Last week (May 2-5, 2006) I attended the Pepperdine Bible Lectures as I have done every year but one since 1991. This year I was among an estimated 6,000 pilgrims drawn from 42 states and 22 countries to the picturesque mountainside campus of Pepperdine University, overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Malibu, California. I taught two well-received classes on the purpose and duration of spiritual gifts (about which more details later). Besides 250+ classes throughout the week, there were two worship assemblies each day in the university Fieldhouse with soul-stirring congregational singing and sermons from First John by preachers from France, Australia and the U.S.A. The experience was enriching, enjoyable, fulfilling and tiring.
My brother Benjamin and sister-in-law Susan live in Upland, east of Los Angeles, so I flew into and out of nearby Ontario, spending a night with them before and after my time at Pepperdine. As we prepared for my flight home to Houston on Saturday morning, I began experiencing multiple symptoms often related to a heart attack. Instead of taking me to the airport, Benjamin and Susan drove me instead to the San Antonio Community Hospital which was only seven minutes from their home. I was immediately admitted to the emergency room, attached to a heart monitor and IVs in both hands. EKGs quickly showed that I was suffering atrial fibrillation — a runaway and irregular heartbeat somewhat analogous to a defective timing belt in an automobile.
After eight hours treatment in the E.R. to restore proper heart rhythm, I was admitted to a hospital room and assigned a primary care physician and a cardiologist. Further tests were scheduled to rule out heart damage. My wife Sara Faye had been notified on Saturday morning that I was in the hospital, immediately flew to California and was at my side by that evening. Sunday brought repeated blood tests, a stress test and an echocardiogram. Those results came Monday morning and were encouraging. However, blood tests results raised some other issues which were not resolved until Monday evening, when I was finally released. (An interesting side note: The emergency room doctor, whom I judged extraordinarily competent, also turned out to be a Christian. Discovering that I was a Bible teacher, after I had stabilized, he asked me a question about a passage he had recently read in Malachi.)
Sara Faye and I spent an enjoyable, restful and grateful Monday night with Benjamin and Susan, then had a safe flight home to Houston that took most of the day Tuesday. I have an appointment Thursday with my regular cardiologist and hope, God willing, to return to my law work this Friday. I will be making dietary adjustments (goodbye, Oreos!), taking new medication and treasuring each new day. Praise God who gives us life and breath — and who promises us perfect bodies in the resurrection for immortality in redeemed heavens and earth face to face with himself forever.