Luther Memorial Church is experiencing a “Big Messy Summer” of renovations to the building. To go along with that, we are doing a series of stories shared by members called “God Is In the Messy Places”. Read more Messy Stories here.
My favorite story in the Bible is the story of David and Goliath. And it’s not because of the action or the violence. . . and there’s plenty of both of those things. . . but because of the message, as I see it, that some things are just too big to carry. Some battles are too hard to fight. And sometimes it’s OK, and even necessary, to give those things to God to handle. If something’s too big, God will carry it. If a battle’s too hard to fight, God will fight it. So Goliath, to me, symbolizes those moments.
My daughter Maddie lives on her time. Maddie time. She hears from us regularly, maybe daily: “We have to pick up the pace. We’re not on Maddie time, we’re on real world time. We have to get moving. We’re going to be late.” But she’s on her schedule. My wife and I have come to realize that she will probably always be on her schedule. She always has been on her schedule. Like when she was born. She decided to come into the world a few weeks early, on the day of my wife Lori’s baby shower. Which we missed. . . and have never let Maddie forget.
Lori’s water broke while my parents were carrying decorations into our apartment. And just to give you an idea of the mindset I was in as I watched a waterfall pour out of my wife’s body onto our living room floor, I didn’t even realize until after we’d been at the hospital for a couple of hours that I had packed an entire bag full of socks. My brain was a mess. My mind was a total mess.
When Maddie was born, she weighed about four and a half pounds. She was so tiny, she fit in the palm of my hand. The absolute smallest premie diapers we could find reached up past her armpits, and we had to roll them down and double them up. And, I have photos to prove this, her foot—her entire foot—was about half the size of my thumb. She felt like air in my hand.
From what I understand, the last month of development in the womb is when we develop—for lack of a better phrase—the sucking mechanism. It’s what helps us eat. Latch onto a bottle or a breast. Since Maddie came early, she didn’t have time to develop that, so she struggled to eat, and she struggled to survive. And as a result, she developed jaundice. Very badly. Now, at the time, I probably couldn’t have told you what jaundice was, except that it turned your skin yellow. . . but I can now. I know a lot about it. There are these things in the blood called bilirubins. The liver breaks them down, and the body expels them through waste and bodily fluids. You can’t produce waste if you don’t eat, so your body has a much harder time getting rid of these things, and they’ll build up in the blood and turn your skin yellow. If you have too many of them, they could kill you. Maddie’s bilirubin level reached the point of near fatality. Just for frame of reference, let’s say the fatal level is here. Maddie’s level reached about here, so she was not far off. And for two weeks, we were in and out of the hospital—back and forth, back and forth—constantly. For two weeks, we didn’t eat. We didn’t sleep. We force-fed Maddie every hour, on the hour, breast milk through a syringe or a little plastic cup that we would pour into her mouth as we held it open. For two weeks, we fought the hardest battle of our lives. Our lives were a mess. Our apartment was a mess. We were a mess. We could barely function. In the beginning, we tried to take shifts, with one of us sleeping and the other taking care of Maddie. . . but being first-time parents, neither of us wanted to put the burden on the other, and we couldn’t have slept even if we’d wanted to, because we were so worried our daughter would die.
And, finally, at a crucial point in the process—the point of no return, the make-it-or-break-it point, where we had to press forward at all costs, no matter what—we met our Goliath, and our battle got to be too hard. We fell asleep and forgot to set the alarm. Had we slept through the night, I can only imagine what would have happened. I don’t like to think about it.
But God called. We got a wake-up call from God. Our phone rang. I answered it, and no one was there. And immediately, it woke Lori and me back up, snapped us back into reality, and brought us to our feet so we could continue fighting. And fight we did. We fought hard that night. And the next day, we started to win. Things took a turn for the better, and Maddie’s condition started improving dramatically. Soon afterward, we found that we were in the clear. And we realized God had carried us through that time. That messy, messy time. In that mess, God was our rock.
Our lives are still messy, and they probably always will be. Maddie still lives on her schedule. And now we have Shelby, who doesn’t even know what a schedule is. . . who lives in her own wonderful, magical, amazing world of Shelbyness. But we’re in this mess together, and we’ve come to realize that where there’s a mess, that generally indicates life. When something is messy, that usually means someone has been living there.
And we have been.
And thank God for that.
Dave Goss and his family (wife Lori and daughters Maddie and Shelby) started attending LMC in 2013. At the time, the Gosses were looking for a family-friendly church community that was welcoming to everybody. LMC had partnered with their former church for a couple of years on Vacation Bible School, so they were already familiar and decided to visit. Dave feels that here at LMC, people go out of their way to make newcomers feel like they’re part of the family and appreciates that folks here rarely shy away from an open, honest discussion. Perhaps this has been a tough summer for Dave at LMC with all of the construction because he considers himself to be particularly accident-prone. We think that’s just part of his charm.