47 and headed for Heaven

Posted: November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

By the time you are in your 40’s, birthdays have lost some of their excitement.  At this stage of life, people are generally so busy, it’s just an excuse to go out to eat and maybe exchange a gift or two.  Cards are opened, quickly read and tossed aside.  Sometimes a prayer of thanksgiving for another year is muttered and life just keeps moving on. It’s just another birthday.

For me, this one was different;  As I assume it would be for anyone who has faced their mortality head on.  Humanly speaking, this will most likely be my last birthday.  My ALS has progressed quickly.  In fact, it was this very weekend last year, when Dena & I were convinced that something was REALLY wrong and began our online self-diagnosis and our serious pursuit to get into a neurologist.  This past June at my clinic visit, I was told in general terms, that I had 12 to 18 months.  I think the doctor was being generous with that prediction.

But instead of being depressed, I try to enjoy each day and find the humor.  I woke up on my birthday and told Dena that “47 is the new 94!”  She actually cracked up at that one.

The reality is that none of us have ANY guarantee that we will live to see our next birthday.  Death is as sure as birth.  It’s a fact of life, and it’s all been decided ahead of time (Psalm 139:16). We may be surprised and think a person’s life is cut short, but God is not.  His plan for me appears to be that my time on earth is waning.  I don’t know why and I can’t say I understand;  Someday it will be made clear to me; for now, I choose trust (Proverbs 3:5&6).

The truth is that anyone reading this blog could die before I do.  Accidents happen daily and most people don’t get a warning that their death is coming.  Anyone younger than 80 is probably not thinking that their end could be right around the corner.

So I beg of you to stop and consider whether or not you are ready to meet God.  Not based on if you have lived a good life or not, but on if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the only mediator between God and man (I Timothy 2:5).  He lived a perfect, sinless life and died the most unjust death on the cross to pay for my sins and yours (Romans 5:8). Three days later, He overcame death when he rose from his grave (I Corinthians 15:4).  His gift of salvation is free and the choice is up to everyone individually (Romans 6:23 and Romans 10:13).

Since I have the assurance of a future eternity with my Savior in Heaven, I chose to live this birthday as happily as I could.  There were no tears that day.  In fact, there was a lot of laughter as my family opened and read to me almost 300 cards.  Most of them were funny and the rest were very kind.  Thank you to everyone who encouraged me in this way!

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

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Comments
  1. Stephen Shedletzky says:

    Patrick – know that you are in service. Now and for always.

    With love,
    Stephen

  2. Julie says:

    Your blog has made such a strong impact on me in a very short time. Your legacy of faith is valuable and indestructible. Thank you for sharing your walk with The Lord. I Was touched significantly with your testimony you shared in the church you attend. My prayer for you is that you keep enjoying every morsel of every day The Lord gives. You have motivated me to do this- and not focus on the challenges. I pray you remain strong in faith and you are comfortable in the love that surrounds you. Praise God for the work He has done and continues to do through you!!!! Julie, Sacramento

  3. Robert says:

    “Turn, turn, turn” turning 47.

    If I tried to sing this for you, you wouldn’t laugh, you’d cry, so I won’t sing, but this is true: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven … a time to laugh” (Eccl 3:1, 4).

    I am so glad to see in your life a witness to the grace by which God is glorified. I am praying that much good will come to many people.

  4. Delphine Warbington says:

    I am as sure as you of where I am headed from here, and like you, I know that this is most definitely not my home. I also know that any one of us could be called home at any time and that we need to be ready at a moments notice to make account for what we have done, and be prepared to lay it all on the line for HIM. I am looking forward to celebrating in our white robes someday!
    Del

  5. sharettebeckford@rocketmail.com says:

    Happpy birthday to u mr patrick!!:)huuugs! that post was really an encourgement! And reminder!! Life is so unpredictable!but its up to us to use these things that may seem unfavorable to glorify and honor God! Even though we can’t see the outcome!!
    Our God is greater our God is stronger, He’s higher than any other our God is healer awesom in power our God!!!… Such an awesome feeling wen we can say this with no reservation! Am happy u guys r hopefull!and u are comforted by this fact!! Love u guys!! God bless!!!
    Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

  6. LES says:

    Your words “stop and consider whether or not you are ready to meet God” just hit me like brick to the head. I don’t know you, I only just read your story as a friend of mine posted this link to Facebook, but in one fell swoop I was hit with the reality that while I’ve been a Christian for 33 years of my 33 year long life… I do not, at this moment, have a true relationship with Jesus. I did, and it wasn’t until I randomly clicked on this blog, that I really realized that at some point I lost it. Thank you for opening my eyes.

