When we woke up this morning, I looked at John and fiendishly quipped, “Well, honey, enjoy your last day of your 60s!” Oh, I’m such a loving wife!
Yep, tomorrow will be John’s 70th birthday. That’s a landmark birthday for anybody, I realize, but for John it’s especially a tribute to God’s grace. That being the case, I thought I’d tell you just a few things that the Lord has done to display His grace in John’s life.
Shortly after his 6th birthday, John stood in the bathroom, feeling severe body aches. He still remembers standing on the cold tile floor — a vivid memory because he never stood without the aid of braces and crutches again.
His parents rushed him to the hospital, where they received the diagnosis that he had contracted Polio. Very soon, doctors and nurses coaxed him into an iron lung by convincing him that it was a rocket ship. His fear melted into relief once he realized that the machine made breathing easy (actually, it made it possible) for him again. Because Polio was so contagious, he would be quarantined even from his mom for six weeks.
Two weeks later, the doctors permitted his parents to visit, telling John they let them come because John had been such a good boy. Only a few years ago, his mom confessed that the hospital arranged the visit so that they could tell him goodbye.
Time forbids me to write about all the ways that the Lord worked with John — largely through his mom’s determination and devotion — to get him ready to come home after two years of hospitalization. Doubtless, when he proof reads this blog post, he’ll ask why I omitted this story or that piece of information. (Honey, you can add whatever details you wish in the Comment section, with no word limit. Happy Birthday.)
Although raised Catholic, John’s passion for science led him into an agnostic frame of mind in his early teens. After a while, however, he was disappointed to find that science couldn’t answer all his questions. So he began reading Plato, Aristotle and other great philosophers. He knew something started the universe, and he hoped something he read would explain it. But nothing he read satisfied him.
Finally he turned to (of all things) a Catholic New Testament. The words of John 1:1-3.
1* In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made through him, and without him was made nothing that has been made. ~~ConfraternityBible
The Holy Spirit claimed John’s heart through that passage. Gripped with the joy of finally having the answer he’d been seeking, he kept reading Scripture, and he saw obvious differences between Catholic teaching and God’s Word. After high school, he joined a Christian community that, despite being Charismatic, featured expositional preaching and gave him a solid foundation.
Throughout adulthood, John battled several life-threatening illnesses. In his 20s and 30s, he endured frequent hospitalizations for pneumonia, during one of which he prepared himself to enter heaven. He suffered a stroke in his 40s that weakened one of his hands and affected his ability to remember names. And slightly over seven years ago, he survived a heart attack in the middle of his battle with colon cancer.
Clearly, the Lord has had His hand on John, bringing Him through more trials and spiritual growth than I could possibly recount in this one essay. Nevertheless, even writing out the few details that I have today fill me with wonder at God’s goodness towards my husband. The very fact that he will celebrate his 70th birthday tomorrow causes me to praise the Lord Jesus Christ for giving John a life that might have ended so many times.