On Valentines Day (ironically) I was having some discomfort in my chest. In light of my history I thought it best for me to check in with my cardiologist. The PA didn’t seem too concerned, but she decided it would be best for me to have a stress test. I had not had one since my heart attack five years ago and I thought this would be the best way for us to get a clear picture of how I was doing. I passed the treadmill run with flying colors. I made it 17 minutes before the heart peaked at 180 bpm. They took pictures of my heart before and after. I was told everything looked great! I was so excited.
Two days later I received a call that will forever be etched in my mind. I was told I would be having a heart cath the following week due to some concerns the doctor had regarding the test. I was devastated. I instantly went from victory to defeat. “Here we go again,” I thought. The last thing I wanted was this cath. I knew that meant more restricted activity, another year of crazy medications and their side effects, and more problems to deal with.
It was a long seven days. My wife and pastoral staff were there. I asked them to be there. I knew Carrie and I would need them in light of the news that was most likely to come.
As I was lying on the table they wheeled a huge monitor over and began the procedure. I was awake for all of it and I am thankful I was.
Again, it is difficult to explain all the emotional trauma I experienced in those few weeks, but please allow me to share my heart with you and my struggles.
The consciousness of my continual kryptonite.
In everyday contexts, the word ‘kryptonite’ is used to refer to someone’s weakness or something that can be used to hurt someone strong. It has more or less the same meaning as ‘Achilles heel’.
It is one thing to have a weakness, but another thing to have that weakness ever present within you. Superman stayed away from Kryptonite. Someone with a severe allergic reaction to pecans will do everything within their power to stay away from pecans. There is no staying away from a physical illness or disease in your body. It is always there. It is ever present and continually on your mind. You long to be “normal” but that is just not possible.
Roller Coaster Reports.
Emotions are highly vulnerable when one is sick. A “good report” is all anyone wants to hear. When the attending doctor read my initial stress test report and said “It looks great” I was thrilled. When the nurse taking the pictures said, “I see no reason why you won’t live to be ninety,” I immediately started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in the next forty-five years!!
Two days later, while alone, in a hotel room, I received a call from my Cardiologist. This was not good news. I couldn’t understand, evaluate, or even comprehend the emotions I experienced at that moment. It was devastating and incredibly discouraging.
Not knowing what is next.
A pastor wrote this not too long ago, “I’m comfortable here. I know what my week looks like before it begins. I know precisely how long my commute will be to work. I can sleep comfortably in a home God has provided for my family. I thought as I read it, I wonder what that would be like?
At this moment, I had no clue what was coming next. I didn’t know if I would receive the “all clear” or be told more calcification had occurred. I had no idea if my life was about to change again. Not knowing what is next is rough. But like this pastor goes on to say, “God isn’t looking for comfortable saints.”
I am a planner and naturally a visionary. I love to think and explore the future. I want to know what is ahead, but I’m thankful God has never revealed that to me. If He would have, I might have jumped into a ship and ran as Jonah did!
Unable to console the concerns of the family regarding your condition.
When your family is emotional and sacred and there is no way to comfort them it is a terrible feeling. How can you look at your wife and kids and tell them everything is going to be ok when you know it might not be? I am to be the one to lead by faith and encourage my home, but in this situation, I could not do it. I could encourage them to trust but with no assurance of what was to come.
I have no idea why God allows these things to happen in our lives. Why has God allowed me to suffer from these illnesses? Why has God seen fit for me to have cardiologists and Crohn’s specialists in my life? Life and ministry are rough enough, why hasn’t God granted me health? Is that too much to ask? Truth is, I’ll never know.
My cardiologist said these words as he examined my heart, “This is amazing. Not only do you not have any blockages, but there is no evidence that you have ever had a heart attack. Your heart is in amazing shape!”
I honestly believe this is a miracle. God healed my heart. One does not endure four hours with a 100% blockage in his widow-maker and have no permanent damage.
God is not interested in just making His servants, but breaking them as well. A broken vessel can shine His light much more than one that is whole. Hughs says, “Weakness is the singular apostolic qualification, not human strength. This flies in the face of today’s resumé-obsessed culture, which worships strength and beauty and intelligence and pedigree and success. This also counters much of church culture that is embarrassed by the weak and lowly.
Yet, God uses the weak to shame the strong. It is in our weakness that His strength and grace can empower us for His glory.