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Friendship With Our Maker

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Rest Of Faith – A Plan

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The Rest of Faith: Pastor’s Heart Operation

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

I don’t want to drag this one out or get every ounce out of the exciting operation that I had, but I did think there were things that came to me. I would have to say there are confirmations of reality that are so clear to me in this whole experience that I felt it was worthwhile mentioning them again together.

I should say to you who are watching, that this is the 26th of March and it was the 10th of March that I had the exciting triple bypass. So I’ve been home about 11 days. You can see I’m feeling much better. I should say that I can’t thank God enough for Jesus, for all of you, and then for the four dear ladies that live with me.

I need to say that not only about my wife but Sandra has just been a strength. Yesterday, I rode the new tractor lawnmower, and Sandra and I cut the grass. She did most of the hauling of grass and the hard work, I just drove the tractor. And we’re walking two miles a day every day. And of course I couldn’t say enough about Colleen, the dear card she sent me beyond what anybody could expect. And then Lucy comes in with $7,600 in sales last week. And she made me chicken soup.

Jesus has just surrounded me with more love than I could ever expect. I’m feeling good and organized again even though it was only two weeks ago since the operation. There were some things in this that I thought are an encouragement to all of us in the family that I thought it would be good just to mention them very clearly. And the first one is in Psalm 139.

And Irene read it for the scripture reading. It’s Psalm 139:16, “Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance,” and then this part in particular, “In thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” “In thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none.” And I know we’ve talked about that verse before but I’d just remind you what Jesus in his kindness did for me and for us.

On the 10th of March at 4AM God awakened me and 16 hours later he had replaced three blocked arteries in my heart muscle with the aid of the surgeon that he had already prepared for the operation before any of us knew it was going to take place. And that’s the reality of it. I woke 4AM on the 10th of March and a matter of 16 hours later that day, about 9PM Friday night, the operation was all over. I had three blocked arteries replaced with parts from my leg and the rest of my body by a surgeon that God had prepared and appointed.

And I’d just ask us each one to look at the miracle of the thing. I’m sure it was two or three years ago that I fainted on a plane going to Paris. Some of you may remember it. I fainted, fell, hit the seat and cut my head open, that little gash up there. And Irene thinks of that as one of those times when I would have said I had a sinking feeling, as if all my blood pressure was just draining away. And she thinks that long ago back then there was something a little strange happening.

And I’ve told you all that for years I’ve attributed the difficulty with sleeping to jet lag. And I cannot tell you the difference it is now. I breathe a breath and I get air. Now my lungs were good — I was always breathing plenty of air in but the oxygenated blood was not getting through to my heart muscles because these three arteries were blocked. So my heart was strong, my lungs were

strong, but the heart muscle itself was not getting enough oxygenated blood because of these three blocked arteries.

Well obviously, we can all see that has being happening for years. I don’t know how many years, but at least as far back as that flight to Paris, if not before. And yet, God awakened me at 4AM on the day when I was going to die. That’s it. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but I think that’s what the cardiologist virtually said to Irene, “He’s on the edge of a catastrophic heart attack.” Well you and I know how those pencil thin arteries, how long it took them to get thinner, and thinner, and thinner until the blood could no longer get through and the muscle was about to stop controlling the heart. And yet God was not a moment too late.

So I think it’s very important for us to see that. “In thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” That’s the only explanation I could give you. If God had not awakened me at 4AM; if God had not got Irene to take me to the Raleigh Hospital; if God had not had there a cardiologist who even though he had not all the equipment to do it saw me at that time; if God had not prompted my system to go into spasm again so that he was able to notice on the EKG something strange; if God had not arranged a gap in the group that was being catheterized that day in the Heart Institute across the city; if God had not governed the three dear hearts that took me in the ambulance and noticed that my heart was going into defibrillation again and called ahead; if God had not after the catheterized was done and they saw that there were three arteries blocked and that immediate bypass was needed; if God had not had a surgeon who had had a cancellation and was ready to go into action immediately; well, you can see if God had not, if God had not, if God had not. I don’t know what all you think. I don’t think it’s me that God is saying this alone, I think he’s saying to each one of us, “I have your days arranged each one of you. I have your days arranged. Nothing will stop the plan I have for your life. You will not come to me here in my home before it’s time. You will not leave there before it’s time.”

I think there is great encouragement for us to rest in faith, just to rest in faith. Our Father will not let anything happen to us that he does not include in his plan. And he is able, by hook or by crook, to look after us. I think you can all see that. And I would go on even to the next stage. I know Myron, Irene and Sandra know, and maybe many of you know — that though I wasn’t feeling great coming back from England after a great Christmas time I had decided that I can’t wait around for the jetlag to disappear. I’ll just go for it and trust God to give me strength for this. So I said to Irene one day in February, “Let’s set the thing up. Let me go to England for three weeks and let’s get going on this Internet, and some of the things Myron and I wanted to do together. Let’s go for it. Let’s just buy the plane fare and set it up so that three weeks later I go to Thailand. And that was the arrangement.

