Home > Uncategorized > the lick of GOD

the lick of GOD

I’m sure there was a lot of conviction and excitement about the practice when the hospital opened its new campus in 1989.  I wondered if they understood that daily prayer was still important, valid, and effective.  I wanted to thank them and confirm it to them in case they had forgotten.

dum dumThe place is well-kept and looks newly remodeled everywhere inside.  Soothing colors, lush carpets, leather furniture, and a wide assortment of fake and fresh flowers everywhere.

For a Catholic hospital, I saw few images and icons.  They’re there, but nothing overbearing.  You were free to ignore them or embrace them, but they scattered about.

Overall the hospital is inviting and busy.  The halls are jammed with nurses, aides, and administration people doing their thing.  Everyone is on task.  Few walk slowly.

Ever noticed that people are generally pleasant and smile when you greet them in hospitals?  It’s like a positive attitude and a smiling face is part of the healing culture and mission of the place.  It can really be nice to visit that environment.

First, I went back upstairs to see if I could find the nurses that had taken care of my dad for the 5 days he had been admitted.  I recognized no one.  It was a different shift.  So I jumped back on the elevator and went back to the lobby.  The Chaplain’s suite was right around the corner.  This was my primary mission for this visit.

When you entered the door, there was a little stained glassed chapel to the left.  I knew it was in there because my mom told me she had visited the place.  She had begun to connect the dots on my dad’s failing condition by how the orders were being issued concerning his lack of ability to ingest food and liquids.  Once the dominos began to fall, the room shrank considerably for her, and she needed space and air.

Mom had found herself in that chapel.  A very small black woman was sitting in a pew when mom entered.  She noticed that mom was weepy.  She immediately grabbed mom’s hand and told her that God was with her and that she’d get through whatever it was that she had to face.  Mom said that little woman prayed soothing words and unintelligible words in the Spirit.  Peace moved back into her heart.  My mother’s report was simple:  “Once she prayed, I knew everything was going to be ok.”

To the right were 3 doors.  Only one of the doors was open, so I went inside.  All of my stereotypical notions were satisfied in a moment.  His back was to me.  He was staring at a computer screen while holding a steaming Lean Cuisine.  The whole room smelled like whatever that once frozen “dead thing” was in that plastic container.  Gross.

I cleared my throat.  He spun the chair, swallowed hard, and set the plate and fork down in a single move.  A napkin was near, and he finished up nicely.

While all that was going on I made my assessments.  Why do we do that?  We look at someone and begin to make decisions.   It’s just dumb.  But, I did it anyway.

Powder blue, short-sleeve dress shirt.  Check.

Navy blue, powder blue stripe tie.  Check.

Navy blue, polyester slacks.  Check.

Black belt.  Check.

Ivory colored Rockport walking shoes.  Check.  The image was complete.

“Can I help you?”

“No, I do not need anything today, but I want to tell you how important it is for you people to do what you do.”

Now he’s assessing me… thinking:  “Geez we get all kinds in this joint”.

I made a short introduction of myself and recounted the lick of God.

“I’m pretty sure you guys have had thoughts of:  Is anyone listening?  Does anyone pay attention?  Is this helpful… at all?” 

His tired smile said it best.  He knew exactly what I was talking about.  I had read his mail.  I had read every pastor or minister’s mail.

I quickly briefed him on what had happened.

Three days before dad died, the doctor showed up early in dad’s hospital room.  Probably around 7:45am.  I had gotten up early and drove to the hospital because I wanted to be there when he showed up.  I didn’t think he had good news, and I didn’t want mom to be alone.  I was right.

This doctor was a kid.  Under 35 years of age, but a stud.  Serious, yet in tune with the emotional weight of what was going on.  He greeted dad briefly but wasted no time in pulling mom, my sister, and myself outside into the hall.

“I got nothing.  He’s in bad shape, and it’s not going to get any easier. He’s on the tail-end of this recently diagnosed disease.  He needs to go home with hospice.  They’ll make him comfortable.  It’s not going to take long.  I’m sorry.”

There was more, but none of it trumped the message I just shared with you.  When you need to lance a boiled-up infection, you want a sharp knife.  He was absolute perfection for what we all needed.

