Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Problem With My Heart

I am scared. As I sit at my desk, sick of the constant feeling of lightheadedness, I am acutely aware that something is wrong with my heart. Although I know in my head that it’s not yet a rational fear, I am scared that my three year old son will not remember that I tried to teach him how to catch a baseball. I am scared that my eight year old daughter will only have memories of the many times that I was impatient with her. I am scared that my beautiful wife is going to end up a single parent. I am scared because both my faith and my flesh seem to be failing me.
I am also embarrassed. Embarrassed because my fear may very well end up being unwarranted. But, in the moment, my fear does not feel like nothing. You see, two weeks ago I was admitted to the hospital with chest pains and dizziness. My EKG revealed that I have a left bundle branch block, and that kicked off a series of tests that continue this week with another stress test this Thursday as well as some thyroid tests. Most of what my cardiologists tell me I don’t understand; besides, all I can hear are words like “electrical system failing” and “pacemaker.” It was comforting for a moment to find out that my nuclear stress test revealed no structural damage to my heart and no blockage. But the constant dull ache in my chest, the constant dizziness, and the occasional shortness of breath shout down my nurse’s and doctor’s pleas to not worry, everything is going to be fine. Something is broken inside of me, and I have no control over it.

When my mom was dying of cancer I was a new Believer, and the thought of God’s sovereignty, frankly, pissed me off. I wrote the Elders of our church an email telling them that I was through with Christianity, that I didn’t want to serve a capricious God. Thankfully, our church Elders and church family didn’t let me walk away that easily. They prayed for me, met with me, and challenged my pride and desire to sit on the throne of my life. I wanted to sit on the throne of my life because I wanted to be in control; today is no different. I still desire to be like God – to be God. And that’s the very sin that Adam and Eve committed in God’s good garden.
In this post-Fall world, what hope have we humans if Adam and Eve couldn’t even submit to God’s authority while living under God’s blessing in God’s good garden?
The last couple of months of my mom’s life I watched her die with a faith that I did not understand. At first, her faith angered me. Why wasn’t she mad at God like I was? Didn’t she get that He didn’t have to do this? If He is truly God, then there was no reason for her to have cancer.
My aunt, my mom’s only sibling, was able to visit my mom just a few weeks before she passed away. I drove Aunt Norma to the airport the last day of her visit. Before she got in the car, my mom and my aunt, with tears streaming down their faces, hugged each other for the last time on this earth. Except whatever sadness that was layered into their tears and voices was almost drowned out by an attitude that I didn’t understand. My aunt ended the hug with, “Tell Dad that I said ‘hi.’”  
About a week after taking my aunt to the Pensacola airport, I sat and thought about that day, that goodbye, and the continued faith that my mom exhibited as she reached the end of her days on this earth. I don’t remember what I read in the Psalms and I don’t remember what I prayed, but I remember being confronted with the reality that God’s sovereignty is a blessing. Without His sovereign hand this world is capricious.
Romans 8:28 is often used as a magic formula to explain why our running late to church saved us from the car accident at the intersection we drive through on the way to church. But Romans 8:28 is so much richer than our materialistic concerns. The immediate context for the passage actually begins back in verse 18 in which Paul writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”  The verse directly after verse 28 states, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Our fallible understanding of “good” is infected by the Fall, and, in our weakness, we tend to believe that the “good” in verse 28 corresponds with our best life now. But, we’re not made for our best life now. We’re made to glorify God and enjoy Him through all eternity. Our best life now isn’t possible because our parents Adam and Eve defied their Creator and attempted a coupe. Their descendents, all of us, attempt billions of coupes on a daily basis. We want to be sovereign over our lives. And, for those who have bowed the knee to King Jesus, God is saving us from our self-sufficiency and self-idolizing, and saving us to being made new in the image of his Son in order to bring glory to Himself and to enjoy Him through all eternity.
This world is broken. God didn’t break it. Our parents did, and we’ve all continued in the family business of demolition. Cancer and heart conditions are just symptoms of the real problem. My mom didn’t need saving from cancer. I don’t need saving from heart problems. I need, my mom needed, and you need saving from the problem that created cancer and heart conditions in the first place. We all need saving from ourselves, and God in His infinite knowledge and goodness, at times, brings hard providences into our lives in order to conform us to the image of his Son. This broken life in this broken world is just the beginning. We will all live somewhere for all eternity, and I don’t need saving from my heart condition; I’m going to die one day anyway. I need saving from myself, and I need faith in God’s goodness. So, if you pray for me and you only have a limited time to pray, don’t pray that my body will be healed. Pray that God will conform me to the image of his Son through this hard providence.
Remember, in another garden almost two thousand years ago, King Jesus faced a hard providence that all of our trials and tribulations pale in comparison to. He faced the wrath of his father. He faced the rejection of the God-head, of which he was a part. And, in that garden he prayed that the cup of God's wrath might be passed from him if it was his Father's will. But it wasn’t God’s will to have the cup passed from Jesus. Because it wasn’t God’s will that any should perish. And, so, God’s own son, the second Adam who did what the first Adam couldn’t do, faced the wrath of God for sins that he didn’t commit and died in the place of sinners like you and like me.

Regardless of what happens, and chances are I will find out that my fears are also evidence of the fact that I'm a baby, I pray that others will see Jesus through me.


  1. Thank you for sharing your heart, the article was a blessing to me!

  2. Thanks for being a blessing to me. I'm glad we're friends.