Fac­ing Health Chal­lenges In Life


You folks know that I rarely talk about health prob­lems. But this week I’ll share a chal­lenge I’ve been fac­ing.

Last week I talked about life for me be­ing an easy pull up the moun­tain. That might im­ply I have no phys­i­cal chal­lenges, but that isn’t cor­rect.

Back in 1999 I was mu­sic min­is­ter in Los Alamos, N.M., while work­ing at the sci­en­tific lab­o­ra­tory. At the end of the school year, my son Michael wanted me to go on a three-day hike with him. We planned to have a great time.

At 8 a.m. on Fri­day morn­ing, Carol drove us to the drop-off point where the trail be­gan. She said she would pick us up at that spot at 4 p.m. on Sun­day in time for my next church busi­ness meet­ing and choir re­hearsal.

But 20 min­utes into the climb, my heart be­gan act­ing up. De­ter­mined to keep my word and spend the week­end on the moun­tain with Michael, I told him that if I got hurt he was to use my cell­phone and call my col­league at the sci­en­tific lab­o­ra­tory, who would then make the nec­es­sary calls to come get me. But I didn’t want Michael to worry, so I didn’t tell him what was hap­pen­ing.

The first two days were slow, and Michael was bugged about it. But fi­nally, be­fore reach­ing our goal, I said, “Michael, I’m head­ing back.” That’s when I told him about the two-day or­deal with my heart.

I barely made it back at the ap­pointed time, at­tended the meet­ing, and con­ducted choir re­hearsal. How­ever, around 2 a.m., I woke Carol and asked her to lis­ten to my heart. When she did, she be­came agi­tated be­cause I hadn’t told her about it be­fore, then she hauled me to the emer­gency room.

My heart was very er­ratic, fib­ril­lat­ing part of the time, then pound­ing hard, some­times not beat­ing for two to three sec­onds, then it hur­ried to catch up. It turned out to be stress-re­lated. I’ve han­dled many sit­u­a­tions that in­volved stress to a high de­gree. Fi­nally it caught up with me.

For two weeks, I worked half-time while the med­i­ca­tion was fine-tuned for my phys­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, then I grad­u­ally re­sumed my full sched­ule. But I learned to rec­og­nize the symp­toms and made my­self slow down.

As I said last week: “Life can present a tem­po­rary stall out, a long-term burnout, or a fatal crash — it of­ten de­pends on our out­look on life. But when we look at life on the pos­i­tive side of the pic­ture, life can be a rel­a­tively easy pull up the moun­tain.” And if you know me, I live and thrive on the pos­i­tive side.

About a year later God tem­po­rar­ily healed my heart, and for 14 years I took no med­i­ca­tion. But it even­tu­ally be­gan act­ing up again.

Re­sum­ing med­i­ca­tion in 2013, I have been do­ing quite well and even ac­cepted more re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. But in 2017 the heart took a down­turn, and I fi­nally re­al­ized that I needed to slow way down.

Slowly through­out mid-2017 to mid-2018, I re­leased one re­spon­si­bil­ity af­ter an­other. And at the same time, Carol and I be­gan plan­ning to take a six- to twelve-month trip around the U.S. of A. We are on that trip now; and as of this writ­ing, we are in Eureka, Mont.

Is the heart work­ing prop­erly? It’s work­ing much bet­ter, but I’ll prob­a­bly be on med­i­ca­tion un­til I en­ter the Golden Gates of Heaven where I’ll see Je­sus face-to-face.

We can­not hide from prob­lems and pre­tend they don’t ex­ist, but they don’t have to get us down. In­stead, we need to ra­tio­nally and ma­turely face them. But life can still be a rel­a­tively easy pull up the moun­tain if we keep our faith in and on Je­sus, our Lord and Savior.

Je­sus can give us wis­dom, strength, courage, and joy as we face life with its chal­lenges.

So don’t give up on life; don’t give up on your­self; and for sure, don’t give up on Je­sus. Trust Him and live for Him all the days of your life; and when you see Him you will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faith­ful ser­vant; en­ter into the joy of your Lord.”

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