The Threshold Experience

There are some experiences in life that you never forget.  Their impact is such that you know immediately that this is significant, even if there aren’t any special effects to go with it.  What Nolan and I refer to as our “Threshold Experience” is one of those times.

Nolan and I have always studied.  Like a lot of Christians, we desire to know God, love Him, serve Him and not to limit His working in our lives.  For those reasons we continue to read and learn all that we can while praying for guidance and understanding.  It was in that context that we borrowed a set of video tapes from a relative done by an evangelist working in Mexico.

The man’s story was fascinating and his work even more so.  He told stories of the power of fasting and prayer against the work of Satan and the many miracles he’d seen God do as a result.  Some of what he talked about seemed a little “out there”, such as seeing people actually raised from the dead, but he challenged his listeners to consider that Jesus had said His followers would do those things through His power.  The only problem, for me, was that I am not at all “into” that kind of charismatic/pentecostal kind of worship and ministry.  Over the years I’ve seen a lot of damage done by those who claimed speaking in tongues was necessary and being slain in the spirit a good thing.  Call me suspicious, ’cause that’s what I am!  However, I also do not across-the-board disclaim it either.  I do believe in these manifestations of the Spirit’s power; I just want to be sure it’s the Holy Spirit and not some other kind.

It took several nights to watch all these videos and Nolan and I didn’t really talk a whole lot about them.  I sort of sniffed at first, but as I watched them was really challenged to not limit God’s power to work such miracles.  However, that didn’t make me anymore comfortable with them.

On the night we finished the videos Nolan headed up to bed while I went to take my shower.  My mind was working pretty heavily on the evangelist’s challenge not to discount God’s power.  As I was showering, I all of a sudden got an overwhelming sense that Nolan and I were standing at a threshold–y’know, a doorway of some kind–yet it was clear that the term was “threshold.”  I sensed that whatever this threshold was, it was something that once we crossed, we couldn’t go back.

I leaned my head against the shower wall and groaned.  “But, God, I don’t get into this kind of stuff!”  After a moment I sighed, “But, if that’s the direction You want us to go, we don’t want to do anything else.  All we’ve ever wanted to do was Your will.  What’s the point of living if we’re not going to obey Your will?”  With that in mind, I finished up, got ready for bed and headed upstairs.

Nolan was already in bed when I walked into the bedroom.  I said, “Hon, I just had the strangest thing happen in the shower.  I got the sense that we’re standing at a threshold of some kind.”  He looked at me with a startled look and said, “That’s just what I’ve been laying here thinking!  That we’re at a threshold!”  “Well,” I said, “whatever it is, once we cross it we can never go back and most of our friends aren’t going to understand, but it’ll be the greatest adventure we’ve ever been on.”  The last part of that just came out of my mouth.  I hadn’t thought about it before, it just came.  Nolan said, “Yeah, I think you’re right.”  We went to bed wondering what it was God had in mind for us; excited, yet nervous.

I assumed it would be something related to what we’d seen in those videos.  A few years later when Nolan and talked about this experience, he gave me a puzzled look.  “No, I knew that wasn’t it.  I never considered that as the direction.”  However, neither one of us had any clue of what it turned out to be!

And then came John

Studying the various meanings of different scriptures and examining different church groups took up a lot of my thinking for about two and half years.  However, life was still going on for Nolan and I as he ministered and I was busy at home with Daniel and Emily.  I suffered another miscarriage and then became pregnant with John.

John’s birth experience took a turn when the nurse pulled the doctor aside after checking me and said, “I’m don’t think that’s the head.”  A bedside ultrasound confirmed that it wasn’t and that he was laying in a transverse position (sideways).  So, John entered the world by the “alternative route” as a c-section delivery, which wasn’t so bad since he ended up 10# 4oz.!

John has been laid back since birth, which made my recovery a lot easier but affected even his interest in nursing with any energy.   As a typical Spenst baby he specialized in spitting up and did at least that with enthusiasm–going for distance!  It became apparent that he wasn’t gaining the weight he should and was put on Zantac to help keep his food down.  However, I finally had to put him on formula to get him to gain weight.  Drinking from a bottle is a lot easier and it wasn’t long before he lost all interest in nursing.

As time went on it became apparent that John’s lack of enthusiasm also extended to movement.  In other words, he didn’t!  We knew he could, he just didn’t.  When he got to be six months old and showed no signs of trying to sit on his own or trying to move about, we took him to a pediatrician.  Her evaluation was that John had hypotonia, or low muscle tone.  (In fact, one of the indicators was that he was in a transverse position at birth.)  If you think of the soft muscle tone of a person with Down Syndrome it gives you a good idea of the condition.  John could do anything, but it was going to take him a lot more work to accomplish it.  In addition, kids with this tend to have more laid-back personalities and if they happen to have adoring older siblings who do everything Baby wants, well, it takes awhile for the child to see a reason to exert the effort needed.

The solution was therapy and watching that his development went in order and he didn’t digress.  The therapist was great and helped by making him a foam seat to put in his high chair to keep him up.  She gave us exercises, etc. and let us know that he would be fine, he’d just be a little slower.  The doctor had told us that by the time he was in second grade or so we wouldn’t see any difference between him and other children.  That was good to remember as it was almost his first birthday before he finally sat on his own and he didn’t walk until 23 months of age!

To this day, John is my most laid-back child.  He also is my deep one–the one who feels deeply, but doesn’t say much.  When I went to make a photo album recently I realized I have very few pictures of him simply because he’s just not the one hamming it up for the camera.  He loves to be outside at night when there’s a full moon either to mow grass or cross-country ski.  He has a great time with his friends, but he often will spend hours playing in the dirt with his trucks.

John will be thirteen this year on September 28 and although he’s changing, his changes are, characteristically, slower than his siblings.  John will never be one to rush through life.  Some days it’s admirable; others it drives me crazy!  He’s my tenderhearted boy (despite his love of Lord of the Rings movies) and adds his own mark to our home and family that makes us who we are.  He just doesn’t do it very fast. 🙂