And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? ~ Esther 4:14
It’s Friday morning, 6:24am. The last of twelve cups of coffee have topped off a travel mug. My father-in-law grabs hugs for grandma from whoever is awake and heads out the door, loaded down with backpack, lunch box, and coffee.
For the last 21 days, my father-in-law has been living with us. My mother-in-law was diagnosed a month ago with high-risk, aggressive multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer). Because of her complicated situation (cancer throughout; fractured neck, shoulder, and clavicle; fluid on the lungs; and infection), she needs to be hospitalized in an ICU at a cancer treatment center. We have one of the best. Right here. Four miles from seminary’s campus.
When they first arrived by ambulance, three hours from home, my in-laws guessed they’d be at our hospital for about a week, and then they’d be back home or at least back in their hospital. Soon it became “at least two weeks.” And this week, a nurse took dad aside and said, “You’re looking at, at least two to three more weeks before we can have her stable enough for a rehabilitation center.”
A rehabilitation center. Not home. A specialized rehabilitation center. Farther from home. A specialized rehabilitation center that needs to be located near a cancer treatment facility. Not even close to home.
Back up one year ago, when Toby and I were gathering as much information on Josiah’s (our oldest son’s) educational and emotional needs. We had asked the guidance counselor, his teachers, and his principal to draw up a letter stating the reasons we should be allowed to “defer” Toby’s seminary internship (vicarage) to the fourth year of seminary instead of the third.
Normally, at this point in a seminarian’s schooling, the seminarian family is shipped off to an internship or vicarage. It involves a move, a new location, new schools, new doctors, and a new church. For twelve months. And then another move back to campus for the fourth year.
A deferment (a reversal of the traditional route), however, is when a seminarian continues classes through the third year and defers his vicarage to the last year, with the option of making it a “convertible vicarage”. A convertible vicarage is a vicarage that turns into your first job (or “call”). Thus, if you have kept up on the math, a deferment amounts to one move, instead of three.
This is what we wanted, especially for our oldest, who had a very difficult transition to seminary.
Long story short, we argued our case, and won. And in our limited understanding, the reason for staying here at seminary, was for Josiah.
Until my father-in-law called.
Twenty-one days later, I look at my father-in-law and mother-in-law and think, “Maybe. This deferment. Was not only for us, but also for them.”
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:8-9