“Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,” I Chronicles 16:12
Recently, I retired from forty years of coaching women’s basketball. I gave my life to Jesus when I was in the seventh grade, so ALL of those years, I strived to be a Christian Basketball Coach. Sometimes I got it right. Sometimes I did not. But I kept pursuing my Faith. I learned that the life of a Christ follower is a process, kind of like pickling. It takes a long time for that cucumber to become a pickle – and lots of vinegar!
When I was coaching at the University of Wisconsin, something happened that changed the way I coached in a profound way. For the rest of my career, I would “remember “ it. Did you know that the word remember is used 352 times in the Scriptures? And if you count variations of this word, it is over 550 times. So it is kind of like HE WROTE REMEMBER IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS FOR US. I hope this story will encourage you and help you understand its importance in your Faith walk.
We were coming off back to back NCAA appearances, I had been named coach of the year in the Big Ten, and let’s just say Bucky was pretty excited and I was pretty full of pride. We hosted our banquet and over 400 enthusiastic fans were there to celebrate. I am a person who rarely gets head aches, so when I got one during the banquet, it seemed pretty strange to me, but I thought I was just overly excited. But this head ache was intense. In fact, it felt like they were putting a basketball inside of a golf ball and there was going to be an explosion. I put off my speech for as long as I could, but finally, after the meal, I had to carry on with the formality of a post season banquet.
For some reason, even though I don’t usually write speeches on paper, I had written this one out. So I got up, feeling horrible, and read my speech. Next, I announced that Sue Semrau, my assistant, would be giving out the awards! The thing was, I hadn’t told her, but unlike my normal, I had written out stats and remarks about each player, instead of just talking about the winner. She was super confused, but like a great assistant, followed my lead, and came up to the podium to proceed. I left and went out of the room and threw my guts up! Whatever I had didn’t seem to be going away.
After ten minutes or so, I went back out to the banquet and wrapped things up. Perhaps I was just upset that my All-American was graduating or I had eaten something that was spoiled. I just wanted to go home and sleep. Fortunately for me, my trainer came up and asked me what was going on. I told him all about my “little setback” and that my plans were to go home. Emphatically he informed me he was taking me to the hospital – just to check things out.
About four hours and three tests later, including two spinal taps that were 100% blood, I was informed a brain surgeon was on her way to do a life or death surgery. It seems they had found a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage and even though I was kinda out of it, I knew when they said they were calling my family to immediately fly to Madison, this was serious. Lying on the table, waiting for the final test, I had lots of time to reflect on lots of things. Death, when it is staring at you straight in the face, is a formidable opponent.
The last test was to be an arteriogram, so they could locate the exact location of the bleed, then go in and fix it. Brain surgery. Well, you know how people say, “Well, it’s not brain surgery?” This time it was to be! I began praying like I have never prayed before. Staring death in the face, I prayed with an urgency I had never experienced. And little did I know, since this had taken about eight hours, the word was out and there were prayers being said all over the country for me by some pretty awesome prayer warriors!
I asked the doctor doing the test how I should pray? He laughed at me and said anyway I wanted, implying that it wouldn’t matter. I had become very anxious during all of this. Suddenly, during my prayers, the Lord brought several things to mind that day that were totally out of the ordinary for me: my written speech, the written awards, and even calling Sue to pick me up for the banquet when I usually drove myself. As He reminded me, He whispered to me that if He could take care of those little details, He could take care of this! Suddenly that peace that surpasses all understanding, overcame me. I COULD TRUST HIM. HE HAD ALWAYS PROVIDED FOR ME. SO I SURRENDERED.
In a few moments, the doctor came around from the other side of the wall, and said he was very confused. It seemed they couldn’t locate the bleed, even tho they knew it was there. They were going to do the test again. I just smiled at him, and trust me, I knew at this time, that He wasn’t finished with me quite yet. There would be more games to coach, more sunrises to watch, more people to love. The next test confirmed I had been healed, but as they wheeled me away to my hospital room, I had a thankful heart and felt like I was on my knees, instead of on my back.
I stayed in ICU for two weeks, and was on lots of medications. That time is very fuzzy in my mind, but I do remember this. I asked for my walk man, and listened to the song by Jars of Clay “Worlds Apart” hundreds of times.
“To love you, take my world apart
To need you, I am on my knees
To love you, take my world apart
To need you, broken on my knees…”
During that time, my Lord taught me that my identity wasn’t in coaching, where I coached, and the games I won or lost didn’t define me. Those things weren’t really all that important. What was important was to love Him and love others. And like I said, sometimes I got it right, and sometimes I didn’t. But I have kept at it. And I hope that you do, too. REMEMBER….to REMBEMBER.
Written by: Jane Albright
3 Instant Joys:
- Lake Tahoe adventures
- Telephone calls from former players
- Popcorn and M&M’s at the movies
- Walking any beach/hiking anywhere
- Cooking feasts
1 Favorite Passage
- Colossians 3: 1-17