He hugged my mom and my sister and then shook my hand.  It was a deep stare into my eyes and heart.  He didn’t say it out loud, but we both knew this news sucked, yet it was liberating altogether.  It was time to let dad go.

As he walked off, mom and sis both buried their heads in my chest.  It was a clinch that had never happened between the three of us… ever.  My words—their words were useless.  We needed each other to get through this.

All of a sudden (15 seconds after our initial embrace) another voice entered our conclave.

Hallway1Apparently, every day at 8:00 a.m. a chaplain prays for the patients, staff, and visitors over the intercom system.  I can’t tell you what he prayed on that day.  All I can tell you is that God licked us.  Licked us?

Picture a root beer Dum-Dum sucker in your hand.  You lick it wet.  Confirming indeed that the taste matches the wrappers advertisement.  You then plunge the sweet morsel into your mouth, even spinning the sucker to enhance the flavor!  It was created for that very purpose!

As prayer bathed down upon our little triune huddle, I felt the lick of God’s heart upon our hurting souls.  It wasn’t the words or even the style of the prayer—it was the Spirit—the heart of the one who prayed.

It was perfection.  I even opened my hands to receive the gift.  It was a prayer so tender, yet equally pointed and obscurely generic.  It was what we needed in that moment.  That sterile hallway became church, His body, His blood—life in the midst of a message of death.

It was more than a guy squawking into a microphone some religious duty.  It converted that corridor into the very presence of God.  It was sacred and it was holy.   God had indeed licked us, kissed us, and held us well.  We all knew it.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever appreciated a single prayer more than that one.

The chaplain grabbed the dirty napkin as he was blinking away tears now.  I hugged him and thanked him again for the thankless job he was committed to.  We said goodbye, and I left.

There are other things I could tell you about that day, and maybe I will at some point.  It takes a long time to process this kind of life interruption, and I don’t want to be in a rush to get over it.  Savor is spoiled by sensational hurry.  God is still talking to me, and I want to honor the righteous work of grief that is stored up in my heart.  The loss of my dad has me touching my own mortality—once more.  More than ever before… I want to finish well.

BUT may I remind each and every one of us that when we pray, we have no idea of how deeply it might touch a situation.  People frozen in fear have trouble interceding for them selves.

Prayer can be packaged as sensitively as my mom’s interceding mystery friend, or it can be generic and out of the sphere of personal touch altogether, but opportunities are everywhere to unwrap what needs to be unwrapped so God can lick what needs to be licked.

I need this message more than anyone!

Hopefully you and I will be reminded and encouraged to spill our prayers often and faithfully.  Our prayers DO avail much.  Probably much more than we ever dream or imagine.  Never doubt the lick of God.

On April 26th my dad died.  I really haven’t had a chance to thank all of you properly for your calls, cards, emails, text messages, flowers, memorials, FB messages and other personal touches.  The whole family felt very loved and valued!  Patti and I want to thank you again for being Jesus with skin.  It means more to us than we can ever express.   YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY THE BEST!  From the heart… Thank YOU!  -MDP- xo

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Bonnie
    May 24, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Mike & Patti,

    We are truly sorry for your loss. Your statement of ‘life interruption’ is so true, you look around and wonder why others don’t notice. One of the things we also notice is how truly exhausting grief is – it’s emotional and physical (even if you’re expecting it). Bless you guys as you heal. Looking forward to being with you in a month! Bonnie & Dave

    • May 24, 2013 at 8:46 am

      Thank you dear friend! We love you so much! xoxo

  2. May 24, 2013 at 10:01 am

    this is both a beautiful recollection of what the lord did for you and your family as well as a reminder of how our words and prayers carry so much power. thank you for that. i love you and ms. patti deeply and am praying for you and your family. hope you enjoy your time in colorado with your kiddos. can’t wait to hug your necks!

    • May 24, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Thanks babe! Miss you like crazy! xo

  3. Kayla
    May 24, 2013 at 10:24 am

    This is such a rich testimony of what God did during those rough days & how he continues to move in the healing, grieving process. Your words are powerful here and they wake something up in me to feel again. I’m discovering that these unexpected interruptions can sweep you up in the whirlwind & spit you out numb & exhausted, asking yourself “what just happened?!” God continues to use you & your words to speak life to people & situations around you. I’m thankful for you & Patti in my life & I miss you so much! Love you!

