Yesterday my precious friend, Mark Nichols, posted a plea for help. Not for himself. For a friend, Stephen Phillips, who is thankfully recovering from emergency heart surgery following a massive attack while traveling from New Orleans. Multiple arterial bypasses and a valve replacement. Stephen will be in the hospital for at least a week, followed by at least two months of at-home recovery. Mark writes:
Stephen's Valentine's Day was a heart-breaker. But we have an opportunity to shower him with a love that trumps Hallmark. I know that he would appreciate hearing from you during his convalescence. Leave him a message in the comments below. Or go to
I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting you. But yesterday, when our mutual friend, Mark Nichols, posted your story on FB, mine and countless other hearts joined yours. What a long list of friends you have. I figure one can never have too many, so I am lumping myself into the new-but-prayin’-and-payin' category.
Six years ago, I became ill, Stephen, and lost my insurance. I thought I had "sickness” insurance. Silly me...the policy clearly said “health” in bold caps. Poof! While my needs pale next to yours, they were significant to me. Mel, Mark, and many others reached out in countless ways. Thanks to God and all these helpers, I have lived to tell the story. What a relief to pass forward in some small way the undeserved but greatly appreciated gifts I received. Mercy and grace, love and forgiveness...that’s my theology. Amen.
Your job is to heal. If you so much as think about not following doctor’s orders, I will know. Just ask my kids. Re-read that “if you so much as...” sentence and picture this: my left eyebrow is in an upright and locked position (Under my bangs. Trust me)
[Note to Mel and Mark: report if Stephen so much as begins to worry.]
Your family, your friends - and, I daresay, anonymous strangers - have your back and your bills. We want to anoint you with love...and cash, checks and credit cards. I wish I could tell you that loads of people will leave you messages in the comments section below but my readership numbers are not that impressive. What IS important is that the great good God has spoken. And the message is real personal:
I have called you by name, Stephen, and you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, Stephen.
When you cross rivers, Stephen, you will not drown.
When you walk through fire, you, Stephen, will not be burned,
nor will the flames hurt you, Stephen.
...You are precious to me, Stephen,
Do not be afraid, Stephen, because I am with you.
from Isaiah 43
I’m old, Stephen, and don’t ask for signs.
But sometimes God just likes to put on a show.
With a twist.
He didn’t just send a rainbow.
He sent a double-wide over the Wal-Mart.
Honey, you’re as good as well.