Changelessness

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

This part of compline in the Book of Common Prayer brought me a real peace the other night in a scary time. We are in a scary time. On Tuesday Chris’s blood levels dropped critically, in response to the “line holiday” surgery. He was moved to the ICU, and as I sat in a stupor in this new room on a new floor with all new staff, I was asked what my wishes were for his code status. …We who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life…. God’s grace came to me in the three men who showed up shortly thereafter–priests from our church–whose presence comforted me. We went through compline together. They sang a portion in a baritone unison. Even Chris, in half-lucidity, said it was beautiful.

So that we who are wearied…may rest in your eternal changelessness…. As we recited the collect together, I had a sense of looking on something big, something undergirding, something solid, unmoving. Within and on the surface were the shifting things, the tossing things, us–all of us and everything we experience. But we were encompassed, so far beyond our vision, by the pearly white and pristine and unruffled expanse. It was too big to even see from within, but for a moment I had a bird’s eye view.

I am wearied by the changes and chances of this life. And, frankly, I don’t believe these chances and changes are going to resolve as my heart aches for. Chris’s internal bleeding did stop; after five units of blood he was stable. But his systems aren’t working well at all, and health is falling away from him. For our first few weeks in the hospital we seemed to be dealing with one hurdle at a time, resolving each problem as it arose. But the hurdles are piling up. Fluid is continuing to build up in Chris’s abdomen and then up into his lungs. He has been short of breath and panicky. Today they drained a liter from around his left lung, but this fluid buildup will continue. His liver isn’t able to maintain his blood sugars and they’ve dipped to critically low at points; he’s receiving amps of dextrose several times a day. He had dialysis today, which I’m very thankful for, but they weren’t able to pull off much fluid from his arms and legs because his blood pressure began dropping. We’ve been getting further and further from a second round of chemo, because there are too many issues to take care of first. We’ve also now seen on a CT scan that there’s been no change in Chris’s cancer after our first round. If we get to a round two, I’m not sure if we’d stick to the same regimen or change drugs.

Today I have grieved in a new way. Maybe tomorrow Chris will be experiencing more fully the benefits of these procedures and treatments and he will be lucid and calm and I will get to engage my best friend. It may very well happen. It’s hard to predict a day based on the day before. But even still, his body. None of these treatments can fix how his body is functioning. They are therapeutic efforts to sustain his life. This reality is sinking in to deeper and deeper places in me.

I am learning, because I have no choice, to put my hope in the changelessness of God, to put my rest in that placid and solid expanse in which we live and move and have our unpredictable being. I think he is calling us to look beyond–to look for what is underneath and holding us. I know that He Is. Thanks be to God.

147 thoughts on “Changelessness

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  19. Patricia Gehringer

    Prating for Chris. Praying for pea e and comfort. Thank you for sharing this difficult journey you are going through Sarah. May God give healing to Chris and continued strength for you Sarah. Your faith is so powerful, God is with you though each step.

    Reply
  20. Emily Blair

    Dear Scherfs, the people of St. Brendan’s Anglican in Bellingham are praying for you. Our Bishop interceded for you at our morning service today. You are loved. My soul is groaning too.

    Reply
  21. Ruth Bowman

    Dearest Chris, Sarah & family ~ * ~ thank you so much for sharing the painful, loving journey of all these too many challenges ~ testing you to your limits, then showing you “aha” ~ there’s even a whole ‘nother mountain range of struggle & possibilities beyond that. I am humbled and honored by your honesty and love pouring forth through your words & deeds, and your community of friends, family & community strengthen my heart with all the love that surrounds you. Please rest in some comfort knowing that whatever is happening is shared, you are not alone. My heart feels so blessed to know and love you all. A big mighty hug enfolds you from your wider family out here in this wild, wooly earth * o * Peace & joy to you * o *

    Reply
  22. Rachel Mink Spencer

    Sarah, Chris, children, may God give you grace upon grace in this valley. You have been in my prayers for weeks since I heard of Chris’s illness. May you be held so close in God’s care.

    Reply
  23. Jane Ketcham

    No words. Praying for peace and comfort for y’all and your whole family. May God be merciful as you walk through this. Thank you for sharing your hearts with us.

    Reply
  24. Kathy Acton

    Hi Sarah, I don’t know you and Chris, but my 3 sons love Chris and your family and have shared this website with me and asked for prayer. Praying for you both and all your family. No words. Praying you experience God’s strength, comfort and peace in a supernatural way and of course for healing.

    Reply
  25. Amy E.

    Dear Sarah, that God has given you the incredible gift of being able to put into words the deepest thoughts of your soul right now…thank you for allowing us to travel through this with you as we watch and pray on behalf of your whole family. Praying for His comfort, peace and rest…you are dearly and greatly loved. 🙏❤

    Reply
  26. Sara Baugh

    Sarah, I am praying for you, Chris, and all the family and am claiming these words for you and Chris, “Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God. Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon His word.”

