Thursday, February 3, 2016
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11(NLT)
I meet with a group of ministers a couple of times each month. As we share our lives and ministry we laugh together, sometimes cry together, worship and break bread together. It’s a confidential group, so all of what we share together remains there. With that said, I have permission to share this part of my fellow-minister’s journey at the hospital two weeks ago.
Bob had what was supposed to be a “routine” heart catheterization. (I’m not sure you can ever attach the word “routine” to any invasion of the primary muscle of life).
The procedure went well, as Bob’s doctor inserted a stent to help arterial blood flow. As the medical team was preparing to wind things up, a sudden flushed feeling rushed through Bob’s body, and triggered a flurry of activity as doctors and nurses began to deal with unexpected internal bleeding.
An hour and a half procedure turned into 4 hours and 3 more stents. For the patient, my friend, Rev. Bob, thoughts immediately turned to mortality, OK, God, is this it? Will I not go to my house…are we going to yours? Is this it, or do you still have work for me to do here? Stuff like this gets your attention!
In the end all is well, and Bob recovered enough to cook breakfast last week for the five of us and share this encounter in our group. God is indeed good! (So was breakfast!)
It was the aftermath and discussion with Bob’s doctor that got my attention.
When the cardiologist was discussing release from the hospital with my friend, Bob asked him this question: What should I do to never see your face again, doc? He explained, I like you and appreciate what you did for me, but what changes do I need to make so my health will improve?
The doctor shared some standard diet, exercise and lifestyle information, and then looked the Reverend square in the face and said, Bob, if you’re asking me how long you will live, I can’t tell you. I can tell you you’re probably going to die of heart-related issues, because of your family history and the fact that it’s in your DNA.
Then he said, I can tell you I’m probably going to die of heart issues, and also cancer.
It seems the doctor, healer, helper, physician to the sick and helpless has leukemia.
The obvious elephant-in-the-room question at this point is: Why has he not folded his practice and taken time off to relax and spend “quality” time before his time is over? Well, the cardiologist didn’t explain that, but it’s obvious that he has looked beyond his trouble and understood (as some don’t) that, involved as he is with contributing to the quality of others’ lives, he is already hip-deep in living a quality life.
I don’t know this physician, but I like his thinking.
God says he has plans – good plans for us – and a future. What kind of future is talk of terminal heart disease or leukemia?
The short answer is, any future – five minutes or five decades – is always in God’s hands, and is always purposeful and meaningful when you trust His guidance and care.
You have little knowledge (beyond some guesswork and hints from the way your bones creaked when you got out of bed this morning) whether you are one who is in the 5-decade or 5-minute column.
The real question is, what are you going to do with whatever God gives you?