The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Change of plan

Stopped by a heart attack, I learn how God's purpose for life continues

Mine is a ministry of plans. I plan courses, congregational Bible studies, sermons, articles, books, and presentations for conferences and synod assemblies. A year ago a special set of plans for a sabbatical was coming to fruition: I was to fly to London, take a train to St. Andrews University in Scotland and finish writing a book.

Thursday, April 11, began normally. I woke at 6 a.m. The words of a hymn immediately came to my lips, followed by my morning prayers. Then into the shower with a sense of urgency: Today I was going to Scotland! But only the first leg of the trip — Columbus, Ohio, to Washington, D.C. — went as planned.

On the London-bound plane, I almost died while we taxied on the runway. I blacked out, what later would be labeled a "sudden death incident." I'd suffered a coronary blockage followed by a wildly irregular heart rhythm, which for 50 percent of the victims results in death. In my case, I later learned, two nurses performed CPR and twice used the airplane's defibrillators to shock me back to life.

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