Sunday, June 6, 2010

"The Best Laid Plans..."

The older I get, I am regularly reminded how things can change in just a matter of moments. As Scottish poet, Robert Burns, wrote, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry". I had a lot of plans when I arrived home from New Orleans at 9:05 on Thursday evening. It had been a real frustrating experience which began upon my arrival at Louis Armstrong International Airport. I had already checked in for my flight on line and had printed my boarding passes. Jay's family and I had said our goodbyes at the drop off point, and with only a carry on and a brief case, all I had to do was clear security and head for my departure gate.

Things got complicated when I checked the departure board in the terminal and noticed that my Delta Airlines flight from New Orleans to Cincinnati had been cancelled. Time and space here will not allow me to give all the details (and I really don't want to go over them again) but suffice it to say that Delta had plans for me to leave the next morning and arrive home on Friday night, 24 hours later than expected. That arrangement was not acceptable to me nor to another gentleman from Flatwoods, KY who was ahead of me in line. We both had important business in the Tri-State on Friday and we pressed the ticket agent to make other arrangements. Long story short, Delta was good enough to book us on a US Airways flight that was leaving in 20 minutes for Charlotte. Mr. Andre and I arrived at the gate just as the flight to Charlotte was boarding, and the adventure was on, facing really tight connections in Charlotte and Cincinnati. Fortunately we did make it to Cincy just in time to catch our late flight home.

I had lots of plans for this weekend. It was important that I get into the office for a full day's work on Friday. There were hospital visits to make, final sermon prep, two radio programs to record and get to the station by Monday, some writing to do, and a lot of administrative stuff which had piled up for a week.

Saturday was also going to be a very busy day, with the monthly men's prayer breakfast at the church, the final Upward Soccer games, my grandson, Will's, Little League championship playoff game, a week's growth of grass to mow, and a surprise 25th Anniversary party for Scott and Carla Bell that evening. If the weather would cooperate, I figured I could manage to get it all in.

Then, of course there was Sunday looming with two messages to deliver, high school and college graduates to recognize, a church fellowship dinner, and a deacon meeting to attend. Things looked like they might ease up by Tuesday, after our Upward Soccer Award Celebration and cook out at the church on Monday evening. That would give me four more days to get everything ready to leave early next Sunday for the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando.

Lots of plans. Tight schedule, but do-able, I thought.


About 2:40 on Friday afternoon, after a very busy morning of hospital visits and other necessary errands, I was working away in my study when I noticed that something was wrong. There was a deep "discomfort" in my chest. Can't really call it "pain", but a heavy pressure was there, accompanied by shortness of breath. It was enough to concern me, knowing that Sonia, our church secretary, would be leaving for the day in just a few minutes. The discomfort was strong enough that I was not too crazy about being in the building alone, should the unthinkable happen. I lay down on the sofa in the parlor outside my study and breathed deeply and after 10 minutes or so, the pressure had eased, so I headed back to my desk to continue my work.

Deacon Charley Dygert stopped by just before 3:00 and Sonia quietly advised him of my little episode . Charley came in my office with obvious concern on his face. I explained to him that it was just a passing thing and that if I were going to have had a heart attack it would have certainly been the day before, when I was carrying a 30 pound bag and running thorough airports in New Orleans, Charlotte, and Cincinnati. I have a lot of respect for Charley and his good common sense, so I listened to what he had to say. He told me that for some time he had ignored similar symptoms, until one day he had "the big one". Charley had undergone a multiple bypass open heart surgery, and he strongly encouraged me to head on down to King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, KY (where I live) and tell them what had happened. Somewhat reluctantly, I promised Charley I would do so.

Linda was on her way home from work when I arrived at the house and, naturally, she kicked into crisis mode and drove me to the hospital. The ER waiting room was full of folks and I figured it would be a long wait. However, when I told the lady at the sign in window about my symptoms, a wheel chair was called for, and I was whisked back to cubicle number three, post haste.

I fully expected to have to spend the night, but I didn't think I would be spending the whole weekend. After all, I had way too much to do this weekend. Right?

Well, now it's Sunday morning. Normally at this time I would be on my way to the church, with much to accomplish before services begin. Not today. Right now, I am sitting in room 4J416 of the Heart and Vascular Center at King's Daughters, waiting for them to come get me for my stress test. I missed the prayer breakfast. I missed the final Upward games I had hoped to visit. I missed Will's playoff game (they lost), two neighbor boys mowed my grass, and I could only call Scott and Carla to wish them a happy anniversary. Randy Spurgeon will be preaching in my place this morning, and Dad is scheduled to handle things for tonight. Life goes on without me, and things will go just fine.

So, here I sit, awaiting my stress test and the results of yesterday's echo cardiogram. Those will determine if I go home later today, or stay on for a heart catherization. Naturally I am hoping for the former.

By the way - did I mention that I haven't had a chest pain since I have been here?

Why would all this happen, when I have had so much to do?

Perhaps three reasons.

1. I may have a physical problem that needs to be dealt with - now! If that is the case, I will forever be in the debt of Sonia, Charley, and Linda who all urged me to get checked out. If not -

2. I have ministered for years to folks who have had various heart procedures done. Perhaps the Lord has determined that I needed some more "training" to be better equipped to understand the emotions that accompany such situations for these folks and their families. (He has already taught me such lessons regarding cancer patients!)

3. Or perhaps, God just needed to remind me of something that I should have already known. I am not in control. He is! I should make my plans accordingly.

Our Lord's half brother, James, wrote in his little epistle in the New Testament these Holy Spirit inspired words:

" Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:13-17)

OK Lord. I get it! Forgive me of the sin of presumption.

I'll do my best to stay busy in the work in the time I have remaining - If it is YOUR will.

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