a tale of two texts

What I learned about COVID 19 without watching the news

I learned some things during my recent bout with COVID 19.

For example, I learned it is very difficult to keep a pile of blankets organized when you are tossing and turning with fever and chills. I think a huge clothespin to clip the corners together would be helpful.

I also learned that one advantage of being that sick is not knowing or caring much about what’s going on outside the house. I didn’t have any energy for the news, but I also had no interest in it. It was too politicized and sensationalized. Waves of clickbait subsided, thankfully, beneath twisted blankets of blissful silence. I hope I remember how grateful I was.

Almost three weeks later, I’m certainly grateful to be on the other side of this. It started on Monday evening, March 16, with chills, followed by the fever and cough the next. By the next Monday, I was in an isolation unit in the ER where an x-ray confirmed I had viral pneumonia. They sent me home, as they should have since there was no treatment available and I didn’t have and have not had shortness of breath. They didn’t tell me I had COVID 19, although I think they wanted to. (We had gone to a drive-thru testing site on the second day and didn’t get the results until 12 days later after I had turned a corner toward strength.)

That first week, in addition to the fever and cough, I lost my appetite and my energy. My chest hurt. My head hurt. I’d sit in a chair for a few minutes and then go back to bed. We set a timer and every 30 minutes my wife Katie would give me a glass of water, which I sipped through a straw because I couldn’t sit up. My son Michael in Chicago took over communication with the family and others. He and my wife and my supervisor had an intervention one day and made me give up the illusion that I might go back to work anytime soon.

I had brain fog, although some would argue it’s not fair to blame that on the virus. I remember how overwhelming it was to try and answer a text. The screen seemed so small and the ideas seemed too complicated. I quit trying. Reading a book was beyond me. I tried to listen to the sermon from our church last Sunday and fell asleep. Katie and I managed a brief devotion each morning, from Faith’s Checkbook by Charles Spurgeon.

Sleep was the thing I wanted most, so I was ready for the March 25th devotional based on Proverbs 3:24: “When thou liest down, thou shall not be afraid; yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” Spurgeon writes, “If with our lying down there is a laying down of all cares and ambitions, we shall get refreshment out of our beds such as the anxious and covetous never find in theirs.”

It took being sick for a week to be ready for this. And two of those texts that had seemed so overwhelming illustrate my path. The first, in a text to my kids, was on the 18th, the day I was tested. I wrote: “We’ll just hunker down.” This is hardly a bold statement of faith. But it’s good to remember that our illusions of control seldom serve us well. There was literally nothing I could do. Or anybody could do, really. No calls to make, no pills to take, no one to blame, no shortcut to take. That’s not to say we didn’t seek care and counsel. We have a nurse coming in and a telemonitoring system that sends my vital signs somewhere. I’m grateful for the professionals who have served me well. It was just the recognition that this would run its course and we would have to wait. There was, in fact, nothing to do.

The second text was more important. It is something Katie wrote to our son on the 20th, just as things began to get particularly nasty. She wrote: “We wait on the results of the swab and pray for the Lord to protect your dad. I am also praying I will trust and love the will of our Heavenly Father. Your dad belongs to Him.”

Emotionally I can’t actually unpack this for you. I wept when I read it. One night I fell beside the bed and couldn’t get up. Katie was sleeping downstairs and I didn’t want to wake her. I sat there, waiting for the strength to crawl back up on the bed, and picked up my phone and read these words and cried again. This was not just because I was fragile and exhausted, although I was. It was because it says something true about Katie and it says something true about me. And it says something very true about God.

Anyone who is as sick as I was, needs a caregiver to come alongside them in quiet faith, not adding to the chorus of nervous and anxious voices in the media. I was grateful for Katie and I was grateful for colleagues and elders who were thoughtful, encouraging and concerned, checking on me each day. I was grateful too for friends and church members who gave us space and silence. Also important. We were surrounded by love.

