Thankful to be Alive! ~ REFLECTIONS

January 20, 2011

In November, I went into the hospital for what I thought would be two days of tests. When I was released two and a half weeks later, my chest had been sawn in two, my mitral valve replaced, and my coronary artery bypassed. Afterwards, I was really hurting, but I was thankful to be alive. I had good care from the doctors and nurses, but it was a humbling experience. I hate it when my blood is drawn, and every day they took so much of my blood that I felt like vampires were descending on me. The doctors were trying to isolate the bacteria that had destroyed my heart valve. In my weakness I was carried by the prayers of friends and saved by the mercy of God.

I’m going to skip the details of my recovery, because the pain is subsiding and I’m healing more each day. It takes two months from the surgery before you can drive a car or lift more than ten pounds. Yet, I haven’t missed driving, golf, or working out. I did miss worshiping the Lord with the family of God. Recently, I’ve been visiting other churches led by my friends until I’m healthy enough to return to ministry at Living Streams with the people I love. The main exercise I get is taking long walks on desert trails. At times Kristina or a friend joins me. On other walks I pray, think and listen to sermons from Timothy Keller, Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, and others on my IPod. Their messages are challenging and insightful.

As a young believer, I assumed that God would use me in great ways if I just stayed faithful. Now, it is obvious that our ministry is not well known. I’m not leading huge crusades, and my picture is not on magazine covers. At times I’ve struggled with this, yet I know it does not matter. Short term honors are not the point of ministry, because Jesus allows us to share in eternal life. As I walked through the desert recently, I thought about the widow who Jesus saw put two mites into the temple treasury. This was all the money she had to live on, yet Jesus said that she had given more than those who gave larger sums out of the abundance of their wealth. She was commended by the Lord for her faith, and her example has inspired people for two thousand years.

When this widow died, her name was not on the front page of the local paper, nor did she have a foundation to perpetuate her giving into the next generation. Yet she did something that set her apart for special recognition. Because of her faith, she not only has eternal life, she has the reward of inspiring many generations of believers.

Our responsibility is to be faithful with what God gives us. It is better to be faithful than famous. If we love the Lord and serve his people, there is no limit to how God can use us. Everyone who abides in Christ bears fruit that will remain and reproduce for eternity.

I want to thank you who helped carry me in my trials. May you rest in the revelation that you too have eternal life in Christ. May you have the joy of knowing that there is a reward in heaven for you.

4 Responses to “Thankful to be Alive! ~ REFLECTIONS”

  1. God bless you, Mark. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Shelley Perkins Says:

    This is very exciting news! God is good!

    Has it now been established that the bacteria is gone or is there a waiting period before that can be confirmed?

    PS I never saw the word sawn before and I will admit that I Googled the word for grammar accuracy. 🙂 Perhaps I can use it in a trivia game sometime. LOL

  3. Genny Nunn Says:

    Mark, Rejoice! God has done some great things thru you and there are more to come. Consider this recovery time preparation for His next assignment. You have already accomplished more than many pastors. John and I are thankful you are alive also!

  4. Alan Says:

    Hi Mark, I’m thankful you are alive too. I think you are one of the most famous people I know. Although Rob Shank stopped by my office once. I love you , Alan

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