Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed. Because His compassions fail not, They are NEW every morning, Great is Your faithfulness.Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV
“I’m so dizzy, my head is spinning” are the opening lyrics of a number one hit record back in the sixties. For quite some time before my triple bypass surgery and for a good six months into my recovery, “Dizzy,” the 1969 chart-topping hit, could easily have been my theme song as light-headedness and wooziness plagued me continually. Shortness of breath, swollen legs and feet from fluid retention, fatigue, various pains, and the like paled in comparison to the unsettling feeling of constant unsteadiness. As various symptoms started to wane, the “spinning effect” kept lingering until about two months ago. My cardiologist said it may last for several more months or so and possibly could be something I’ll have to contend with for the rest of my life. I didn’t like the prospect of that scenario, so I turned it over to God. Prayer is an amazing thing, and God is so faithful.
This past September, when we had a cool period for a few days, I started to do some work in my garden. My plan was–and is–to revamp my perennial beds to make them less labor-intensive. I did not know how much I could do at one time, so I took it slow and still do so. I’m happy to say I now can work two to three hours a day with little ill effect other than the stiffness that comes with old age. Yes, I do get tired, and I still require regular naps. But I have made significant strides forward. The best part of it occurred when I was just getting started those first couple of days in September when I noticed my dizziness had pretty much disappeared. I can’t begin to tell you what a fantastic blessing that was and is. I think I must have said “Thank you, Jesus” at least a hundred times those first couple of days. It is the most wonderful thing to get up out of a chair, step right out, and not have to stand there wondering if you need to grab onto something, which was a way of life for so long and had become second nature.
Since the night before my surgery, I have become a “praising God” machine. I now know why David was so prolific in praising God. When you realize and experience God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy, you feel compelled to extol His greatness, His faithfulness, and His goodness.
Like the Psalmist declared in the above verse, I recently stood in church to praise the Lord with my whole heart. I also said, it might sound strange, but I am actually glad I had to have triple bypass surgery. Without it, I would have never been blessed beyond anything I ever could have comprehended. How so, you say? In a previous testimony, I related how the night before my surgery, as I was praying, the Holy Spirit took me out on this mountain top looking out into eternity. As daylight turned to darkness, I saw a bright light surface on the horizon, and then it started lifting into the sky. The light turned into a massive star shaped like the Star of Bethlehem. As it rose, I noticed it started moving towards me. I remember not being scared as it came closer and closer towards me, and then suddenly, it washed right through me. I remember looking back at the sky, and it was filled with angels rejoicing. I thought, wow, angels from the realms of glory. As the scene faded and the sky darkened, I noticed a light off to the side, and I looked over, and in this bright window, I saw my dad and brother Bill looking at me with reassuring big smiles. With that, I opened my eyes and realized I had such a feeling of peace that I can only describe as the peace that passes all understanding. I knew with certainty that God was telling me my surgery would go well, I would get to go home to be with Liva, and that He has more work for me in store.
Like Paul told the Philippians, throughout my recovery, God met my every need. Triple bypass recuperation comes with more than enough difficult days, most of which I hope to never revisit. Yet, it is a joy as I look back and see how I knew that He was with me every morning waking up, no matter what lay ahead that day. You almost have to experience such peace and assurance to understand and appreciate it. I’m probably like most people when I think of God’s love; I tend to reflect upon the good things that happen in my life. But I now know with certainty that He is there surrounding me with His love no matter what the circumstances. That realization has given me a spirit of thankfulness that now illuminates my walk with God every day. There is so much for which to be thankful, which leads me to say “Thank you, Jesus” several times a day.
As I have gotten older, my understanding of the brevity of life has gotten much clearer. As the scriptures say, we are like grass and flowers that flourish and then wither. James writes, “…you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14 NIV) I now have a greater appreciation for the concept of time, how precious it is, and how quickly it goes. I have also learned that it’s not my time but God’s time, and He controls the clock. He answered my prayer to come back to Liva and continue serving Him if that was His will. I am grateful for the overtime extended to me. I don’t know how much more was added, but I do know I must use it wisely. Where am I going to find that wisdom? I believe it begins with God’s word and that I must always have a teachable heart. Billy Graham writes:
“We can know the will of God when we know the Word of God. You can’t follow Him without knowing Him. You can’t know Him without knowing His Word.”Billy Graham
That sentence, you can’t know Him without knowing His Word is so profound. God expects you to trust Him and obey Him. How can you trust and obey if you don’t know His Word? I read my Bible every day to seek the guidance that will enable me to live the godly life He wants me to live. I couple that with prayer, other devotional readings, and interacting with godly people. I love my men’s group, Fellowship Fridays, where we focus on understanding Scripture. The Psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.” (Psalm 103:115 NKJV) By studying His word, God helps me tend my lamp, which shapes and encourages me, giving me hope. I look at each day as an opportunity to grow spiritually and trust Him with every aspect of my life.
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men…” (Matthew 5:16) I’ve learned that I can’t do that without tending to my lamp regularly. It’s a challenge for me. If you know the story of Mary and Martha (see Luke 10:38-42), well, I am a lot like Martha as I am a doer and can get easily distracted, bogged down in some project. I’m starting to do better and am finding that taking more quiet time to spend in Jesus’ presence not only refreshes the peace of God in my heart (Colossians 3:15) but makes me better prepared to live for Him. And that is my ultimate goal, to “walk worthy of God who called you into His Kingdom and Glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:12 NKJV)
Hopefully, you now understand that when I say, I praise God for triple bypass surgery. God used that life challenge as an opportunity to fill me with His peace along with a consuming passion for pleasing Christ. I find that pleasing God is not a burden but a joy. All one has to do is try to live each day for Him by knowing and obeying His word. I’ve learned that if you try, He will help you. He has me. I praise God for what He can do and for what He has done for me: “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20 NLT) “Thank you, Jesus,” for blessing me this way.
I pray for blessings upon all of you for the Holidays and Christmas. I pray you will have not only a Merry Christmas but also a joyous one, which leads you to His path of righteousness. God sent Jesus to earth, so His Word would become flesh and that He would dwell among us. (John 1:14) His apostles saw His glory, full of grace and truth. Yes, the story of Mary, Joseph, the manger, shepherds, and wise men is wonderful. But, it is His miraculous birth, life, death, and resurrection that is wondrous. That’s where we come in. God did that for us, you, and me, so we could know Him and live with Him eternally. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV) If you do not know Him, I pray you will. I have never met anyone who regretted committing their life to Jesus.
Quoting Tiny Tim from “A Christmas Carol,”
“God bless us, everyone.”Tiny Tim