Testimonies of my walk with Him.
Walking with the Lord is not a Right
Walking with the Lord is a privilege only enjoyed by those He chooses. (Don’t worry, my God chooses everyone but not everyone chooses Him.) We live in a nation with laws and policies cultivating a “give me, give me” attitude and prompting many citizens to demand what is rightfully theirs. According to an article from the Washington Examiner, 93% of unemployed Americans don’t want a job. ((Article from the Washington Examiner)) In reality, these folks rightfully deserve nothing from the government or anyone else. This is my key to share with everyone I do not want what I deserve from the Lord! Growing in the Lord is a privilege too. Pastor Adrian Rogers once said, “The only way you can really understand the Bible is for God to reveal it to you, and God doesn’t reveal it to rebels.”
I recently read a story in Reader’s Digest that hits the mark when describing the freedom we have in Christ. One morning a young man told his dad that today he had turned 18 so the house rules didn’t apply to him anymore. He could leave home and no longer had a curfew to follow. His dad reminded the young man he was correct that leaving home was no longer under dad’s control but coming back into the home was something dad had full control over. Dad let the young man know he was no longer required to provide food and shelter. We have a free will as we walk this life but there are consequences to our decisions and the penalty for sin is still death. We have control over what we do but God has control over who gets to come home.
My Scary Walk The story you are about to read contains my thoughts concerning some of my recent (2014-15) health challenges. These challenges are not the worst thing that could happen to anyone because what is hard for one person to accept may be easy for someone else. Let me say the challenges I will share were hard for me but you may think I am overreacting. Nevertheless, maybe someone can benefit from my shortcomings.
In 2014-2015, I had some real rough storms blow through. Both physical and financial challenges have brought painful and anxious moments into my life. Having been a Christian for over 30 years, I understand no matter what happens to me, God is in control but sometimes I don’t act like God is in control. Have you ever lost count of the times you let circumstances guide your faith? According to the Bible, faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Faith needs to be the guide, not circumstances. Maybe I am the only one that gets his faith shipwrecked so easily. Isn’t it funny how bad experiences tend to cause us to focus on us and our problems rather than on Jesus? I frequently forget life is about who Jesus is — not who I am. Let me share some events that caused me to momentarily lose my focus on Him.
Did you know the surgical help in hospitals is totally out of control when it comes to shaving surgical area body hair? They even shave plan B surgical areas. I went in for a simple heart procedure and this one young man comes in wielding an electric razor. There was no grooming method to the young man’s technique. He smiled all the time he performed his duties. I got shaved in places nobody needs to get shaved and the procedure was to take place primarily in my wrist. If a hair stylist cut my hair like this young man cut and trimmed my body hair, I would never go back to that stylist. Being a very hairy person, it looks really goofy walking around with three or four inches of the length of your arm next to your hand totally hairless while the rest of the arm has a thick hairy coating.
The younger generation probably thinks I looked cool but let me tell everyone, I did not feel cool. Little did I know I would soon discover my new haircut would be the least of my worries.
Human nature causes us to look upon the pain and suffering we go through. God can help us have the right prospective and direct our focus where it needs to be. Here is where my focus was directed. Prior to this heart test, I had my right knee replaced. My new knee weighs a bit less so I always remind others how I lost a few pounds in the replacement process.
Many times I try to laugh off the distractions thrown at me but laughing just doesn’t work for every challenge. Don’t get me wrong, laughing is a good medicine. Sadly, I have discovered that the more I focus on me, the less I focus on praying and reading the Bible. As I said, according to the Bible, faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Also the Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). This life is temporary and Christians have an obligation to give each day to the Lord. In my failures to pray and read the Word, I hope readers see the right prospective can only come from faith in God.
