Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

Those Even Stranger Divine Curves

So, to complete the last post, I was released from medical incarceration Wednesday night. I was given civilian clothes to replace the medical gown. Why they designed these without backs, and with ties that are next to impossible to get to, escapes me. It’s part of the humiliation, which is good for all of us. I should add that shortly before departure they lifted the embargo and gave me gelatin and a peach smoothie. Perhaps this was out of guilt, but I don’t think so.

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I had to deal with muscles that were already in atrophy mode. It’s amazing how unforgiving they are. Two days of inattention, and they start wilting like old celery stalks. The nurse wanted someone to take me out in a wheelchair, and they insisted someone pick me up. No wonder my Nike fuel band had fallen into a deep sleep. Tuesday and Wednesday, it did not even register in the red zone. But once I got my visa and papers, and once the nurse was distracted, I bolted to my car and headed for the gym. It felt really good.

But I must admit that when you are given the news that the doctors have found a mass in your pancreas, it suddenly turns your world upside down. It may turn out to be nothing—or it may be something significant. It’s hard to describe the emotions. It’s like you have been on a freeway cruising at 70, and suddenly the traffic stops. At least it slows down.

It’s giving me some time to think. I’ve often been guilty of trying to do too much. It’s part of the reason I have often been late, irritating others. I have this bad habit of trying to figure out one more thing to do. But now, life feels a bit on hold. I have all of these goals on a white board. There is the sermon schedule on the other. There is this book I have been working on, this cabin I am trying to get up to, this… And in the midst of it all, there is God saying, “Your life is in My hands.”  So today, I await a pathology report. The internal medicine people were not real positive, but maybe they have to do this. There are so many liabilities to cover in the medical establishment, that they have probably been sued in the past for falsifying hopes. All along, I have been a mystery to them. My initial lab tests have come out clear. The calcification on my pancreas suggests that I have been a serial drinker. But the only thing I have been drinking, as of late, is Zipfizz. The other reason for the chronic pancreatitis is idiopathic, meaning it is peculiar to the person. I am going with this one. It explains everything!

In all of this, God is faithful. Part of my practice has been the One Year Bible, something I have done for some 35 years. Often, the passages are timely. This was yesterday: “Out of a bad report, he is not afraid. Established is his heart, having trusted in the Lord” (Ps 112:7). Can you believe His good timing?! This is God saying to any of us who receive unexpected news, that even should it not be so great, there is no need to fear it. But you will, if you are not trusting in the Lord, which firms up the heart. So while I am watching my diet (no more McMenamins for a while), it’s the heart I have to give my best attention to.

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