December 8th started out a normal day. I had a little bit of a cold, but I felt generally good. I went to get a massage; I went to where my wife worked, and I did what I normally do. It was a normal day. December 9th; however, did not start as normal. I had problems walking; I had problems with the room spinning. I thought I had vertigo. After much deliberation and many calls to the hospital, it was agreed that I should go to ER.
At first the hospital thought I had spinal meningitis, but that diagnosis turned out to be false. That is all I remember. It turns out I was having a stroke. Not a minor one either, but I had an “intracranial hemorrhage”. If one were to take all strokes, 80% would be caused by a blockage or a clot. Only 20% are caused by a hemorrhage inside the brain. Most of those are in people 55 or older. I was truly a rare case so Dr. Piper at Iowa Methodist hospital agreed to take me on.
When I was having the stroke my wife, Laura, asked me if I was scared. I said, “No.” Then she said, do you think an average sensible person would be scared. I said, “Probably.” I woke up; all I can remember is my wife telling me all about someone in the church who had a stroke. I tried to think of all the people that had a stroke; then I thought that I was the only person in a hospital bed. She must be talking about me!
I said all that for this purpose, I had a major stroke on December 9th, 2008. On January 7th, 2009 I went back to work. I was in church again on January 4th and my first Sunday back preaching will be January 25th. God is good. But I learned something about God during my stay in 3 hospitals. I may not ever want to have a stroke again, but I have been able to lift up His name to Drs. to Nurses, to whoever would listen. I guess, then, that if I had to have 100 strokes for a Dr. or a Nurse to come to Christ, it would be worth it. But here is what I learned about God in those 21 or so days
God is good, regardless of what happens to me
Philippians 1:3 says “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you...” No matter what would have happened to me, God still would have been good. (I am glad that things worked out for me, but they don’t work out for every person). But God would have been the same regardless of what happened with me. I wanted my wife and kids to know that. If I would not have survived surgery (which was a distinct possibility); even if I never would have woken up (which was also a distinct possibility), or even if I never had been the same (which was a third but a distinct possibility) God would have been the same. No matter what happened to me, God would be the same God. The scriptures say that “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) I want you to know that, regardless of your situation, God is still the same.
God is perfectly capable of caring for my family, even if I am not here.
Where would I go? Would I stay in Knoxville? Would I move home and live with your parents, Larry and Bonne Mead? Would I get re-married, because I am only 35? What would happen with the kids living life without their father? These are all questions that my wife had when I was asleep in CCU at Methodist. But throughout this entire ordeal, God never abandoned her. Just when she needed it, a song would come on the Christian radio station that she listens to; just when she needed it, people would give her a card or some other sign that they were thinking of her. As I said before, regardless of my situation, God still would have been God. He is perfectly capable of taking care of my family even if I am not here. The scriptures say in Ephesians 3:20 that God is able to “do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” If we will ask according to the power that works in us, then God will do above all that we ask or think. God is more than able to take care of my family if I will only ask according to the power that works in me.
God is still able to work miracles, if we will only believe in Him
More than anything else I learned that God can do whatever He wants to do. I have said it in church many times but now I don’t just say it, I believe it. God can do ANYTHING He wants to if we will just believe Him. I cannot tell you the number of Pastors that came to visit me during my stay. A conservative estimate would say that 50 or more members of my church came for my surgery. From the first church I pastored, I believe that 15 or more people drove the 65 miles to Methodist. I had churches praying for me all over the country. There was no end to the number of people that were lifting me up in prayer. God chose, in my case, to work a miracle. The person who gave me my last dose of medicine at the VA center said, “I have never seen a faster recovery.” Every Dr. that has seen me has said that “this is miraculous”. The VA Dr. said, when asking me if I could stand or lift my hands, that she should not even be having THIS conversation with me. She fully expected me to be sitting in a wheel chair drooling. The Dr. said, “Well, I know that somebody was looking out for you and I think we both know who that is.” Through this event I have learned that God is able to work miracles even in today’s world. If it took 100 strokes to teach me that, I am willing to go through it (though my wife may not agree with me.)