The Last Man Standing
It’s been one of those weeks for our family. Actually, it’s been one of those years, but that’s a story for a different time. In the midst of Hal’s pneumonia and probable cancer diagnosis, three of the children recovering from surgery, three of the other children sick and getting sicker, our oldest son still at college for exams, and sickness finally overtaking me, it’s been pretty rough around here. If you know anything about us, you may have done the math on that last sentence. There were only seven children mentioned and we have eight. That’s because Matthew is the last man standing.
We’ve had a lot of support from our church, family, and homeschool group, but on a hour by hour basis, there is just a great lot to be done to keep a family our size going. Normally everyone in the house who can walk pitches in and does chores to keep chaos and disorder (mostly) at bay. What happens, though, when the Lord takes out the rest of the troops?? Why, you man up and do what must be done. It started this weekend, before the rest of the boys got sick. When we discovered that Hal was really sick, I rallied the troops and started trying to catch up in the house. We’d been traveling and things had pretty much fallen apart. We did a ton of laundry and cleaned and straightened and everyone worked their hearts out. Then Samuel and Seth got sick. That left Matthew.
That’s a pretty hard mission, to pick up the responsibilities of a whole bunch of siblings, but Dad is down, too. Matthew really is the last man standing. This was brought home when I was sitting here at my desk and suddenly realized that my teeth were chattering. Dragging my attention off of what I was doing, it occured to me that it was about forty degrees where I was sitting and we had a pneumonia patient and two post-operative patients in the house! I called Matt and asked him to check to see if the flue were open, since I sit next to the hearth. He grabbed a flash light and poked his head up there and said, “Yep, it’s open.” He reached up to close it and a huge piece of metal fell into the fireplace! The flue had fallen out entirely!
After a moment of panic, Matt went up to talk to his Dad. I scooted out of there – it was soooo cold – and decided to visit with Hal for awhile. Before long Matthew came up and you could just tell he was victorious. He was standing tall. He grinned and told his Daddy how he’d figured out what to do, found the tools he needed and fixed the chimney. He may have been proud, but we were prouder. He’d been confronted with a job he knew nothing about and there was no one to help. There was no way his sick Dad could have fixed it in that cold. So he did it.
That’s what men do. They stand in the gap. When they find themselves the last man standing, they keep fighting. They go down, if there’s no alternative, still fighting. God made men to be fighters. To fight against sin and evil and disorder and decay. And sometimes laundry and chimneys.
[The painting is “The Battle of Culloden”)