Mom senses a bit of the problem. I don’t want her to. I want her to think she is no trouble at all. I want her to know that changing her diaper is a joy for me. I want her to know that giving her a bath causes me no discomfort at all. I took her to the Credo House today. I had some meetings and I like to show my face around there at least once a day! (Keeps everyone in line!) But we had some “issues.” Mom is sick with some stomach stuff. And you know what goes along with that. She is self-aware enough to cry when she has an accident in public. This kept happening today. I could not get her clean enough to stay at Credo, so I placed mom in my rental car (my car is broken down) and we headed to her house. As we drove home, it was quite evident that the accident had done its damage to this car. It was pretty unbearable for both of us. But I did not want mom to think twice about the “issue.” I tried to joke about it, I tried to change the subject, and then tried to help her talk through it with the “it’s okay, how much of this did you put up with from me when I was young?” speech. It kept her from crying. But just barely. We talked about God. First we said that we were mad at him for putting us through this. You know, the “really, God?” speech. Then we talked about how we loved him anyway (you do realize that “we talked” does not mean that mom was articulating anything more than the few vocabulary words the stroke and aneurysm left her with, right?).

When we pulled in my dad’s driveway, we paused before getting out of the car. We talked about how beautiful my dad’s backyard is. One of the few things we can take in deeply and enjoy is my dad’s house. It has a wonderful back yard. I wish you could see it.

Every once in a while, deer show up and timidly walk through the trees, giving us a glimpse of what the peace of God’s kingdom looks like. It is wonderful. I love deer. Every time I see them, I relax, fill with hope, and am re-energized. Isn’t that funny? Maybe it is the Cherokee in me (I am 1/8 Indian). Nature can do that for me. Although we may be losing it, I am so glad dad has kept this house. We will take in as much as these three acres will give for as long as the bank will allow us.

“Mom,” I said as I pulled up. “I know it has been really hard today. But it’s okay. I love to take care of you. . . What can I do to make things better?” I thought for a bit as my mom looked into the backyard. “Maybe deer will show up.” “Yeah,” my mother said with excitement that broke her concentration on the “mess” we were involved in. “Okay, let’s see. Do you see any deer?” We looked. No deer in sight. “It would be such a great gift if God would just show up here in this way right now,” I said. Don’t pick me apart theologically. Not now. Please. I do odd stuff sometimes. I can talk a big talk about not needing God’s evident intervention in such an experiential way, but sometimes I break. I know charismatics have their people who come and give them a “word that speaks into your life.” I have gotten plenty of those. They are usually too general to say, “Hey, must have been from God.” But right now, my mother and I just wanted something small, something so easy, something finite from the infinite, something hopeful in the hopeless, something light in the dark, something…anything.

I held mom’s hand, which is closed permanently – one of the effects of the stroke. “God, please just let us see some deer. We are not testing you. We just would love to see you in such a way right now. It would be really encouraging and it is a very small request.” After this prayer, we looked out across the yard and through the trees. Nothing. No deer.

But I remembered a sermon I heard recently where Elijah was the illustration. Remember the time when he prayed three times for rain? The point of the sermon was that sometimes we have to pray more than once to have God answer. So I prayed again (still sitting in the car bearing the smell), “God, I am coming to you again. Same request. Small miracle. We love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” (Maybe I forgot the magic formula last time!). We looked. Still nothing. So I prayed a third time, “God, it really isn’t hard. I won’t base my faith on this. We would just like to have this vivid illustration that you are here and you are in our pain.” We looked. And guess what? . . . Still nothing.

So many times we look for God in ways that are trivial, yet incredibly significant to us. I do. Maybe it’s wrong. But I do. Sometimes we all do.

I think I am supposed to like angels. But there are two that I am not really fond of. They had a sad message. It is recorded in the book of Acts just as Jesus is ascending into heaven after the resurrection. Here it is:

Act 1:10-11
And as they [the disciples] were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

Why don’t I like them? Because they said Jesus had been taken aph hymon. Hymon would have been enough. It means “you” (plural). Being in the genitive case, we know that the “from” was implied. “From you.” That is what  hymon means. But the twisting of the knife comes with the aph. It means “from,” but, to me, it is superlative. It is too much. This Jesus has been taken “from you.” I hate the word “from,” espcially when it is connected to the word “you” and “Jesus.”

