Terry James never ceases to inspire, encourage and educate. My dear friend more than tickled my brain in his recent article posted on Rapture Ready (Racing Toward Rapture). He wrote about his very near miss where a glorious eternity mattered. But he made a point that would be hard to erase from memory: what happens to us according to the Lord’s design must be used for His Kingdom and Glory. We just cannot shrug it aside, but when the time is right, utilize it as a tool of His grace.
I sure was not that far from what my dear brother in Christ experienced, except that it felt like a B- grader versus a blockbuster. This happened in late June 2021.
I checked in at the emergency room for a stroke that hampered my movements. It did not take long for the appropriate treatment regimen to begin. Only after a few days in the ward meant for cases like mine, I landed in the rehabilitation facility. Everything was geared toward getting me back on the road with extensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy. It was quite a tall order for someone recovering from a jarring stroke.
But there were indeed some sweeteners at the end of a grueling day. The wife of one patient gave me a packet of pitted prunes. My old buddy from the first day at school brought a banana cake loaded with lots of walnuts – his wife’s finesse in cake baking!
Shortly after finishing off the sumptuous home-baked treat, I somehow ‘fell into a deep sleep’ – except that it caused me to lose track of time. More like a much sought-after relief from the ravaging realities of the ensuing pandemic. Nothing scary or sinister, simply a delightful snooze devoid of time limits. I did not see anything or hear anything. No talk about the Great Reset, the coming economic collapse, and the prospect of a worsening quality of life associated with mandates. Strains from some tasteless K-pop tune, vulgarities, and the thumping generated by stilettos – it never crossed my mind.
In some way, it was sheer bliss right until the moment I regained consciousness, more like an abrupt end to a sweet dream when I was told that there was indeed a close call. I survived a heart failure and was out of action for almost a fortnight. One thing that was foremost in my mind was the rapture, still some way to go!
It was, in some way, a letdown. I was still part and parcel of an increasingly blackening planet. Nevertheless, any urge to scowl was smothered by Proverbs 3:5-6.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
So I knew one thing was almost for sure, He had a plan for me that was hard to swallow. Just when it appeared that I was on a straightforward recovery road, there was that ‘deep sleep’ again. This time, it was short, but my entire body felt entirely different when consciousness was regained.
I had never come to such a state of feebleness in my whole life. I could only move my legs with great difficulty; both hands did not fare any better. My appetite was almost nonexistent. A catheter was resorted to, as my urinary function was severely impaired. Someone else in my position could have freaked out, but despite being in a frail condition, I remained calm and composed. I could only bring it to the Lord.
The pulmonary embolism almost took my life, but the aftermath was, in many ways, a train wreck. Nothing deterred me from giving it a solid fight where recovery was concerned. The Lord had His purpose for letting it happen in a way that is not the way of the flesh. My numbered days were in His hands; only He would know the exact number!
By His grace and mercy, my cognitive abilities were intact. For a start, I had to be in shape to continue writing for His Kingdom and Glory. Other things would be in tow.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
I was aware of the long and challenging road ahead. On my own strength and ability, I would not succeed. Only through the Lord would there be an overcoming, regardless of the circumstances. Yet I had to be patient and let the timing of things be at His direction.
Despite the initial bodily weakness and pain caused by the catheter, I was adamant about being bedridden. Mastering baby steps would amount to the likeness of streams in the desert. The only time I yelled at the top of my voice was when the catheter was removed. Some progress, at the very least!
The physiotherapy and occupational therapy did kick into high gear; the only frustration was staring at those inherent inadequacies in the face. Walking with an aid and, at times, being held by someone could prove quite depressing. Even in matters like going to the washroom, there had to be somebody with me. Thankfully, I was able to bathe independently!
There is a beauty beyond compare when you walk in the ways of the Lord. The doctors, nurses, and therapists could find some break in the monotony of their mundane daily routine when they crossed paths with me. So did quite a number of patients. I knew I was a light in a dull place, so there were no questions about the role given by the Lord. I would seize every opportunity to share the Good News. Would it bear fruit? Perhaps the answer will be given at the Bema seat!
It was not always plain sailing in the hospital environment. There would be difficult patients, especially those with dementia. But this did not deter me from making progressive strides in my bodily functions and, most importantly, my role as being a light for His Kingdom and Glory. I would assist the nurses in keeping an eye on some tough cases – raising the alarm when needed. Some shifts had staff that had language barriers in communication. There were a sizeable number of nurses from India, Myanmar, and the Philippines. None could converse in Mandarin and local dialects – notably Cantonese. I gladly filled the gap!
At the beginning of March 2022, I was cleared for discharge. Nearly nine months might have been a whale of a time. Yet many hurdles were overcome, breaching preconceived notions. But the ones who witnessed it knew that it was the Lord who got it done. The question remains – is it enough to make them believe?
I cannot see where it all ends. I am merely a piece in the jigsaw puzzle. Being a follower of Christ means walking the road less traveled. It is one that is laden with a myriad of challenges, oftentimes laced with trying moments. Praise God! I did not protest or throw in the towel. I simply prayed when the odds seemed insurmountable. He saw me through; He will never leave us in a heap of hopelessness when He has a purpose for that which happens.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish” (John 18:21).
When we surrender our lives to the Lord, we must gladly accept that which is far from glamorous – it is all for His Kingdom and Glory.
Yours in Christ
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