Summary: The symptoms of a heart attack reminded me of the brevity life and why God has placed me here.
Most of my weeks here at SEFC are pretty predictable. That is I know what I have to do each day. 4 days of the week I teach English classes, and Sunday I’m here most of the day teaching an English Bible class and leading this English Worship Service. I can pretty much tell how each class is going to go because I know the students and what level they are at. So they are pretty predictable. For example in my Tuesday classes Mrs. Ueno is the chaplain. And she knows that about 7:20PM she will hear me call out in a loud voice, “Noboru!” Why do I do that? Because Noboru always arrives first, he is very cheerful and a good student. It doesn’t always work. Once I called out Noboru, and Mrs Ueno replied with, “No, not Noboru.” So often my prayer concerns are pretty much the same every week.
Not so this last week. A couple of weeks ago I experienced tightness in my chest and later chest pains while sleeping. I didn’t think much of it because I’ve never had heart problems before. But this time I thought maybe I should get it checked out. My father had 2 massive heart attacks, and coronary artery disease does run in my family. I take medicines for my cholesterol and blood pressure and they seem to keep it under control. And I don’t know about you, but I’m always thinking, this won’t happen to me, it’s the other guy. Well maybe that’s what the other guy is thinking too.
So Monday I went to the doctor. I had asked Chihoko if her husband knew of any heart doctors since he is at a large hospital. He was able to refer me to a heart doctor who speaks English. Please pray for Chihoko because she has gone to Kyushu to be with her mother who is having surgery. Her mother is not a Christian and neither is her husband, so please pray for them. You probably know that her husband’s sister died just recently.
So I saw the doctor and he said he wanted me to have an X Ray and an EKG. After doing this he listened to my heart and I told him my symptoms. I was pretty sure he would say I was OK, but he didn’t. He said I might have resting angina, which is more serious than angina upon exertion, and wanted to do some more tests. Angina is a word for chest pains. I’ll tell you more about the heart later, but when it is not getting enough oxygen it sends a message usually in the form of chest pain to let us know this. This usually happens when we do heavy exercise. In my case it happened when I was sleeping.
Let me give you a little heart lesson. I know that in the Bible, we often hear about the heart. There are 677 verses on the heart. When we see heart in the Bible it usually speaks of our innermost being, consisting of our mind, will and emotions. Like I have a real heart to be a missionary in Japan. I could have gone elsewhere but I wanted to come here.
Here are a few verses on the heart, just for example.
Exodus 4:21 ¶ The LORD said to Moses, "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
In this case God sent Moses to Pharaoh to tell him to let God’s people go. God also wanted to do signs and wonders before Pharaoh so He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Many times when you talk to someone who is not a Christian and they are not interested it is because they have a heart that is hardened toward the gospel. All you can do is love them and pray for them.
Here is one of my favorite Psalms.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
This doesn’t mean anything you want is going to be of God. But it does mean if you are making Him your joy and delight, the desires you have may well be God’s desires for you as well.
But we also need to be on guard. Because this is often what we are like inside.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
But you know what? God can give us a new heart that responds to Him and obeys Him.
Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.