"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." Isaiah 65:24
I saw this promise filled . . . for me . . . yesterday:
I've been using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea for almost 3 years. (My airway is genetically very narrow; my mom had sleep apnea, and so does my sister, even though none of us fit the "typical profile" for sleep apnea.) My CPAP machine decided it was done when I plugged it in at home after a trip in June. (It had been giving me trouble for a couple of months, but always, eventually, came on.) I knew I was leaving in three weeks for camp, and that I would have no cell service for the 4 weeks I was there, so I did my best to get a replacement before I left. For a variety of (Divinely-orchestrated, I've decided since then) reasons, it just didn't work out. I took my existing machine (which had come back on a couple of weeks after I plugged it in) to camp with me. And, it didn't come on when I plugged it in. (But, it did decide to start working the last week and a half I was there.)
I guess I must have been sputtering about it to my assistant in the camp store, because she told me about a dentist near her (in another state, way too far from where I live, for me to go to) who helps patients with sleep apnea by using a special dental device. I probably would not have known about this alternate, proven, treatment method, had my machine been functioning the way it was supposed to.
I talked to my sleep doctor after I got home from camp, and got a referral to a local dentist. (The same one, interestingly, who treated my TMJ in the early '90's, and my mother's TMJ in the mid '80's.) In talking to the technician at the dentist’s office Tuesday, she suggested that maybe the problem with my CPAP machine was in the cord, and that I might be able to get just the cord replaced. She also suggested checking to see if I could find a loaner or rental CPAP machine, so I'm not doing without completely, like I have been most of the last two months.
On the way home from my initial visit with the dentist Tuesday afternoon, I stopped by the local office of the company I get my CPAP supplies from, to see about a loaner / rental, and / or if they might be able to fix my current machine. The secretary (who is new) started the hunt for rental machines. The sleep coach asked me to drop my current machine off on the way back in to the dentist (to get impressions for the appliance made) yesterday morning, let her look at it, and pick it up on the way home.
When I arrived to drop of my current machine yesterday morning, the secretary told me they didn’t need it. She called the sleep coach from the back, who told me she’d dug around in their store room, had found a donated machine identical to mine, with very low hours . . . and she gave it to me. (Those machines are expensive!!) Not only does that save me roughly $100 a month rental costs for the next 4 months; if, for some inexpiable reason, the dental device doesn’t work, this CPAP machine is mine until it reaches the end of its useful life. (It takes a month to even get the dental device, and an additional 3 months for it to be adjusted to full efficiency, which will need to be tested by another sleep study after I’ve worn it for 90 days.)
Back to Isaiah 65:24 . . . God not only impressed someone who was not going to use it (whether the patient died, or just couldn’t get used to it, I’ll never know) to donate that machine before I even knew I needed it. He also impressed the sleep coach to hang on to donated machines for situations like this, and helped her find it in the store room. The machine I’ve been using doesn’t seem to be very common in this area at this point in time . . . but the sleep coach I talked to Tuesday night, the one who dug around and found the donated machine, has extensive training working with this particular type of machine. (It was thoroughly cleaned and sterilized when she gave it to me.)
The interesting twist is that I allowed myself to become really discouraged yesterday morning, partly, I’m sure, from exhaustion (from not sleeping very well without the CPAP machine), but also from not knowing how I was going to survive another month until my dental device comes in, and then until it is fully effective. But God had already “found” the machine for me Tuesday evening, even though I didn’t know it. It seems like the devil does his best to bring us low when he knows God already has an answer, a plan, to help us out.
I have also allowed myself to get really frustrated with this whole process, because of all the times I called the doctor’s office after my CPAP stopped working in June, left messages . . . and never had my calls returned. (I finally stopped by the office on my way home from another errand.) If things had gone according to my plan, and the doctor’s office had been prompt in returning my first call, there was plenty of time for me to get a new machine before camp. But then I would have been tied to that machine for 5 years, because Medicare would not have paid for the dental device a month later. (I’m sure the dental device has a name, but I don’t know what it is.) Medicare will pay for a CPAP machine or a dental device, but not both, any more often than once every 5 years.
(Needing to rely on a CPAP machine for adequate sleep requires me to be near an electric outlet every single night. It also requires distilled water. And, it's just one more piece of luggage that has to be hauled around and kept track of whenever I travel. This is a major nuisance when traveling by bus or plane.)
As many times as I have seen God work things out for my best good, in spite of my human plans to the contrary, there was no reason for me to feel the way I did yesterday morning. Satan is the author of discouragement, not God. God has a thousand ways to provide for our needs, if we will only keep our eyes on Him, instead of on the circumstances around us, no matter how “impossible” they seem to us. Even when our faith falters, and our trust seems to evaporate (like mine did yesterday), God still loves us, and He still works in our behalf.
But, God was not through with me. I stopped at Taco Bell on my way home, because I had more errands to run between the dentist’s office and home, followed immediately by driving out to prayer meeting. I ordered my bean burritos, drove towards the window to pay for them . . . and discovered that my wallet was not in my purse. That meant I had no way to pay for the burritos I’d just ordered, and, since I ordered them without cheese or red sauce, Taco Bell probably wouldn’t be able to sell them to anyone else. I wasn’t sure what to do. The clerk wondered if I wanted to go home and come back, but that was too far away. While we were discussing it, a young man who works there came to the window, and asked if I wanted mild or hot sauce. I told him I didn’t even have money to pay for what I’d ordered. He said, “That’s OK. This one is on me.” He paid for my lunch.
My next dilemma was figuring out where my wallet was. I’d had it at the grocery store Tuesday night, and the only other place I’d been was the dentist's office. (I ran into the CPAP place for just a minute, and didn’t even take my purse in with me, as I was parked right in front of the office, and there was no one around in the parking lot.) I called the dentist’s office. They couldn’t find it, and my husband was out walking the dog (without his phone), so I couldn’t reach him for almost an hour. This time, I wasn’t really panicking, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to purchase the other items I needed in the time I had left, and I knew that, if it was truly missing, I needed to be calling our credit card company.
When I finally got through to him, my wallet was on the table by my computer. Apparently I’d taken it out of my purse after I got home Tuesday evening, and failed to put it back in before I left yesterday morning.
The credit union we bank at was still open when I got to it, so I was able to withdraw enough cash to pay for the things I needed.
God didn’t have to do any of those things for me. He does them because He loves us, and He wants us to know we can trust Him no matter how “murky” the water around us seems to be. Reader, whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever your dilemma, He longs to do this for you, too. He might not work quite this dramatically, but He does always have the perfect solution, and He will work things out in His own best way, according to His own best timetable if we put our troubles in His capable hands, and leave them there.
"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Psalms 55:22