Mr Whiskers - Justice for All
by Jeff Osborne
Occasionally, there are those unique people you run across in your life that are far more than inspirational, they are angels sent here to bring meaning and vigor to life. Russell Justice is one of those people. He is a man of wisdom and faith that looks for God in every day of life. And sure enough he finds Him. He is everywhere. Russell publishes a newsletter each month called Mr. Whiskers. In this month's edition Russell journals his observations as he visited Hailey and I in the hospital last week. I hope you are touched by his inspired words as I was
What do I Know Anyway?by Russell Justice
I thought I was going to Tucson for the Promise Keepers Conference; on an adventure with Robbie my new friend and the new leader of our Men's Ministry at church; touching base with my good friend Mike in Phoenix; breaking bread in Tucson with my high school friend and teammate Johnny and his wife Linda; and going to visit, attend church and hug on a very special family to me - the Gerwigs. . . . . . and I was. But . . . I had not planned for the most impactful event of the weekend.
I had hoped to meet with friend Jeff (maybe his family) in Phoenix. I learned from his secretary that Jeff was spending his days and nights at the Phoenix Children's Hospital with his daughter Haley. Haley had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and had surgery two weeks earlier. Jeff's secretary gave me his phone number and said to call if I had a chance to go by PCH.
I thoroughly enjoyed Friday evening and Saturday morning at the PK Conference. But, after lunch on Saturday my heart began to turn from the events of the conference to Jeff and Haley at Phoenix Children's Hospital. When the conference was over, Robbie and I had dinner with high school friend Johnny in Tucson and drove back to Phoenix. Robbie decided to stay at LaQuinta while I headed out about 10PM for the PCH to see Jeff (and Haley).
Now, Jeff is a godly young man with wisdom and maturity far beyond his years. I have sat in his mid-week accountability groups where he led discussions about purity and holiness and ministered to hurting men. I have seen him in action with his family - an exemplary husband and daddy. I have shared prayerful, encouraging, challenging emails with him and benefited from his counsel and encouragement.
I had come to encourage him, to love on him, to care for him --- but instead, I was the one touched by the sights and sounds of a late Saturday night and early Sunday morning at Phoenix Children's Hospital. The confidence in my step evaporated as soon as I saw Jeff coming down the hall to the security desk. I was not prepared for seeing the pain in his face.
- We walked only a few yards down a darkened hallway until we stopped in a waiting area and Jeff began to pour out his journey. Tears ran down his face and dripped off his smooth chin. He talked about his faith in God, his desire to understand, the Lance Armstrong bracelet he wore, a telethon testimony he watched just 24 hours before learning about Haley.
- He talked about his "Princess" Haley, his wife Pam, the guitar man that visited the hospital rooms, his "Jericho Walk" around the hospital 7 times with his dad.
- He talked about his intense desire to take control. To want to fight this enemy of cancer, provide for and protect Haley, take away the pain. Yet, what he had to do was release Haley into the hands of God and the medical team. He talked of a "cup so hard to drink from".
- In the room with Haley: Wow! Bright eyes. Winsome smile. Very little sign of the struggle she was going through. I could not imagine her any way other than this carefree child. I held back the tears as I watched daddy and daughter interact - stuffed animals, painted toenails, TV shows, snacks, and her new purple blanket. Just normal talk for a girl her age. Bedtime trip to the bathroom, brushing teeth, prayers and tucked in.
- Back outside the hospital with Jeff - just outside the Emergency Room door - under the trees that played music. I felt that unique combination within Jeff of pain, concern, love, trust. I breathed a prayer for God to send a man like Jeff for my daughter Lauren. We talked about the statement "God knows everything. He can do anything. And He loves us." (enough said) I was experiencing an extraordinary display of a father's love. (Like God loves us)
- As Jeff went back inside to spend the night with Haley, I was compelled to just hang out in that "garden" area. It was 1:00 AM now, but there was no way I would sleep. There was the Arizona evening breeze, the 3 feet high neon letters (EMERGENCY) over the door, the huge handprint (logo) of a child on the wall of the hospital --- it was like one of those moments when Jesus takes you in His arms and says "let me speak to you".
- The message: Carefully re-evaluate what is really important, what really matters, where my priorities should be. Reconsider what things to do now.
I thought I had gone to Tucson/Phoenix for PK, to visit friends, on an adventure with Robbie - and it was good.
But . . . what do I know anyway? I was coming home with a deeper sense of priority and urgency.
Please pray for Haley, Jeff and the family. Take a moment to list your important and urgent priorities.
Look them over closely.