Nineteen years ago my husband, Paul, had a kidney transplant. At about that same time he lost most of his vision due to the diabetes that runs strongly through his family. He has tunnel vision, and can see fairly clearly out of one small area of one eye. After his loss of vision we went to the Society For the Blind to see if there were any services that would help him out, and they had him read an eye chart. With that little piece of vision he could read the whole thing, and I will never forget how excited they were. It put his loss in perspective for us.
I asked him one time what it was like when he first realized that his vision was not going to return. He said it bothered him for the first few days (days?!), but he was so sick with the kidney thing that by the time he felt better he had adjusted to the eyesight loss. One of his true strengths in life is his ability to adjust. He has the kind of faith that puts things in God's hands and gets on with it.
Paul was fifty-two years old when he had to resign from the ministry. He never fully regained his strength after the transplant, and with the added loss of vision it was not possible for him to continue to pastor his church. The people of our congregation were wonderful. They supported us throughout this difficult time. I was the one that gave him the kidney. (A non-related donor was a rare occurrance at the time. One of the doctors told him that for us to be a two tissue match was like winning the lottery. Paul said it was a lot better than winning the lottery, the lottery was only money!) Because I was the donor we were both out of commission for a quite a while, and those wonderful folks in the congregation brought meals to our door every day for many weeks after the surgery, not to mention their outpouring of love through prayers and gifts and cards.
The disability benefits of Paul's health plan through the church covered the cost of the health benefits for the whole family. Whenever he expressed frustration that he was unable to contibute to the finances I would remind him of those health benefits. His whole duty to the family was to "sit there and breathe."
Now the kids are all grown up, and our family feels blessed these many years later, to still have him around. (When he got sick we had no grandchildren, now we have twenty-three.) We have been on a pretty even keel until this December when he got an infection in his great toe and had to have it removed. (That was the first time he has been back into the hospital since the transplant.) Our son-in-law, Jeff (Anna's husband) told him the other day, "Just think, Paul, now you have two kidneys, one pancreas, one eye, and a toe in heaven."
"And," I added, "except for the successful surgery he might have one foot in the grave!"
For more than twenty-five years Paul told his congregations that God's love would be sufficient for all their needs.
For the past nineteen years he has been priviledged to prove it.