When I wrote my first book, Finding Home, I collaborated with Bob DeMoss. Bob and I have a friendship that goes back some twenty years. Last week, Bob’s world was turned upside-down with a family medical emergency. Yesterday he sent me an email with the details. He’s agreed with my request to share the story with you.
The phone rang unusually early for a Monday morning. My sister Becky called from Philly to inform me that my brother Steve (age 49) woke up feeling numbness throughout his right arm and leg. He thought he was having a stroke. Steve? He’s in near perfect health . . . walks thirty minutes or more every day . . . eats right . . . is physically fit . . . and, boom, just like that he’s on death’s door?
The ambulance raced him to the hospital where a team of doctors jumped into action. They couldn’t find anything wrong. Odd. Was this serious or not? After all, his EKG was clean. His heart looked strong. The CAT scan was clear. Mystified, more doctors were called in. I decided to head north . . . just in case.
While boarding the plane, Becky called again; my brother had an aneurysm in his aorta and was rushed into surgery. When she mentioned that just 20% survive the six hour operation, I became dazed. With that unsettling news in my head, the plane lifted off. Tears tumbled down my face as I prayed for my dear brother’s life to be spared.
It seemed like yesterday Steve and I were a couple of kids playing baseball in the backyard, wrestling in the basement, and sharing bunk beds and dreams well into the night. Over the years I’ve watched him grow into a man of God with a generous heart for missions. In fact, Steve just returned from two weeks ministering to orphans in Uganda. Why would God take him home now? The whole thing didn’t make sense.
My flight had a brief stop in NC, something like 20 minutes long. The entire time I dialed every phone number I had in Philly to learn about Steve’s status. No answer. Anywhere. I figured, “He’s dead. That’s why I can’t reach anyone.” More quiet tears as I watched the sunset from the plane’s window.
Upon landing in Philly, I learned the truth. Steve came through the surgery and was resting in ICU. What I didn’t learn until days later was that Steve had, indeed, died. He’d gone “code blue” on the operating table; his heart had stopped beating.
I also learned that 80% of people who have what Steve had don’t even make it to the hospital in the first place. I’m stunned to learn that Steve was released from the hospital today, just eight days after the incident. His post-op MRI showed no signs of a stroke. He’s a walking miracle! To God be the glory.
There’s more. The attending surgeon, who “happened” to be a world class heart specialist on duty and “happened” to be available that day, told us Steve had probably 30 minutes to live without the surgery. He said in a doctor’s career there are one or two exceedingly memorable cases; Steve’s is one of these he’ll always remember.
Although not a believer in God, this renown surgeon felt he had witnessed “a miracle” and could tell throughout the surgery that “someone had been watching out for Steve.” What’s more, he told us that he “needed to meet this someone.”
New thought: Maybe the Great Physician wanted to use Steve’s life to draw this earthly physician to Himself. May it be so!
Bob’s email reminded me of something Moses said: “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). I believe a heart of wisdom includes loving my wife and kids well . . . letting those I work with know how much I appreciate their labors . . . and, keeping a sharp eye out for those Divine Appointments where I might share the Good News that is within me.