Ever been in a situation where the realization of the fragility of life meets the overwhelming power of God? At 58 years old, I did.
Over the period of the last year or so, I have felt my body failing, falling short of what I considered normal. I fought the signals that something was wrong. Pride, which I possess a lot of, will do that to you. Periodically I would say something to those closest to me, but not enough to worry them. At some point, I couldn’t hide it anymore, and I could tell they were noticing a difference in me. It’s one thing to feel pain; it was totally different to see the faces I love most to feel my pain. I was embarrassed, I was to be the leader of my family, not the one that worries them. My job was to keep them safe and protect them. After getting several tests done with odd results, one doctor almost demanded that I get a heart catheterization done. April 12th, how quickly life changed. I went from having somewhat of a regular procedure, to all of a sudden having open heart surgery scheduled within the next 24 hours. Widowmaker blockage. A ticking bomb, with a not if, but when, warning.
Now, to understand the depth of this warning, you need to know something about me: I don’t sit still. On any given day you would find me out in the woods, out in my woodshop, taking the grandkids on a quad ride, or helping feed the neighbor’s cows. The idea of them finding me gone while doing those simple tasks was heartbreaking.
After everyone left for the night, I answered the question my coworkers and I had months earlier in our constant “What if tomorrow was my last day?” conversations. The only difference about answering this question now was I wasn’t able to do all the amazing things that I had originally imagined. I was restrained to a 12’ x 12’ cold hospital room. With the next day being potentially my last day here on earth - and with nowhere else to possibly go - I spent the following nighttime hours in prayer with God.
That night alone was one of the longest nights of my life, but looking back now, it was one of the most precious moments that I’ve ever spent alone with God. The only two things that I had were the empty visitor chair at the foot of my hospital bed (which I spent most of those hours kneeling at and talking with God), and a Bible verse that my son had shared with me. Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
I can’t tell you how many times I read those verses, but I can tell you that I spent most of the night asking God to keep and calm my wife, sons, daughters, sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, brother, sister, friends, and all of you (at Harvest Baptist Church) that prayed for me. I prayed that if He decided to take me home that the same people who prayed would love one another and support each other through the expected difficult season. I also prayed that He would fix my issues and heal me, but as I found out later, my prayers were FAR outweighed by friends and strangers alike.
As the morning of my surgery arrived, my family relayed countless texts and phone messages from people who were fervently praying for me. Loved ones and friends from Harvest Baptist, as well as other churches and friends all across the country, all petitioning God on my behalf. It was so overwhelming how many people were praying for God’s protection and guidance, as well as prayer for the peace of God to be upon me during this uncertain time.
Not long after hearing of all of these messages of people praying for me - I was abruptly taken to the prep area by gurney, but instead of the expected increase of anxiety over the impending surgery…God’s work and your prayers became evident to me. For I felt a peace about me that I’ve never experienced. There is no doubt in my mind that God’s people were calling on Him, and He answered.
I may never understand the magnitude of how my trial will be used by God, but what I do know is that it’s my job to praise Him for it. I am very thankful for the blessings I’ve watched unfold: He has protected and strengthened the hearts of my wife, children, and grandchildren through this trial. He has empowered me to use this as a testimony to God’s goodness and the power of prayer. Finally, He has allowed me to be here today to say THANK YOU to those who stormed the gates of heaven on my behalf. From the bottom of my (newly repaired) heart, thank you, church!
"And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." 1 John 5:15