On the Other Side

Before my surgery, I wrote a blog entry that I intended to be encouraging to my friends, family and even to many I’ve never met face to face who follow me on Twitter. I hope it was encouraging.

Well, the surgery was successful, I’m recovering my strength at home, and the danger is over. Now comes a change in my diet, my activity and many other areas of life. My sweet wife of 40 years, Gloria, is trying to learn to make dishes that have very little cholesterol and still taste good. Many good cooks will know that this is something like magic as most of the things in our diet, especially in Texas, taste good by virtue of things that make us sick.

The recovery and the changes require a different kind of grace than did the surgery. There, of course, I was trusting God for my life—for the opportunity to stay a little longer in this world with those I love, those to whom I minister, my students, my dear family—now I’m trusting God to give me wisdom and discipline to make everyday changes that I don’t like much, but that are essential if I’m to live among those I love in good health, without being a burden to them.

I am confident, though, that these things have come into my life for purpose planned before the foundation of the world, as everything in the life of every believer: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

I’ve learned some things in the last couple of weeks:

I’ve learned compassion for those who are sick in a new way.

I’ve learned that there are many in the world and the church who are much kinder than I and that I need to be more like them—another change needed in me.

I’ve learned that one of God’s greatest means of comfort is through those who love us and who give their time and effort to minister to our needs.

I’ve learned from the many medical folks, doctors and nurses and others, that kindness is a work of our hands as well as of our hearts, for they did not know me and yet were unfailingly kind to do the worst kind of jobs and to meet my needs with never a complaint.

I’ve learned that one meal where I eat what tastes good that is also bad for me can kill me [when multipled by thousands over many years].

I’ve learned that, though like Paul, I long to be with the Lord, that there are yet people, dear ones to whom I can minister and those who, for difficult to explain reasons, love me, for whom I need to yet be in this world.

May our Father give me the grace to learn these lessons with all my heart and make the changes of habit and attitude that I need to be a better servant to Him and to all of those who belong to Him.



God of All Comfort

If you’re reading this, you probably know that I’m scheduled to have cardiac bypass surgery on Monday, February 4.  So many dear friends have contacted me by calls, email and through Twitter that I felt it might be a good idea to share with you the comfort I’m finding in my Father’s love.

In the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul shares the comfort he has experienced: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 1: 3-4  He continues to say that he had been under such intense persecution that he had “despaired even of life.”

As I look forward to this surgery, I’m well aware of the risk.  I’m also aware that millions of people have had the same surgery and enjoyed a much improved life afterward.  I want to assure you that though I’m not enthusiastic about the actual experience and the pain and weakness that will result in the short term, I’m not afraid for my life.

For many years I’ve believed in and preached the sovereignty of God in all things.  I’ve also preached the intimate care our heavenly Father gives to His elect children, those He has called to Himself and drawn by the loving grace of the Holy Spirit.  I feel that care and comfort now.

As to the risk, I know that in my Father’s love, I’m as safe on the surgery table in the operating room as I am in my own soft bed at home.  I’m certainly no more at risk than when I drive through any intersection in Paris, Texas!  If it is God’s plan to take me to Himself and welcome me to the place He’s prepared for me, then that is in His hands no matter where I am and no matter what the circumstances I experience.  It is so with all of His children who have come to Him through repentance and faith.

So I encourage you, my dear friends, to pray for me and for all of those who are in any trouble, but do not worry, for God has commanded us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4: 16

Thank you for your concern, your prayers and your love.

In Jesus,