  7. Melissa Morrissey says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Patrick. Your friends in Toronto, especially the Semp/Remix team are praying for you and your family – and are continually inspired by your faith! Blessings, Melissa

  8. Tim Vermilyea says:

    Happy belated Birthday, Patrick! Thank you for sharing your life with so many. Thank you for your eloquence as you face the fact of your mortality… and thanks for reminding all of us of OUR mortality. You are in our prayers… each of your blog entries reminds us to renew our prayers for you, Dena and your family!

  9. Theresa Ferry says:

    Thank you for sharing with friends and people like me who don’t know you personally, your every real and personal journey through this trial and test of faith! Thank You for being such a blessing and incredible testimony! Praying for you and family on a regular basis!

  10. Ruth McMullin says:

    Pastor Pat,
    I just wanted to thank you for being a blessing in my life. My time at Calvary with you as our youth pastor helped shape who I am today. You and your family are in my prayers. Thank you for giving all of yourself all of the time. You always were and are now an inspiration.
    Ruth Watts-McMullin

  11. Janet Rice says:

    Thank you so much for sharing with us and for your transparency. Ultimatly for your faithfulness and displaying our Lord and Savior in the midst of an extremely difficult trial, one that none of us can say we understand what each of you are going through. You are an incrediable testimony and blessing to so many! Praying for you and your family daily.
    Janet Rice

  12. john hicks says:

    Once again you make me think of reality but you did that before als. Today nov 8th 2012 Eleanor Louise Hicks is scheduled to be born but I will always know her second middle name is Patrick. Can’t wait to hear you teach someday from Jonah again brother. Always praying for you. john

  13. Russ Arbuckle says:

    It was good to see you where able to stop by the Wednesday morning Adult (Seniors) Bible Study last week. Just before your birthday on Saturday. The class was thrilled to see you and Dena and love you both very much. I stopped a minute and realized that I could be your father in age anyways. Now that’s scary. HA! HA! Much love to you both and your family. Continue your journey to God’s Kingdom.

  14. Joe & Gail Asaro says:

    Patrick,

    God has given you true Joy because of His unfailing love and it shows in your words and in your face. God has greater things ahead for all of us that this world could never offer. I thank God that you have a heart that has grasped the truth and even at a time like this you know that the most important thing to do is to tell others of the great love God has for them. You and all of your family are servants that God uses well for his kingdom. You are a wonderful blessing to us and our church family. We pray for all of you and continue to ask God to use you to spread his Gospel for all to hear. You speak it loudly with your life, God bless you all.

    Joe & Gail
    Heb. 10:24

  15. Kerry Kelley says:

    Dear Patrick, I don’t know you, but my best friend does. She sent me a link to your last sermon and has been fwd your blog to me. You are amazing. I appreciate your honesty, your courage, and your faith. I’m sure you have your moments when you feel like a deflated balloon, but I know that even then, in your weakness, He is is strong. You are a blessing. God is still using you.
    In my work as a hospice chaplain, I talk with people about facing their deaths every day. I wish our culture was more open about talking about it, but it is one of the few remaining taboo subjects. Even people of faith have difficulty with this. But it is where the rubber meets the road as far as our faith goes. If we take God at his word that he has a better place prepared for us, perhaps there will be no room for fear, just a joyous anticipation for what the future holds.

  16. Pat Bradford says:

    You make me laugh…you make me cry…you even make me unafraid to die!!! I love you guys..only heaven will reveal the impact you have had on the Bradfords and the Clifts….we all need to be looking up…The King is Coming!!! Luuuuuv and prayers

  17. shllynn_grant@yahoo.com says:

    We understand it all by and by. That a line from a song. We will not understand what is going on right now but when we meet our Saviour He will reveal all thing to us.
    Patrick you never cease to amaze me with the strength you express and your faith in the Lord through out your illness.

    Continue to hold fast in these trying times. Remember that He who began a good work in you is able to complete it. Continue to trust Him. Much love Shelly

    Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

  18. Linda Holcomb says:

    Patrick, I only know you through Pam M. Your life is such a testimony for our Lord and Savior. Though you don’t understand your circumstances and have all the answers to the “whys”, the Lord is using “a time such as this” in ways that man cannot imagine. Through Christ’s suffering, we are made whole. Through your suffering, many will be touched in ways that others cannot reach them. One day when we are all in heaven, many will come before you and say, “Patrick, you are the reason that I made a decision to accept Christ.” Praying for you and your family.