    • May 24, 2013 at 10:38 am

      Thanks babe. Your words of encouragement are always life. xoxo

  4. Jessica Isaac
    May 24, 2013 at 10:33 am

    So moving. Thanking God that He is there with us in times like you described above. I appreciate you sharing…—-Jess

  5. May 24, 2013 at 11:20 am

    I know your dad was a great man, because he sure did raise a good one! Thank you for sharing. Praying God licks you some more! Love you!

    • May 24, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Bring on the licking! 🙂 Thanks babe. Love you. xo

  6. Cole
    May 24, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing your experiences and your lessons with us. You continually bring life and a beautiful picture of love to us in a new way. Love you!

  7. May 24, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Thanks for sharing the story and the pain, while opening up your life with us. Stories, such as the one above, rarely find themselves told, despite the power, ambience, and movement of the Spirit saturated throughout. It reminds me of my identity, life, and calling. I needed this today. Love you, man.

    • May 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks Nick! Miss and love you! xo

  8. Gail Strickland
    May 24, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Mr. P – Thank you for sharing your heart and for this beautiful account of rescue and redemption. It truly touched me as I struggle with the end of life on this earth for my own daddy. Praying for you and your wonderful family. Love you.

    • May 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks sweetheart! You’re a dear friend! We love you both deeply! xo

  9. Mimi Oakley
    May 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Mike I know you and your family miss your dad. Only Jesus, time and the love of our friends and loved ones takes the nagging pain in our hearts because we miss them so. Thank you for sharing your heart. I cried. It reminded me of when my mom went to be with The Lord.
    I’ll be praying The Lord continue His work of healing in your hearts. Love you and your family

    • May 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks for the thoughts Mimi! We love your family so! xo

  10. Coylene Emery
    May 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Mike, I have been there with both parents and I really don’t believe we are always ready for them to go; actually we aren’t!! I am so thankful God gave me the reassurance that it was going to be all right. I will continue to pray for you and Patti (every day as I have my prayer time) and for your precious mother and the rest of the family. I miss you guys and when you come and visit Keith and Nell , lets all get together and share(know Wayne Polson would love to talk to you). Thank you for all you taught me(through the Holy Spirit) and for always being there~~Still learning~~Love u~~

  11. May 25, 2013 at 11:27 am

    This is incredible . I love you pops. XoX

    • May 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      I love you too Jennifer Rose! xo

  12. Rachel Hartman
    May 25, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    My heart hurts for this experience and loss… but i can only say… it always encourages me to hear of how WONDERFULLY our Father reveals more of Himself and His love for us in times like these… i love you – miss you and BELIEVE in YOU!

    • May 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks babe. Love and miss you too!!! xo

  13. Amy Davidson
    May 26, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Thanks for sharing and being so open and raw about a really hard topic. I know the love for your dad runs deep, and I’m sorry that your heart hurts so. I love the example that you are living of savoring grief and not being in a sensational hurry.. I think we can all learn so much from that.

    Your words are rich and encouraging! Love you! Big hug!!

  14. andrea gosselin
    May 28, 2013 at 12:24 am

    Thanks for letting us in on the beautiful way the Lord’s been moving. Your words always carry such weight and bring so much light. I can forget the power that prayer has at times, mostly when I ‘forget’ where it flows from and who it’s flowing to. Thanks for gettin me back on track. Love you and Ms Patti so much and have been praying for you ❤

    • May 28, 2013 at 7:42 am

      Thanks baby. You brings so much light wherever you are! It’s been a real privilege to walk with you in this season of your life.

      Love you sweetheart!
      xo

  15. Corey and Laura
    May 29, 2013 at 9:01 am

    Thank you for sharing this Mike. Even in the midst of tremendous loss you open your heart for all of us kids to see. We appreciate you both immensely. We love you guys and are continuing to ask Father to allow ya’ll plenty of time to process and grieve well.

    • May 30, 2013 at 7:24 am

      Thank you. You both are deep in our heart! xo

  16. June 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Hey My Friend…Love this, love your heart, your family, and your writing. We’ve recently linked your blog on our website!
    Thanks again Mike for your transparency and rawness…

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