Life is a gift. My childhood was fun, active and innocent, but at age 10 everything felt like it changed. I found myself sitting in the doctor’s office with my Dad after being sick with 9 months of chronic lung infections.
Anxious and longing for answers my Dad and I memorized two Bible verses as we waited. Luke 1:37, “Nothing is impossible with God.” and Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Dr. Bradley Sullivan, a specialist, looked at my fingernails, then ran a sweat test. As we continued to wait I remember trying to be tough, yet I was scared. That day I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.
What is Cystic Fibrosis? I didn’t care at the time. I didn’t want to know. I actually didn’t really want to know anything about it (until I was 19 years old).
For those of you that do not know what cystic fibrosis is I will give you a short summary from kidshealth.org, “Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a disease that causes the body to make thick, sticky mucus (say: MYOO-kus). This causes problems in two major areas: the lungs and the digestive system.
Healthy lungs produce mucus, which protects the airways and makes it easier to breathe. But for a person with CF, the mucus is thick and sticky and can clog up the lungs. This creates a place where bacteria can easily grow — and bacteria cause infections.
And it's not only the airways and lungs that are affected in a person who has cystic fibrosis. Mucus-producing cells line the digestive tract, including the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, and reproductive organs. The pancreas produces enzymes that help digest food and hormones that help absorb sugar. When thick mucus in the pancreas clogs up the narrow passageways, it can make it difficult for people to digest food and get all the vitamins and nutrients they need.
Cystic fibrosis affects more than 30,000 children and young adults in the United States. It can be mild or severe, depending on the person. To make normal mucus, the body needs a special protein. This protein is defective in cystic fibrosis, producing the thick, sticky mucus that causes problems for people with CF.”
Life is a gift. I had a relatively healthy life through my mid-twenties. I love sports and anything active. I started wrestling at 4 years old and continued through high school. I also played organized baseball, football and oddly enough cross country. I played neighborhood basketball, hockey, and anything else competitive that kids make up.
My friends were and are amazing. God gave me the gift of friendship since I could walk and talk. I love people and I have always had a lot of friends, sometimes more than I can keep up with.
The best friend God gave me is my wife Kendra. We first met in junior high at our church youth group. I didn’t see her beauty until high school.
I was a junior and Kendra was a sophomore and I remember so clearly the day I fell in love. It was after school and the sophomore girls were trying to get a ride home from the junior boys with wheels so they didn’t have to ride the bus. I had wheels, an 86 Ford Escort hatchback white with red interior.
Kendra had grown out her blonde hair since junior high and no longer had bangs. She also traded in her glasses for contacts. When she started flirting with my friend Luke I saw her beautiful smile, her sparkling green eyes, and long blonde flowing hair I said to myself, “WOW!” I truly was in awe of her beauty, still am. My friend Luke didn’t have a car, but he said to her, “Jed has a car.” THANK YOU Luke.
That moment changed my life. I have to say thank you to my brother Israel as well for making owning a car possible, selling it to me on the cheap. August 17, 2003 I married the love of my life, my best friend. A proverb says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.” I have an amazing wife and life!
The greatest gift I have ever received is life with Jesus forever through the forgiveness of my sins. I was born Christmas day as a gift to my parents, they say. Christmas day represents so much more for me. It is not only a day to celebrate the life God gave me, but the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.
I remember it so clearly. As a child I was taught about Jesus through the Bible. I followed the example of my parents and went forward with the stuff the church was doing, starting with getting baptized.
Yet, once I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis I turned away from God. I could not understand or feel the love of God in the midst of my new circumstances. In my pride I chose to try to create the best life for me on my own without God, or so I thought. I sought the good life through sports, popularity, girls, just trying to fit in and be normal. I did not want to have anything to do with my parent’s God or church. I did what I had to do living in their house under their care.
When I was in high school my parents sent me to a Christian summer camp for a week of hanging out with church nerds and listening to boring Bible teaching. Instead, it was a week of adventure filled with hiking, climbing, canoeing, swimming, sleeping under the stars, sports competitions, pretty girls, along with cool camp counselors and speakers.
At the last group gathering they called “Chapel” I was sitting there thinking about life. I understood what sin was and that I definitely sinned a lot, still do sadly. I understood that God, who is perfect, can have nothing to do with sin. Because of his perfect justice sin has to be penalized. The penalty of sin is death, eternal death, in a place called Hell separated from God forever. I also understood out of God’s perfect love he gave his son Jesus as the perfect sacrafice to pay the price for my sin. Jesus took my sin and received the punishment in my place. He gave his life so that I can receive forgiveness; so that I can stand before God clean and pure; so that I can have eternal life with Him; so that I can live the best life ever starting now. Amazing and humbling.
I understood these truths, but I did not know Jesus. I did not love Jesus. I knew this stuff in my head and believed in Jesus, but I had never experienced the deep love of Jesus.
I had not met Jesus personally until that evening Chapel service. I don’t remember much of the teaching or music, but I do remember sitting while everyone else was standing listening to the words of a song being played, “Come, now is your time to worship. Come, now is your time to worship.” Then, I felt the love and presence of Jesus. I didn’t see Jesus physically, but I know I met Jesus that night. I was in his presence. I started to weep and talk to him just like he was standing in front of me. I started to worship him. He said to me, “I love you.” I responded by standing with my arms held high and surrendered my life to Jesus singing the words of the song being played.
That night I received the greatest gift one can receive, Jesus. That night I told Jesus I loved him too and I asked him to forgive me of my sins. I told him I would follow him forever. I put my trust in him.
I want to say that it was the 'wonderful life' after that, but it was not. After 3 weeks of wanting to follow Jesus passionately I started doing things my way again. I took back control and thought I could create the best life for me, sound familiar. It took me three years to learn that I could not do it on my own. I’m still learning.
Every good gift I ever received came from God even when I rejected him. So, coming to the end of myself one more time at age 19 I finally said, “Ok. I can’t do it. I need you Jesus. Help me. I give you control. Please lead me.”
It has been quite the adventure since. I am married with two beautiful children. I have years of deep meaningful relationships with a diverse group of people. I have received so many gifts I could write a book just on that (maybe I will sometime).
Life is a gift. Give your life to Jesus and you will receive more than you can possibly imagine! I did. The best is yet to come.
- His beloved.