10 Years Ago

10 years ago today I was rushed to the ER with what was thought to be heart issues, that turned out to be a massive blood clot in my right lung that almost killed me. It developed on a flight from Paris, France to Atlanta, coming home from a mission trip to Romania. It came out of nowhere. It hit when I least expected it. It was probably one of the scariest times in my life. It was dark.

This was what was going on in my body. Fun!

Now, here we are 10 years later in another uncertain, dark, scary time. If my past experience has taught me anything, it’s that it’s always darkest right before the dawn. Pain and uncertainty has this funny way of clouding our vision to anything but the negative. In the midst of my pulmonary embolism, I spent seven days in the hospital. Seven days of having blood drawn four times a day. Seven days on an IV. Seven days in a bed. Being told that I had a 95% chance of dying. It was pretty negative. It was pretty dark.

But, in the midst of all that, the negative wasn’t all there was. I had a wife who would not leave my side, no matter how much I begged her. Friends who snuck donuts into the hospital room. Visits from members of two churches I dearly love. A youth group who came by the bus load to see their youth pastor. And, my kids, so young but also such a source of comfort. Isaac would come in with his eyes big and wide, smiling. Annaliese, however, wouldn’t get near me, a look of fear on her face at all the tubes and wires attached to me. They brought light into the dark.

There are so many experiences that I would’ve missed if life had ended 10 years ago today: the days my children gave their lives to the Lord, moving to and serving at a new church, founding and solidifying new friendships, taking a trip to Disneyworld in 2013, falling in love over and over again with the woman of my dreams…it’s funny how for so many of us, we can’t see past the negative to see all the good things that happen in between. I think it’s because the negative is so pervasive. It’s in the news on screen and in print, it’s there when we open our social networks, it’s in our own minds seeking to tear us down. It leaves us in the dark.

Hear this today: God is not the author of negativity, nor is He the spreader of shadows.

We have an enemy who prowls around, licking his lips as he waits to devour us, and in the meantime, he wears us down with negativity. He hopes that we’ll just give up, and allow him to feast. And he does all this from the cover of darkness. 10 years ago was pretty dark. Right now, there are days that it feels pretty dark. And you may feel like you’re right there in the middle of it. But, listen. 10 years ago, I couldn’t give up. Today, I can’t either. As anxious as I may be, I will push forward. As nervous as it makes me, I’ll stand. As powerless as I may feel, I’ll stay in the fight. I will choose the light.

August 10th will always serve as a reminder that even when my life is at its darkest, light is on the way. I leave you with this Scripture that has been on my mind a lot lately, words that have never been more true than right now, and a quote from my favorite book series:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban