I have been scolded for not keeping you up to date via the blog regarding my health situation. Thank you for the many notes of encouragement. I have not and will not be able to respond to all of them but please know that I do read them and I am grateful for your love and concern.
For those not yet aware, as the note reveals below, I was in the emergency room last week dealing with severe chest pains after exercise. With respect to where I am now, I am fine. I am dealing with fatigue and fluctuations in pain that are tolerable as long as I move slowly.
Some have asked if my condition is a result of emotional anxiety. This is an important question and I am grateful to answer that it is not. Though for a few days this week I battled discouragement especially after a second episode of chest pain on Thursday, my predominant state of heart at this point in my life is one of profound peace. Ultimately this present challenge is rooted in the conflict between a strong will and desire to advance the Kingdom of God and a body that has never been resilient (also by God’s grace). This mismatch of will/desire and bodily weakness has been a source of suffering for decades.
All of my life I have faced serious illness and the gift of knowing, in a very tangible way, that my life is truly in God’s hands. Though this gift is and has been troubling, disconcerting, debilitating, uncomfortable, painful, tedious, and humbling, the value of its effect on my soul far surpasses the cost of the suffering. One of my favorite passages of scripture reflects my feeling on the matter:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
As far as what comes next, I am scheduled for a stress test this morning. My hope is that the doc will rule out heart related issues and find that it is rooted in a less serious cause that is treatable. Please pray and please read the note below. There is a way you can help.
Yours in Christ
A Visit to the Emergency Room
Yesterday morning, I jumped on my elliptical trainer expecting to fulfill my daily practice of mortification (some call it exercise). As I initiated, I was overcome by severe pain in my chest and immediately headed to the ER. The emergency room staff and doctors performed EKG’s and several blood tests, and the good news is it was not my time yet. As you might expect, moments like these give one pause.
I recently provided a retreat to religious sisters entitled “The Secret of the Skulls.” The retreat asks and answers an important question, “Why are saints often depicted with skulls?” The answer of course has to do with desire for wisdom that comes from consideration that life is brief and temporary, and eternity is, well, eternal and permanent. Consequently, we need to live this temporal life in preparation for our judgment and for eternity.
My life, my passion, my mission is to serve you in your quest to know Him in this life, and the next. As evidenced by my physical challenges, my desire often exceeds my physical capacity. Yes, I spend a great deal of time in prayer. Yes, I work hard to be a faithful husband and father. Yes, in spite of the enormous responsibilities I bear, I know a profound and almost constant peace. Even so, there are still far too many hours of work and too few hours of physical rest.
This is not a new challenge, as I had already been wrestling with accepting too many speaking requests, too many book projects, and just too many other responsibilities. My present health challenges have encouraged a firm commitment to find a better balance between work and rest.
So, after talking with my wife (for hours in the ER) and my team, one of the changes I will make is to limit my speaking engagements to only six locations a year. This change ought to help quite a bit.
Sometimes my frugal nature and sensitivity to donor sacrifice causes me to take too much on myself. To balance this tendency I’ve been advised by a wise friend to ensure that I strive to “do that which only I can do” and to bring others onto the team who can pick up the slack on things that can be effectively delegated.
This is where you come in. If you are blessed by our efforts, if we have helped you to deepen your faith and to grow more fully in Christ, you must know that there are tens of thousands of others just like you. You are probably also aware that we are giving away over $100,000 in scholarships to support priests and religious around the world in their formation. In order to make all of this happen for them and the hundreds of thousands of others that we serve annually, we need your financial support. Even so, you might be surprised to discover that I am not going to ask you for a large donation.
Instead, what I am asking of you, of each of you, is for a small monthly commitment that costs no more than a single cup of coffee. Though it is just a cup of coffee to you, a mere five dollars each month, joined with the same commitment of others, will enable us to invest in the staffing and resources we need to better balance the workload that we carry.
So, my request to you is simple, five dollars a month. If you can afford more, fantastic, please give more. If you can afford nothing, please pray every day that our team will be protected, strengthened, and encouraged in our work.
Whatever you do, please only do what you can. And we will continue to do what we can to lift high the name of Jesus to all the nations of the world.
Thank you in advance for your generosity.
Yours in Christ,
P.S. If you would like to make a larger donation or get more details about our plans, please email me your name and contact information.
Emergency Room Graphic By Thierry Geoffroy (Thierry Geoffroy) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons