I’m still here. How remarkable is that?
Oh, make no mistake. I never doubted God’s ability to see me through the most trying experience of my life, but I’ll be quite honest about it — I did doubt His willingness. I know how loving He is, and how much attention to detail He gives, and He’s CERTAINLY blessed me far greater than anything I could ever hope to earn, but I really thought my witness for Him would’ve been served better with my passing. I mean, I was strong and confident and at peace in the face of possible death specifically because I knew that nothing would happen to me that God had not allowed — for my kids’ benefit, for my wife and extended family’s benefit, for my friends and those who consider me an influence, and of course for the Kingdom. I’d prepared my kids for my passing as best I could, reiterating over and over NOT to be mad at God if He chose to take me home, because He knows the courses of our lives better than we ever could, and knows how to turn even our greatest tragedy into a triumph. So thought as I entered the operating room that I’d run my race as faithfully as I could, and that I was ready for whatever awaited me on the other side of it.
But I wasn’t ready for this!!! Sure, I hoped, and I begged, and I pleaded, but God will have His way, no matter what His way may be. And apparently, His way was to see me come through it miraculously. Not only was the operation a success, but when the doctor detailed just what he had to do to ensure its success — the incredible calcification of the valve that he had to fight, the expansion of the aorta, both of which could’ve killed me long ago — I realize that God did not just mean for me to survive this thing, but to show just HOW great His mercy is for me!
And I honestly don’t know where to start on this new path that I find myself on. My entire life has been fundamentally changed. I’m no longer that kid that was born with a heart condition — I’m now the man who had a heart condition, but now has a mechanical valve. I have the potential to be stronger, physically, than I ever was before. Even with my options limited, I have so many more options available to me than ever before. My book series that I had, quite honestly, given up on because I’d never finish it in time — I can now finish it. My daughters that I was sure I’d never walk down the aisle, I can now dance at their weddings. My son who I was sure would still turn to anger (as is his natural tendency), I can now model to him the full value of peace. My wife who I was sure would follow in her mother’s footsteps as a grieving widow, I can now comfort and keep company and love on until we’re both old and grey (or until the Lord changes His mind, of course — I’m not that bold).
But these are all things that I wanted to happen — not really things that I expected to happen. See, since I was a kid, I’ve known that I’d die on an operating table. I was sure of it when I was 10 and doing my first heart cath. I was sure of it when I had to have my tonsils taken out. I sweated through the whole of my LASIK procedure, trying desperately to block out images of that movie, Final Destination. But this time, this time, I was sure my time was up, that God had finally gotten what He wanted from me — someone so completely sold out to Him that even the fear of death couldn’t shake my faith.
But He got that from me… and I’m still here. And I can’t help but wonder if that wasn’t the point all along?
So, yeah, I’ve got some reevaluating to do, some goals to finally accomplish, and a testimony that I need to start spreading, but before I do any of that…
1 Chronicles 16:34 — O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever.