The Heart of the Matter

Waking up in a hospital bed on Easter Sunday morning after a life-saving proceedure on your heart does wonders for your perspective on life. While family and some friends are quick (too quick) to jump on my diet or love of Dew, the reality is that while I certainly have to make some minor changes to my diet to eat more “heart healthy” and increase exercise, diet is not at the top of my list of the things I’m thinking about. I’m not devaluing the importance of these changes, I’ll make them, many I already was over the past few years, but facing one’s mortality so dramatically impacted me more in thinking about relationships, not food.

Months away from turning forty, I suppose everyone at some point truly faces their mortality, and the deep realization that truly every day is a gift from God. Perhaps they go through something like I did, or someone they love does, or it may just be a significant birthday number that hits them; “I’m getting old!”

While I’ve always known and believed that every day was a gift from God – when the events of the last 48 hours are such that TODAY is truly a gift, you know it to a deeper level than you could before. Questions like – Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? What truly matters? How then shall I live? – suddenly take on a new and deeply significant meaning. I’ve always been very mission driven in life and Kingdom focused in my work (at times to a fault) but this event has really caused me to think differently about relationships, or at least think the same things with a clarity and focus I never imagined possible before. Has this episode changed me? Of course. Facing death in the middle of an otherwise normal and fun day – brings everything into crystal clear focus. If I could sum it up in one phrase, I’d say:

Suddenly, selfishness now seems so…. selfish.

I now want even more so to live each day – not to do, not to accomplish, not to gain, not to accumulate, not even to impact or serve – but simply to love. To love God, to love my wife, to love my son, and to love my family and friends like I may have intended before, but to a degree I never did before. I want to be more of an others-centric person. I want to go to bed every night knowing that if today had been my last, I had truly loved and lived that day, and that nothing left behind or left undone truly mattered.

So, yeah. I’ll drink less Dew, but there are things so much more significant in life than merely the acceptance that I now need to eat and exercise better. My “new” diet is simply what everyone should be eating anyway, as is my “new” exercise requirements. All that is “new” is being extremely convinced of their importance and the motivation to do them more intentionally!

If all I gained from this experience was a healthier or even longer life, than I missed the point. Long life is not the goal. A life truly lived is! Please DO NOT let my story merely encourage you to be healthier. Please. Instead, may it spur you on to live a life of love! To God, to your family, and to anyone God brings into your life!

If you and I both will do that, than my near death experience will truly have value!


Related:
Surgeon Sees Jesus in my Heart!
Update from the Hospital Bed

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17 Comments:

  1. K-man,
    Wow! just caught on. Haven’t been online since Saturday! Easter Sunday, I took a electronic Sabbath. And today, thinking I was “just going in for an hour or two”, left my lap top at home! (What was I thinking!) Got home just in time to pick up my daughter from school do homework and rush off to a Band concert. ugh.
    Easter Sunday had the same revelation of wanting to have Jesus shine through me more and more. My life, my relationships, my family—shining in and through them all more and more.
    God Bless you as He reveals Himself to you. As He reveals yourself to you as He sees you. And yes, you’ll need shades for that one dude!
    Had a fresh Alaskan snow for Easter Sunday, and it made everything clean again.
    Your AK friend,
    Katie Loughman

  2. Thank you for this post. It’s a great one and one that we all need to hear. I love you so much and am so glad that you are going to be ok.

    Your little sis,
    Melissa

    Melissa’s last blog post..I feel soooo happy!!

  3. Well stated man, well stated. Good things for me to think about too – as I also am joining that 4-0 club this year and have also started reflecting on my life and why I do what I do.

    Dave T.’s last blog post..Josiah’s First Hit

  4. Karl, Thank you for the post. I have been a kidology member for a little less than a year and your love for children has challenged me. Reading the events that have taken place in your life lately has caused me to stop and think about my own life. Sometimes it is easy for me to get caught up in my own world. Coming home from a long day and saying I need to be alone when my kids and my wife need my attention. What if something happened to me, did I live my life in such a way that people know I loved them and valued them?

    Thank you so much for the life lesson. My prayers are with you.

