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My Reset Button

January 11, 2020
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Some of you know me personally, so you know my story, but for the few who follow HomeworK who don’t know my story, it involves a Reset button.

On January 10, 2011, I died of a heart attack. Three times, actually. OK, let me rephrase that. I went into full cardiac arrest – no heartbeat – three times. In Scottsdale, AZ, on Shea Boulevard. Thank You, God, I wasn’t driving, or else there could have been more than just one death. Shea Blvd. is a busy street. But in God’s mercy, my dear friend, Danny Hinkle, was driving my car. If not for his quick thinking and action, I would have died on 1/10/11 at 118th and Shea in Scottsdale. He literally saved my life.

I’ll spare you the details beyond the fact that I have no memory of the event, that there are a series of interesting miracles involved in the process, and that I did not see a bright light before I was brought back to life…

Every year, as you might imagine, on January 10, I call Danny and thank him for saving my life. Sometimes, when things align properly, Debbie and I have a special dinner out with friends to celebrate what I call my Lazarus birthday. This year, we had pot roast at home by the fire on a cold and rainy night in Oklahoma. I called it my simi-celebration.

Ever since January 11, 2011, I’ve had people say, “Well, God’s not done with you yet. He must have something special in mind for you.” Or something like that. I know these good folks intended to be encouraging and helpful. I appreciate that. But it sets me in a bit of a dilemma. See, God hasn’t messaged me with what this “something special” is. With few exceptions, every day seems ordinary for me, and I sure feel ordinary. I can’t see me bringing world peace or finding a cure for cancer. Some days, if I put my mobile phone down on my desk, I’ll spend 10 minutes trying to find it later… You kind of don’t want that guy to be responsible for world peace or to count on him to cure cancer.

The dilemma for me is that I don’t know what special, significant thing God saved me for.

A 2015 study says that the chances of surviving full cardiac arrest outside a hospital are 6%. With a Widowmaker (which is what I had), the chances are even slimmer. So if I survived as a result of happenstance or coincidence, well, I’ve got to be one of the luckiest guys on the planet. If it was just luck or chance, I need to break away from this right now and go buy a handful of lottery tickets. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t luck.

I believe God saved my life. It’s just too big of a stretch for me to believe it was luck. Most days I’m thankful He did a series of miracles and I didn’t die. For what purpose, though, that’s where I struggle.

As I write this, the day after my 9th Lazarus birthday, I still don’t really know for what purpose God saved my life. My Lazarus birthdays make me reflective and contemplative, but for 9 years, my contemplation and reflection haven’t given me a substantial answer to this dilemma.

Although I don’t think I discovered my destiny in it, the event and the 6 months of recovery from it served as an unmistakable Reset button for me and taught me some very important things about myself.

The two big learnings for me are: 1) not how precious my life is, but how precious my wife is to me. She put her life on hold for those 6 months to take care of me, never once making a complaint about it. Always tender, always empathetic, always loving. I realized that I couldn’t take that for granted ever again. And 2) all the stuff about identity that I have taught for dozens of years is a whole lot easier to pontificate about than it is to actually live. When you can’t contribute or work (or even play) for 6 months, it gets really clear where your identity comes from. Mine was way more from my work than I wanted it to be. I found it to be very difficult to do what I taught, to keep my identity rooted squarely on who God says I am.

And then one more thing. A big thing, actually. I found out how good Canyon Ridge Christian Church was. They kept me on staff and kept paying me and loving me all the way through my recovery, even though I was absent and contributed nothing. They figured out how to fill the gaps I left, and kept my office and my job waiting for me. I’d love it if I could say this is just normal for churches, but it’s not. Not by a long shot. I’ll always be grateful to God and Canyon Ridge for how they showed His grace to me through this.

There are other things, but these three top the list.

So I learned some very important things, but they’re not a map for my journey to destiny.

Here’s what I’m coming to, and I think it might be something you could do something with in your life. The journey may be more important than the destination. I know, I think Confucius may have said that. But in life, there are times when it’s all about the journey. And the journey is often mapless, more or less. You figure it out as you go.

For me, the journey is about showing up every day. It’s about bringing what I’ve got to whatever God brings to me. It’s about learning how to put my trust in Him every day for who I am and what I need. It’s about me loving Debbie when I’m tired and am bumping the bottom. emotionally. It’s about an array of things that I want to become normal for me, but that, in my quest to be somebody, couldn’t be normal.

In other words, it’s daily. Which is one of the things that makes it hard.

I’d love it if I were so deep and mature and spiritual that I could honestly say I’m grateful for my heart attack, but I’m not that deep. I’m grateful for many things that came from it, but I’d be happy to never experience it again.

I think what I’m most thankful for is that it was a Reset button that I couldn’t blast past on the way to my next appointment. Without ending my life, I think God let me restart my life with more intention, more gratitude, more empathy, and a very different vantage point from which to observe life.

So far, none of this has been very much about marriage and family. Sorry. Although, on one level, it could be all about marriage and family. Because who you are and how you do your life is at the core of how healthy your marriage and family can be. So I guess I’m not sorry.

I’ll end with a couple of questions. Is there anything in your life that needs a Rest button? Or maybe God’s been tapping the Reset button, but you just haven’t pulled over long enough to address it. What might it take for Him to get your attention? Take it from me. You don’t want to have to die for Him to get your attention.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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