At an annual eye exam a couple of years ago, our eye doctor (who happens to be Tom's cousin's wife, who is more precious than I can say) found scarring on Alex's eye. She suspected this was from histoplasmosis which is a fungal infection acquired from bird droppings in the soil. She sent us to a specialist who agreed with her diagnosis. He guessed that at some point, Alex had contracted this and it healed on its own but left scars. He instructed us to come back for rechecks and when those showed no change, he instructed us to just go back to our eye doctor for regular eye exams.
We thought all was fine, but at the exam this year, Dr. Jen noticed that the scars appeared larger, so back to the specialist we went. There seemed to be no tearing of the scars or leaking of blood so he waited and scheduled another recheck. Again, the scars were larger. This time, we spent a few hours in the office with many rounds of dilation drops and a dye injected into Alex's vein to see if there was any blood leaking. Thankfully there was not, but the doctor was very concerned.
The doctor spent days consulting with colleagues over the pictures and researching and came back with the possibility that this may be multifocal choroiditis. This was a much more concerning condition that could leave my son partially blind, etc...
He sent us to another larger city about an hour and half away for a second opinion. That specialist's bio is pretty impressive...a graduate of Harvard Medical School with multiple famous hospitals on his resume. We felt very good that we were being led in the right direction.
I am a researcher. I like to get to the root of things. However, God specifically spoke to my heart not to research this condition much. I could get a base for what it was so I could understand the doctors, but I was not to allow my mind to dwell on what ifs.
This is where the story gets very cool. I received a phone call from someone who knew little about what was going on but felt God had told them some things for our situation. I spoke with Alex and spent that evening and the next morning in earnest, focused prayer. This part may deeply challenge what you believe. :)
If you have never felt the tangible, physical presence of the Holy Spirit, it is hard to articulate that into words. As best as I can describe, it feels like a heaviness on my body and it makes me just want to weep. This happened as I was praying that morning and pictures of words began to flash in my mind. I grabbed my phone beside me and typed as quickly as I could:
alex july 31 2013 This isn't about his eye. It is about the very call of God on his life. His tongue will be loosed and with great authority will he speak. He will believe. He will see. He will perceive. He will honor. He will not boast. A great maturity is coming upon him. This is a pivotal year in his life. He will calm hearts and he will stir up. He will not be afraid. He will be bold. He has not been overlooked. He was never made to fit in. He will have the eyes of many upon him.
I was physically week for some hours after this encounter...like I had a great adrenaline surge and was left exhausted. I also had peace that passed my human understanding. I was not at all concerned about his eye anymore.
Fast forward to the second opinion eye specialist visit. That doctor (you know, the one with all the experience), doesn't think it is multifocal choroiditis, but more likely the histoplasmosis scarring as originally suspected. He does want to rule out toxoplasmosis, but doesn't think that is truly likely.
I would have spent time researching and worrying over nothing if I had not listened to the Holy Spirit's direction. I would have allowed this to distract me from the most important things and made me fearful for my son's future. Instead, God, who indeed is alive and still speaks today, wanted to get my attention for something far greater.
Two weeks ago, Alex came to me on Saturday and told me he asked his youth pastor if he could share a message for the family service on Sunday. Alex is very helpful and great about volunteering to do things. He has read Scripture passages before and spoken, so I didn't think much of what he was saying.
On Sunday, I watched my twelve-year-old son stand up and literally preach a message to the church. I mean he preached...like a man. Please just let that sink into your mind for a moment.
My twelve-year-old prankster son, who doesn't really care for school, has always found himself in the thick of messes, and I thought may not have a serious bone in his body, stood up in front of a room full of people and preached about Jesus Christ!
He has dealt with a bit of a speech problem all his life and went to speech classes to overcome it. He still can get all tangled up when trying to get something out, but on this day, on that stage, he was anointed and his tongue was indeed loosed! He had points. He spoke without notes. He read Scripture pertaining to what he was speaking about. He even had an illustration where he called up a friend who put on a backpack and ran around the church. He likened the backpack to the burdens of sin, shame, and guilt we carry and how Jesus died to take that all away.
When I say I sat there stunned in awe, I am not exaggerating in the least. I mean, come on! Alex is our boy who has never seemed to fit in and for whom we have always been concerned. We have a hard time knowing what is really sinking into him and what he is thinking. And here he was...glorifying God and spouting out all these things that had been put into him for years!
When Alex was in my belly, the Lord told me he would be like John the Baptist preparing the way of the Lord. A few months later, we moved to South Carolina and a pastor from our new church came to visit our home. He asked if he could pray for us before he left, and as he prayed, he said, "This baby you carry will be like John the Baptist." Years later, another person told me they looked at Alex and the Lord spoke to them that he would be like John the Baptist. Just the Friday before last, Alex went to a service for youth and the speaker told him he was like Joshua and John the Baptist and would prepare the way for the Lord. Clearly God wants us to understand that Alex has a call to speak forth for Him.
His name, Alexander means "defender of mankind," and Stephen means "crowned one." Many people don't believe that meanings of names mean anything anymore, but God sure shows differently in His Word. When I was pregnant with him, God kept speaking "Zane" to me. I looked it up and found that it means "the Lord is gracious." Alexander was the baby God gave me after an unexpected pregnancy and miscarriage. Yes, He is so gracious.
We thought we would call him Xane, but when he was born, I kept hearing "Alex." After his last eye appointment, I kept hearing "Xane" again. Then his youth pastor was talking with me and he said, "There is a definite transformation going on in him. I feel like he needs a new name!" I just cried as I explained.
My Alexander Stephen is definitely courageous like Joshua. My Crowned Defender of Mankind will go out on a limb to protect others and defeat an enemy. He certainly has the boldness of John the Baptist, often not caring what is thought of him and willing to stand alone just like Stephen.
I wish I could adequately express the things I have treasured up in my heart about my boy. I know I watched him step forward into his calling as a man on that Sunday. I wish you could have seen him too. I wish I could sit and talk with Mary and Elizabeth. I bet they would understand what my heart feels and my intellect cannot articulate.
God is good. He is faithful forever, and He knows our end before our beginning. God has a plan for each of us. How great is our reward when we seek Him to follow it. Never put God in a box that makes you feel comfortable. Never doubt how He works or wants to do things. He is a God of surprises and over and over in His Word we see how His ways confounded the wise who thought they knew otherwise and how He did things that didn't make logical sense.
He is still doing those things today. If you choose to not believe that, you lower Him to being no different than a carved wooden idol on a shelf. He is alive. He speaks. He moves. Move with Him.