“Dad has just come out of the operating theatre. Can’t you hear him coughing in the background? That’s him.” Through the wonder of cell phones, my sister had just informed me that dad had survived his by-pass operation.
I was with dad on Tuesday. He was supposed to have his operation then. It was an attempt to increase the blood flow to his foot. It was gangrenous. The alternative was amputation. There was only one problem. He was 82 and had congestive heart failure. The op to save his foot could take his life.
Just as dad was to be prepared for the op, the surgeon changed his mind. He wanted more time to see if the gangrenous foot could dry up by itself and therefore do away with the need for an op altogether. He wanted more time to stabilize dad’s heart. He would decide by end of the week if he needed to go ahead with the op. He might even decide next week.
I had to host a meeting in Kuala Lumpur that same night. The speaker was coming in from the U.S. (Dad is in Penang, 250 miles from Kuala Lumpur.) The following day I had to go to Singapore where to do a workshop at a major leadership conference. Emotionally and physically drained I went to the airport.
The talk that night went ok. I slept fitfully.
The next morning, as I was packing for the trip to Singapore, my sister called. The surgeon had decided to operate on Thursday morning. This morning. I called the surgeon on the phone. He had taken a personal interest in my dad. All three of us had gone to the same high school. He said he was confident that my dad would survive the op. And that the op would help my dad. Dad, mum and sis knew that I might not be back so soon. I felt torn. I felt like a jerk. I left for Singapore.
I mobilized many friends to pray. I told the conference leaders that I might have to leave if the worst happened. They were concerned and fully supportive.
The morning started with a case of diarrhea. I was numb. I prayed. I called frequently to ask about the progress of the op. I finally got to hear my dad cough.
I was cautiously relieved and grateful. I thanked the Lord. I was also aware that dad was in intensive care. Anything might yet happen tonight. Or tomorrow.
Then it hit me. Life is lived one minute at a time. One breath at a time. “Anything might happen tonight/tomorrow etc.” is a constant. It takes nothing from the moment.
And at this point in time, dad is alive. He had survived a high-risk op. I had no reason to hold back my praise and thanksgiving.
There are days when it is just no fun being a single dad and the only son. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that my two boys are in the midst of preparing for major examinations. I wanted to provide a safe and secure home environment for them so that they could do their best. (I had asked their permission before accepting this gig in Singapore.)
But as I write this piece I am also trying to regain perspective. The Scriptures tell us that God is love (1John 4:8b). And that He neither slumbers nor sleeps in His providential care of His people (Psalms 121:3,4).
In this quiet moment, this truth is beginning to permeate my spirit. I am also grateful for the saints who sent me encouraging e-epistles to help strengthen my faith.
Lord willing, I will do my workshop. I will be sharing on the topic, “Growing Through Ministry Failure”. I like to believe that the Lord wants to encourage a lot of hurting ministers, lay and clergy, through the talk. But then again I may be wrong. Anything might happen tonight. Or tomorrow. Jesus might just decide to come back and roll up history!
But today I heard my dad cough. Tonight I have the privilege of waiting upon the Lord as I review my material for tomorrow’s talk. And God is on His Throne. I am grateful.
Your brother, SooInn Tan