Letter to Grace and Truth Family
Dear Grace and Truth Family,
The last month has been quite an ordeal for me. On Feb. 16, 2002 (Wednesday night), I preached and went to bed that night. During the night I began to get a deep pain inside my chest. I was having a heart attack. Mary rushed me to the hospital here in Hendersonville. They performed an arteriogram the next day and found a blockage in three arteries. I was sent to Centennial Hospital in Nashville where the next day triple bypass open-heart surgery was performed. The pain in recovering is tremendous (as those of you who have gone through this are very familiar). As I was waking up in recovery, I felt like I was in a dream world (probably due to the trauma and the after-effects of the anesthesia). The first thing that came to my mind while I lay there in a dream state was the sheep. With this kind of pain after someone saws your chest open and does a knitting job on your heart, you lay there thinking, I don't think I'm ever coming out of this. As soon as I was aware I began to pray, Lord, If you want to take me out of here that is fine with me. Lord, if it is in your will and if you will be merciful, the flock needs me. This stayed on my mind continually. The Lord did something in the recovery room. He changed my mind about some things (remember a change of mind is called repentance). Before the heart problem, I thought I was repenting sufficiently. I realized as I began to wake up that I had been keeping myself under tremendous stress for many years trying to take care of everyone's needs. I was studying till 4 and 5 in the morning, doing without sleep for year after year. If I am dead I will have no answers for anyone. Here is what God is changing in me. I am not going to stay up all night studying anymore. I have hundreds of people calling me. I will answer questions moderately. If you want further answers I will give tapes on the subject. After each class, I have stood at the dry erase and answered questions anywhere from an hour to 3 hours. I can't do that anymore. Occasionally, I may do this but not for as long and not on a regular basis. My doctor says if I am to have a future, I must curb some of my activity and stress. I am not going to quit preaching. I will be preaching every service. The Lord willing I hope to preach for another 20-25 years. Let me tell you about Mary. Several months ago, Mary had an operation on her foot to remove a bunion. This is a very painful operation. The next week Mary came down with a kidney stone the size of the end of my thumb. It was too large to pass and gave Mary an infection that put her in the hospital for 5 days. The doctors put in a stent to bypass the urinary tract. Then the following week they began lithotripsy to explode the stone with sound waves. Mary went through this process 3 times over 3 weeks to explode the stone. She still has a small piece in her kidney. The doctor said it was the toughest he had ever dealt with. Two weeks after this ordeal, she was rushing me to the hospital in the middle of the night because of my heart attack. She spent 8 days in the hospital room with probably no more than 8 hours of sleep in those 8 days. She suffered stress and trauma. Having a history of blood pressure problems, her blood pressure went through the roof. She's making several doctor visits since I've come home from the hospital. You say, Jim, why are you telling us all of this. As your bible teacher, I want, first of all, to keep you informed of what's happening here at Grace and Truth. Secondly, I want to emphasize the doctrines of God's Sovereignty that I preach continually. That is that God predestined us to conform to the image (likeness) of Christ by all these trials that He is bringing in our lives (Romans 8:29) that all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called of God (Romans 8:28) that God is refining us as He works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11). We are His workmanship (fabric) (Eph 2:10). It is God working in us all to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil 2:13). He has declared the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done (including all heart attacks!), saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all My pleasure (Isaiah 46:10). Solomon said, I know that whatsoever God doeth it shall be forever, nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it, God doeth it (that is everything!) that men shall fear before Him (Eccl 3:14). Thank God for heart attacks, high blood pressure, and kidney stones for it is molding us to rest and be like Jesus. In Everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1Thess 5:18). A little on the light side before I close. I began preaching to the nurses in ICU as soon as I was conscious. I had Mary give tapes out of the car. We gave away a bag of videos and audios. We probably preached to 20-30 nurses and technicians. We began to take names and addresses when we were out of tapes. If I'd had no heart attack I would not have the opportunity to preach to those people!
We love you all,
Jim and Mary