But Katie’s text reveals more than a calmness of spirit. She is praying that she will “trust and love the will of our Heavenly Father,” even if things do not go well. It’s similar to something a young mom in our church wrote Katie when her son was going through an MRI a few weeks earlier, “praying fervently to love His will over my own.” It is an unbroken chain of prayers throughout the history of the church, that in difficult times we would learn to trust and love the will of our Heavenly Father. Not just to trust it, but to love it. That He draws this out in Katie, or in any of us, is a manifestation of His character, His faithfulness over a lifetime, His gentle revelation of Himself. This is Holy ground.

And this is the truth I needed: “Your Dad belongs to Him.” In this truth, I can lie down and not be afraid and sleep the sweet sleep of the saints, literally or metaphorically. This is where real rest is found. When you’re out on the edge, this is what you need to know. You belong to Him.

Sometime this week our home health nurse expects the county health department will move me over into the recovered column. Food tastes good again. It is supposed to be warm and clear Thursday and we are planning to go for a walk. Many faithful friends, at home and at work, have prayed for us and helped us and are rejoicing with us. We are blessed and grateful. I might try texting again, although I’m not yet ready for a 24-hour news cycle.

But I am ready for the Lord to continue to reveal His character and purpose, especially in the darkest days. Because I’m learning not just to trust His will, but to love it.

And because I’m His.

68 thoughts on “a tale of two texts”

  1. Praising God for your healing and your trust in God through out. God Bless – John & Loretta

      1. I am so glad you are feeling better! Your message is such a blessing. Thank you for sharing May each of us learn to love God’s will in all circumstances both good times and the hard times. God bless you both!

  2. What a truly awesome realization, and the peace that accompanies it. So glad you are on the road to recovery! The Lord’s answer was a resounding Yes! and He is using this to strengthen and grow other’s trust in His will. Luvya bunches!

  3. Thanks for sharing your heart, Wally, and really, Katie’s, too. Thankful for your walk of faith and testimony you both have as servants of the Lord. May He continue to strengthen both of you physically and spiritually and grant His peace and comfort through each storm. Much love!

  4. Wally, Thankful for answered prayer and that God’s will is your miraculously healing! Continuing in prayer for the full return of your strength and for you and Katie as you continue to share with others God’s blessing and work in your and through your lives! 🙏🏻

  5. You and Katie were in my prayers daily very heart happy that you are recovering. To God be the glory!

  6. God bless you and your sweet Katie! Thankful to God for your restoration and healing! What a mighty God we serve! ❤ May your strength be renewed very soon.

  7. I’m sitting here as I read and tears are flowing. It breaks my heart that you and Katie had to experience the consequences of this awful virus. But. . . Thank you for reminding me that as a Christian, I belong to God! I am His, and He is mine! I do not need to fear! I praise the Lord that you are healing, and Katie is healthy. Love you both!

    1. very beautifully written, when we come to face His love, over our fear, we can truly rest. God bless you , thanks for sharing this.

  8. Wally, it was so inspiring to read your post. Your words don’t even scratch the surface of the immensity of both God’s and Katie’s love for you. I have admired Katie’s devotion to you, your family, and God for years. She is truly a Proverbs 31 wife and you are blessed beyond measure to have had her for your wife, best friend, partner, supporter and, most recently, care giver for these past 46 years.

    Will call you soon when you are able talk. Much love to you both, John

  9. Wally, I just read this for the first time. I’m so glad you are doing better. I had no idea that you were sick! I am so thankful to everyone who took care of you and that you are recovering well. This whole thing has been unreal, especially because I haven’t known anyone affected personally by COVID-19. I know that everyone is working hard to get us through this and we will bounce back.

  10. Thank you for this important reminder. I struggle with this at times. BUT I am grateful to personally know that God is in control of my entire family & that they also KNOW Him as a personal Savior. Praying you to regain your strength,

  11. Wally,

    I had no idea. Thanks for this testimony…both your’s and Katie’s. So glad you are recovering. I hope you are enjoying this day, this sunshine, and the continued opportunity to be the influence you are!

