'It felt like everything was engineered by God’
Steve’s story | Better than a Bourne movie
“I had a heart attack four months ago. I was heading into work early to get some planning done and our car had recently died, so our daughter drove me to work. She dropped me at the bus bay, and I walked up the hill to school. By the time I got into the office I was sweating. It wasn’t a hot morning, but I felt clammy. I sat down and it didn’t stop. I realised I needed help, but it was 7am, and the school is normally quiet at that time. Amazingly, it was a Tuesday, which meant the dance teacher had come in for an early class, so I called her and she came. I also called my wife, Ann-Louise, who came straight away. The dance teacher calmly called the ambulance; it was amazing; there were a whole series of coincidences. The ambos arrived soon. They had been out on a false alarm, and were on a break nearby for breakfast. They were able to arrive really quickly and were specially cardiac-equipped. They stuck an ECG on me. By then, I was feeling a lot of pressure on my chest and finding it a bit hard to breathe. The ECG showed something unusual, so they wheeled me into the ambulance, and Ann-Louise got in too.
But by the time we got to the end of the school road, it got really serious. The ambo said something to the driver… and she floored it. We tore across to the wrong side of the road and we went through every red traffic light. Ann-Louise felt it was like being in a Bourne movie, except the driver was better and didn’t hit anything.
They wheeled me straight into emergency. I don’t remember panicking. I’d written out my computer passwords while we were still in the staffroom in case Ann-Louise might need them. I kept repeating Psalm 121 to myself. Some years earlier, we’d been through another serious medical issue and I’d memorised it. “The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand.” (v5). They wheeled me straight from emergency up to cardiac surgery. Ann-Louise came with us… and the first person she met was a friend from church, who’d been working in that department for 20 years. It felt like everything was engineered by God.
I was conscious throughout the surgery. I kept thinking about Psalm 121, as well as my all-time favourite verse from Philippians 1. “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” (v21) Later, the doctors said that the heart attack (that I’d had in the ambulance) was the kind that only 6% of people survive. If it had happened anywhere else, even at home, the outcome would have been different. I wouldn’t be here. I’m so thankful to God for the extra breaths I’ve been granted. Four months later, I’m making a good recovery… and we’ve been blessed to welcome our first two grandchildren, born in the last two months.
Some people have said to me, “Obviously, God hasn’t finished with you yet.” I’m not entirely sure about the sentiment. Obviously, God has got plans, but he’s never going to be finished with me (or with any of us) – here on earth, or in eternity.
Verse 7 of Psalm 121 says, “The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life.” That’s how it seemed on that day in May. The Lord watches over us, day and night. But what if the outcome had been different? And what about the people we love who seem to have come in harm’s way? Some years ago, Ann-Louise’s sister died of cancer while still young. Her father also died of cancer, my mum died of dementia in 2017, and my dad died in January this year. Clearly the promise in verse 7 is from God’s perspective and not from our earthly, physical, mortal one.
I think that if the outcome had been different, if ‘life’ had not been granted to me, the promise still stands. He will keep me. I just would have been in an even better place. So for now, I’ll keep looking for ways to serve Jesus, while he continues to give me breath.”
Steve’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series. Click here for more Faith Stories.