As many of you who read this blog know back in July I had a heart attack. Fortunately I made it to the hospital before things got too out of hand and by the next day I was having an angiogram which lead to two angioplasties as well as one stint being put in my artery. While I have been in good health since the procedure, I have been wondering how the heck we were ever going to pay the hospital bill of over ninety three thousand dollars because for the first time in many years we did not have any health insurance. It’s not that we didn’t want insurance or that we had not tried to get it because we had been trying for months before the heart attack but to no avail.
The only thing I could do after my hospital stay was to apply for the hospital’s compassion program and pray for mercy. So that’s what I did. Back in August I put my best writing skills to work on crafting a letter to the hospital explained our situation and asked simply for their mercy. I submitted the letter along with my application and tax returns hoping that my plea would come before someone in power who was in a merciful frame of mind only to find out that the process was mainly done by computers that crunch numbers. According to the number crunching it looked like the best we could hope for would be getting maybe forty percent of the bill covered. While that would be welcome, it would still be a debt I would likely be paying for the rest of my life.
But on Monday this week I got some great news! The financial counselor called and told me that the hospital had agreed to cancel the whole debt. Yep, the whole thing!! At first I thought I had misunderstood the lady so I had her repeat herself slowly. I was truly dumbfounded! I don’t think that I have ever experienced such an act of mercy in my life! It was as if I had cheated death and won the lottery! Supercool!!
…So after doing my end-zone dance and calling several people who had been walking with us through this I began to ponder how we could rightly celebrate such a blessing. My mind immediately turned to the Old Testament and how children of Israel would celebrate a feast to commemorate God’s rescue and how that celebration would be a part of their yearly calendar from that day forward (one example would be Passover). So that’s what we were going to do. That evening we decided that we would have a dinner and thank God and remember the way he has taken care of our family.
After considering a list of restaurants we needed to go to a restaurant we had never been to as a family so that our experience would be new and fresh. We opted for a nice Chinese restaurant. We all put on our Sunday best (which for a Vineyard Church means jeans and a button down shirt) and headed to dinner. After ordering our food I pulled out the Bible and read from Matthew 6 where Jesus instructs his followers not to worry about their daily needs of food, housing or clothes but to seek God’s kingdom first and trust that he will take care of us.
This has been a key scripture for our family since we decided to plant the church. I remember first reading these words of Jesus to the kids just weeks after deciding that we were going to plant a church on the North Shore. It was a night when my daughter was crying because she was going to be moving and all of the things she loved about where we lived. I remember sharing those verses with her that night telling her that we were going to trust Jesus to take care of all of the things that matter to us believing that he would.
As we sat around the table at that Chinese restaurant that night we recounted how God has come through in amazing ways to not only move us to the North Shore but in leading us to a place to live, and bringing new friends into our lives and protecting and providing for us as he had done most recently with this debt being cancelled. It was a beautiful time of reflections on a year that has been filled with struggles and trials but at the same time God’s overwhelming care and faithfulness.
That night, November 1, was our first observing of this new family celebration we are calling God Takes Care of the Schroeders Day. We intend to keep this day in our calendar as a day to remember God in future years.
Just a closing thought… A friend of mine mentioned today how when the children of Israel would refer to God as Jehovah-who-heals or Jehovah-who-provides it was not merely a confession of what they were hoping to see of God but rather a name based on a specific experience with God. In other words, the name came after God rescued, healed and provided for his people. In the story of our family, we have a new name for God that is based on what he has done in our lives – God-Who-Takes –Care-of-Us.