    I also had COVID-19, who knew that we were both part of the initial class of 6 in Jackson County. My case was much more mild than yours. My wife now has it, also seemingly mild at this point.

    Blessings!

      1. Always knew that we had a kinship that went beyond our work together…just assumed it was our faith, but who knew that it would also include being a COVID-19 experience. Again, I’m so thankful for your improving health and your strong testimony. Blessings on you and your wife!

  12. Wally and Katie,

    I’m praising God for this testimony of faith in, and love for, Him. This blog post is an amazing reminder and encouragement to love His sovereign and perfect will, no matter what way it effects our lives.

    To God be the glory!

  13. Praise the Lord that you have come through this illness, God is good, even on thoes days when we are not even sure of who we are. We know who’s we are. Thank you for sharing.

  14. We prayed many times and certainly Praise God for His sweet faithfulness yet again. You’ve got a good one in that sweet Katie! We love you both!

  15. What a relief it was to see a new blog post from the daysman in my email yesterday! Chris and I have been praying for you constantly since we heard you were sick. So thankful you’re on the other side of this! What a testimony. Thank you for sharing. Love you both!

  16. I just went through the COVID-19 experience in my own family. Thankfully, they were did not have to be hospitalized. My daughter and son-in-law live 530 miles away from us here in Tennessee in the city of Pittsburgh. It was a long few days praying they would not get worse and, also, knowing for the first time in your life you could not go to the aid of your children even if you wanted to! Prayer was truly the lifeline that got us through!

    Your post was mesmerizing—a window into how you were feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually through an unprecedented experience. I am so thankful that you are on the other side of your “hunkering down” experience. I truly believe your story will hearten and strengthen all who read it.

  17. Wally and Katie, I have been praying for you since that day you called you day you were sick! So glad you are feeling better and so glad for your sweet caregiver Katie! She is a treasure. May God bless you both and continue to fully restore you to full health.

  18. Dr. Metts, I am thankful that you are recovering, but even more thankful for your witness. I’ve heard that faith is perfected in the fire. Wow. You are His. Forever.

    And you married “up.” What a beautiful gift.

  19. Wally- just read your blog and am so thankful God is healing you. It’s been many years since our shared experiences in Chattanooga and at Berean. I read Faith’s Checkbook regularly and my mother before me. May God bless you and your family as you heal and serve Him.

  20. Thank you Wally for the telling of your story…it is very helpful, inspirational, and Spirit filled! We are SO thankful that you are well now! God’s blessings are evident in your life…especially Katie ! Please let us know if you need anything or if there is anything we can do for you.
    In HIS Care,
    Karl & Kathy

  21. Jen and I are grateful to God for preserving your life, Wally. In Katie’s text you heard the tapping of our shepherd’s staff as you walked through a shadowed valley. Thanks for sharing this.

  22. First, I want to thank you for the encouragement you have been to my son, Spencer. You are a blessing! Second, thank you so much for sharing your story. Due to a medical condition, the future of my youngest son is uncertain. We believe and pray for healing, we study and research the best care for him should God have a different story to tell with his life. We believe that either way God is good and has a purpose and plan for our son here on Earth. In reading your story, I am so touched by your wife’s heart. “I am also praying I will trust and love the will of our Heavenly Father. Your dad belongs to Him.” She has put into words what I have not yet been able to in my prayers. She has comforted me.

    1. Thanks Kristen. Spencer has been a blessing to me. And I’m sure your other son will be a blessing to many as well. Katie and I will be praying for your family. She was grateful that her words were encouraging to you.

  23. […] When I was really sick with Covid 19, I waited 12 days for test results, several days after I knew I had it and the doctors knew I had it too. The results were anticlimactic. But after I went ten days without a fever, I asked the nurse from the Covid Response Team at the local hospital how I got off the list. When you see the stats, you see a number for “recovered.” How do I get on that list? I’d like to donate plasma and antibodies if I can. […]

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