Saturday, 21 August 2010

"Something worse might happen to you"

Many of you will have seen the photo that I posted a while back, of my husband Jeff and I on the last day of our holiday to the USA.We look pretty happy, don’t we?

Would any of you guess that I had almost died only a week before this photo was taken?

Well I did. Here’s another photo, of that time.
One evening during our five week driving tour of the western half of the US, Jeff and I dined out at a rather nice, small, busy restaurant. For the last four or five days we had been in Washington State, enjoying the delights of coastal food. This evening, in Astoria on the northern coast of Oregon, I decided to order a bowl of Dungeness Crab pasta. It was delicious!

But to me, that crab pasta was also poisonous. You see I didn’t know, when I ordered that pasta, that I am allergic to crabmeat.

Jeff and I enjoyed our meals, he paid, and then we began the short walk uphill through the drizzling rain to our Bed and Breakfast. We were only about 20 metres from our B&B when I felt something like a punch in my chest and started breathing a bit harder. After a few deeper breaths, I mentioned to Jeff that I thought I might be having an asthma attack (along with all our kids, I’d been diagnosed last winter). I could still speak fine. As Jeff and I made our way more quickly now to the B&B, we tried to work out what had set off the asthma. Surely not the exercise of the short walk from the restaurant, since we’d walked much further and steeper trails in the last four weeks exploring the Grand Canyon and other wonders of the American environment.

When we got to the B&B, I used my puffer, which I had left in our room. But it didn’t seem to work. After a brief improvement, my breathing was actually getting worse. After only a few minutes, I was taking heaving breaths, my eyes were tearing up, and I knew that whether this was an asthma attack or something else, I had to get to a hospital. Through breaths, I told Jeff he had to take me to a hospital… and then, when he couldn’t contact our host to get directions, with a rather clear head despite my shuddering breaths, I suggested he look up hospital on our GPS.

I know that God is in control over everything that happens. But honestly, when I found out later that the emergency department was only about 1km up the same road we were staying on – a one way road in the direction of the hospital – I knew that God had been looking out for me, knowing what was going to happen when I chose to eat that crab pasta.

To cut a long story short, the triage nurses took one look at me when I stumbled through the doors of the emergency department, gasping for breath, and whisked me into the closest room. They put an oxygen mask on me (oh, bliss!) gave me an injection of adrenaline, as well as giving me several antihistamines, and after about half an hour, I was almost breathing normally again. My episode of anaphylactic shock was under control, and now I just needed to recover. They discharged me at 2am and I slept through much of the next two days of our holiday, exhausted from nearly dying.

The one thing those emergency department staff drilled into me before they discharged me was that I was not to eat shellfish again. Never. If I did, it just might kill me.

The next morning, as I looked back on what had happened, I was reminded of a few verses in the Bible. The first, I had read in my regular Bible study that week. In John 5:14, Jesus talks to a man he has just healed. The man had been an invalid for 38 years, and now he could walk again. Jesus warned him:
“See, you are well again. Stop sinning, or something worse might happen to you.”

What the emergency department staff had said, reminded me of that verse. They had said, “Stop eating shellfish, or something worse might happen to you.”

Jesus said to the healed invalid, “Stop sinning, or something worse might happen to you”: something worse than 38 years unable to walk? What on earth could be worse than that?

There’s another verse in the Bible with a similar warning that tells us just what the “worse” thing is. Romans 6:23 says “The consequence of sin is death.” The Bible tells us that sin – ignoring and disobeying God – leads to death, in just the same way that for me, eating a plate of shellfish will lead to death.

Of course, I didn’t die from the crab pasta, because the hospital staff intervened. And Romans 6:23 goes on to say that we don’t need to die from sin either. It says, “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God doesn’t want us to die as a result of disobeying Him. God wants us to trust His Son Jesus Christ, and to accept the good consequence that comes from trusting Jesus. That consequence is just like my second chance after eating the poisonous pasta – but even better. Eternal life is God’s gift to everyone who trusts in His Son, Jesus Christ, who already died on our behalf so that we can live forever with God.

Because I trust in Jesus, I am going to have eternal life. But Jesus is not just some “get out of jail free card”. I still need to work hard to “stop sinning”, because Jesus calls me to a high standard, a life of complete obedience to God.

No comments: