"What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!" Ecclesiastes 1:13
I apologize that it has been so long since I've posted. My energy levels have just prohibited posting until now.
Update on my health:
It's been an eventful couple of weeks. About 2 weeks ago, my doctor gave me an updated prognosis on my condition. I have been on a new chemo treatment over the last month which has really sapped my energy. My doc stated that if this chemo didn't work, it may be my last option, leaving me 3-6 months. The challenge is my cancer has spread to one of my ribs and a few other small places. Not good news. However, the chemo appears to have been having an effect as my numbers from my blood tests have been moving in the right direction. If that is the case, I could be looking at another 6-12 months. Not great news, but going into this fight, fairly early on, we knew we were fighting a tough disease and the goal has been to do our best to glorify God in the process. My fate is and has always been in His hands.
And, then there was this last Sunday night. I had been really weak the whole day, so basically bed ridden. At about 7PM I encountered something that nearly killed me. I first experienced an aggressive movement, and afterwards, I couldn't make it back to my bed. After trying to climb into bed, it came very aggressively, but it wasn't a normal movement: it was blood. By the time my body was done, the bathroom looked like the scene of a mass murder, and I was immediately in shock and rapidly becoming less and less coherent. I made my way to the tub to try to start cleaning myself, and thankfully, my eldest son decided to come check on me. He encountered his father 80% incoherent and in shock and rapidly worsening. He did the right thing and called my wife who called 911 and sent an ambulance.
Basically, my son saved my life.
It's a blessing to have wise, strong sons.
By the time the EMTs arrived, my blood pressure had dropped to 80/30, I was white as a sheet, and I just wanted to pass out. The EMT started saying things I never thought I'd hear. It was like in the shows when someone gets shot, and they plead with the person to stay conscious. He had to shout it to me, and it certainly caught my attention in my coherent state.
The EMT later stated if they had gotten there 5-10 mins later, I could have gone critical, and I may not have made it.
I have to pause here a second and give praise to God's grace. I've read a bit about what people experience when they face a near-death experience. By God's grace, my life didn't flash before my eyes, I wasn't filled with terror and I wasn't filled with regret. The only sensation I can describe was absolute peace. In the moments where I remember being coherent, I remember praying Psalm 27:4, one of my favorites: "One thing I ask of the Lord. This is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple."
My greatest desire: God's perfect presence, His perfect peace, long protected from the horrible tragedies of this world, and finally, ultimately knowing in full, the majesty of His glory.
However, that wasn't His will that evening.
They rushed me to a hospital, and after 2 days, they were able to stabilize me, get me 4 units of blood and rest so I truly believe I get to testify to His grace once again. There is still work to be done.
Regarding the title of this post...
Having a near-death experience and all the related experiences exposed me to something I didn't understand as well before:
ICUs are uncomfortable places. One of the things they want you to do as a part of recovery is to get up and walk to help get the body functional. During each walk, the effects of depravity were more and more at the forefront of my mind. You "get" to walk around and see all the other patients.
After a few walks, I could hardly take it anymore. At one point, I just started crying at the horrible condition of so many that were there. There were the immobilized with more tubes in them than a Borg. There were the faces of the once strong and healthy plastered with looks of desperation, anger and fear. There was the case of the incoherent man who would swing at, grab and harm the nurses who were trying to care for him. And then there was the sweet lady squirming in her bed repeating one word over and over with desperation:
"Mommy... mommy... mommy... mommy..."
I wanted to scream:
It wasn't supposed to be like this!!!!
God created this world perfectly, with perfect fellowship with Him, free from all the evils, pains, sufferings and misery: all effects of the pervasive depravity. The burden we face as a result of our rebellion shows the profound pervasive nature of depravity!
When we were offered something different by Satan, we traded God's perfection, and we got ICUs.
Recently, I've been reading in 2 Corinthians. In verse 16, Paul writes that the message of Christ is the smell of death to the unbeliever. Standing this side of the cross, I'm at a loss how we can regard God's forgiveness, the beauty of reunion with Him and the hope of eternity as the smell of death. Though I must admit, I once regarding Christ in that way. I remember the hatred I had during the evangelistic Bible studies I attended as an unbeliever. It boggles my mind.
But, to regard it as the smell of death is flabbergasting. Please keep in mind, I'm not debating the accuracy of the passage and Paul's words, but I'm lost at how Christ, Who is so beautiful can be seen as the scent of death.
I spent 2 days immersed in the scent of death, and it certainly wasn't Christ emitting it. The scent of death in an ICU has a physical, psychological and spiritual aspect to it, and I was sickened by it.
My only thought is praise: God's powerful grace overcame my sense of smell and brought me in as one of His own... and now I dwell in His peace... a peace not fully realized, but a peace that is enough for what this world can bring.
I would love to wrap this blog up with some catchy conclusion about what we should do in light of these thoughts, but I feel like this time the purpose was to tell the story, share the thoughts, and let the Holy Spirit guide you to how you can apply this to your life.
One thing is for sure: if you know Jesus by His grace, then you MUST love Him passionately.
His work as our Christ is our only and best hope of dealing with this depraved world and managing the burden God's judgement has laid on mankind. I hope you're able to the read the promises of Scripture freshly: they are our foundation when the earthquakes of life come.