“It is Well With My Soul…”
“Remember How Short My Time Is…?”
(Psalm 89:47 KJV)
Mankind’s time upon earth is short….Actually, every man’s life upon earth is short compared to eternity past and present. King David spoke, “There is only a step between me and death.” (I Samuel 20:3 NIV).
We all know that we are going to die one day; it’s a part of life. But, for some of us the acute thought and reality of death and its finality upon our lives is present and lived out each day. There are many afflicted souls who have been diagnosed with an incurable disease or illness. Lord, have mercy on these men, women, boys, or girls. For them, the doctor, at one point or another, has informed the patient and family, “It is only a matter of time.” The emphasis turns from “treating” the patient to “comforting” the patient. Their days have been numbered and unless the Lord intervenes death will come shortly as predicted.
I do not have a terminal illness, but I live each day facing the realities of sudden-death or crippleness due to a physical condition I have. Some of you know that as a child, age ten, I underwent corrective open heart surgery for a congenial aorta blockage. Even though the procedure was a tremendous success, I wasn’t made aware of the long-term damage to my cerebral arteries until I experienced a brain aneurysm in 2005, at the age of forty-nine. A group of highly talented and gifted neurosurgeons were able to implant platinum coiling inside the aneurysm re-routing the blood flow. Modern-day medicine is amazing!
I was told at the time of the procedure (emboilization coiling) that I was at high-risk to experience other cerebral problems or brain injuries with aging. In many ways, I don’t think I listened! It wasn’t twenty days until I returned to the classroom teaching and to my roles as a pastor’s wife, mother, and grandmother. At the time, even though I had been warned, I had no way of knowing that it would only be a short five-year period until the next brain injury occurred.
The second injury was not an aneurysm bulge, but a dissection and bleed of the artery. The risks were too high to operate or to put in a stint. With two damaged arteries now on the left side of the brain and one artery with stenosis on the right side of the brain, disability retirement was in my immediate future along with a very stern warning from my doctors that they could NOT guarantee my walking out of the hospital alive for a third time. This immediately changed my life; and that of my husband’s.
Like a weakening water hose the four main arteries in my head continue to carry the blood flow. But, just as a worn water hose can eventually break and leak, especially under pressure, so can my arteries. This time…I listened to the doctors and followed their recommendations! And, so did my husband. We changed our lifestyles immediately as recommended. Thankfully, I can say that we have found ways to relax and to enjoy our lives together more abundantly. What a blessing.
My husband is also more protective of me. As a pastor, he had to let many, many things go and look the other way when either I or our children were mistreated or wrongly accused or verbally attacked. As the Scriptures teaches, “Turn the other cheek.” Being a pastor’s family, we are very acquainted at how mean-spirited people can suddenly become with no concern whatsoever for damaged friendships or deeply hurt feelings. It is a sad, often silenced, truth of the ministry…But, now that he has retired from pastoring, he is much quicker to speak up in my defense. He doesn’t like to see me get upset or worry unnecessarily about anything. He feels he is my knight-in-shining armor! And, I love that in him….
Every night when I go to sleep, I know first-hand that my life can change or be gone before morning. See, on the night of my artery dissection, I had gone to bed like it was any other night; tired from a day of teaching middle-schoolers. But, at 12:15 AM I was suddenly awakened by a jolt of excruciating burning pain on the left side of my head, down the back of my neck, and into my shoulders. The base of my skull and neck were stiff and hurting so badly that I could not hold up my head…The room was violently spinning. It seemed gravity was pulling me to the ground as I began vomiting. I cried out for my husband. Seeing me lying on the floor, he didn’t think I would live to make it to the hospital. Both, he and I thought the aneurysm repair had ripped open; death was upon me. However, with God’s purpose and plan…the stroke was not fatal.
No, I don’t have a terminal illness or disease, but I live with a condition that can cause spontaneous death at any breath or heart beat. I know some of you might say, “We all do.” …But for some of us, we are more acutely aware of the fact. Just as King David stated, “There is one step between me and death”…
But, with all the joy I can testify to…Whatever may come… I’m a winner either way and….”It is well with my soul.” Ain’t God Good!! Amen.
Remember, God Loves You!
Lin T. Rollins, Author