With mitral valve heart surgery just three weeks away, I am still the most blessed man on earth.
Maybe another man would look at the circumstances and curse his existence, but I have learned that my life is a series of ongoing lessons. Some experiences, like marrying your best friend, you embrace with love and exhilaration. Other experiences, like the death of a loved one, bring you back to the reality of mortality.
The paradox is my mortality is just part of the journey. I am not trying to minimize or trivialize death, but there is also the stark reality that I shall celebrate eternal life even after my physical death.
This belief in eternal life is rooted in 60 years of experience, 40 years as a disciple of Christ, a borderline compulsion to study and learn The Bible and the wisdom and insights of family, friends and acquaintances. My life has had its fair share of trials, frustrations and setbacks, but the blessings are too abundant to list in one article.
I don't believe I stumbled upon Christ. I was carefully guided down this path with the awkward ability to occasionally stumble off course. After all, we are all human and God designed us with this confounding free will.
I look at my upcoming heart surgery as not some punishment for a sin I have committed. For I still make mistakes. It is an opportunity to show that God is still great despite my afflictions.
Please understand that I did not ask for this type of congestive heart problem. I also did not ask that I would be diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease a decade ago. But sometimes the light of Jesus Christ shines more brightly through His imperfect creatures. And sometimes the journey teaches us more than the results.
I think of Joni Eareckson Tada, Dave Dravecky and Nick Vujicic, who may appear imperfect physically, but speak with a passion and conviction about Jesus Christ that humbles and inspires me. I cannot ignore their testimonies or the testimony of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome. He writes:
"The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:16-18, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
I still struggle to understand the full scope of Paul's message in Romans 8, but I agree with his bold statement at the end of the chapter: "Nothing can separate from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I have shared with the men in our small group that one of my ambitions is to reach the same level of faith and confidence as Paul, when he writes in Philippians 4:
"For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11b-13, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
My surgery in three weeks is just another part of my journey and, regardless of the outcome, my fate ultimately rests in the hands of the God who created me and loves me. I cannot lose what Christ has rescued - my life.
Feel free to share your feedback, insights, suggestions or questions. My twitter ID is @denimartin. You can also comment on this article or send an email to email@example.com.