  19. Greg O'Boyle says:

    Patrick, thank you for the encouragement. I’ve only recently heard of your bout with ALS, but have been encouraged by your’s and your families faith. Keep looking up brother, your testimony is glorifying to God. I lost my mom at 46 and everyday I inch closer to that age, I realize how much of a gift life is. You and your family will be in my prayers

  20. Kelli Peterson says:

    Deanna & Patrick, know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. As you know our dad, Tom Hedges, is going through this as well. I loved reading about your birthday and the picture says it all! As you know Deanna, pictures are my “thing” Many blessings to you all! Kelli

  21. Linda Owens says:

    Patrick, This was sent to me from my son Ron! I have know of your situation,and have been praying for you and your family!Your testimony came at the perfect time as usual,Gods time! Reading what you are sharing, and having the same faith in Christ, and knowing no one ever knows when Gods plan has been fulfilled for us on earth! I want to thank you

    for your courage, it is there I fail ! I am not afraid to die, I can’t wait to be with my savior. The fact that you are making the best of the rest of your life and enjoying every moment with happiness left me in awe;somewhat ashamed, I too am very ill,only I admit I am afraid of the illness I am facing, not death but the life and the progressions of the illness itself. I realize through your message my neglect of enjoying each breath I have with Gods precious gifts is a sin. I should be showing how grateful I am to be so blessed with everything I have,not depressed,and by the way is very lonely!.Is one of my biggest failures.Anyway thank you Patrick for showing me this strength, and faith. It was just what I needed. Continuing to pray for you and your family.God Bless. Linda

  22. Mary Stahl says:

    MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY FOREVER I LOVE ALL OF YOU AS DO MY FAMILY AND WISH NOTHING BUT THE BEST FOR YOU, YOU HAVE HELPED BOTH MY KIDS AND I AM ETERNALLY GRATEFUL TO YOU! LOVE ALWAYS AND ETERNALLY THE STAHL FAMILY

  23. Mel Stull, Jr. says:

    Patrick,
    I am passing on your blog to a friend at work. He has a friend Mike Jarrell who has ALS too. Love your bro! Genesis 15:1 “God is our Shield!”

  24. kerrie williamson says:

    Patrick,
    Thank you for being so wise, so brave and for loving the Lord so much! I always enjoyed listening to you preach at Cornerstone, you had such a funny way about you! Your work on earth has been amazing so far and you continue to reach more people for Jesus everyday. Happy belated birthday and thanks again for being so incredible before and now even through your trial. Love and many prayers, Kerrie Williamson

  25. Kathy Struck says:

    Dear Patrick, Yes, none of us know when the hour is of our death, but when the time comes to cross over there will be waiting the most glorious sight you will ever see. And all questions will be gone and a new knowledge along with your new body will be yours. The peace will be so thick it will engulf you and the love so intense your spirit will start to praise the Lord God Most High and as you throw your crown before Him, a humility of complete surrender will lift you up to High Places and you will be made whole in Him in the blink of an eye. Praise to His Glorious Name.

    When Stefan crossed over there was a peace the came over Jennifer and I that was hard to explain. God knows you are leaving behind your family and He wants you to know they will be kept by His angels and provided for. When the pain comes to them and the “why”, His angels will minister to them in ways that only God Himself can create for each of their needs. God is good and be at peace, He knows your needs and theirs.

    God has ordained your journey and he has given you Hinds Feet for High Places.

    God Bless You, Kathy

  26. Deborah says:

    I am praying for you and yours…thank you for sharing truth so clearly!!! ❤

  27. Vern rasbeck says:

    Patrick, what an amazing testimony! Keep holding the faith!!

    • Les and Judy Johnson says:

      Your blog is so true—Judy’s sister went to sleep two weeks ago and woke up in heaven—we never know when the LORD will call us home. But isn’t it great that we have the assurance that we meet again.
      kGod Bless–you are in our prayers

  28. Kay Morrow says:

    Hi Patrick and Dena. Just got your awesome testimony in a forward from one of my dear friends at Calvary Baptist. John and I will never forget you and have often wondered where you and your family are. We will be praying for you. God bless you and know that your testimony will go to many who do not know The Lord. It will be exciting to meet those that came to
    Christ as a result of your witness. We love you and will remember you always. Kay and John Mortow

  29. Emmie says:

    My friend has cancer. She also may not see another berthday. She alerted me to your blog. Please: how do I encourarage them when i feel so overwhelmed for them?

  30. Love your testimony, your wisdom, and joy. You share a wonderful God-gift with the world! God’s continued blessings to you and your family!

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