Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Empowered By The Holy Spirit!

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.com
I've had a great amount of time to reflect on my bypass surgery while trying to recover. You do a lot of talking to God in the process. And one of the blessings from this difficult time is being able to experience God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Bible states that the Holy Spirit is one of the main ways we experience God today, and the fruit of the Spirit is what is manifested in and through me from the Holy Spirit's power. Galatians 5:22 tells us the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These attributes should be what you experience. 

So I realized early on through the surgery and recovery process, that I was relying on the Holy Spirit and there were numerous times that I felt an overwhelming sense of the various fruits of the Spirit being manifested in me. Right from the beginning when I was told I needed surgery and rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, then waiting two days in the hospital before the surgery, I experienced a peace beyond comprehension. I was not anxious or worried, but confident that I was receiving a blessing, to be able to fix my heart before I had a major stroke or heart attack that led to death. I remember telling someone that I had felt a lot more anxious about organizing a church event than bypass surgery. I don't think I could stay so calm without the Spirit's power.

During this process I also seemed to come alive. I had a lot of visitors and I felt energized and had a quicker wit and sense of humor than normal. I was experiencing the joy of the Spirit in a time when I should have been very sad.  

I also recognized a supernatural ability to be kind in a time where everything seemed magnified. Almost everything and everyone seemed to get on my nerves. I sized up every nurse and attendant and could easily identify their idiosyncrasies, many of which seemed to irritate me.  There was the overly talkative, extra perky nurse with the fake southern accent who proclaimed, "you're in good hands now" when introducing the new nurse. Followed by, "Isn't there a commercial or something about being in good hands on tv?" Yes, she was blond! Then there was the male nurse who couldn't seem to understand how any of the machines worked.

Through it all, Barbara can attest to this, I was kind and gentle to all of those who poked me every half hour. I sensed a self-control beyond my power to hold my tongue during some tormenting times. I was not going to be the grumpy patient! Even when my heart went into a-fribilation, feeling as if my heart was going to explode and the nurses couldn't get the EKG machine to work, I was able to stay calm when I wanted to exclaim, "what are you ignorant fools doing? I'm fixing to die!" God continued to give me patience, peace and self-control through two agonizing hours of a heart going crazy in my chest.

I pray that I remained faithful to God through the experience. I certainly felt God's love and the love and support of so many who were praying for me, visiting, bringing food and keeping up with how I was progressing by phone and on social media.  One of the most consistent and faithful who called me almost every day was a friend who had recently gone through a major battle with throat cancer. I think because of his experience, he could so easily identify with what I was going through, that he was aware of my needs.
So this experience has brought me closer to God and closer to my friends and those with whom I have a chance to minister to as a chaplain and coach. Until this time, I could not point to a very difficult period in my life. I think I'll have a lot more empathy for others who are going through a painful period. I pray that God's power through the Holy Spirit continues to be manifested in and through me.  Thank you, Jesus!

By the way, I recommend a couple of books I've had a chance to read during my recovery. The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg and Cast of Characters by Max Lucado.  The Auschwitz Escape is a great historical fiction novel about the famous Nazi death prison. I read this while in the hospital and was reminded that I had it very good compared to those in the death camps. Cast of Characters is a good devotional book (chapter a day)  that could also be used in a small group discussion.

Also, here is a link to a great sermon about living by God's grace from Jeff Harris at Grace Point.  Watch it here. 

1 comment:

James Shupp said...

So glad you are still in the land of the living. I hope this doesn't mean we can't do Sea Island anymore. Praying for your continued healing and a return to full throttle.


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