Matters of the Heart

For the majority of my life, I have enjoyed excellent health and an active lifestyle.  I have enjoyed running, hiking, cycling, and other sports, and rarely have missed work due to illness.  A few years ago, I injured my foot, stopped running, and gained a bit of weight, but I was still in excellent health – or so I thought.

On December 31, 2007, while visiting my parents in Indiana, I suffered a heart attack.  Other than elevated cholesterol, which was well controlled by medication, there were absolutely no warning signs.  At about 4:00 AM, I had severe nausea.  At about 6:00 AM, I started having chest pains, with the pain moving from my chest into my shoulders and arm.  Mom called 9-1-1, the paramedics came, they loaded me onto a stretcher, and into the ambulance.

As I lay in the stretcher, with sirens blaring, I came to the realization that I might be dead in a few minutes.  I hadn’t really thought much about death for a long time.   Death is a fearful thing that most people don’t want to think about.  It always seemed so far away, and as a Christian, even though I knew where I would end up when death finally arrived, I still feared the unknown.

However, death was now imminently staring me in the face.  The amazing thing was, I wasn’t afraid.  An incredible peace came upon me as God calmed my fears.  I thought about my wife and kids, and knew that if I died, God would provide for them, and since they also know Jesus, I would see them again in a few years.  As I wondered if the tunnel with the white light at the end would appear soon, it suddenly struck me that I there was a very good chance that I would be meeting Jesus Christ face-to-face in a few minutes.  I began to wonder what I would say.  As I considered the possibilities, I realized there would only be one thing I could say: Thank you.  Thank you Jesus for dying in my place, so that I can spend eternity with you.  Thank you that I don’t have to face Hell, the place I rightly deserve to spend eternity.  Thank you for also saving my wife and children.

To make a long story short, I never did see the tunnel and light.  God chose to allow my heart attack to happen only a few minutes from one of the best cardiac units in Indiana, when one of the best cardiologists in the state happened to be on duty.  Coincidence?  I think not.  From the time Mom called 9-1-1 until the time the stent was implanted in my heart was an amazingly quick 90 minutes.  As a result, there was no permanent damage to my heart from the attack.  By the grace of God, I was out of the hospital in 2 days; back to work in a week; and back to unrestricted activities in five weeks.

God allowed the heart attack in order to draw me closer in my relationship with Him, and to teach me several things.  First, I no longer fear death.  When God decides it’s my time to go home to be with Him, I’m ready to go.  I now fully understand that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, death is not the end; death is only the beginning.  Second, I have learned that life is but a brief moment; and every moment God gives me in this life, I need to live for Him.  And third, I have learned that God is in control of everything that happens in my life.  He loves me, and has a plan and purpose for my existence.  My task is to seek His will for my life, and live my life in obedience to His will.  I now have much more meaning, direction, and peace in my life than I had ever experienced before the heart attack, because my focus is now on God, not myself.

How can you have this kind of close relationship with God through Jesus Christ?  In order to begin the process, just talk to God.  You can do this aloud, or silently; alone, or with a friend.  You must admit to Him that you are a sinner, and ask Him to forgive you.  You must believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to take away your sins, and that He rose again.  You must tell God from your heart that you want Him to change you and direct your life, and ask Him to be your Savior.  That’s all you have to do.  Begin your new life by finding a Bible-believing church to attend, reading the Bible, and talking to God on a regular basis.   As you do this, God will begin the process of transforming your life.  As you begin to learn to trust, follow, and obey Him, He will give you a similar kind of peace, meaning, and direction He has given me.  You can also know, without a doubt, that when you eventually die, you will spend eternity in the very loving presence of God Almighty.  The choice is yours to make:  either receive Jesus Christ’s offer of eternal life with Him, or reject it, and accept eternity without Him.

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