It was Friday that the thing happened and I was to go to you all on Monday. Well, don’t you see the same thing as I see? Couldn’t it have happened on the plane on Monday? You don’t know it but in trying to get myself kind of built up for the English trip, Irene suggested I go down to Florida for a couple of weeks and so I did. I was down in Florida and came back on the Tuesday before the thing happened on the Friday. Couldn’t I have been in Florida on my own? Couldn’t I have been on the plane to London? Couldn’t I have been on the plane to Thailand?

Dan McCarty and Amy know what it would have been like if I had been in Hong Kong or Bangkok. I would have been a goner. God will not allow even the plans that we have made in good faith, if they’re made for his glory, God will not allow those even to prevent his will being done. I mean I didn’t believe I would be the person who would be able to prove this so clearly. And I thank God for

allowing me to be that person but it is so clear to me, that Romans 8:28 is right.

Romans 8:28, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” Or we all know it from the King James Version, “All things work together for good to them who love God.” It’s just so plain. Or you remember, the other verse, “God works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

Well it has to be obvious to all of us who know and love each other, who know these facts that that’s what God did. And all of us can see it, that there was a very, very small window of opportunity. There was a very tiny window of opportunity to save this old Irish guy from death, a very, very small window. And I didn’t know any more than to kind of move all kinds of things around it. I had all kinds of flights arranged, all kinds of plans made that would have put me in positions where if that rising up that took place inside my heart (I suppose it’s angina that gave me that pressure and tension in my head, my ears, and my arms), if that had happened on the London flight there would have been no chance.

You can see that from 4AM until 9PM on Friday are really only 16 or 17 hours. And that would have been enough to finish me. During that time they even gave me nitrite to kind of hold the thing in order. So God does what God thinks according to the counsel of his will.

I think of all the things that we’ve all talk about. Both brothers and sisters have often talked about marriage and said, “Oh yes, it doesn’t matter if you’re in one country and another person is in another country. If God wants you married he will bring it about. You don’t need to make sure that you’re both in one spot at the same time.” And this seems to be so plain now.

And what about all the other ifs and buts that we arrange? “How can this happen in my life if I’m leading this kind of life? How can I achieve this if this is happening? How can I have good sales if this is the economy that we’re operating in? Or, how can we succeed if this is the stage at which this product is in its lifecycle? How can this happen if this is the case?” Answer: “God works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Answer: “All things work together for good to them that love God.” Answer: “God is working his will for good for those that love him.” God will bring it about.

And if we doubt it look at this creature. Look at this creature alive after he should be dead two weeks ago. This is proof. Our Father has everything planned to the very last detail. He has everything planned and he will not let us drop. He does know when a sparrow falls to the ground and we are of much more valuable than many sparrows.

So for me, there’s a clear word from God. It’s Psalm 37:5. Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and your right as the noonday. Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him.”

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.” It just seems to me so plain in this situation. You commit your way to the Lord. We give our lives to him with all our hearts for him to do what he likes with. We lay out our life and our plans as we see he wants done. And then we put our trust in him. And do you doubt that he will act? I don’t. I don’t doubt it. He will act. Whether you’re asleep, whether you’re half dead, whether you’re in the right place or the wrong

place, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.”

It’s interesting what comes home to you at a time like this. I feel, “Sure I’m an important part of the family of Christian Corps and yes, I’d be kind of missed as many of us would be missed.” There’s a great temptation to feel, “Yes, yes, I must stay alive to do the things that God wants us to do. I must keep going.” No. No striving, no straining, it is Jesus in us. All we have to do is commit our way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act. We don’t need to try and make sure that this or that is done. It is not us but him that works within us. It is Jesus.

What we’ve to do is to commit our way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act. So it is a wonderful time, it is just a wonderful time. And then it’s a great opportunity for us together to look up and thank our Father for reassuring us that he knows we’re here and the he will not let anything happen to us that is not inside his plans and that our joy and privilege is to delight ourselves in him, to commit our way unto him, and trust in him, and he will act. We don’t need to strive. The Lord Jesus is in us and he will strive for his Father. But his striving is just loving his Father. That’s what God has called us to do.

Let us pray. Dear Father, we thank you. We thank you now Lord, for the glorious way that lies before us. We thank you Lord, for speaking to all of us. Thank you for making us dear to each other so that if one member suffers the whole body suffers and if one rejoices the whole body rejoices. But we thank you especially Lord that you’ve brought us close enough to each other so that what one of us experiences we all have experienced. And where one of us receives from you a clear assurance that you know we’re here and that you act to deliver us, we all know that.

What you’ve done for one you will do for all of us. Indeed you, who have not spared your own son, will not fail to give us every good gift. Father, we thank you. We thank you for the wonder of these days and for your own dear kindly heart, and for giving us the courage to rest in you — to rest deeply in you and to trust you every moment of our lives knowing that you will not let anything drop. You will not let our hearts miss a beat. You will prepare the way before us so that we will walk every step in peace and rest. Thank you Lord, thank you.

And now the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and ever more. Amen.