Learning to Trust God’s Plan (2011)
God has revealed himself to me in the most unexpected, if not strangest ways. Not even a year ago things were going very smooth in my life. I had a good job, a great family, loving and supporting wife and two boys that I could not love more. We were on cruise control, just living life. We went to church regularly, well I went to church and Ami went to teach Sunday school. Looking back now I see that we had been taking for granted the things that God had given us. We had strayed from his plan and from Him. When He had had enough we found ourselves in very unfamiliar territory.
It was October 26, 2010; I was on a job site when I got a phone call from the office. My boss wanted to meet with me. I had a bad feeling because I could think of nothing that he would have to speak with me about at 2:00pm on a Tuesday. Sure enough, I walk in and walkout jobless for the first time in my adult life. Confident in my abilities, education and work ethic, I told Ami not to worry, I would have a job in two weeks or less. God was trying to reach me but I was not paying attention.
A month went by and I was exactly where I was when I left that final day of work. No job and no prospects had me a little nervous. I had my yearly checkup with my cardiologist at the end of November. I had been feeling tired and sore but just chalked it up to the stress of the job hunt. That’s when my doctor informed me that my aortic valve was deteriorating and I needed to follow up in three months. Once again God was reaching out but still I was not paying attention.
Those three months went with very little action on the job front and my physical condition was worsening. On March 7, 2011 we got the news. I needed surgery, open heart mind you, and I needed it now. God now had my attention. The surgery was scheduled for Monday, March 28. We prayed and prepared and were ready for the surgery. Just at that point of acceptance for my current situation we were told that the date was too soon and needed to be pushed back. I cannot tell you how that felt. To ready myself for such a dangerous and life altering event, only to have it moved two days before. I felt emptiness, what was going on? Again I prayed, asking why, when and for comfort but still God was not satisfied.
The date was pushed to April 8, 2011. Once again we prepared the house, kids, family and each other for the surgery. Pre-admission was on the fifth. The next day we got a call that there were some questions about my blood work and the date had to be pushed again so I could see a hematologist. “REALLY?” I remember asking God, “what is the point of this, why do I have to wait again?”
That night I did something that I had not done in a very long time, I got down on my knees and laid it all at Gods mercy. I had met with Reverend Brimmage and we spoke about letting God handle everything. “Give it all to God, “ he had told me, “He can handle it.” So I did, I knelt down and not only did I ask for God to relieve me of my burdens but I asked Him to come back into my life, to do with me what He may and to live in my heart again. Do you know what happened then? He did.
The blood work got worked out and the hematologist told me on April 15 that I was cleared to have the surgery. By this time the job hunt had slowed, though I was still applying for everything under the sun with very little luck. We called the surgeon to let them know and they were to call me back with a date. “May 10” I remember hearing, another three weeks. I don’t know if Ami could tell but that broke me, I was exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually. My body was breaking down, my mind was weary from the job search and worry and though I had found a new relationship with God, I did not know what to make of this. How much more could I handle? Again, I got down on my knees and prayed; I knew God was there and listening. I hoped He had a plan but still could not see what it was.
We were to hear back from the surgeon that day to see if they could move the date up. I told the nurse that I didn’t think I could make it another three weeks. My body was sore and my whole life was in neutral because of my condition. Even if offered a job I probably could not perform well enough to accept it. God was listening and He knew what was needed. We got the call back; “April 19” was the date she told me. Just four days away but we were ready.
That night I once again found myself kneeling at God’s feet, asking Him to guide my family and I though the trying times that lay ahead of us. I asked for strength and patience for Ami and protection and understanding for the boys. For myself I just asked for God to do what He thought was right for me. I wanted to return to my family and see my boys grow up. I asked that He allow me to do so but knew, in the end, that it was His decision and He would do what was right. This was a very difficult thing for me to do, to totally put myself at His mercy, in His hands and just be, be in the presence of God. I prayed every night, giving Him my concerns and asking for Him to relieve me of my burdens. And He did, I could feel it. On my knees, asking for Him to lift them from me, I could feel the pressure being lifted and peace was left.
The morning of the surgery was a blur. We had to be there at 5:30 in the morning and had about 10 family members to get there with us. Ami had asked a friend to watch the boys while she was gone so that was covered. I kissed them goodbye and took the longest walk out of their bedroom I have every experienced. There was a possibility that would be the last time I ever saw them. Another prayer as we left helped comfort me.
The next couple of hours were a rush of gowns, needles, razors and tests. Then finally it was time to end this journey. My family came in two at a time to say goodbye. Reverend Brimmage said a prayer with us then one last hug and kiss with Ami and off I went. I remember thinking of my family as I was rolled to the operating room, a slight smile came to my face before we got there, just thinking of the fun times we had. I was anxious but not afraid, I was in good hands. One of two things was going to happen, I would wake up in a room surrounded by my family and Ami holding my hand or I would wake up in the presence of the Lord. How could I be afraid when I ended up in heaven either way?
God’s plan for us is not without its hardships and difficulties. We do not always see it until we have lived through it. We saw His plan after the surgery. The surgeon came out to my family to let them know that everything went well. Afterwards he showed them a picture of the valve that he had replaced. It was much worse that anyone had ever imagined. It was calcified, flimsy and full of holes. He even told them that he didn’t know how I even became a fully functioning adult. After I heard that it all fell into place. Getting laid off and not being able to find a job were gifts. I probably would not be here had that not happened. Getting to spend all of that time with my family was a gift because for two to three months after the surgery I was confined to a chair. The setbacks in the scheduling and extra tests and trials brought me closer to Him and helped restore a bigger and better relationship with Him. It was all part of a plan to get me where He wanted me to go and to get me back on track with Him.
I realized that God forges relationships with us through hardships and suffering. Not because he wants to but because we are so busy and self involved that we will not listen any other way. Would I have formed my new relationship with God had it not been for all of this? Unfortunately the answer is probably no. He wants a relationship with us, with you. If you will not begin one on your own, I promise you He will do something to get your attention.
After all of this I was almost immediately offered a great career opportunity with a large stable company and was able to start after I was fully healed. Ami and I often say that if we were to draw these events it would look like a map, a plan. Even to this day the plan is unfolding in front of us and because of everything that happened not only do we see the plan but we trust in it, in Him. We will go where He leads us, praying for answers but trusting in His guidance.
Written By: Grant Almquist,
Cypress UMC Member & Volunteer