This season, for sometime, has always represented the best and most challenging times of the year for me. I have always enjoyed the Christmas experience from celebrating the birth of Christ, whom I love so much, to all of the special activities that surround it. For the past several years, the most incredible thing I look forward to is spending extra time with family. They are my everything and my grandchildren are just more than amazing.
Then I always carry within me the pain that I know others carry. From losses, failures, hurts, and disappointments – this time of the year can be a reminder of everything it’s NOT created to be about. It can be the best and worst of times. I remember the pains within my family when I was a child and what my mom had experienced.
This year for me had an interesting twist in itself. I have been very active for the past 14 months going to a Cross Training gym 4-5 times per week and really changing my personal eating habits and patterns to the point that I have lost a little over 40 lbs and have been feeling stronger than I have in years. But just a few weeks ago I started feeling a touch sluggish to the point of last week loosing my breath really fast in the gym. Continuing through the weekend it increased very rapidly till Sunday afternoon, a short walk was a tremendous challenge. I had told my wife Sunday that I knew something wasn’t right and promised her I would make a doctors appointment Monday. Unfortunalty and very unexpectedly, Mondays Doctors appointment led me to the hospital by way of ambulance because of what the CT scan showed, which was many “Pulmonary Embolism’s” throughout my lungs (which means blood clots in the lungs). The doctors, taking every precautionary measure they could, decided to keep me in the hospital for a few days to monitor my progress. Thank God, the excellent work of the Doctors and hospital staff had it under control! On Christmas day, I came home. What a gift!
I had some observations that I wanted to share pertaining to my experience:
1. Just because you’re healthy and exercising does not make you immune from other tragedies. Paul says it best. “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future. “(1 Timothy 4:8 GNT) He does not say it has no value, but that as in all things, make sure of your priorities.
2. This did not fit into my goals, plans or calendar. That is because as controlling as we want to be with our lives, God holds our plans in His Hands. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
3. God does not get my attention in hospitals. I had some well-intentioned people tell me things like “this is Gods way of speaking to you” and “God is clipping your wings.” Another kind remark was, “You need to slow down and rest.” Contrary to those opinions, God get’s my attention in a church service, in times of prayer and worship. I hear from Him then. I also get the best rest with my wife on a beach or at Disney World.
4. I am NOT a good patient in the hospital. I just have to be honest; I am a “tad” difficult to get along with when it comes to hospice care. Add to that, sharing a room with an individual who sleeps all day and is awake all night. That probably is the reason that I don’t like visitors when I am in the hospital. I had signs put on my door for people to respectfully stay away at times like these. I even tell my staff not to come but to stay working! Don’t take it personal.
5. About my staff and those that serve at City Church. They are the ultimate finest in the world. One of the largest services of the year (Christmas Eve) and they pulled it off flawlessly- without me! Garrett in worship, Ryan speaking, Benjamin’s leadership demeanor, Erin in communion and all of the others to numerous to name.
6. My family. I know how great each of them is, but it’s times like these that make me weep. My wife, my incredible boys, my daughter in laws and my grandchildren are more special to me than words can say. The love that Patty, Benjamin, Amanda, Ryan, Samantha, and Garrett showed was unprecedented. I am crying too much now to even continue. I love them so very much.
7. My friends. The calls, text’s, Facebook messages were so beautiful. Proverbs 25:11 “A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples on a silver tray.”
Today I am grateful to be alive and well. I am convinced of my call and purpose and with new fervor and passion will pursue it with God’s great grace.
I love you but greater still; God loves you and He sent His Son Jesus to give you life.
2 Timothy 1:12 (NKJV) For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.