Talk to Marc
March 26, 2012 marked the one-year anniversary of my heart attack. I only know what the doctor told me about it, and from what the tests indicated, it wasn’t pretty. Though some people attributed the attack to “the devil is busy,” my thought, though, it was “God being God.” I believed that God sent me a reminder that He and only He dictated my life’s ups and downs.
Before the heart attack, God took me through an agonizing thirteen months in New Jersey. He moved me from Jacksonville, Florida—a city where I began growing as an adult in 1972 after leaving college—on February 14, 2010 to return to my native state to oversee the care of my aging father. I need you to understand that perceptually I was in no position to care for anyone, much less caring for a parent whose 57-year marriage to my mother ended with her passing just eleven months before I arrived. To put it bluntly, I was broke and busted, dispirited and disgusted. I felt I was being attacked from nearly every side of my life; financial, employment, transportation, housing, credit, intimate relationships, you name the side of life and it was negative. Ah, except one. My special relationship with God and the interceding by Jesus Christ. They just would not let go of me. But pardon me, I digress.
God gave me the strength to change the course of my father’s life. With divine intervention of Jesus and God endowed spiritual deliberation, I strategically re-worked my father’s finances, his health matters and his personal life. However, my life continued to muddle along in mediocrity, yet God nor Jesus would let me go.
My Facebook ministry began in August 2010, right after I witnessed former pro football star Emmitt Smith’s testimony during his acceptance speech as he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I began to sense a movement within me as I prepared to visit Jacksonville during the Christmas holiday in December 2010. God spoke to me during that time and He told me that some things would be revealed to me in 2011. These things would reveal a “new me” to me, someone whose life was beginning to move toward a new stratosophere.
I began working fulltime in January 2011, the first fulltime job I had since February 2007. I was installed to the trustee board of my high school—Weequahic High School in Newark—alumni association and God called me to witness to other lost souls. My father was doing better and my outlook on life began to soar like an eagle. Then, out of nowhere on the morning of March 26th, the heart attack came. Thank God that my 10-year old nephew was in the house and called 911, because if he was not there, only God knows what might have happened. It was a major attack, one in which I nearly passed out several times on the way to the small hospital in Montclair, New Jersey. The pain in my chest was excrutiating and my mind wandered in numerous directions. I thought to myself, “Why me, Lord? Why a heart attack when everything in my life seemed to be going up?” One thought was that I had somewhat disappointed God. Another thought was that I had disobeyed God in some way, shape or form. “Why were my wings being clipped?” I asked the Lord. I cried on the inside, though my outward disposition showed strength. But God and Jesus didn’t give up on me. It was at that point I realized how much faith I truly had in God and that nothing else mattered.
To say the heart attack frightened me is a gross understatement; I was shaken to my inner core, so much that any pain I felt afterwards made me think that my time on Earth was going to end soon. But God—yes, but God—infused a courageous spirit within me that made many people believe that I didn’t have a heart attack. Many were shocked when I told them that I was back to walking several miles a day less than 10 days after the attack. In spite of my inability to afford the necessary drugs (I had no health insurance) to mitigate the attack’s effects, I was able to meet my weight loss and body tone goals. My walks in the park and around my neighborhood doing my daily errands, as well as maintaining my disciplined eating habits, kept me from falling into a “woe is me” mindset. All of this was driven by my faith in God and Jesus’ intercession, for had I not followed His Word, I would have been feeling sorry for myself and holding pity parties on a regular basis.
However, the lesson I learned about the motivation of people who were supposed to be closest to my father and me was the most difficult. I was being questioned about my father’s care by family and friends, questions that seemed to doubt my ability to care for my father. I reacted in a worldy manner, feeling I was under surveillance, which I took personally. “How dare they question me? After all, wasn’t it me who put his life on hold to come here and take care of my father?” But God quickly stepped in and stopped me. He reminded me that He assigned this mission, and that whatever I had to endure, it was His Will.
A dramatic shift began to occur and I started realizing that my job was coming to an end. Those people who had the opinions about what needed to be done with my father’s care were not there for him when he was in his greatest need. They realized—albeit grudgingly—that with this God-given mission, I not only had to show up, but show myself approved by Jesus. Such a thought was foreign to them, they of little faith. At first, I didn’t want to see the job end, that I needed to remain with my father. However, I started listening more closely to God than I had ever done in my life. He placed “mission accomplished, assignment completed” in my spirit, and He let me know that He was sending me on another mission, placing new people in my life and presenting new challenges to me. But unlike where my life was before I left Jacksonville in February 2010 to return to my home state of New Jersey, I came to the conclusion that God was placing me on the front line of the spiritual warfare that was swirling around the world and I needed to strengthen my faith muscles in order to endure as a Christian soldier.
As I began to take inventory of the past two years, I saw what God brought me through; the shock of the depth of my father’s emotional state of mind and the lack of attention he was receiving before I arrived; the challenges of existing without the kinds of resources that most people take for granted; the sudden physical and emotional setbacks (the heart attack, recurrence of migraines, the strained relationship between my teenage daughter and me) that were caused by the stress of paying too much attention to worldly things; and adjustment to an environment I left nearly forty years ago.
In the final analysis, I learned to just not talk about trusting God, but to really believe in Him. I learned that while He gives us seemingly impossible and insurmountable tasks, He gives us the tools to succeed. I learned that while my intentions were to do the best for my father, God had more things for me to do, which uppermost was to show His glory through me. I learned that although I wanted to stay in New Jersey, God had plans for me elsewhere, which were designed to get out of His way in New Jersey, so He could deal there with those whose lives were impacted by me for a reason and a season. I learned that God used me as His vessel to get to those people who didn’t believe in His Wondrous, Marvelous, Amazing, Awesome and Supernatural works. I learned that God will take a busted, bruised, disgusted and desperate wretch like me, and move him to His Will.
The lessons I learned will never leave me, and they will shape the rest of my days, whatever that number might be.
Thank you, Lord.