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 Smacked upside the head with a 2x4

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Posts : 464
Join date : 2008-07-02

PostSubject: Smacked upside the head with a 2x4   Fri Jun 04, 2010 4:55 pm

Like a lot of people, I grew up in a church-going home. My parents made sure I went to Sunday School. After that, I would attend the Sunday morning service. As I got older, (seventh grade?) I got involved in the church's youth group. I really enjoyed youth group, and we were really active. We did some retreats, we had weekly meetings, we were involved in a church sports league, and we even build our own space in the church (we turned a basement area into a youth lounge, with area rugs, sofa and chairs, coffee table, pool table, ping pong table, soda machine, etc.). It was a small (approximately a dozen or so) group, but we were all pretty close. It was during that stage of my life that I accepted Jesus as my savior.

Then, things changed. I went away to college. I was fed a bunch secular teachings, and drifted away from church. In fact, I am sad to say that with one exception, I did not set foot inside a church in all my college years. (The one exception was to listen to some music at the gorgeous Duke University Chapel, which has one of the great pipe organs in the east). After college, I returned home to New Jersey, and brought back with me my bad habit of not going to church. Like a number of people, I felt at times the church was full of hypocrites, and that I could still be a Christian on my own. Only on rare and special occasions would I attend church with my parents, like on Easter or Christmas.

Looking back at that time in my life, I was really not a practicing Christian. I won't get into the details, but I wasn't walking the walk. While still in this phase of my life, I met my lovely wife. In a way, she unknowingly brought me back to the church, but more of that later. We decided that we wanted to get married by a minister, but she was disillusioned with the Roman Catholic church which she grew up with. I was so out of touch with my old church, that I did not even think of its minister. Instead, a high school class mate was now the head pastor of a mega-church in town. We went to him, had a number of pre-marriage discussions with him about marriage, and Christianity. Well, the discussions about marriage stuck, and we got married by him. The discussions about Christianity did not, and we both remained apart from the church.

About ten years later, at the age of 42, it all changed for me. I was driving to work one morning, with a lot stress going on at that time due to a massive case I was working on. When I left home, it felt like I had a little indigestion. As I drove towards work, it got worse. I was on an interstate highway, a good five miles from an exit where there were services, when I began to feel really bad. It felt like there was a big fist inside my chest, up high. I was feeling slightly nauseous, and was sweating a lot. I thought about pulling over to the side and resting, but decided it would not be a good idea if something major was wrong and no one was around. So I drove on the next exit, got off and pulled into a McDonalds. By way of background, a coke also helped settle my stomach, so figuring it was possibly a stomach problem, I went up to the counter and ordered a coke. The young lady there got one for me, and then said "You don't look well, can I do anything." At that point, things were not getting any better, and maybe a little worse, so I asked her to call an ambulance. I went over the table area, and laid down on some chairs and took a few sips of my soda. No relief from the coke, so I was thinking maybe it more than just an upset stomach. .

In a minute or two, the police arrived and put me on oxygen. Another minute and hospital's mobile ICU paramedics arrived. They checked me out, and I saw them look at each other, look back at me, and check me again for vitals. They talked some more, called the ER on the radio, checked me again for vitals. They seemed puzzled, but by then the transport ambulance arrived and they put me in and off we went to the hospital.

Now, this where God did his work on me. On the way to the hospital, I figured this was a lot more than a bad case of indigestion. In fact, I was beginning to think that it could be heart attack, even though it was not the "classic" symptoms of a heart attach. When I began to think that, I got a little worried. But the strange part was that I was not worried for me. I was worried for my wife what would she do if it was a heart attack and I did not survive? Most interestingly, I was not worried about myself or that I might die. My thoughts went back to some early theology teaching that once you accept Jesus and are saved you are always saved and God will not let you go. I felt a sudden peace, and a very deep, innate knowledge that I have been saved, and even if the worst were to happen I would be with God in heaven. This was more than just intellectual knowledge, it was a deep conviction and certainty that I held. It was the comfort that comes that knowing you have been saved.

Well, I got to the hospital ok, and sure enough it was a heart attack. It became apparent that I needed open heart by-pass surgery, but they had to wait about four days to stabilize me. The surgery went well. But what no one told me at the time was what confusing the paramedics when we were at the McDonalds. I was later told, after the surgery (so I would not have a heart attack from the news) that the paramedics could barely detect a heart beat and that they could not get any blood pressure reading on me. They could not figure out how I was still conscious and talking with them. Well, that, coupled with my conviction that I was saved and my time was not yet up, convinced me that God had a purpose for me t still fulfill here on earth.

However, despite that reassurance that I had experienced during the ambulance ride, I still was not "walking the walk." I didn't go to church, did not read the Bible, and prayed intermittently. But God does not let go of a person easily. This time he used my wife. As part of my recuperation from the surgery we used to walk our dog around the neighborhood, and we would walk past this church. It is a small church, painted white, with a flight of steps up to the red doors. At six o'clock, it would play a nice hymn though chimes in the bell tower. Sometimes my wife would comment that the old church looked neat, and maybe we would drop in one day. Little did she know, but that was the very same church I grew up in. This went on for a year or so. Finally, on a Saturday before Easter, my wife asked about going to the service there the next day. I said fine. Well, on Easter morning she had a blow up with one of her sisters, and I would be charitable to say she was not in a good mood. Nonetheless, we decided to still go to church that morning. Well, it was quite an eye opener. The pastor (who I had never met) gave a good sermon it seemed relevant to my issues with coming to trust in God, and it really helped my wife to overcome her issues that day with her family. I certainly saw that God was at work. Well, to paraphrase a line from Casa Blanca, this was the start of something beautiful.

After that Sunday, we began to attend that church regularly. Not only did we attend, but we became involved. The pastor was in the process of trying to get a monthly coffee house started, and he enlisted the two of us to help. And help we did we provided set-up and take-down for the coffee house, provided table decorations, helped provide some of the food, coffee, and plates and cups, and eventually got involved in helping with the bands. Things went on from there, the pastor got me involved in the music program (it was just choir and organ at the time). He played guitar, base and drums, and his wife could function as a song leader, so he brought me in as a guitar player. Sometimes we took over a portion of the music on Sunday, and sometimes would accompany the organ and choir. He eventually persuaded me to become a deacon. Although he left, my involvement has continued I have become an elder, and became a driving force to transform our music ministry.

So, looking back, I had suspected that God had plan for me. I never saw it, and still am not sure where he is taking me. But in my own stubborn independence, I had been ignoring Him and what he wanted from me. In hindsight, the heart attack was God's way of smacking me upside the head with a 2x4 to get my attention. It worked, and I am glad it did.
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Posts : 2316
Join date : 2008-07-01
Age : 47
Location : Forest Hill, MD

PostSubject: Re: Smacked upside the head with a 2x4   Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:57 pm

cheers cheers cheers cheers

PRAISE GOD!!!!! I love your story!!!


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Posts : 519
Join date : 2008-10-26

PostSubject: Re: Smacked upside the head with a 2x4   Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:27 am

AMEN! I loved this - truly amazing how God works in our lives. Thanks for sharing.
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