We were at church this morning and the sermon was about Psalm 23 and how we should not be afraid. This was all saints day, when we remember everyone in our lives that has died in the last year. Fortunately, I was there to hear the list without being on it. Then we sang the song about rising up on eagles wings. That whole thing. That sounds sort of easy. I believe in heaven. I know where I’ll go when I die. I’m not afraid, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with dying.
I woke up on March 4th and couldn’t open my eyes. I hid from the kids until after they had gone to school. When they had left, I “looked” at Connie and I said “I can’t really hide this”. Referring to the subtly double-vision and numbness that I’ve experienced over the years. I sent a text to my friend Eric and told him that I couldn’t tell anyone else but “I was scared”. Truly scared of the unknown at this point.
Afraid versus scared. I’ve always thought that those two words were synonymous. I can tell you now that they’re not.
Once we came to the realization that brain surgery was going to be the avenue taken, we began the process of putting my affairs in order. So, you know that can’t be good. I wanted Connie to have all of the account numbers, web sites and passwords just in case. We made a few trips to the attorney and financial planner. Relative’s concurrence was needed for guardianship and benefactors had to be in order. Through all of this I was never afraid for my life. I was more afraid of living in a vegetable state. No one wants to be more of a burden than a value. That may sound cold, but it’s true. I was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to take care of our family without me.
We didn’t make it to church for most of March. Our pastor, Dan Clark, was nice enough to come visit and pray with us in mid-March. With the surgery being scheduled for April 1st, I thought it would be good to “make an appearance” at church. Like I was doing them a favor 🙂 As we sat there I wasn’t able to see the screens much less make out the pastor. Before the service began, Dan came over to ask if I would be willing to go in front during the service so they could pray for me. I said “sure” without a concern.
The service started and we sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness”. That’s a song that took me back to my days as a “Promise Keeper”. This a Christian men’s organization that really started the friendships that I still have today with Eric Gowns, Earl Osborne and Pete Miller. This touched on my emotions and I started to cry. Connie could tell because my chest started heaving and, I can’t say for sure but, I’m guessing that the kids were feeling it too. When 200 people are holding hands and praying for you the gravity of the situation becomes even more real.
After the song was over, Dan asked me to come to the front of the church. Connie, Grant, Jessica, Colin and I all went up and I stood there with tears running down my face. I couldn’t see anything that was happening in the congregation. I remember being asked if I wanted to tell everyone about my condition. Microphones and me are usually inseparable. In this case I couldn’t even talk. I just shook my head “no”. My fear was real but being afraid meant something different.
But I’m not supposed to be afraid? Is that what the bible means? Much like many other thing that I do, I’m sure that because I am afraid that I’m not a Christian. It just means that I’m a sinner. My brother Dan once told me that heaven is “not a castle for saints, but a hospital for sinners.”. (Just to be clear, I never thought I would quote Dan and probably never will again :-)) This probably means that I should be in the ICU. We all far short of our full potential. Some may fall shorter than others. But, in the end heaven takes all believers. Even the likes of you and me.