Thursday, December 8, 2016

When I Became a Robot

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

The doctor was speaking, but it was as if my mind had disengaged.

"I need my husband in here. I can't make this decision."

When my husband came in, the doctor explained the situation again. The look on my husband's face parroted the look I had on my face mere moments before this. Once again, we found ourselves heading down a path we had not planned. It seems to be a theme in our lives.

A few weeks earlier, I had noticed a fluttering in my chest. I assumed it was mild heart palpitations. For some reason, I decided to check my pulse. I checked it three times just to be sure I was correct. Sure enough, my heart rate was only 44 beats per minute.

"Jason, that's pretty low, isn't it?"

"Yes, that's a little slow," my husband replied.

We were travelling and pretty far from my regular doctor. I continued to monitor my heart rate over the weekend. My heart rate was consistently 44 beats per minute the whole weekend. That Monday when we were back in our home town, it went down to 39. It was time to go to urgent care.

At the urgent care, the nurse was able to document the heart rate on an EKG. The urgent care doctor listened to my heart and looked over the EKG. Other than the slow heart rate, he could not find anything wrong.

"You are very active. There are some people who are very athletic that have low heart rates, and it is perfectly normal. I still want you to follow up with your family doctor, though." I followed his advice and contacted my family doctor.

"You have been out of the country for a while. It's been so long that we will have to reestablish you as a new patient." I knew that would take time, and our time was limited. Our tickets to return to the field were already purchased, and our furlough schedule was packed. I opted to find a new doctor... and I prayed.

I contacted the new doctor's office. I couldn't believe it! They could get me in the very next day! (Only God can make things like that happen!)

So the next day I went to the appointment. The new doctor was great. He explained how he would be available to help me with questions even when I returned to the field. I was thrilled. Then he looked at my EKG and listened to my heart. His response was the same as the urgent care doctor's response, but he urged me to see a cardiologist.

"I don't want you getting to the field with third-world country medicine and then this turning out to be something serious. A cardiologist may see something I don't."

So an appointment was scheduled with a cardiologist. The only appointment they had was a month away. I could feel the pressure of time constraints tightening. Then two days later, the cardiologist office called. They had an appointment that came open just two days away. Again, God had intervened. I took the appointment.

By the time the appointment came, my heart rate had risen to a happy and healthy 65 beats per minute, but I had the urgent care EKG in hand that documented the low heart rate. I handed it to the doctor for him to see. He looked at it, and within seconds had a diagnosis.

"Your sinus node failed. See it right here?" He pointed to the little squiggly lines with confidence. I couldn't understand how he could see it so clearly when two other doctors had missed it. Later I found out that this doctor is one of the leading doctors in the world specializing in electrocardiography. God had laid the path out so perfectly before me... the perfect timing, the right doctor, the right place (while I was on furlough in the states instead of on the field!)

But the doctor's next words shocked me. "You are a candidate for a pacemaker."

I am forty years old and in great physical shape. I run 5k's three times a week and do cardio and strength training two other days of the week. And yet here stands this doctor telling me I need a pacemaker. That scenario had never entered my mind. It wasn't what I had planned for my December.

Then the words of a lesson I taught in a few ladies fellowships came flooding to my mind. I taught on what to do when things don't go the way you planned. It was time to revisit my own teaching.

What Do You Do When Things Don't Go the Way You Planned

1) Inspect your plan-making process.

I had to go back and check. Was my calendar completely submitted to Him? Or had I treated my calendar as my own?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

Sometimes it is easy to forget that not only do we belong to God, but so do our calendars.

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

These two verses are so well-known, but often taken too lightly. In all our ways acknowledge Him... that doesn't mean for us to make our schedules and then get Him to approve them. It means He gets the calendar and gets to fill it in because we acknowledge He is Lord. We are awaiting His leadership and direction... not His approval on our own plans.

2) Commit to doing what is right even through difficulties.

I think of Ruth. Things didn't go the way she had planned. Her husband died. Her father-in-law died. And then her mother-in-law, Naomi, was leaving to go back to her home. Ruth knew that Naomi's God was the true God. She knew the journey would be tough. She knew that living among a foreign people would have struggles and difficulties, but she remained committed. She could have turned back to her own people and their gods, but instead she proclaimed:

"... Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:" Ruth 1:16

She was committed to do right even when things were difficult. And so must we be.

3) Trust God's sovereignty.

Joseph didn't plan on being sold into slavery. He certainly didn't plan on being lied about and thrown in prison. But Joseph understood God's sovereignty. Joseph knew that God uses trials for a greater purpose than human eyes can see with our limited vision. He told his brothers:

"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." Genesis 50:20

Joseph even realized that his difficulties were not even about him! His difficulties were for the sake of others, so that a nation of people would be saved. Sometimes in our difficulties and trials, we become very self-focused. We forget that the trials may actually be for the good of others we come in contact with through the difficulty.

4) Trust God's loving hand.

Elijah sat up under a juniper tree in I Kings 19. He was exhausted. He was physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. His battles were fierce, and he was done. He begged God to just end his life there. Then he slept.

God didn't scold him. God didn't zap him. God tenderly nourished him. He woke Elijah, fed him, let him sleep again until it was time to eat once more... and then he fed him again.

God understands we are weak. He understands our bodies get tired and our hearts grow weary in trials. He understands we are human. Why does He understand so well? Because He took on flesh!

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15

5) Praise God anyway.

There is probably no greater example of things not going the way planned like the story of Job. He didn't plan on losing his children and his possessions, and then having his wife and friends fail him when he needed them the most. But what was his response? He praised God anyway.

"And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Job 1:21

Oh, to have that level of trust when things are difficult!

"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:
but I will maintain mine own ways before him." Job 13:15


Today, I came home from the hospital. I have an extra piece of machinery in my body. My family jokes about me being part robot now. It wasn't in my plans to be "part robot," but I can look back and see how the Lord orchestrated it all. His fingerprints are all along the path that led me here. These were His plans, and I have given Him my calendar once again.

I praise Him, too, that in this whole process, we didn't have to change our plane tickets to return to the field, nor did we have to cancel or reschedule a single meeting with a supporting church. His timing is perfect.

When things don't go the way we plan...
Inspect our plan-making process, commit to doing what is right even through difficulties, trust God's sovereignty and His loving hand, and praise Him anyway.
He is worthy.

1 comment:

Lou Ann Keiser said...

You hit this one out of the park! Such wonderful real life applications! Thank you! Truly an inspiration.