Roughly three and a half years ago, I had one of the roughest days ever in my career as a pastor.
I was returning from a family vacation when I received a phone call about a little girl who is a member in my church. She was in the hospital with an infection. She started doing better, but all of a sudden she took a major turn downward. She was being closely monitored throughout the day, and that afternoon, when she spit up blood, they immediately flew her to Memorial Herman Children's Hospital in Houston. I rarely drink, but after traveling with the family all day and finishing up saying a prayer at this little girl's bedside as they wheeled her into intensive care, I took one at our local tavern.
Thus began a battle which has been going on until this day. This little girl has had several victories and some setbacks. It's been heartbreaking to watch the process. In life, you expect older people to have troubles, face diseases, and gradually wear down, but it's not supposed to happen to children. Kids aren't supposed to be happy, healthy and enjoying life one day and then unable to get out of bed and move in a matter of hours. They aren't supposed to have diseases attack their brains and leave them unable to function fully.
It's not supposed to happen.
But it does.
At one juncture, this little girl's family lost quite a bit of hope. A genetics doctor told them their child had a genetic condition, and she would never, ever recover. They could expect her to go through several episodes before one became fatal. She would never have full functioning. Her mind would never progress. They would have to prepare to take care of an invalid child until this condition finally claimed her life.
Thank goodness doctors are not always right.
This one missed. The tests were wrong.
This little girl fooled everyone. She began to heal. Remarkably. Her mind is a wonderful mind. She can communicate with her eyes as she looks up and down. She can respond with "Yes" and "No" answers. A group of doctors examined her and took MRI's of her brain. They concluded that her brain had healed remarkably well. There was just one part which hadn't come back yet. The part for motor control. There was still too much scar tissue up there that prevented things from healing fully. Yet... Yet... there was a surgery which could be performed which could restore this process. It hadn't been performed on someone under the age of seven, so the family would have to wait, but if they could endure, and if they would allow, and if the surgery were successful, then their little girl could possibly walk and run and play and talk and feed herself. Hope surges!
This little girl is cute as a button. Every time I see her, I talk to her and ask her how she is doing. Every time I have seen her, she smiles an absolutely gorgeous smile. Every time I see it, my heart is warmed.
This Sunday, I got to see that smile as big as I have ever seen it.
It was the Sunday of our Children's Christmas Program. This little girl sat in the congregation as her brother walked side by side with me as we played the part of shepherds. At the end of the program, I bolted out to greet people and to make sure every child in attendance received the traditional goody bags given at the Christmas Program.
This little girl came out being held by her dad. I said, "Hi, Remington." And she smiled that smile. Then, I said, "This is for you," as I handed a bag toward her.
This little girl nearly stood up in her father's arms. She had a burst of energy and excitement as she received this gift. Her smile broadened as her enthusiasm shown through.
"So that's what it's like to see the face of an angel," I thought. I was blessed to get a chance to see it.