Ain't Got Time to Die
It was January 11, day 52 of an 85-day stay in the hospital––having undergone two emergency surgeries, multiple infections, COVID-19, acute kidney failure, four weeks in the ICU, and 10 days on a ventilator––that my wife Carolyn, who was barely alive, once again started “working for the Kingdom”!
In my daily email update to friends and family that night, I wrote:
“The journey continues as today brought some more concerns regarding Carolyn’s fluid retention, and the degrading condition of her kidney. The dilemma seems to be that the body is retaining more and more fluid and her legs, arms, and abdomen are very swollen, so much so that her skin is ‘weeping’ fluid through the skin, yet they need to give her more fluids to ‘kick-start’ the kidney. It is a fine balance, and they are trying to do what they can to get the kidney back to normal function. If it does not start working as it should within the next three days, they will start her on dialysis in the ICU until it begins to work again. They have ordered another CT scan of her abdomen to see if there are any blockages that could be affecting things, as her ileostomy is not collecting much content either. The other issue is that she is having more drainage from her abdominal drain, and the laparoscopic site that assisted in her colon surgery is also oozing fluid mixed with blood even though it is stitched up. They tried to get Carolyn up to sit in a chair today, but her heart rate and blood pressure ran high, and they didn’t want to exert her too much, so she just sat on the edge of the bed. They will try to get her into a chair tomorrow as that will help some of her swelling to go down, if she can get out of bed.
“The good news is that she has completed her antibiotic treatment for the C. diff, and the tube administering that medication has been removed. Also, she was more alert today, allowing us to have more conversation, and although there was some delirium, she was easily brought back to reality. She even asked the nurse whether she was a Christian. The nurse said ‘yes,’ and Carolyn said, ‘I thought so, because the light of Christ shines in you!’ Then she turned to the attendant and said, ‘How about you?’ He also said yes, but qualified by saying, ‘I don’t go to church as much as I should, but I am trying to be better, and do the right things.’ Well, I immediately had to jump up and say, ‘You know we can never be good enough, as our salvation is purely a gift, by the grace of God.’ Then Carolyn chimed in, ‘If you ask Jesus to come into your life and accept Him, He will …’ and then she drifted off! We had quite a tag team going there for a moment, and it just amazed me how God was opening up doors of opportunity to witness for Him. What a joy that is! I do not say this to toot any horns, but just to emphasize that if God can use a woman in such dire health to speak His truth, then He can use all of us as we go through life in everyday situations. He is our power, and He is our strength, and may we always and everywhere lift Him up!”
After sending this email, I received a response from our former organist and choirmaster, Capers Cross. In his email he wrote:
“We just received your latest update. Although not all the news was good, there is much to be thankful for. That Carolyn is one incredible lady! In the midst of a difficult day in ICU, what does Carolyn do? She’s proselytizing! It reminds me of the spiritual that goes, 'I’m so busy working for the kingdom, ain’t got time to die!' That suits Carolyn to a T! Our prayers continue unabated.”
Capers subsequently sent me a link to a recording of this spiritual, “Ain’t Got Time to Die,” and upon hearing it, I forwarded it on to Pat Gould, our director of music. She loved it and said that one day we will have to do that in church. Those of you who attended services on May 2 or watched via the livestream know that day became a reality! I was even asked to join the staff singers that Sunday to sing second tenor, as Matt Campbell was singing the solo, leaving no one on second tenor. While it was a joyous anthem, it was hard to sing without getting choked up, as I reflected on how it came about that this anthem was chosen.
Matt Campbell, far left, sings the “Ain’t Got Time to Die” solo during the 10:30 service on May 2, while Bill Warlick, right, sings second tenor.
When God fills your heart with His love, and you see His healing power at work, you can’t help but praise Him, “Glory and Honor! Glory and Honor! Ain’t got time to die!” Would that we all keep so busy praising our Jesus, healing the sick, working for the kingdom, feeding the poor, serving our Master, and giving our all, that we ain’t got time to die! Life is short––let’s make it count for the Kingdom! The Body of Christ at St. Philip’s was certainly working for the kingdom as they lifted us up in prayer, brought us food, sent flowers and cards, and generally sustained us through a very difficult time. May God bless you all! Keep praising your Master, “Glory and honor, glory and honor, we ain’t got time to die!”
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