When I started writing my Blog, “Keeping Your Head In The Game,” the title and goal was clearly stated: “the goal of helping people think Biblically and have a Christian mindset throughout life’s journey.” This is no light thing since “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Prov.23:7) The power of the Gospel is that through Jesus Christ we are given a clean heart and a renewed mind (clear head)! A new way of living is made possible because we’re called to a new way of thinking. I’ve already made the announcement to the church because I wanted to make sure that I effectively and accurately “managed” the flow of information. That way the congregation and others would be best informed for prayer and the on-going work of God. I also sent a letter of explanation to all of our pastors with the same intent in mind. Since the readership of the Blog extends beyond our local congregation, I thought I would include it here also.
As you know I have been fighting a chronic wound on my right ankle bone for many, many years. However, the underlying cause and the real issue is osteomyelitis, which is an infection of the bone. It is also a very stubborn infection. This is what necessitated my original surgery on June 29, 2011. I have followed the proper treatment protocol which was: 1) debridement of the wound 2) scraping and cleaning of the actual bone of infection (called soft bone) 3) at least a 6-week IV antibiotic regimen with some strong medicine to knock out the infection 4) the proper wound care treatment to accompany all of this. This is what has limited my activity since that time. At the start, I gave myself in my mind about six months to heal fully. It’s very easy to fixate on the wound that is there but that is NOT the problem, the problem is the infection.
The long and short of the matter is that after all this the last MRI showed that the “osteo” is still there and even used the words “marked progression.” I could go in for another debridement, followed by a bone biopsy and culture, then another IV (perhaps longer one) regimen, and then the long, long task of healing a now much larger wound. I do not think that is the right course to take. I don’t believe it’s the best stewardship of my life, the will of God, and the things God has called me to do. The best treatment option that will effectively and once and for all remove the infection is amputation. I have always been aware that this was on the “radar screen” of possibilities, but we fought the good fight to this point, but it is not working. I am not naive to think there is not going to be a new learning curve associated with this procedure (right now it’s scheduled to be an above-the-knee amputation), but think:
1. I will no longer have a stubborn infection which can be life-threatening
2. It is not as radical as it would be for someone who is walking. Nothing changes. I am still sitting in my wheelchair, still functioning and doing all the things I've always done. This includes preaching, pastoring, traveling, riding/racing etc. When you look at the platform what do you see? You see Pastor Warner sitting in his wheelchair. OK, still the same thing, only on closer inspection, I will have a shorter pant leg.
3. The healing time frame for this to fully heal is around 6 weeks. Not six weeks in bed, but six weeks to fully heal outside and inside. The other option of doing what we've done before would leave me with a much larger wound that would easily take 9-12 months to heal, an IV regimen that maybe has a 50-50 chance to succeed.
4. In talking to the surgeon and asking him what I can and cannot do he said, “You can do anything you want.” I’m sure he meant within prudent reason!
5. While not taking it lightly, all of my medical team is on board with this as the best treatment option for me to take. Also, and most importantly, my wife Mona is completely on board as well.
I am taking the path that will allow me best to do the will of God. Is it wise to fight a war over a piece of territory that I will never use?! When the procedure was first put on the table to me by the surgeon, he pointed to his head and his heart, saying that here were my biggest hurdles to overcome. I’m sure this is true, but isn’t it also true that much of the Christian life involves focusing on these two things: our hearts and our minds? (Prov.4:23) admonishes us, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi about the supernatural peace of God and the things that help activate this, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” When Jesus was talking about the distinctive that is to identify us as His followers He said, “"So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” (Mt.6:31,32) He then followed it up with one of my life verses (Mt.6:33) “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” You should notice the contrast: what’s missing in a worldly lifestyle is there is no mention of heart or mind issues, but life is reduced to consumption and appearance. This trumps everything else in life. As Christians, we have a greater and a higher goal, the KINGDOM OF GOD, His rule in every area of our lives!
I thought about back to the time in my life when I was first injured in an automobile accident on April 30, 1973, which left me as an L-1 paraplegic. My mentality in that season was “I want to get on with living life and doing the will of God.” I am so grateful to God and His grace which has kept me and enabled me to witness and be part of the far greater work that He is doing, and to see the impact of the Gospel in thousands of people’s lives in many nations around the world.
In a sense, this is another one of those decisions: what will best enable me to be back in the game, doing what God has called me to do, and doing it with the finest congregation of believers that I know of (as you can tell, I am totally biased!). As always, YOUR PRAYERS FOR ME HAVE BEEN ONE OF THE MOST PRECIOUS AND VALUABLE GIFTS YOU'VE EVER GIVEN ME. The surgery is next Tuesday, October 25th at 11:30am.
So, if I’m silent for a few days, no Tweets, no new Blog posts, you will know why. My wife, my inseparable helper and co-worker with her joy and sense of humor asked me last Saturday night how my sermon was coming along. I told her fine, I was almost finished editing it. Then (knowing this surgery was imminent) she asked me (with a smile) if my sermons would be “shorter?!” I can’t promise that, but I do hope and pray they are inspired by God’s unchanging Word, filled with God’s grace and power, breathed upon by the Holy Spirit, and extolling the “unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.”