Many times I don’t think he has been taken from me. I ask the angels, I ask God, I ask Jesus to show me a deer and show me Jesus. While the Apostles did well to quit gazing into the sky, I sometimes have trouble with it. I still gaze into the sky. Today I gazed into my mother’s backyard and said, “No, don’t take him aph hymon. Please. Just one more look. Why does he have to be taken from me?”

“But you did not read the second half,” the angel replies. “It says, ‘he will retu . . .’’ “Yeah, yeah, I know,” I interrupt, “He will return. Redemption is near. ‘Behold, I come quickly’ and all that other stuff. I just want him now. I hate aph hymon. The Second Coming sometimes cannot come soon enough. But I suppose I will just hang with His plan. After all, are there really any other options?”

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    8 replies to "Why I Hate Aph Hymon"

    • Ask Mr. Religion

      I have been praying for you and your Mother.

      I wonder if you have considered that honoring your mother might include a wee bit less frank discussion of her current inabilities such that she is left with some modesty before the public? I am dealing with a similar situation with my dear wife, so please do not assume I am being insensitive. My concern is that the trials you are enduring are making you wear your heart on your sleeve so much that you may be doing your Mother a disservice in your detailed discussions of her incapacities.

    • Susan

      Bless you, Michael. I gave you a hug through Paul Copan…that’s the best I can do. I hate “taken from” too.

      Come Lord Jesus!

    • ruben

      This reminds me of the end of Price Caspian (the movie) where the children are leaving Narnia, as they look back they see Aslan beaming at them and all the Narnians, and Lucy looks back another time to see Him again and it is just the train station. May we always have this longing Michael..

    • Rick

      This day You didn’t get to see your deer, Michael. This day a lot of people are looking for just that tiny taste of God. They are asking for it once, twice, three times… and nothing. Some of these people are reading your story now, tomorrow, a year from now. Maybe, just maybe, had you gotten your wish granted this once, you would have a story of triumph to tell us, a beautiful tale that just could not come close to the hearts of people who haven’t seen their deer in a while, who won’t be seeing them today.

      This is the story I needed to hear today. And your mom gets a prayer from a complete stranger. That might be as good as the deer… perhaps?

    • anonymous

      I remember watching a meteor shower a few years back, when the Lord first captured my heart; then there was a very long dark sky and I told Him I would love just one more, but it did not come. Later, as I walked back up the road, I said, “that’s ok Lord, I didn’t need one to know You love me.” Just exactly then, the brightest meteor burst across the sky. I have asked for that special meteor again recently but did not get it. That reminded me how the Lord has greatly blessed me with faith increase. So, we pray for faith to reject the lie (that first lie) and believe the Lord withholds no good thing; showing His supremacy or His sufficiency just as is best. We do long to see Him face to face, for then we will be like Him, but we rejoice too, in the meantime, since in His going, the Father is doing greater works and we are not left as orphans. The disciples had Him with them, but, incredibly, He is in us.(John 14). I pray that if He gave me your circumstance, I would have the kind of faith you seem to have. May He give you strength sufficient for this next day.

    • Mick L

      [quote]So many times we look for God in ways that are trivial, yet incredibly significant to us[/quote]

      Yep… we all do. No shame in that.

    • Pete again


      Praying for you, buddy.

      Couple of things that you know already, but may help to remember when you are filled with “Ascension Post-Partum”:

      1. He had to leave in order to sit at the right hand of the Father. We now have someone 100% human as part of the Trinity Godhead. This is amazing, and because of this, our Sanctification is possible. As Athanasius of Alexandria said, “God became man so that man could become like God”.

      2. He had to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who is in all places and fills everything.

      Glory to God for all things

    • Monica

      Thank you for your openness. I pray The Lord will continue to use you, and especially that He will provide healing and comfort and incomprehensible peace, whether through deer or otherwise. O that we could all cry out truthfully ‘it is good for me that I was afflicted…’

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