A time to be born and a time to die...

Having just preached a sermon series from the ancient book of Ecclesiastes, little did I know that these words would so quickly define my world. Just before 6:00 a.m. last Sunday morning my brother called me from the Intensive Care Unit of Summa Hospital in Akron to tell me my father had suffered a massive stroke and that the doctor had just informed him and my Mom that there was "zero chance of recovery." As a pastor I have had the privilege of sitting with many families faced with a similar decision - and while the "time" was unexpected - we were prepared to make the decision.
Through tears we agreed on the phone that if that was indeed true - then we would let Dad go into the heaven he longed for. I have never known anyone more ready to meet Jesus than my father. He and my Mom begin almost every day of their lives saying to each other, "Today might be the day." And they mean it.

Just 15 minutes after I had hung up the phone - after I had called both Lorene (who was in Indiana at the time) and my oldest son Jordan -- my brother called back. This time he said another doctor, a neurosurgeon, had met with them and gave them more information about my father's condition. He had suffered a "sub-arachnoid aneurysm" - which meant the bleeding was outside his brain - not inside -- and that his condition might be reversible. He said they could drill a hole in my Dad's skull, insert a shunt, and thereby relieve the pressure on his brain. He believed that would
create a dramatic improvement in his condition -- and if it didn't we could then make the decision to let him go. We decided to pursue that option.

By the time I arrived in Ohio late Sunday afternoon, the procedure had been done and my Dad was on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma. While his blood pressure had returned to normal - he was completely unresponsive. But the medical staff was guardedly optimistic that "things were going in the right direction."

Monday was a long and amazing day. It began with us believing it was possible that we could make a decision to let Dad go to glory, and ended with him talking to us and even making a few of his trademark wise cracks! He not only regained consciousness, but he can move his arms and legs, and his personality seems intact. He has a long way to go - but it appears that his season of life will continue for at least a while.

I share this story with you for several reasons. First, to thank so many of you for your expressions of love, concern and prayer - it means more to me and my family than you will ever know! Second, to remind all of us that the words of "The Teacher" are still true - there is indeed "a time to be born and a time to die" and neither end of that equation makes any sense until informed by the love and truth of our eternal God!

Finally I want to remind all of us of the reason my Dad was ready for his time and why we were prepared for that time. In Galatians 2:20 we read:

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who
loved me and gave himself for me."

Simply put, my Dad was ready to die because he has known for a long time that his life is not his own - but belongs to Jesus. In the same way, because his life is not his own - he is also free to live whatever days he has left in complete trust in the grace and sovereignty of God. That's the truth and power of the gospel in one man's life - and it is what the Apostle Paul wants for each of us in his letter to the Galatians.

This weekend we begin a new series of messages entitled: "Gospel of the Heart Set Free: A study from Galatians" - I hope you will join us as we take a deeper look at the wonder of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Pastor Brian