Transient Global Amnesia

My husband drove me to the airport last week where I passed through security (with some extra attention due to my artificial leg), found my gate and boarded a plane to visit my daughter, something I have done routinely for several years now. However, one thing wasn’t routine this time: I don’t remember any of it. From a particular point on our half-hour drive to the airport until the plane landed in Pittsburgh four hours later I have virtually no memory of anything that happened. My husband said I was acting strangely. For instance, I packed my travel mug containing the dregs of a just-finished cup of coffee, despite his puzzled inquiries. And I complained of some vertigo, apparently. But I am not a morning person, so I guess it didn’t look that different from my normal 6 a.m. muddle.

The next thing I knew, I woke as from a deep sleep (which may actually have been a deep sleep – I am not sure) as the plane bumped along the tarmac toward the terminal. The hours and stories of those I encountered along my twilight journey are lost, presumably forever. My seatmate seemed in a hurry to exit. A few items like my book and my boarding pass, appeared to be awol, but I found most of them tucked neatly into my backpack under the seat in front of me. My boarding pass was gone, but my id, cash, phone and credit cards were all where they should have been. From the moment I awoke, I was increasingly myself and have felt perfectly fine ever since. It was much like coming out of anesthesia after a minor medical procedure. I would pay a lot of money to have a video of my trip through the airport and onto the plane, because it is a miracle that I got uneventfully to my destination under the circumstances.

My family and I have considered multiple causes for this bizarre occurrence: sleep-walking, reaction to medication, seizure, mini-stroke… but (best of all possibilities), I believe I experienced an episode of Transient Global Amnesia, something I had never even heard of before. It may be related to migraine headaches in some way, and I am a life-long migraine sufferer. According to the Mayo clinic, this rare problem is unlikely to recur or to have any long-term effects.

While it relieves a burden of worry to know that this is a benign condition, my biggest emotion about the whole episode is gratitude. God cares for His helpless ones, and there is no better illustration of that for me. I spend most of my days believing that I am in control, that I can handle the small, easy things in life without resorting to prayer or any other conscious dependence upon God. I spend most of the rest of my time worrying about the ‘big’ things I’m afraid I have to manage. But it is all a trick of this fallen world, an illusion of control we maintain to allay our fears, an unfortunate barrier which keeps us at a distance from our Provider. Are we ever really any more in control of our journey, our well-being or our destination than I was at the airport last week? I think not. I can’t even control my own brain. The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs His steps (Prov. 16:9).

I don’t believe this experience will forever cure all my anxiety or rebellious independence, but I do hope it will serve as a touchstone and a reminder for me when I am tempted to forget that God cares for His helpless ones.

And that includes all of us, all the time.


If you or anyone you know has experienced Transient Global Amnesia, please reply to this post. I would love to hear about it!


Related Content:

Another lesson in control and trust from John Piper.
Scriptures about anxiety and God’s faithfulness by Lesli White.
A prayer about feeling out of control from Scotty Smith.

The Power of the Resurrection

… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10a)

According to news sources, David Hall lived with his girlfriend for over a month after her death, lighting candles and opening windows in the middle of a Michigan winter to counteract the odor. Police do not suspect foul play. It seems the man simply couldn’t live without her. Some would say – have said – that’s what the Apostles did after Jesus was buried: they stole the body of a dead felon and lived with a lie because they couldn’t live without Him.

Death is the ultimate separation, the final humiliation and the greatest expression of our human weakness. For Christ, who gave up His heavenly glory to wash the feet of a few fickle friends, death meant all those things – separation from those He loved, the humiliation of the grave, the ultimate defeat. I imagine the disciples were deep in discussions about how they might learn to live without Him when the resurrection stunningly revealed they would never have to. The resurrection disclosed something in Jesus of which they had only seen a glimpse. It revealed His power.

