There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to give birth and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a NASB).
God in his infinite foreknowledge knows the time of our birth and death. God shares these dates with no living being. About our departure from this life, there is one thing about which we can be confident. Until God is finished with us, we are not going anywhere because he is a sovereign timekeeper.
Would I survive the first forty-eight hours?
I had not been feeling well. I was tired and listless and had some difficulty breathing. My breathing I attributed to some asthma I had experienced throughout most of my life. My wife told me that I should go to see a doctor. I thought I had a virus or the flu and it would clear up in a few days. A few days later I was not getting better, but progressively worse. On a Friday, I decided that after work I would go to an urgent care facility. They did a series of tests and said that I needed to go straight to an emergency room. They suspected a blot clot. At the emergency room, I handed them the paperwork from the urgent care, and they took me immediately back ahead of a waiting room full of people. They did a CT scan, and it confirmed that I had an acute pulmonary embolism, a massive blood clot. It was lodged at the junction of where the two arteries take blood into each lung. I was not getting blood and therefore oxygen into my lungs. The attending physician was blunt. He said that this is the kind of clot that kills people and the first forty-eight hours is the critical period. They started me on blood-thinners. Several doctors attested, due to its size that we had probably caught it just in the nick of time.
From this experience, I have learned several valuable lessons. First, listen to your wife, especially if she is a nurse. My Pastor, when hearing of my delay in seeking medical help, said it was probably a “man thing.” Looking back on it now, I think it was a stupid “man thing.” Next, I learned that we should listen to our bodies. God has designed our bodies with a built-in alarm system. The alarm sounds like pain or discomfort. Ignoring those warning signals is no different than disobeying the warnings that God gives us in his Word. Wisdom is sometimes discerned by having a keen sense of the obvious. Is your body talking to you? Furthermore, I learned that the Devil comes to steal and destroy. I am not one to look for a demon under every rock, but in this case, I think the enemy was at least partly responsible. At the time of this event, I had just made a proposal to my publisher to write my second book. I have been pondering the writing of this book for the past twenty-five years. At the same time that I felt I had gotten a green light to pursue this writing project, the blood clot surfaced. In many cases, our medical issues may be natural and supernatural in origin. By ignoring the physical signs of disorder in my body, I may have opened the door for the enemy to work his mayhem. When we don’t use good judgment, we actually work with the Devil, rather than against him.
The last thing I learned may be the most important. God has a plan for our lives, and we can rest in how long it lasts. In the forty-eight hours where things could have gone either way, I had a strange peace. If God still had things for me to do, I was not going anywhere. If it was my time for God to take me, I was ready. It was a win-win situation. My daughter made a telling remark in the first few hours. She said, “Dad, I don’t think you understand how sick you are.” It wasn’t that I did not comprehend my situation. I was at rest that God held my times in his hand. The desire to live is a natural thing. I wanted to live for my family and to see my grandkids grow up, but there was also a yearning to go and be with Christ. I experienced that dynamic tension between staying on this earth and finishing my work here and going to my eternal home. Peace is that state of tranquility where we can abide in the goodness of our sovereign timekeeper.
Image used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing