Friday, December 29, 2017

Waiting Patiently for the LORD in 2018

This year has been very difficult for me and I could have never predicted it one year ago today. I was doing a ministry I loved and felt like it was making a difference in people's lives. I was a Hospice Chaplain/Bereavement Coordinator. Each day I companioned the dying and walked with their loved ones. Yes, it was a stressful job but I believed I was called to it. Being called to a ministry is the key to overcoming the challenges and stress associated with working with terminally ill patients.

At the same time, I knew something was not right with me physically. For the past two years, I felt very fatigued. I rationalized that I was getting older and maybe that was the reason. As 2017 progressed I was experiencing dizziness, unbalance, and lack of concentration. After a short rest, I would feel better. My doctor said that everything seemed fine after a general checkup. Blood work didn't show any major issues.

I realized that I was not able to give my best to my work and told my manager that maybe I should retire earlier than I had originally planned. At the end of May, I officially retired. This was not the way I had planned the year. A man's heart plans his way but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9.

In August I had my six-month checkup with my doctor and she detected a heart murmur while listening to my heart. She remarked that she had never heard this previously. She referred me to a cardiologist and within two weeks I began a series of tests. The last test was an MRI of my heart in October. The MRI and electrocardiogram revealed a serious heart condition, Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy. It is hereditary and causes sudden cardiac arrest. My mother and both of her parents had died from sudden heart attacks. I was told that it was not curable but treatable with medications.

As I previously said, "I could have never predicted it one year ago today." This diagnosis rocked my world and changed my everyday pace. At least I now knew why I felt fatigued all the time. A muscle on one side of my heart was restricting the blood flow out of my heart to the rest of my body; thus the dizziness and lack of concentration.

A follow-up electrocardiogram has shown an improvement in the blood flow. The second half of 2017 was not a part of my plans! I am beginning to learn how to allow the Lord to direct my steps.

Here is a Scripture text I want to put into practice as I begin the new year ahead. I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a new place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the LORD. It's not easy to patiently wait for the LORD. My theme for 2018 is "Waiting Patiently for the LORD." The Message translation of Romans 5:3 is so appropriate as we enter a new year: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us. In 2018 we all will need passionate patience! It is certain that our world will continue to experience troubles on every hand. How we respond to trouble can develop patience in us.

I do not have any idea what 2018 will have in store for me. I will not attempt to predict my way but learn how to wait patiently.

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