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You are here: Greater Things > Ridenhour > Ministry Moments > Afflictions of a Loved One

Ministry Moments:

Afflictions of a Loved One

by Lynn Ridenhour

Nothing moves the heart like the afflictions of a loved one. Lying there in the hospital with ninety-five percent of my body burned, covered with second & third degree burns, my bandages holding the precious liquids in my body, not knowing whether I would live through the night, I can still hear my mother’s voice, "…Son, if I could trade places with you, I would…" And then mother would leave the room to break down.

I’ll say it again—nothing moves the heart like the afflictions of a loved one.

We were living in Macomb, Illinois. I was teaching at Western Illinois University and my wife, Linda, was teaching down the road in Carthage at Robert Morris College. Her parents were visiting. The three of them had gone up town. I was out mowing the grass when I saw their car pull up in the driveway. Linda got out first and came running towards me. She threw her arms around me and began to cry. I held her. Her body was shaking.

"What’s the matter, hon?…"

She was still holding me. Finally she stepped back.

"The eye doctor says I have cancer behind my right eye…"

Muhammad Ali could not have punched me in the gut any harder. My stomach was in my throat. I literally thought I would throw up right then on the grass. Linda’s folks had gotten out of the car and were walking with their heads down. I had no idea they had been to an eye doctor. I thought they were up town shopping. Linda did not want to tell me.

It’s strange how one minute you can be cutting grass and the next minute your wife has cancer. I hadn’t moved, nor had I said anything. I did shut off the lawn mower. Then I took out. It wasn’t premeditated either. I just started walking. My body was numb; my brain was numb. I told Linda I had to go for a walk. I went walking down our street, not on the sidewalk. I walked and I walked and I walked. Down the street. Finally, I came to my senses somewhat. I do remember telling God with all the spiritual reserves I could muster up, "…I’m not going back home, Lord, and I’m not going to stop walking until I hear your voice. I have to hear from you. I have to."

I had never been more serious.

I kept walking. And walking. With every fiber in my being, I meant it. I would not return home until God spoke. I don’t know how long it took. When you’re in the middle of a family crisis, time stands still. I don’t know how long I had been walking.

After what seemed an eternity, I did hear the Shepherd’s voice; it was as clear as church bells.

"Your wife has been misdiagnosed. She does not have cancer…"

That’s all He said. That’s all I needed.

I walked back home, went inside, and told my wife, "…hon, you do not have cancer. The Lord said you were misdiagnosed…"

"Amen!" said Art, Linda’s dad. Her parents were standing right there. I could tell Linda felt some comfort, but I could also tell she was still worried. Her eye doctor had scheduled her to see a specialist in St. Louis the following week—to get a second opinion. The wait was a huge test for us all, but I held my ground. "…Lord, you have never lied to me…"

On our way down to St. Louis, it was quiet in the car. No one felt like chatting. I drove and everyone simply sat in silence. We pulled in the parking lot. I must admit, my hands were sweaty and my mouth, dry. I could only whisper, "…Lord, I choose to believe you…" as we walked inside. Linda signed in while the rest of us took our seats. Finally the nurse called her name…

"Mrs. Ridenhour…"

I went in with her while Linda’s parents waited in the waiting room.

The doctor did his examination. He shined the lights in her eye. Both eyes. He turned off the lights, and he ran some other tests. An hour and a half later he gave his diagnosis…

"Mrs. Ridenhour, I find nothing wrong with your right eye. Both eyes look healthy to me…"

Every bone in my body cried out, "…thank you, Lord…"

You could see the joy on Linda’s face. Linda’s mother could see it too. The moment Linda opened the door to the waiting room, she could tell. Linda didn’t have to say a word. We all hugged.

There was plenty to talk about on our way back home.

I was socked hard again. I’m talking about another family incident. Linda and I were married twelve years before we had our one and only child—Lori Mae. I’m sure we all feel this way about our children, but I often tell the Lord, "…Lord, I don’t see how any parent could possibly love their child any more than we love our daughter…" I honestly don’t believe there’s been a day in her life go by that I have not told her that I love her.

I told her that this morning.

Lori is the apple of dad’s eye, the joy of his heart. My heart beats a little faster when she walks into a room.

In 1985 we moved to Independence, Missouri, and Lori started kindergarten. And dad has the privilege of driving her to school every day—and picking her up. One day Lori’s teacher asks to see both Linda and me. She wants to talk to us after school. Lori’s teacher was also a friend of ours. A fine Christian lady, so she got right to the point.

"Lynn & Linda, I’m almost positive Lori has dyslexia. She’s a bright student but she can’t read. The letters are all scrambled on the page for her."

Again, a mule could have kicked me in the stomach and it wouldn’t have hurt nearly as bad. Our daughter—dyslexia. It was almost too much. I’m an old English professor. I know the value of good communication skills. Not being able to read can be a real burden in life.

We took Lori home, and she went right out to play.

I went right up to my room to pray, and didn’t come out of my room that night. I prayed all night long. I begged God. I pleaded. Made deals. "...Please, God, please. Heal my daughter."

There was no mistaking this diagnosis. It was for real. When the kids had story time, and when the teacher held up her cue cards with one syllable words on it, all the other students would get the word right.  Not Lori.  Finally, the teacher began skipping Lori.

"O, Lord, please hear my prayer…"

I took Lori to school the next morning. About a week later her teacher wanted to see me again. This time she did not request that Linda come along. I didn’t know what she wanted.

"Lynn, it’s a miracle. Lori’s participating in story time and getting the words right. I don’t know what’s happened."

I did.

Today our daughter’s a freshman in college, and reading, writing, and spelling are her best subjects.

O, the goodness of God.

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Page posted on April 7, 2001

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