Clogged Arteries

The last several weeks have been an adventure of sorts for me.  It all started for me the first week of November.  For about a week I had been feeling extra tired and weak, so I knew that I was fighting something in my body but what I didn’t know.  Then it was on the first Monday of November that I developed a discomfort high up in my chest, a feeling I associated with something like bronchitis.  The discomfort was constant and consistent in its intensity throughout the day, and then by evening time I began to feel very tired and weak.  Again, I was just thinking I was fighting congestion of some sort.  Well, very early Tuesday morning I woke up with the same discomfort as before, but now I couldn’t get comfortable in bed,I was drenched in sweat, and I felt like I was about to pass out.  It was at this point that I told my wife I needed to get to the hospital, but I couldn’t get to the car, and therefore I ended up having a ride by ambulance to the hospital located just two blocks from our house.

On the way to the hospital, the paramedics told me that my symptoms did not reflect an issue with my heart, but that they couldn’t say for sure one way or another.  At the hospital, many tests were ran trying to identify what I was experiencing and what was causing it.  All the tests they ran indicated my heart was not the issue, and they were getting ready to discharge me with a diagnosis of acid reflex or something like that, but before discharging me they wanted to run one more test a third time. The first two times they ran the test, the results were fine both times even though the second test results were a little elevated.  When they ran this specific test a third time, not only had the results elevated even more, but it had elevated into a“grey” area, and this result told them that something was definitely going on with my heart.  At this point it was decided that an exploratory heart catheter would be best to help identify exactly what was going on, with the hopes that they wouldn’t find anything.

You’re probably asking why I’m telling you all of this, but there are a couple good reasons for it that I will share as we continue.

When they went in through my wrist to check my heart, they discovered two things.  The first thing they discovered, and not necessarily in this order, was that one of my arteries was100% blocked, and a second artery they refer to as the “widow maker” was 60-70%blocked.  The second thing they discovered was that I was on the verge of a major heart attack if they hadn’t gone in when they had.  They opened the one artery that was 100% blocked and put in a stent, but they left the other one alone at the time hoping medicine could take care of it.  Needless to say, less than 24 hours after being discharged, I was back in the ER with chest pains which gave me a helicopter ride to another hospital in another city down the interstate.  It was then that they went in a second time to put a stent in the “widow maker” artery.

All this which took place within one weeks’ time, though it still wasn’t the end of the adventure.  As I looked back over the previous events and how everything transpired, seeing God’s fingerprints all over the situation, I realized something that had a spiritual parallel.  When I went into the hospital the first time, my symptoms were not typical of a heart issue, but those symptoms were the catalyst through which they discovered the more urgent issue with my heart.  Sometimes people go through situations and experiences that propel them to seek the assistance and counsel of pastors.  Perhaps it’s a marriage that seems to be falling apart, the death of a loved one, financial collapse, children making bad decisions, or bad medical reports and health.  They seek the help and counsel of a pastor regarding what they are going though, only to find out that a more urgent issue needs to be resolved first, either the person needs to surrender their lives to Jesus and/or deal with unconfessed sin.  Sometimes in our lives, it’s not the apparent issues that need to be dealt with, but rather those issues are what propels us to identify and deal with more important issues in our life and in our hearts.

A little more than a week after being discharged the second time, I found myself in ER again and after seeing something was going on with my heart,they transported me to another hospital in a neighboring city.  They did another exploratory heart cath to identify what was going on, but this time the results were good, and they were positive for the future with instructions on how to deal with the symptoms.  Between the second and third time I was admitted into the hospital I learned something that really surprised me.  Several years ago, I had been told that I had high cholesterol and was only told to change my diet and attend some classes.  Well, I did attend the classes,but not much changed regarding my diet. It wasn’t until the past few years that I really began to change my diet to benefit my health, primarily focusing on the high cholesterol.  So, it was exciting to find out that the tests they ran the first time I was in the hospital showed that my cholesterol numbers were normal, with the exception that the HDL was a tad low.  Apparently, all I had been doing the past couple years, all naturally and without prescription medicines, had paid off in getting my cholesterol down.  What was surprising to me, though, was when I found out that there is nothing outside of medical procedures that one can do to unclog arteries.  Did you catch that?  Even though I had made changes to reduce my cholesterol, there was nothing I could do on my own to unclog the arteries, and that it would require a medical procedure. My cholesterol had been reduced to normal numbers, but I still had clogged arteries that could become fatal to me at some point if not properly dealt with.  The danger and threat to my life had not been diminished because I made good changes to my life, and in fact it was only because the doctor did an exploratory heart cath at that moment in time that they could see I was on the verge of a major heart attack that could have taken my life. 

You see, I knew that my cholesterol was bad, and I thought that if I could make the necessary changes in my diet then I would be okay.  I then thought of people who realize for whatever reason that they need to make changes in their life, good changes that would benefit them.  I also thought of many who decide to make positive life changes by attending and getting involved in a church, or for that matter a charitable organization of some sort, but they are not dealing with core issues, issues that could still prove fatal for them spiritually.  Spiritually speaking,every single one of us is born with an issue that condemns us to an eternity in Hell and the Lake of Fire, and that issue is sin.  It doesn’t matter how good and moral you are,or how many positive and charitable things you do or support, or even how involved you are at church, if the issue of sin has not been properly and adequately dealt with in your life then nothing is changed for you eternally speaking.

As I began to make changes to improve my health and get my cholesterol where it needed to be, I felt good knowing I was doing something good and positive.  For the most part, everybody feels good when they do that which is good and positive, especially for the benefit of others.  This isn’t something that only followers of Jesus experience, but rather mankind in general feel that even though their good works are not centered around Jesus.  This is something that God has hardwired within each of us, but when we are self-centered, selfish and prideful we become blinded to this truth.  This is why there are some people who openly reject Jesus but still are considered good and morally solid individuals.  It is for this reason that people who are not Christians like to get involved with charitable organizations and churches, because it makes them feel good when they are doing things that help and benefit others even if they don’t embrace the beliefs of that organization or church. However, just doing good and positive things does not deal with the eternally fatal issue locked up within each person, and it’s something they can’t take care of on their own.

Spiritually speaking, sin is the spiritual plaque within our spiritual arteries.  We are born with it, and the more we sin the more plaque gets built up within our arteries, yet there is nothing we can do of ourselves to remove it.  It’s not enough that we change the way we live, trying to be a good and moral person,because in doing so we convince ourselves that we are okay when in fact we still have spiritually clogged arteries that threaten to send us to Hell. It is only through salvation, the repentance of sin and the surrender of one’s life to Jesus, that not only is sin removed but also the plaque buildup within our spiritual arteries, and it is then that the hope of eternity in Heaven becomes a reality we can embrace.  And to keep those arteries clean, we need to be quick to repent of sin and seek to honor Him in all our ways.

Doing good and positive works is not enough to change our eternal destination.  On the outward we may look good to others, and inwardly we might even feel good knowing we are doing good things for the benefit of others, but if sin has not and is not being dealt with in our lives, and if our lives haven’t been surrendered to Jesus to be lived for Him, then we are just as dead in sin as we were in the beginning and destined to an eternity in Hell.  Don’t let your good works and deeds be in vain, knowing that they in themselves have no bearing on your eternal destination.  Give your life over to Jesus, all of it, asking for His forgiveness and seeking to honor and please Him in all your ways, and from which good works and deeds will naturally follow. 

Don’t try to change your life by making good decisions and being good and moral in the sight of others.  Change your life and get your blood cleansed and your arteries unclogged by surrendering your life to Jesus first and foremost, and then He will be the reason for the change with eternal rewards for you.

John Johansson

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