Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. ~ Proverbs 4:23 (VOICE)
The past week has been emotionally challenging for a number of reasons, none more pressing than my husband’s recent battle with what could become a serious heart condition: High Blood Pressure. My friends on Facebook have come to know my husband as #TheFisherman over the last year.
I call him #TheFisherman largely because I know this is part of his unique nature that God has given him. He loves being outdoors taking dominion over the Lord’s creation. Hunting, fishing, and walking along the lakeshore checking for deer tracks. The man cannot hear me talking to him from the other room but can spot a deer and its antlers at nearly a football field’s length away in shadows – not sunlight. He likes the Outdoor Channel and even pointed out a local Outdoor television celebrity who takes the stage occasionally in the worship band at church. He just knows his stuff about fishing and outdoors.
#TheFisherman fishes from the pier near my parent’s home here on what is left of Lake Granbury. If you did not know the lake has been between 10-20 feet low for most of the last two years. A few other men in the small subdivision my parents have lived in since I was in intermediate school also visit the pier from time to time to wet a hook in the receding waters of this Brazos River feeder lake.
One particular afternoon #TheFisherman went down to the pier with poles and minnow bucket in hand. As he walked out one of the others on the pier was heard to announce. “We’ve been here for hours and haven’t caught anything but watch. He’ll drop his hook in the water and he’ll start catching fish.” #ThatsAFact
That’s my man – blue collar to the core, everything sports and outdoors keeps his undivided attention and beyond that he is a gentle soul, loves the pace of an easy, country life and avoids conflict like the plague. When I met him he’d never been introduced to #Jesus. But even unredeemed he carried that peace and restorative nature that Jesus carried among those He meets as God with us. He has and continues to be the truest taste of unconditional love I’ve known in a human being and he helps me be a better me every day of our lives together.
Last Saturday after moving some furniture in my office at the church. Scott began to feel ill, nauseated with a headache. Before we parted ways as he headed home I advised him to check his blood pressure before taking a nap.
He did. 190/115 with a heart rate near 65 bpm.
I had gone by may parents to finish cleaning their house that afternoon so I was gone about 1.5 hours before I returned home to find him sleeping in bed. I woke him up a little after I got home to see if he had checked his blood pressure and his half-awake self replied, “Yeah…”
I continued my inquisition. “Well, what was it?”
I pretty much felt my blood pressure begin to rise at that moment. “Get your butt out of that bed and check your blood pressure again. I could have found you dead or at least having a stroke by now.”
He hrumphed his way out of bed and plopped down in the recliner to take his blood pressure again. It had lowered to the 140s on the systolic side and below 100 on the diastolic side. I began to edge off but not before reminding him he needed to take responsibility for his health since that BP could be stroke level.
This week #TheFisherman made a doctor’s appointment and we, together, made a commitment to repent and change our unhealthy lifestyle and habits moving forward. At the doctor’s office he was made aware of how serious his problem was after disclosing he had checked his blood pressure several times in the last week and it was much the same as it read yesterday morning for the nurse taking his vitals. 170/120.
We left with three prescriptions, an appointment for follow up next week and some blood work to be drawn on Monday. He landed at my parent’s home where he took a nap while we went out for lunch and by the time we returned his blood pressure had begun to drop. 158/101.
He got up and ate the lunch we’d brought him and we drove home where he promptly exited the vehicle and began to vomit all along the side of our house. (I apologize for the graphic depiction, but there is hardly a nice way to but that… except maybe to say he lost his lunch… But alas, I’ve put it out there so that’s that.)
His blood pressure had risen in less than an hour back up to 175/105 and his headache had returned with a vengeance. We ended up in the ER after taking his third prescription to lower the pressure of his blood pumping into his brain. His doctor recommended we make the ER trip and by 7:30 pm we had him sedated and the vomiting under control. #TheFisherman slept hard and sound all night long. His blood pressure has stayed in the safe zone of normal range since yesterday afternoon. I know prayer has been a large part of this healing process.
Just like Scott, AKA #TheFisherman, had to recognize he needed help addressing his potential heart health problem by seeing a physician. Sometimes we, as believers, need help addressing our spiritual heart health needs by seeing a “specialist.”
Scripture admonishes us to guard our hearts for out of it flow the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
Just as our physical health can be greatly diminished and destroyed by the condition of our heart, so our spiritual life – though we are in Christ – can be mired with difficulty, death and destruction if we do not address our spiritual heart and the wounds that may reside there.
Here is what Scripture reveals about how our heart influences our spiritual condition:
- The heart is most devious and incurably sick. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9 (VOICE)
- Hope postponed grieves the heart; but when a dream comes true, life is full and sweet. – Proverbs 13:12 (Voice)
- For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. ~ Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV)
Jesus addresses the issues of the heart clearly in his interaction with both the disciples and the pharisees who sought to destroy him.
People honor Me with their lips,
but their hearts are nowhere near Me.
Because they elevate mere human ritual to the status of law,
their worship of Me is a meaningless sham.
(to the multitude) Hear and understand this: What you put into your mouth cannot make you clean or unclean; it is what comes out of your mouth that can make you unclean. ~ Matthew
It is the condition of our hearts that determines the lives we live. Our strength and weakness lie not in our ability to choose between good and evil, but in our utter reliance on who God is living in us through His Spirit and the person of Jesus Christ. Only God holds the power to heal, but if we do not measure the responses of our heart – just like with my husband’s blood pressure – we will live our lives as slaves to the pain or sin, both the sins we’ve committed and the sins wrought against us by others, rather than in the thriving, prosperous and spiritually abundant life of God’s dreams for us – the life Jesus died to give us.
Sometimes taking the medicine for our pain produces discomfort and if we seek only relief from discomfort or pain, but fail to seek the glory of God and His Kingdom – we will never know His righteousness. That righteousness which Scripture assures us leads to live and a life fully alive.
The first step toward living in righteousness is a life in Christ.
May your life be full of His love, His healing power and His grace today, on Valentine’s Day. May you know His great love, that is patient, kind, doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. His perfect love that casts out all fear. That drove nails in His own hands that you may be free. His love that always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres.
The Love of God never fails. (See 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4 and John 3)