Maybe I am different but quite often I have a hard time giving my days to Christ. Human distractions often make my ability to give to the Lord even worse. What does it mean to give the day to Jesus? In Mark chapter 8 verse 34, Jesus says in order to follow Him, one must deny his or her self, take up his or her cross and follow Him. Again in Mark chapter 10 verse 21, Jesus told a rich young man who wanted to follow Him he lacked one thing. Jesus told him to give up all he had, take up the cross and follow Him. These passages in Mark show us plainly what we must do.
The rich young man could not do what Jesus told him to do. Let me ask everyone reading these thoughts, “what will we do with these words uttered by Jesus?” He may not ask us to give up our material possessions but He does want us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. Jesus can be totally trusted. He knows everything. All power is given to Him. Jesus loves you and me with a passion so strong He gave his life for us. Let’s get back to my distractions.
Immediately following the simple heart procedure where all the shaving took place, I was faced with critical decisions. What I thought would be a simple test, led to a life and death decision. My heart doctor quickly called for a heart surgeon to review the test results. The heart surgeon emphasized the problem I faced needed to be corrected sooner rather than later. I had served the Lord for a long time and now I was being told I had a heart problem that could take my life if not corrected soon. What had led me to this crossroad in my life? I don’t drink, don’t smoke, but I do work hard, and exercise some. Sometimes a major part of heart problems comes from heredity but almost always, heart problems come from not eating right and not properly taking care of your body. Before, I go on, let me share this Bible truth.
The Apostle Paul defined his struggle with fleshly desires in Romans chapter 7. For those of you who struggle with doing the right thing, you may find some comfort in this thought penned by Paul, in verse 21 of the seventh chapter, “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Going through my health trials, I gained a new prospective concerning this verse. I believe this verse has a wide reflection concerning humanity. What I mean is lots of evil exists and the war has many fronts. For example, many of us plainly see the drug and alcohol war front, the sex war front, and the material war fronts. When we avoid these fleshly fronts, there is enough evil in this world to send our focus in the direction of other evil fronts.
How many see the over indulgence (overeating) war front? I believe what and how much we eat plays a role in how long we live in this life. In my case, I believe my heart issues stemmed mostly from not eating right. I realize this miracle of life from God is another instance of the Lord giving me another chance even though I don’t deserve it.
The heart surgeon said I had a better than 95% to 97% chance of getting through surgery fine. Yes, I did carefully consider the three to five percent briefly. The surgeon said he could operate the next morning and I agreed to the open heart surgery.
The next morning here comes the electric razor buzzing at me again. I didn’t think I had much body hair left but the young man found plenty. That electric razor just zoomed back and forth and I got really cold. They carted me to the surgery room and put me under. I had no worries or fear that I can remember. God was with me all the way. He also put many of my family members in my path to give me love and support.
The first thing I remember upon waking up in intensive care was I had this horrible tube stuck down my throat. I hated that tube and I was so glad that was the first thing to go. The nurses said I reached the recovery point in record time to get that hose out. I had many other wires and tubes sticking out of my chest and other body parts. I also had an oxygen hose attached under my nose feeding me oxygen to keep my oxygen count up.
Each of the two hoses in my chest were about a half inch in diameter. Two electric wires were also in my chest. These wires were small diameter wires much like the size you would see inside an appliance. I dreaded those big hoses being pulled out but they did not hurt a bit. It seemed like each day something was pulled out of my body (He loves me, He loves me not…). The little wires were the last foreign things to come out. I figured the wires would be minimal pain due to their size. Wrong!
Those little wires had claws at the end of them that hurt like the dickens as they inched their way out. I came home after a few days in the hospital and for the next few weeks, I sat in a chair and watched Matlock and JAG on the inspiration channel and hoped I did not cough. The hospital gave me this cute little heart shaped pillow to use to apply pressure to my chest when I coughed.
Remember that knee replacement I mentioned earlier? I had my knee replaced on June 2nd and on July 31st, I underwent a double bypass heart surgery. Did I mention, there were some complications with the knee recovery? A few weeks into the knee recovery process I had to be sedated and have my knee force flexed to break up scar tissue. So basically, I had to focus on recovering from my knee replacement along with my heart surgery. What a staggering turn of events, I felt I was experiencing. knee exercises while breathing exercises had to be completed daily. Are we there yet?
One would think I had plenty of time to pray and read my Bible. This is the area for which I am most ashamed. I didn’t feel like doing either of these two important exercises when I needed them most. Where was my focus? Satan doesn’t want us to pray or read our Bibles. The devil wants our focus to be cast on anything other than Jesus. One powerful tool he uses to redirect our focus is personal distractions. Distractions come in many forms and range from pleasant experiences that come from wealth and power to devastating health or financial experiences. I believe God can help us overcome any distractions but the choice to overcome remains with us. We must also all stand before God to answer for our choices.
Latest Chapter (2015)
Let me share my continued failures so God will have more glory. For a while I listened to those around me and exercised along with eating better. However, I soon got back on the same path of overeating and eating the wrong things. My doctor took tests and told me I had diabetes and I needed to diet and exercise. My wife lovingly tried to contain my eating habits.
Those of you who are married, I hope you are married to your best friend. I am married to my best friend and I totally ignored her concerns about my health along with her other concerns. Imagine yourself on a pathway to destruction and your best friend watches your downward spiral while you ignore warnings.
God is in control and God knows how to get our attention when we won’t listen. I began to experience symptoms of shortness of breath and painful deep breathing. I also had other symptoms such as pain in my shoulder and between my shoulder blades. I went to my doctor and got to go visit the hospital for a few days. The diagnosis was pericarditis along with very high blood sugar.
If you don’t know what pericarditis is, you are not alone. I had no clue what pericarditis is. I was familiar with most of the symptoms though. For those that don’t know what pericarditis is you can read about it by clicking here. Another thing happened while in the hospital, my denial of blood sugar issues was brought to light in a very personal way. Diabetes is real in my life and in my opinion, my fault. God is merciful and my wife is forgiving so I am still here.
My Testimony Through It All
The challenges I faced are not what I consider my testimony. I brought on many of the challenges myself. The God that I serve is the heart of my testimony because He helped me through the tough times in spite of myself including when I refused to see the danger or heed the warnings placed before me. He put a caring wife into my life who helped me and gave me the will to overcome. God put a loving pastor and pastoral staff in my life that visited me in the hospital and at home and prayed with me. Prayer changes things. Members from my church came by and mowed my lawn (not an easy task). Others came by and visited me in the hospital and at home and prayed with me. A community group sent a wonderful card to me with money in the card. God also put very qualified medical professionals in charge of my care. God gave me all these things to help me recover.
The Bible gives us a glimpse of the creator of the universe and reveals God’s heart for us. There is a delicate balance between parental guidance and their children’s decisions. Quite often we see parents so involved in their kids lives the kids don’t make the decisions because the parents make many life decisions for them. Don’t get me wrong, parents need to be totally involved in helping their children avoid harsh consequences in life. My suggested example is more in line with parents who choose what sport their kids play, what college the kids attend, and even try to force kids to decide what they will become when they grow up.
The Lord is very involved in my life and He offers many decisions to me. I can only imagine the times God as delivered me from harm’s way and I never knew the danger. The difference between God and the overbearing parents I mentioned is many times the children of these overbearing parents will face regret over these life decisions being out of their control. God doesn’t force me to act on the decisions he presents for my life. The choice is mine but so are the consequences. I used the parent comparison to show the Love of God towards humanity not to bash parents who try to help children avoid consequences of bad decisions. God loves me so much He will not force me to decide to eat right. I have proven that over the current holidays. I can choose to improve my diet or I can continue down the path of a bad diet and expect the consequences of my decision to lead to a shorter life.
Yes the next life is going to be way better than this life but whose life will I miss out on influencing in a godly way because I cut my earthly life short? As I said earlier, this earthly life is about who God is, not who we are. What does God want me and you to do in this life? Today is a good day to start.