    Daniel’s last blog post..Change a Child’s Life

  5. Karl, thanks for sharing. This is one of the best posts I have read. I think anyone who reads it will evaluate themselves. Thank you for being so transparent

  6. “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength…. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
    —A prayer of Moses, Psalm 90:10 and 12

    Prayed for your complete recovery as I posted this…
    BA

  7. “I suppose I can’t drink Mountain Dew any more, as it is unbiblical.”

    March 8, 2009 – you predicted it, Karl! lol.

    Hope you’re feeling better, and glad you didn’t need a triple heart bypass like my little brother did at age 35. You will find that veggies can be your friend…. wait, we already know that!

  8. Donna Leventakis

    Dear Karl, I’m writing from Greece. Easter for the Greek people is this Sunday. There is a lot of excitement in the air since everyone gets together and there are many customs and traditions. For me though, there’s the sorrow of missing my son who died in a car accident and a few months later my husband died too. Both of them left young and it is hard. We just performed a musical with 54 students participating and I try to do the works the Lord has given me but you’re right. Loving is what He wants each and every single day He gives us. Thanks for the reminder and reassurance. Sincerely, Donna

  9. Welcome to the club….
    Hope your feeling better.

  10. Karl, awesome post! My near death experience last fall really got my attention as well. Relationships become of ultimate importance as we realize that LOVE is the only thing we leave behind.

    I am reminded of a line from Kung Fu Panda, “The past is history, the future a mystery, today is a gift.”

    Our temptation is to live in the future or the past… but God lives in the present… He is the I AM, not the I was. Today truly is a gift, each moment is a gift, enjoy each one to the fullest knowing that LOVE is the legacy we leave behind. Let’s cultivate LOVE, its the only crop that NEVER fails!

    Love you man, glad you’re recovering!

    Steve Greer

  11. Karl,

    I was taken by surprise when I read what happened to you. I am soooooo thankful that God has chosen to keep you around longer! Once again God has poured His grace in your life and your family’s. Thank you for being so open about what God teaches you…I so needed to be reminded of what truly is important.
    Tu amiga por siempre,

    Susana

  12. I am thankful God spared your life because you have been an incredible blessing to so many people including myself. Know that from someone who is older than you that this was a great reminder of the real reason for life. People are our greatest resource we have and may we never take them for granted. Thanks again for being an incredible gift to the body of Christ.

  13. Thank you, Karl, for the reminder of what is truly important in this life. I’m stopping now and calling my husband to tell him how much I truly love him!

  14. Karl –
    So glad you pulled thru your heart issue. Your are a true encouragement in good times and not-so-good times! Thanks for your non-stop ministry!

    God continues to bless your life! Be praying for more blessings for you and your family.
    Mark

  15. Karl, glad you’re okay!
    I had a similar situation the day before Thanksgiving 2007 (I was under extreme stress) with pains radiating from the chest to the neck and left arm – for about a 1/2 hour. I ended up in the ER by way of ambulance (expen$ive ride but it gets you top priority in the ER) and then admitted until Friday. I spent Thanksgiving being monitored, waiting for the next day to run tests (since everyone in that dept was out on holiday). Since my family history includes both grandfathers dying of stroke, my Dad’s fatal heart attack at age 51, and my Mom’s 2 1/2 years paralyzed after a major stroke, I am definitely in the high risk category. An abnormal stress test led to a heart catheterization, but PTL it showed no damage to the heart. Better safe than sorry.

  16. Karl,

    We’re glad to hear that you’re in recovery! As a fellow “major Dew consumer”, I’m probably in the same category as you…

    We’re glad your recovering. Don’t try to do too much too quickly.

    God apparently still has plans for you on this earth!

    Rest up and take care.

  17. Karl,

    I’m thankful to God that you are going to be alright. When I got on your website (Kidology), I was shocked to say the least. I’m sorry I didn’t get wind of it earlier so that I could pray for you but, I can pray that our Lord give you good health. Thank you for your words and sharing from your heart. We all need to get to that point in our lives where we focus on those things. God, wife, family, work, and ministry. Thank you for reminding me that I need to love more.

    Your Kidology buddy,

    Angel

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