SAME ‘OL SAME ‘OL AND GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME
Andy Hollifield 10-7-19
Mark 7:37 “…He hath done all things well…” (KJV)
I hope you don’t get tired of hearing it because I don’t get tired of telling it. Sunday was the 36th anniversary of my kidney transplant which took place on October 6, 1983. For a kidney that was supposed to last around twenty years average, thirty-six is only by the grace of God. My transplant doctor told me on my 25th anniversary that she figured something other than my kidney will be what causes my death. She figures at this point it will keep working as long as I live. My local nephrologist, who is only slightly older than my transplant and maybe even younger, agreed with my doctor in Winston-Salem. My next birthday on April 6, 2020, will mark the day that I have lived twice as long with this kidney as I had before the surgery. I was 18 1/2 to the day when I had surgery.
I was not living anywhere close to being in the Lord’s will when I had the surgery and it truly was the prayers of God’s people that got me through. I believe I obtained mercy because of their prayers and the fact God had a plan for my life. I have learned over the years that God doesn’t always clue me in on what he is doing even in my own life. As I look back though, I can’t find even one place where he did anything that wasn’t to my ultimate benefit. Even the surgery itself was an absolute blessing. I have never liked the fact it was necessary but I am convinced without the kidney issues I had in my teen years, my life would have probably turned out a lot different.
There were always two things that scared me that kept me out of a lot of trouble. The first and most important was what if I had gotten involved in some of the drinking and drugs some of my friends did? If I had died because of that, I would have had to stand before the Lord and try to justify why one of his children that he had blessed so much was even doing what I was doing. The other thing was my parents. It wasn’t the fear of their judgment that kept me out of those things. But rather the shame I would have brought on them if I had of died as a result of those things. After the way they had raised me I couldn’t bear the thoughts of them facing everyone we knew at the funeral home visitation. To know they would be standing there embarrassed by the shame I brought on my family just made all of that stuff not worthwhile.
I still remember God giving a cocky 18-year-old an attitude adjustment. One way he did it was when the kidney rejected a week later. Up until that night, everything had been going my way and I was doing better than expected. That all changed when my fever shot to 105.3. Getting packed with ice bags on all your major arteries will snap you into reality real quick. When the cooling blanket freezes up because they have run it on the lowest setting to bring my fever down, you know it’s serious. When the ultrasound technician has a troubled look on his face and tells you it looks like it has rejected when asked, you know it’s serious because they never say anything about results.
When you get back to your room and start to pity yourself and pout and complain about wanting to go home, it’s bad. But when your dad has a come-to-Jesus meeting with you and tells you that you will be a cooperative and good patient and will stay as long as you’re told to, it’s worse. Being a parent now myself and realizing what love that must have taken and how bad it must have hurt him is humbling. Knowing he would have liked to have shown me pity but knowing I needed a kick in the pants from him must have been unbelievably hard. The anguish my parents must have gone through in those days is impossible to comprehend.
Then the blessings came. Of the five doses of antibiotics or whatever it was, they were going to try to restart my kidney, I only needed three. The fact there was no permanent brain damage after having that high of a temperature for as long as I did was a miracle in itself. The fact that the order had already been written to remove the kidney and give it to someone else on a particular date but God restarted it before then is nothing but his hand at work. To be discharged on the 24th day of my hospitalization after having bragged I would be home in 12 proves that God was in charge of every detail and wanted me to know it is more than coincidence. I don’t know if the fact I got out on mom and dad’s 21st anniversary has any spiritual significance or not but I am sure it gave them even more cause to celebrate.
I hope this has encouraged someone and helped strengthen your faith in the Lord. I know about this time of year I always write about this but it is because I want everyone to know what the Lord did for me. He didn’t do it because I deserved it because especially at that time in my life, I was far from being deserving of any mercy. He just did it because he can and it pleased him to do it. I am sure some of the people that helped pray me and my family through that will be reading this article so I want to say “Thank you.” I know that will never be enough to repay what you did for me by going to the Lord on my behalf.
Also to my sisters who plastered everything from walls, door frames, furniture, and anything else they could think of with post-it notes telling me how much everything at home missed me, “Thanks again. As far as sisters go, a guy couldn’t ask for any better.” And aside from the Lord himself, I want to say a special “Thank you” to my big brother Jim who gave me the kidney. He made a life-saving decision in a split second while making a bologna sandwich when mom told him what the doctor had said. He didn’t even have to think about it. But then again, he spent his whole life looking out for his kid brother.
With those kinds of blessings to remember from the darkest days of my life, I hope you can understand why I like to write about it every year. I know it will never bless you as much as it has me but I hope and pray God will use my story to encourage those of you reading it. I want to give him the praise for it all the time but especially during these few days. Now you can understand the title “Same ‘Ol Same ‘Ol And Getting Better All The Time.” I am more thankful with every year that goes by. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!