Power for the King

  • Death is defeated. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him (Rom. 6:9). And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (Col. 1:18).
  • The King is exalted. After the resurrection Peter says of Christ that He has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him (1 Peter 3:22). The king’s right hand is the hand of power, the hand which bestows, the position of honor. In taking this place, Christ assumed His rightful dignity as heir to all God possesses.
  • The Ruler reigns. In His life and death, Christ laid down His power. At the resurrection He took it up again. This is the beginning of the rule and reign of Christ and His people which will culminate in the judgment of the earth and the condemnation of Satan and his minions. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 11:15).

Power for Us

  • Eternal life. As when an ambassador negotiates a treaty, what is given to the representative belongs to his people. What He gets, we get. By the death of Christ our sins were forgiven – by His resurrection, we receive eternal life. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead (I Cor. 15:21). And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power (I Cor 6:14). I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die (John 11:25-26).
  • The indwelling Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets and heroes of the Old Testament, but He did not live with and within God’s people. King Jesus sent Him to us to reveal His completed mission and empower us for His service. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you (John 16:7).
  • Christ’s intercession. The power of Christ is no far-away promise to be enjoyed at a later date, but it is a living and active power which works on our behalf because of His love for us. He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:25).
  • Overcoming sin. We have inherited the righteousness of Christ as a result of His death, but as a result of His resurrection power, we are now able to live in ways that please God. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him (Rom. 6:7,8). Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom. 7:24-25).
  • Overcoming trials. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
  • Overcoming the evil one. Little children, you are from God and have overcome [evil], for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
  • The power to hope. That you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (Eph. 1:18-21).
  • His unifying power. The most diverse people around the world and throughout history now have the most important thing in common. “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:22-23). 
  • The power to preach. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). 

Power for the world

  • The Church is empowered to serve. Only through the resurrection of Christ is the power of God available to the Church. Christ’s return to Heaven allowed Him to send us the gifts and the Spirit which make our work effective in the world. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men” (Eph. 4:7-8).
  • The Gospel goes forth. Christ was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations (Rom. 1:4-5).
  • All things made new. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).

Our Jesus is not a dead body to be mourned eternally. He is the living One in Whom all things hold together (Col 1:17). Jesus Christ our Lord, raised from the dead, declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4) – because we can’t live without Him and we don’t have to.

I Need Jesus… for Everything!

I used to be able to do math. I won the department math award at my university and taught computer science at the college level, but that was 35 years ago (if I did the math right). Lately, I’m unsure whether I’ve left a 20% tip. Watching my mother struggle with the same declining ability show’s me it’s not going to get better. For a lot of people this wouldn’t be a big concern, but for me it’s the equivalent of texting an invitation to the wrong person or forgetting to zip my jeans.

I am so stupid! I can’t do anything right. Now people will pity me. These are some of the thoughts my inner critic can be overheard exclaiming as I pull out my phone to double a number and divide by ten. What embarrasses you? Toilet paper on your shoe? Tripped down the steps? Left your child at the gym? Not a person has ever been born who didn’t make mistakes (OK, there was One). We are limited creatures and fallible. It’s unreasonable and unloving to demand perfection of others – or of ourselves. But most of us do it.

I am thankful for a snippet from Brennan Manning I read some years ago for teaching me another way. (If I could find it, I would quote it.) He wrote that grace teaches us a new purpose for all our mistakes, those unintentional foibles which the Accuser likes to exploit. He said every blunder is a sweet reminder that we need Jesus. There isn’t one single thing we can ever do perfectly, and perfection is the standard for salvation (Matt. 5:48). To be reminded of our humble, fallen nature is to be reminded that we are not only forgiven for our sins but also completed for our imperfections in the righteous life Jesus lived on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 10:14).

Now I try to accept my bloopers with a smile and let them preach a different message to my heart. Lipstick a mess? Left my purse at the grocery store? It just means I need Jesus. And, hallelujah, He’s there. I always have needed Him, even when I thought I could be perfect on my own. Now in my growing confusion, I see more clearly than I ever have: I need Jesus for everything. Even math.


Related Material:

God Embraces the Embarrassed at Desiring God
God’s Will and Your Big, Stupid Mistakes by Lon Hetrick