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Summary: Preached on the Sunday before my heart surgery.

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Title: “Don’t Weep For Me.........”

Text: Luke 23:26-31 “As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, Blessed are the barren women, the wombs than never bore and the breasts that never nursed! Then ‘they will say to the mountains,’ ‘Fall on us!’ And to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

I assume that most of you have heard by now, about my very trying week. Several days of back and chest pain coming and going, eventually led me to my doctor’s office where after several tests of one kind and another he surmised that I was beginning to plug one or more of the stents that were inserted in my arteries last December. Tomorrow morning I am scheduled for another nuclear stress test and if they don’t like what they see they will do a heart catherization and insert new stents where needed. If that doesn’t work then it’s on to open-heart surgery.

When these troubles first came upon me last winter everything happened so quickly I really didn’t have time to think about it. I went from the emergency room in Eaton Rapids to the operating room at Ingham in short order. From that point on the rest of the week, with its return visits to the O.R. became a blur of doctor’s and nurse’s coming and going and me sleeping in the interim.

This time around I have had plenty of time to consider the consequences of such radical techniques as open heart surgery. Especially I recall that sheet of paper they had me sign each time before they wheeled me away. In essence it says that I am giving my permission to the surgeons to do whatever they deem necessary. If they determine that a stent will fix the problem then they will insert a stent. If they decide my condition has deteriorated beyond what a stent can correct then they will perform by-pass surgery. Oh, and by-the-way, the paper I am signing concludes……I understand that I could die during this process. Please sign here____________. Gulp!

As I said, the first time around I was so out of it I really didn’t think about it too much. Someone pointed to the line where they wanted me to sign, and I dutifully signed. This time around however, I have had time to give it some lucid thought. For those of you who haven’t had cause to undergo any physical tests in your doctor’s office or the lab lately, let me remind you that no one else in the whole world appears to be as concerned about getting the results back to you, in timely fashion, as you are. Believe me you will have plenty of time to play several of your favorite ‘worst case scenarios’ in a continuous loop format on the big screen T.V. we all have implanted in our imagination.

For all of the uncertainty, however, I am ready to say at the end of this very tumultuous week that it has been a good experience for me. Quite frankly for all that it portends, I don’t know how else God can bring us to a place where we can know ourselves at the depth we must know ourselves, other than to use one or more of the trials life brings our way.

For instance you may have asked yourself “Why was it vital for Abraham to take his son Isaac, up on the mountain and sacrifice him to God, when God knew all along that Abraham wouldn’t be required to go through with it, but it was just to see if he would go that far for God?” As one commentator has pointed out “God knew that Abraham’s love and faithfulness would motivate him to obey God, even in something as drastic as sacrificing his own son, but Abraham needed to know it! Actually, then, the whole business of Abraham offering his son in sacrifice to God wasn’t for God, but for Abraham.

I don’t believe that God saw to it that I was born with a bad circulatory system. I believe that my parents are responsible for that. But, I do believe that God is free to use anything, even my faulty DNA to teach me about myself and His Kingdom.

Several years ago I traveled with some friends to Ann Arbor to watch as another friend played a bit part in the play, “Evita.” Wow! It may well have been one of the best plays I have ever attended. Not only was it well directed and a perfect showcase for the talents of these graduating U. of M. seniors, but if you weren’t careful you might also get a smattering of a history lesson. It was, and is, the story of the life of Eva Peron, wife of the Leader of Argentina, who died at a very young age. As history tells it she had a special love for the common folks from which she also came. At any rate, the song “Don’t Weep For Me Argentina…………..” has stayed in my head all these years and I seem to resonate with its directive. (I don’t know if I can recommend the play with Madonna playing the part of Eva, or not. I have never seen the movie.)

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