Unto His Face. Chapter Three: Ask and you shall receive

15 12 2009

Amy Carmichael spent most of her adult life as a missionary in India rescuing young girls from temple prostitution and providing a home for them. I first heard of her in college, and she remains one of my heroes in the faith. She was also a gifted writer and poet. You don’t casually read Amy Carmichael. Opening one of her books is like entering a diamond mine. You have to pause often to let your eyes adjust to the brilliance. Though you’re surrounded by thousands of gems, you take the time to gaze deeply at each one, lest you miss the nuances of refracted light. I’ve read every work I could get my hands on, including some that are long out of print, and I return to her poetry often.

When Amy was a little girl her mother told her that God answers prayer. This was very exciting news, because Amy had always wished her brown eyes were blue like her mother’s. That night she knelt beside her bed and made her request known, and the following morning she rushed to the mirror. Moments later she marched into the kitchen and informed her mother that God did not answer prayer. After hearing how Amy reached that conclusion, her mother said, “Isn’t ‘no’ an answer?”

Years later, when Amy discovered the underground trafficking of children, she exposed herself to many potential dangers to snatch the prey from the lion’s mouth. To remain as inconspicuous as possible, she used coffee to darken her skin. Of course, the disguise wouldn’t have worked if her eyes had been anything but deep, dark brown.

I love that story. It reminds me that God knows the path our life will take before we’re born–that even the things we like least about ourselves are there by design. He is working out His plans with perfect faithfulness, and He doesn’t change them to accommodate the whims or preferences of His children. Walking through brain injury with Jacob the past thirteen years has allowed me to watch God work in ways I never would have imagined and seen Him bring beauty from the most unlikely sources. Now this whole tooth adventure has created one more ripple in the pond.

In my original post, A Lamp Unto His Face, I explained that a lamp fell on Jacob and fractured his tooth below the gum. In chapter two I shared about the verdict of dental specialists, our prayers for healing, and our request for one more x-ray to see if God had answered our prayers.

Yesterday our dentist called and said he’d examined the final x-ray, and the fracture was still there. Later that afternoon I took Jacob to his office so he could remove the bonding on the fractured tooth in preparation for today’s extraction. He showed me Jacob’s x-rays, comparing the new one with the old one. Not only was the fracture still there, it was wider. And there was a hint of discoloration in the gum around the base of the root. There was no question. It was time to get that tooth out before it abscessed.

How did I feel about that? To be honest, I felt deep gratitude. If it had looked slightly better I would have been conflicted. That it was worse left no doubt in my mind we should go forward. I thanked God for the obvious answer and went to the pharmacy to fill Jacob’s prescriptions for antibiotics, mouth rinse, and pain medication.

This morning, right before we headed to Shreveport for the surgery, I took a “before” picture:

I told Jacob he’d have a hole in his smile for a week until the sutures come out. “You’ll be Hillbilly Jacob for a while.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Without the ‘Beverly.'”

Isn’t that great? Here’s the thing about Jacob’s brain injury. He doesn’t get anxious, isn’t self-conscious, and has no agenda. When you tell him he has to have his front tooth removed because it’s fractured, he says, “Okay.” And that’s that.

The surgery lasted three hours. When it was over, the doctor came out all smiles. “I wish I had a hundred Jacobs,” he said. “He did so great. Every time I asked if he was okay, he just said, ‘yeah.’ He lay still and cooperated the whole time. It went perfect.”

By the time we left the office Jacob had a whole new batch of fans. It’s hard not to love Jacob. He’s so endearing, so innocent, so present in his moments and prone to find community with whoever else happens to be there, too.

God answered our prayer. He said “no” to healing and “yes” to expanding the circle of lives touched by Jacob. Who am I to argue with God’s purposes? He knows what He’s doing, and He is bringing His plans to pass with perfect faithfulness. As for me, I’m still learning new things from Jacob–to be present in my moments, to let go of my agenda, to trust God implicitly, without complaint. And, in everything, to keep smiling.

Say hello to Hillbilly Jacob:

Isn’t he beautiful?


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10 responses

15 12 2009
Marcia Stutes

Beautiful, indeed. 🙂

16 12 2009
jeannedamoff

Thanks, neighbor. xo

15 12 2009
altonwoods

Thank you for sharing this, writing like yours is why I love to surf blogs! There have been times when I’ve wondered what Gods plan was for disabled people until I met a young mentally retarded man who showed me (and everyone) what it means to love…I remember thinking,

“We should all be so retarded”

16 12 2009
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Alton. I appreciate your kind words about my writing. You’re welcome to surf by any time.

15 12 2009
Mary DeMuth

I love Hillbilly Jacob!!!!

16 12 2009
jeannedamoff

He love you, too, Mary. 🙂

16 12 2009
deb@talk at the tabl

He looks like hockey player 🙂 And that story you shared about Amy Carmichael is so convicting. And I’ll add her to my long and ever growing list of must reads. Thanks, Jeanne.

16 12 2009
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Deb. I’ll tell Jacob what you said. He’ll like that. 🙂

16 12 2009
melanie

He’s gorgeous! So are you Jeanne – thanks for sharing this story. I remember my mum telling me the story of Amy Carmichael when I used to want brown eyes like her instead of my own blue eyes. Thanks for reawakening a happy memory of my mum xxx

16 12 2009
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Melanie! And you’re so welcome for the happy memory. Your mum was a wise woman. xo

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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