I feel as if I should talk about my story a bit. Even though I want to be careful not to give too much credit to the enemy, I also wish to give people some hope. If you want the whole story, then the book is available at my website www.inkfulinsights.com.
Beginning in February, 2003, I began having a lot of weird symptoms and sensations. I began juggling appointments for my medical supply sales job and doctor visits trying to figure out what was going on. Then in March, 2003, I had a major brain stem stroke. The doctors gave me an 85%-90% chance of dying. Without detailing you to death (again, the book), God beat those odds. The stroke did leave many life-altering effects. I now am basically paralyzed on the right, I speak with a pronounced slur, and I live my life in a wheelchair because I have no balance. I re-learned how to walk (as long as someone is there to keep me from face-planting), talk, and swallow. But life, now, is good. Really good. I’m surrounded by friends and family. I live my life pretty much like everybody else, just in a chair.
It’s been several years now since my stroke, and I’d like to think I’ve learned some things. The biggest thing that I think I’ve learned is that God is still on His throne.
There are a lot of things that I can’t do anymore that I used to do. They’re too numerous to mention here, and I try not to focus on them anyway. That brings me to a very big point. Instead of focusing on the things that I can’t do anymore or that were “taken away from me,” I try to focus on what I do have. It’s difficult to keep that in front of me, but I’m a whole lot easier to be around if I keep that my focus.
I wasn’t even supposed to survive the stroke. I’m supposed to be dead. So the fact that I’m still around to spend time with my wife and other family members is amazing in itself. I can watch my kids grow up and be an active part of their lives every day. There are a lot of things I get to do that I wouldn’t get to do if I were dead. Saying it like that may seem a little extreme, but it’s true. Remembering that and keeping that in front of me is my daily challenge.
I mentioned earlier that God is still on His throne. Let me explain what I mean by that as it relates to what we’re talking about. We live in this world. And this world has things in it that we have to endure. Bad things happen in this world. The bible tells us that God is incapable of doing bad things. The enemy causes these bad things to happen. He is the source of all of this. That fact can’t be lost here. My task is to focus not on what I don’t have but what I do have. If it was up to the enemy, he would have had me die. But God allowed me to go right up to the edge, even to the point that I was looking OVER the edge, and said, “That’s far enough!” He allowed me to go to that point but pulled me back in the end. That’s my God.
When the book of Joshua begins, Moses, who has been given the task of leading God’s people to the promised land, dies. Joshua is taking over where Moses left off, and God is telling Joshua that He will never leave him nor forsake him. That’s in Joshua 1:5. In the very next verse, Joshua 1:6, God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous (He’ll never leave him nor forsake him after all). Now I would never ever claim to be anywhere near as important as Joshua, but during life-changing events like my stroke, the last thing I wanted to hear was “Be strong and courageous.” I wanted to hear that my life as I knew it was being restored. But in these uncertain times, that’s exactly what has to happen. I had to be strong and courageous both then and now. I don’t always do a good job of being strong and courageous today, but I must. I must remember to keep the main thing the main thing and not lose focus on God and Jesus. There is actually abundant, fulfilling life, on the other side of whatever it is that’s caused major change. It is my task daily to remember that.