An Update on My Dad (OR “Girls, Your Father is as High as a Kite”)

It was hard to decide on a title for this post. The choices are just too rich.

But before I tell you about the marijuana, I have a question:

Who are we, really?

I’m not asking what we’re like when we’re feeling composed and in charge and we can pretty much act any way we choose. I’m talking about the very core of us, the part that shows up …

…When we’re tired or grumpy.

…When we’re running late and we’ve been stuck in traffic for 45 minutes.

…When we’re already feeling frazzled and someone decides to get on our last nerve.

…When we’re utterly overwhelmed.

…When we’re in chaos or trouble.

…And maybe even when we’re really loopy because we recently had surgery and stopped eating, so doctors gave us pills to make us hungry and those pills happened to be munchie-inducing synthetic marijuana, and we accidentally got really high.

Who are we then?

You can probably guess why I’m asking. Yes, the marijuana thing just happened to my dad.

He had emergency surgery nearly three months ago, and the bad news is that it’s been touch and go a lot of that time. (In fact, he’s still in the hospital, having almost died several times. What bittersweet, holy ground we’ve been on! You can read more about our journey here.)

The good news is that, against all odds, this man has pulled through surgery, sepsis,  two staph infections, hospital delirium, and more.  And next week he is being transferred to a rehab center, and hopefully we can bring him home after that. If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is!

But back to the marijuana.

A few weeks ago Dad was starting his second day of appetite-enhancing synthetic marijuana when I got a group text from my mom. “Girls,” she wrote to my sisters and me, “your father is as high as a kite.”

Sure enough, the Marinol had made him completely loopy, something doctors had told us was unlikely, but still possible. Dad was immediately taken off the medication, but the rest of the day he continued making random nonsensical statements.

That evening I headed for the hospital. It was my turn to stay overnight with Dad, sleeping on a folding cot in the corner of his room. I arrived around nine to find that he was still a little out of his head.

“It’s going to be a hateful week,” he muttered when I walked into the room. The words were uncharacteristic coming from this chronically positive thinker.

“Really, Dad? I think it’s going to be a good week.”

“So much anger,” he sighed, gazing empty-eyed into the distance.

“Who’s angry?” I asked.

“”I don’t know,” he said with a puzzled tone to his voice.

All of a sudden he turned to me and said, “Let’s pray.”

There was conviction in his voice that sharply contrasted the meandering confusion I’d just witnessed. When he bowed his head, so did I.

And that’s when I got an even bigger surprise. As Dad opened his mouth and began to pray aloud, he did so with authority. With power. Without any of the mental confusion I’d seen just a few minutes ago. In a strong, confident voice, he asked God to prevail and for the enemy’s efforts to be bound. He prayed for protection and for victory over any powers that would attempt to thwart God’s will in our lives.  And as he prayed, I felt the very presence of God descend into that hospital room.

It blew me away.

Dad has always been a man of faith. His personal relationship with a loving, omnipotent Heavenly Father is part of his very core. It’s who he is. And that’s who showed up. Despite dementia. Despite hospital delirium. Despite being as “high as a kite.” The real Gene Scalf shone through.

Even more awesome is this: Dad’s mind might have been muddled, but his spirit was focused, articulate, and strong! Even if the threat he perceived was imaginary (and who knows? Maybe he was sensing something very real unfolding in the spiritual realm), his prayer was real. It had muscle. I believe it moved something in the heavenlies. I’m convinced it left Satan quaking in his little red boots. In fact, I still get goose bumps just remembering the authority and power of that prayer.

So back to my question.

Who are we, really?

I’ll tell you what I think. I think at our very core we are spiritual beings, created for relationship with our Creator. And when we honor that divine calling, our spirits thrive. We might have weak bodies or muddled thoughts, but our spirits can be alive and well, operating in authority and power and purpose.

And when crisis hits? Our spirits know what to do. Our muscles and minds may falter, but our spirits, made alive in Christ Jesus, can stay strong.

I can’t help but think of the iconic hymn It is Well with My Soul, written by a grieving Horatio G. Spafford as he sailed over the very waters that had recently claimed the lives of his four daughters in a tragic ship wreck. Just as Dad’s spirit is strong despite ailing body and mind, Spafford’s soul remained well despite his utterly crushed heart.

I don’t think what these men exhibited is beyond any of us. I think we were created to have the power to walk in spiritual authority, to know that our souls remain well and strong, despite anything and everything going on in our lives.

And time spent with Jesus just makes us all the stronger.

Who are we?

It’s a powerful question. I just never thought I’d get the answer from a very precious prayer from my very stoned dad.

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