On January 15, after two weeks of increasingly serious COVID symptoms, I was admitted to the ICU for treatment of low blood oxygen levels and debilitating limits on breathing and movement.
My entire family had been infected, and have all come out of it with ease, thank God. But I was helpless and spiraling, marking my first hospitalization as a adult (66 years old) with nothing other than a one-night stay for tonsil removal, when I was 9, as an inpatient resume.
Renee wheeled me into Emergency, and within minutes they’d strapped an oxygen mask on me and whisked me into a unit with barely a minute to wave to her. For the next two hours they tested and prodded, then my doctor requested a joint call with my wife. We turned my phone to speaker.
I was in serious danger, he explained, close to needing a ventilator which was often the beginning of the end. The odds weren’t good, nor was anything else. I asked for the bottom line.
“Doctor, are you saying that I’m in a life-threatening place?”
“Definitely life threatening.” He leaned close to me for emphasis. “You are a very, very sick man, Mr. Dallas.”
If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that I could have bought and staffed my own hospital by now.
“Options?,” I asked.
“Aggressive steroid treatment in ICU to get your lungs back on track.”
Renee and I spoke privately, then I was wheeled into ICU. The moment was more pragmatic than cathartic – no violins or sentiment, just a simple, “Is this it? Do I fight or cave?”
Maybe it was time to cave. I’ve had a great run, we don’t get to decide when we get off, and I couldn’t complain if my number was getting punched. I’ve had more opportunity and blessing than anyone has a right to expect, and with the amazing wife and family I’ve been given, plus 33 years of work I will always be so grateful for, I would be the lowest of jerks to complain.
But nothing in me clicked when I thought about letting go. I have a new book coming out this Spring. I have projects already videotaped and ready to edit. I have a full clientele, my church is in an exciting transition I don’t want to miss out on, and ministry opportunities are multiplying.
My pastor called to pray. “You still have a voice,” he said. That counted, too.
Also, I’m watching my two awesome sons take their place here and in the Kingdom. I want to see more.
Most important, Renee. She’s godly and strong, and will do fine with or without me. But even when we were dating I always opened the door for her, letting her go before me while I walked close behind. I’ve never left her in the room alone. I wasn’t ready to break the pattern.
“So OK,” I prayed aloud. “Let’s crunch some COVID.”
That began a week of treatment which underscored some vital points I’ve needed to learn about the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer, His gifting in our lives, and how natural weakness is so often the precursor to godly power.
So this week, beginning tomorrow, I’d like to discuss with you three particular lessons I’ve been learning about life in the Spirit, courtesy of life with the COVID. I hope you can join me.
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