It is not so much the pain of having a piano dropped on your chest; it is the helplessness of not being able to breathe or take action. It is like being held under water and you can’t do a thing about it but submit to the inevitable.
My life did not flash before me. I had no regrets. There were no thoughts of what I should have done but didn’t—nothing to repent of. Nor did I experience a transcendent heavenly euphoria. I didn’t see a light or hear the voices of dead loved ones. I just hurt and felt helpless. My one regret, my one sorrow, even as I felt I was moments away from passing on, was that I was leaving my wife alone with the burden of the ministry, that I was leaving my kids and grandkids to face life without me.
I am now 62 years old. At best, I may live another 18 years, probably no more than ten. I know I am mortal. I have known so all my life, always living in light of eternity. But early in life I counted my age from my birth. I was 32 years old and so much life yet to live. I was 45 and felt like I was 25. I could still out wrestle, out run, outwork the young whippersnappers. But there came a point when birthdays were not counted as to how many years I had lived but how many I had yet to live. For ten years or so I have felt an urgency to be as productive as I can. I spend my days like limited currency. Yesterday is meaningless; tomorrow is irrelevant; today is eternity, history open for revision, an opportunity to amend the Judgment Seat of Christ. Each encounter with a sinner is my only opportunity to share the gospel of Christ. Each hour with my grandkids is a memory I leave behind when I am gone. Each message I preach and record, each article I write, is my mortal immortality, the voice that keeps on lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ, pointing men, women, and children to the old, old story that gets sweeter every day.
I fear our present generation is forgetting. I don’t hear the Bible being taught any more. One can search the radio and TV in vain for a simple Bible preacher who believes the book from cover to cover and has confidence in the ministry of the Word and the Holy Spirit apart from psychology and self help. The Christian book stores are full of fluff and ego. The Word of God has been denigrated by the preachers who have fallen for the Alexandrian line of lower textual criticism. The accurate King James Bible, the one that brought all the great revivals of the last four centuries, the Bible that missionaries used as the basis of their translations into other tongues, has been set aside as inaccurate. There will never be a revival among English speakers until there is a return to the Authorized Version of the Holy Scriptures.
I regret leaving my part in the fight, which has been just to teach the book. Who will carry on? Where are the men of God who study and teach the one book? My wife and I sometimes recount the books of the Bible that I have not yet committed to audio and try to decide which ones should I teach before I get too old and tired or before the curse of death takes me kicking and protesting.
I am not out of the battle yet. Since my heart attack I have re-edited the book of John and prepared it for production in CD and MP3. For the past three weeks I have been writing a commentary of the book of Revelation. I went to a knife throwing contest four weeks after my heart attack and took first place in knife, tomahawk, and ax throwing, tying the all time high score for knife. I can’t yet work. I am somewhat weak, but I feel fine unless I exert myself too much. Every day shows great improvement. By the time you read this I will probably be cutting timber and dragging logs out of the woods to my sawmill.
I squeeze the juices out of every day—study, teaching, ministry, kids, grandkids, gardening, knife throwing, clipping grass, grading the lanes, repairing the buildings, writing, eating (carefully), making love, laughing, and answering your letters. I have had to cut back on the rate or intensity of some of these, but I expect full recovery.
Deb and I do appreciate all the get well cards and letters. She reads them to me and cries. Just train up your children in the way they should go and tell somebody about Jesus, and I will not have labored in vain. Pray for us.