Monday, June 13, 2005.
This is the big day. “Terrified” pretty well says it all. We began it with a prayer and that prayer continued on silently through the day for both of us.
Today I will undergo a surgery that has never been done successfully before, using a newly invented device that has never been used before. If it works, my vision will be saved for awhile longer. If it doesn’t, I will be blind in that eye. If we don’t try it, I will be blind in both eyes, probably before the year is out.
We arrived early, expecting a wait, but they took me straight in, after I signed some special consent forms upstairs. Since the FDA had not approved this, “you will have to sign your life away,” the doctor told me, but what choice did I have? I signed page after page, and then initialed some handwritten lines added along the side of the form. One of them said, “I understand that no one knows how this material will interact with human tissue.” Finally they sent me back downstairs to the surgical floor.
When the nurse called me in, Keith and I shared a long hug. I am sure that no one else there understood why we made such a big deal out of this, but it was possible that I would never see him out of that eye again, and maybe not the other before much longer.
That was quite a day and quite an experience. I was indeed terrified. You don’t sign your life away like that unless you are desperate, unless the only other choice is a bad one. I did it, and it gave my left eye another year and a half of vision before we had more difficult and painful surgeries to go through, which have spared me yet again. The right eye, the one that took the plunge first on this day in 2005, is still hanging in there. Signing my life away has given me many more years of vision so far, years no one expected even if the surgery worked, and who knows how much more to come before the medications stop working and the shunt is compromised.
That level of desperation is the level you must feel in your spiritual life before you will “sign your life away” to God.
And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison-house were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened: and every one's bands were loosed. And the jailor, being roused out of sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here. And he called for lights and sprang in, and, trembling for fear, fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? Acts 16:26-31.
Do you think that jailor wasn’t terrified? Do you think he wasn’t desperate? Imagine how that plea sounded coming from this trembling man who thought his life was over. “What must I do to be saved?”
Desperate people do desperate things—like commit their lives to God. If you never felt that desperation, chances are your commitment was not real. Chances are you will fall when times get tough, when sacrifices are demanded, when you lose more than you bargained for. Desperate people do not bargain. They take the first offer and take it immediately.
How desperate were you when you were offered salvation? If you “grew up in the church,” you may never have felt it. Doing what everyone expects of you is not desperation. Wanting the approval of others, especially one particular “other” is not desperation. “Just in case” is not desperation. You have to recognize a need and know there is no other way of taking care of that need. You have to know what it means to stand a sinner before a holy God—and it doesn’t mean you feel guilty because you stole a cookie from the cookie jar. But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord, Luke 5:8. That, standing a sinner before a holy God, is the recognition you must come to.
Signing your entire life away to God is exactly what He expects of you. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple, Luke 14:33. Nothing and no one can be more important to you than Him. I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, Gal 2:20. Your entire life is no longer yours to do with as you please, but since you know that is your only hope, you do it gladly.
How desperate were you? How desperate are you now?
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory, Col 3:1-3.