Two days ago, my father’s heart stopped beating. I’m not kidding. But it was not the tragedy that you might think. The shutting down of my dad’s blood pump was temporary, and it was on purpose.

My dad had been experiencing chest pain, and a trip to the hospital revealed that three of the arteries that fed blood to his heart were substantially blocked. The result was a dangerously low supply of the resources required for this critical organ to carry out its work. His heart was literally being starved. And so, in a procedure intended to keep my father from dying, a surgeon opened his chest, reached into his body and started a life-saving procedure… by stopping his heart. For the first time in 72 years, my father’s heart lay still. Relying on a machine to circulate dad’s blood, the surgeon began a procedure that involved taking healthy, unobstructed vessels from elsewhere in his body and grafting them into the affected arteries, ‘bypassing’ the life-threatening blockages.

Have you ever had bypass surgery? I have… just not the physical kind. Evaporating hope and chronic discouragement had resulted in the neglect of my soul. My intake of healthy spiritual ‘fuel’ had been replaced with a steady diet of apathy, offense, and self-pity. Years of stagnation had resulted in the narrowing of my spiritual arteries. God was no longer allowed to move freely to my heart. My bitterness had blocked His access. Refusing to humble myself and recognize the growing danger, the constriction of heaven’s nourishing flow left me lethargic and unmotivated. Cardiac disaster loomed.

The Surgeon stood at the ready. His longing to restore me to a place of health was matched only by His skill to carry out the procedure. But He needed my permission. That’s right, God needed my virtual signature on a spiritual waiver. I had to give up my right of refusal. I had to place my very life in His hands and allow Him to do whatever it took. I needed to humble myself enough to admit that my operational pathways needed to change. The road to healing required that I allow Him to dig down to my very core and rewire the most basic operations of my life. I had to submit to severe – but temporary – trauma in order to experience a flow of resources that would not only allow me to survive, but to flourish.

It took me a long time to yield. Dangerously long. But eventually, with a revelation of the Surgeon’s unfailing commitment to me, and the gently insistent encouragement of compassionate friends, I laid down on the operating table of the Father and unfolded my arms. The operation was not quick. It was not painless. But it was worth it.

When I compare the condition of my heart 10 years ago to now, I marvel at the faithfulness of the Great Physician. It’s not that I’m the ultimate picture of spiritual connectedness with the Father. Far from it. I still have arteries that need some cleaning. But my heart is strong. Jesus has free access to my heart, and the resources He brings flow sweetly to my soul. I am walking with a strength that I lacked for years, and I am moving toward my God-intended destination with Spirit-fueled stamina.

How’s your heart doing? Are your life-giving pathways clear, or is there a clog in the flow to your soul? If you pay attention to the condition of your heart and catch unhealthy blockages early enough, a change of lifestyle and an intake of Holy Spirit medicine can stave off and even reverse dangerous constriction. But if the problem is ignored, your health neglected, and Doctor checkups skipped, the results can be fatal. If the obstructions are serious enough, the only option is submission to major surgical intervention. New paths must be opened up through which life can flow. Sometimes a ‘hard reset’ is the only way to abundant life.

At the end of dad’s triple bypass operation, the surgical team ‘shocked’ my father’s heart back into motion. It had been strained by the steadily diminishing supply of resources that had led to the operating room. It had suffered serious trauma from the assault of surgery. But the operation was a success. Tenuously, weakly, but steadily, dad’s cardiac organ began to find its rhythm. My dad and his heart now face a significant period of recovery. It will not be quick. It will not be painless. But it will be worth it. The pain of surgery will dissolve into a new level of strength. Increased flow of nutrients and oxygen to his heart through newly ‘installed’ channels will result in an increase in his physical capability. My father can approach the challenges of life with a heightened level of confidence.

My dad’s bright new outlook was made possible by his submission to the invasion of his heart by someone he could trust.

So was mine.

Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 23:26; Psalm 34:18; Psalm 73:26