The journey continues. It isn’t a journey I ever wanted to be on. But here I am. This week, I was back in the hospital with chest pains. I know what they feel like now! But I still like to deny their reality. I went into the emergency room and the flood of emotions came rushing back.
I’m always so glad for the help they give, I just wish I never had to be there. Tests didn’t immediately show a problem. The next morning my cardiologist came in (I never wanted one of my own) and said we should go ahead and do an angiogram. In a short time the team was coming to get me. One of the Cath Lab techs said, “Jim, what are you doing back here?” We laughed, but inside I was thinking, “good question.”
After my bypass surgery nearly 2 years ago, I’ve been doing what they told me to do. I exercise. I watch my sodium, fat and cholesterol. I’ve never missed a day with my medications. Just 9 months ago, one of my grafts failed and there was new blockage, that meant two stents! The doctors just said, “that sometimes happens.” And now, I was about to have another stent placed. So, within 2 years, bypass and 3 stents. While this is hard to go through, my biggest questions are, “what’s next?”
This time the doctors had no real recommendations except to keep doing what I’ve been doing. And then the sermon came. It wasn’t what you normally hear from a doctor. He said, “Jim, this just may be your ‘thorn in the flesh.'”
I knew what he was talking about. He was referring to the biblical passage in 2 Corinthians 12, where the apostle Paul described a physical ailment that he prayed for God to remove. God didn’t. It was given to humble him. It was given to make him more dependent on God. In fact, when he asked, Jesus gave him a word, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul went on to write, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that he power of Christ may rest on me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I know the sermon the doctor gave me. I’ve preached that sermon. But truth is, I’ve always wanted to the one who is “large and in charge.” I’m the go-getter. I’m the one who loves to make things happen. I’m a hands-on pastor! I love to be “in the game.”
I want to have Paul’s heart, truth is, I’m not there yet at least with any consistency. But I do believe that when I am weak, the power of Christ does the work and gets the credit! I think I know what God is doing in me. This wasn’t my plan, or even my desire. I do believe He knows best.
Thanks Doc for the sermon! In this journey, I pray my heart will grow to be like Paul’s or even John the Baptist’s who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”