By George Bowers Sr.
We take so many things for granted. Our hearts, for example, beat an average of 104,000 times per day, week in and week, out adding up to about 3 billion beats over our lifetimes without ever taking a break. They circulate the blood necessary for thought, mobility, digestion, and life itself. Mankind has yet to develop such a long-term, dependable mechanism that can run off of anything from mashed potatoes to chicken cordon bleu. God is truly an amazing engineer!
Sometimes, however, our hearts do need attention and a few weeks back, my mother-in-law Shirley was diagnosed with an irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation, or afib for short. It was causing her shortness of breath, lack of energy, and other problems that kept her from her normal routines. Her specialist said that her heart could not continue to take such strain and so he prescribed some medicine that is often effective is restoring proper heart function. After taking these pills for the prescribed time, however, her heart was still beating irregularly and her doctor made the decision to do a cardioversion.
A cardioversion is a medical procedure whereby an electrical shock is applied to the heart muscle in order to force it back into proper rhythm. Although it sounds pretty extreme, it has become a fairly common treatment that is normally effective. So at the scheduled time last Thursday, Shirley was hooked up to all the appropriate monitors, put under anesthesia, and the doctor administered the electrical pulse. As a result, her heart did indeed return to a proper sinus rhythm and after an overnight stay in the hospital, she was allowed to return home.
As I reflected on this procedure it reminded me of what God sometimes has to do to get us back on track. We can become pretty warped living our lives at breakneck speed. We get out of sync with God, with our loved ones, and with the church. Our ridiculous pace is not only emotionally unsustainable, but physically unhealthy as well. In milder cases, simple reminders from family, gentle nudges from the Holy Spirit, or friendly encouragements from friends can do the trick even as pills can sometimes treat afib.
But in more serious cases, God has to administer a shock. He has to use drastic measures to force us to reorder our priorities and get our lives back into proper balance. Sometimes a health issue provides this shock, sometimes it is the illness or passing of a loved one, sometimes it is an emotional crash or a financial or family crisis. Any of these can shock us into better living if we so allow. Unfortunately, we are not sedated and must live through the pain, but if we will make the necessary adjustments, life can be significantly better for us and more pleasing to our creator.
So how's your heart? Is your life in a healthy rhythm with a good balance of work, worship, recreation and love? If not, perhaps this column can be one of the "pills" God could use to help you get readjusted and to prevent a drastic shock later. Let us honor the lord God with the rhythm of our lives that we might glorify him for as long as our hearts keep beating.
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, "Wit and Wisdom of the Woods." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.