    Reply
  27. Claudia Gerwin

    Dear Sarah:

    You don’t know me – I work at Christianity Today, and Corey Whitehead asked us to pray for Chris and you. That white, peaceful expanse you talk about – I called it the Father keeping me in a bell jar – and despite the storms, thunder, hurricanes and tornadoes going on outside that bell jar this past year with my husband’s final illness, what was being pumped into the bell jar was peace from the Throne of the Father. I breathed peace! I will continue to pray for you and Chris, that you will know the peace that passes all understanding. I have learned as well that God is ALWAYS good – may you have that assurance as you wait on Him.

    Reply
  28. Sandra Coir Bilbrey

    Peace my dear Sarah and Chris. Peace that passes all understanding is so precious, I feel like God has gifted you with it as the rx for this. I don’t say this lightly, as i have walked in a similar Valley to be lifted to the heights when God intervened and made the decision.

    Reply
  29. Matthew

    Lord Jesus, meet Chris with your tender touch. Bear him up. Bear so very near to him. Send your Spirit to minister your love and grace and healing to the deepest parts of him. Your reach is boundless and your presence is all stability. Gentle Jesus, be with Sarah and touch her heart and soul and mind. Bring calm and rest and peace. Hold them both in your loving arms.

    Reply
  30. Nicky & Becky Barbee

    Sarah, thank you for including us on this journey with you and Chris. We are praying for God’s comfort…God’s peace for you both. We love y’all and your precious family. In Christ.

    Reply
  31. Joel

    Lord Jesus, may Sarah and Chris find *rest* in your compassionate love as you bear their grief and carry their sorrows, ever interceding for them before your Father.

    Reply
  32. Laura Leonard

    Sarah, I continue praying for you, Chris, and the kids throughout every day. I am praying that through His Spirit God would wrap you both in His arms and give you the strength, peace, comfort, and hope that only He can provide.

    Reply
  33. Catherine Heinzerling

    Heavenly Father, be a guide and comforter to Chris and Sarah. Help them to be content in knowing you and your love. Be close to them when they suffer the “whys”. Assure them of your constant love and care. Continue to warm them with a love in Christ as they face the challenges and the unknowns ahead. In Jesus’ name. Amen

    Reply
  34. Betsy Kopecky

    Father, may you continue to give Sarah and Chris a vision of ‘the pearly white, the pristine, and the unruffled expanse’. May your Presence and Light fill their room….their hearts. Though Your purposes and plans are beyond tracing out, we do know Your love is unfailing and You watch over your sheep. These are your promises and they will stand.

    Reply
  35. Paul and Carol Kennemur

    I am a family member of one of your friends. We have been praying and continue to pray for Chris and your precious family. We don’t understand God’s plan, and even question it at times, but He is unchanging! His plan is perfect! Oh how I pray God will continue to give you hope and comfort. My small group is praying.

    Reply
  36. Dorothy Parker

    Lord we know that you hold all things together. We pray that you would hold Sarah together. Hold Chris together and the kids. Carry Sarah. Carry Chris. Carry the kids. Wrap them all up in your peace as a blanket. Hold them so close that they would feel no fear, but rest in your unchanging grace and mercy and goodness.

    https://youtu.be/hSMJa5tImRU

    Reply
  37. Nan Brinkerhoff

    Ohh sweet Sara, continuing to pray for the Lord’s deep shalom for you and for Chris and continuing to pray for wisdom and compassion for his doctors and nurses. Also praying for your kiddos and for Ruth.

    Reply
  38. Johannah Baltensperger

    We are praying for you. You are so precious in God’s sight Sarah and Chris. You and your children. He is holding you in his gaze.

    Reply
  39. Rod and Karen Griffon

    Oh dear God be present and merciful to Chris and Sarah at this time. Let peace flow, Let hope be renewed and let anxieties and fears diminish ! Please let pain disappear and let your strength be felt! Oh spirit wrap your arms around Chris and Sarah And their whole family …… We love you guys and are praying!

    Reply
  40. Henry

    Yes! The compline collects are among the most beautiful; when darkness falls there is Jesus in His celestial brightness. Lord, thank you for suffering alongside Chris, and we beg for healing.

    Reply
  41. Fr Gerry and Jean

    Wow, Sarah, God is bringing you to a place in Him that few have seen.
    Jonathan Edwards wrote that God’s way with us is to make life unpleasant so that we yearn for heaven and don’t cling to this earth. Perhaps that is part of what is going on.
    We pray today that God send you and Chris relief.

    Reply

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