“Does your father have a razor?” The nurse poked her head around the corner of the hospital room.
“I don’t know. I’ll look in his suitcase,” I said.
“He wants to shave,” she continued.
“Shave? It’s midnight. He just had three feet of his small intestines removed, and he wants to shave?”
“Yes,” she replied.
So there, in the hospital room, at midnight, two days after having a very serious, very major surgery, Dad shaved. Put on Stetson cologne. Brushed his teeth and combed his hair.
In our family, vanity dies hard.
By the next morning, Dad was walking up and down the hospital hallways, cracking jokes and campaigning for the “Most Popular Patient” Award. He won, hands down.
I think it was the Stetson that pushed him over the top.
But a couple of days later, he lost some points with one particular voter. He decided to show his grandchildren his “zipper.” Yep, that would be his incision. Staples still in. Healing nicely. And yes, it looked exactly like a zipper.
“Look here,” he said. “This is where the doctors unzipped me to do the surgery. Then, they zipped me back up.”
Everyone laughed at the analogy. Everyone, that is, except my six year old son, Foster. He stared at the zipper with concern and dismay, but didn’t say much.
A little while later, when it was time for the kids to leave, Foster stayed behind. “Poppy,” he said. “Next time I spend the night with you, I’m not going to sleep in the bed with you.”
Poppy smiled at him. “Are you afraid of my zipper?” he asked gently.
“Yes,” Foster told him. “What if it comes unzipped? I might fall in, and then I’ll be your dinner!”
Now, Dad wasn’t supposed to laugh. It wasn’t good for his wounds, apparently. Needless to say, his recovery suffered a minor setback.
I’ve found that most of the things I’m afraid of are kind of like Dad’s zipper. They look scary. They look like they may swallow me alive. But my fear often gets in the way of reality and reason. Most things aren’t nearly as scary as they seem. And if I just face my fears head on, if I do my homework and educate myself about whatever is frightening me, the fear seems to disappear.
But some things really are scary. Period. Things like war, and reckless drivers, and cancer. But even when the scary things really do offer a threat, we can still face them with faith and confidence. Those things may be out of our control, but nothing is impossible for God. And with Him, even the scary things seem to shrink. With Him, they become do-able. Sometimes, they disappear altogether.
I wonder if God has a zipper. I think He must, because during the worst times of my life so far, during those times when I truly thought I would be dinner for some scary circumstance, I have suddenly found myself surrounded by His love, His peace, His compassion, and His strength. Often, that zipper has taken the form of friends and family, who have formed a protective barrier around me, who have prayed for me and held me up. Other times, it has just been a feeling that everything was going to be okay.
Yes, the more I think of it, the more I’m convinced that God must have a zipper. When we find ourselves in freefall, we needn’t be afraid, for if we call out to Him, we will simply fall straight into His “pouch” of strength and love.
And that’s not scary at all.
Psalm 31:19 – 20 “How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You . . . You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter.”