Isaiah 41:7-10, 17-20 The idol makers carefully join the parts together, then fasten the thing in place so it won’t fall over. . . But I, the Lord, have called you back from the ends of the earth . . . For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. . . When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched with thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them. I will never abandon them. I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys . . . I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means—that it is the Lord who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.
This morning I received a surprise email with a request from someone we haven’t seen since Karis was an infant, asking for news of her. I had to get out the book to see what I had written about this person, because when I wrote it, I had no idea he was still alive. As I sat there absently staring at the cover of Karis, All I See Is Grace, my mind flooded with memories, I realized I have never expressed in writing what the photo on the cover means to me.
The photo was taken by our friend Cole on a day when he took Karis and me bike riding from our home in the Friendship neighborhood of Pittsburgh all the way downtown to the point, where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers come together to form the Ohio River. That’s how strong Karis was, just a few days before her first transplant when everything went wrong.
A state park on the point features a large fountain. That’s where the photo was taken, with downtown Pittsburgh in the background. What you can’t see in the way the photo was cropped are the letters UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) across the top of the tall building behind the fountain. U.S. Steel built that skyscraper, and it’s emblematic of our adopted city’s history that UPMC is now the largest employer in Pittsburgh.
The significance for me of the fountain spraying across the UPMC building in this photo is contained in the verses from Isaiah 41 that I quoted above. All the medical stuff seemed so solid and real (and often scary). But God, who IS the fountain of living water (see Jeremiah 2:13, 17:13; John 4:10, 7:38-39; Revelation 7:17), covered us with his grace. The metaphor is apt for a girl who was so often thirsty, battling dehydration her entire life. God called us from Brazil to a place of high plateaus and valleys, where he provided for us, strengthened, helped us and held us up.
Only the Lord could have performed the miracles through which he called Karis back from the valley of the shadow of death after her first transplant. And that is only one of so many times he acted on her behalf. I pray that the book will communicate how worthy he is of our praise and our trust; how powerful his grace.