“Now may the Lord of peace give you peace at all times in every way.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

And then Dave Fish stopped me as I was about to send the church family out into the world. He stopped me with a sense of love, faith, and peace. Our laity leader called all of you forward to touch me both physically and spiritually. Hands reached out … my eyes closed as I knelt in the front of our beautiful church … needing those prayers, those hands, and that love more than perhaps any of you knew on Sunday, April 21.

Yes, I was going to the hospital the next day for heart surgery, which no matter how minor I knew it would be, the thought of that surgery truthfully still had me worried. I was worried even though I have become friends with my surgeon and fully trust him. My heart was going to be physically touched by humans … wires attached and what they call a generator inserted into my chest forever … my forever, however long that might be. I couldn’t help but think back to last May at a different hospital. I needed those prayers, hands, and hugs.

I could never have imagined these last 12 months. My emotional heart has been ripped apart in ways that go beyond any words, and it will frankly never fully recover. And then a few months after my loving heart was shredded, my physical heart was found to have defects that I could never imagine were there, because I always have had high energy and never have been really sick. I go forward but I am not the same person I was last May first.

Do these realities mean that I have been distracted at times? Of course, because otherwise I would not be a human being. I have had some special people intervening and helping me get through these physical challenges and my emotional earthquakes since May. If you have felt neglected or ignored during this past year, I apologize and can only hope that you have the understanding in your heart to accept me as a pastor who loves all of you more than you can imagine, but also accept that I am a human like each of you with a long list of frailties; a pastor with emotional highs and lows, a pastor who also will slip and fall and make mistakes on an ongoing basis until that day when the newly inserted “generator” in my chest no longer is needed.

At the end of the day, as I type these words one day after the defibrillator was inserted into my chest, I need each of you to know that the verse that I included above reflects why I am able to go into my tomorrows with joy in my heart! God … the God who created the universe, the God who gave us Jesus, and is the God who loves each of us … truly provides peace to each of us if we truly seek it. God does not focus on what’s behind us, because otherwise we’d all be in trouble. God calls us forward as Paul reflected, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. One thing I do is to forget what is behind and strain ahead pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

So a “heart-felt” thank you from a heart that now has two wires attached to a generator and two stents allowing the blood to flow freely. Thank you from me to each of you who was in church that Sunday and whose hands touched me directly or through those touching me. Another thank you for those who texted me throughout those days, checking on how I was doing. More than anything else, thank you for all the love we have felt since May of 2023 and for your understanding on how our lives have been impacted. It is through this church family that God has given me peace … even in the toughest moments and saddest moments and challenging moments and moments of wondering what might happen. I am blessed and looking forward to getting back to full health in the not-too-distant future.

Blessings,

Pastor Dave

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