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 My New Faith  - Coincidence or Miracle ?



My wife, Lynn, and I are Baby Boomers.  Lynn is an RN and my main work has been managing several hi-tech companies to 'turn around' and improve performance. We were married in October of 2000, and for each of us it was our 3rd marriage (Lynn says we should say our last marriage).

We’re both retired, but due to the economy and my losing my retirement we were both working again, trying to get to a point where we’re not struggling from paycheck to paycheck.

We had to sell our beautiful Spanish home in San Clemente, CA, and move out to Temescal Valley, in Riverside County, where there is a lower cost of living.

We have a boat that we purchased when my last engineering company was sold. And the two of us recently completed a 15,000 mile voyage with the boat. But we had to sell our boat too. For the first time in my life I was getting very depressed.

Spiritually, I have been one of those who thought, “I hope there is a God, or we’re all in a heap of trouble.”  But when I thought of those pushy, born again Christians, they were such an annoyance. I was baptized in the Baptist Church when I was 9, but I don’t remember attending church regularly. I converted to Lutheran for my first marriage, but I was attending for her, not really to seek faith. I attended a Catholic Church a few times in my second marriage, but not consistently.

My depression started after losing my retirement income. The last business where I earned part ownership was sold. That was to be my retirement. But our parent company was subsequently bought out by a Multi-Billion dollar company in Germany who just stopped all payments to us. Our attorneys just said, “Forget it, litigation over both sides of the Atlantic, they’ll just bleed us dry.” So, no retirement. And I found out at age 60 no one wants to hire you for anything other than flipping burgers.

On the brighter side, we have children ranging in age from 30 to 45. Between us we have 6 children and 7 grandchildren. We love them dearly as parents and grandparents tend to do. They have been the major focus of our lives. Even during our long voyage they were sorely missed. It's unfortunate, but faith in God was not our focus during the voyage, just adventure and self development.

None of our children have attended church regularly that we were aware. But when I turned 60 I began thinking about death. "Soon I will just be gone and then nothing."  More and more the depression was setting in. Every day I would think, "This just can’t be all there is. I’m here a short while, screwed over, and then nothing? There’s got to be more to the complex series of events in a person's short life span!"

As far a prayer goes, I'm one who may have asked for help at crisis time, just as a good measure.  Then one sunny day, I was working in the back yard and really in a funk. I stopped, and looked up and said, “God, if your there, help me to find some peace, or something I can believe in to make me feel significant. I’m not doing so well here on my own.”

And then a few days later I said to Lynn, “Honey, would it be alright if we found a church and attended for a while and see if it helps my depression?" She said, "Yes, she thought that was a good idea." I was not being the most positive, attentive husband.

Now, let me say something about coincidence. I’ve been involved in engineering my whole life, and I know the probabilities of coincidence. When it comes to apparent coincidences, I’m a skeptic first.

Well, just a few days after discussing church with Lynn, and, having never discussed church or religion with any of our grown children, our daughter, Erin calls and says, “Pete and I have just found this really neat church." (Well, she might not have said Neat, that’s from my youth). Anyway, she says, "Would you guys like to come with us and check it out?” I looked at Lynn, “Did you talk to Erin about us looking to attend church?"  "No," she says. "But the timing is amazing." So we told Erin, "Sure, we’ll be there on Sunday.”

Mmm? Possible coincidence? 60 years of not seeking faith, then 2 days after deciding to attend church, an invitation? Kinda spooky.

So, even though it’s a 40 min. drive from our home, we attended this church (Eastside Christian in Fullerton, California), for several weeks.

 I cried like a baby at every one of Pastor Appel’s sermons.  I just could not understand my strong emotional response.  OK, I tear up sometimes at movies, but that’s it. And I thought, he’s good, but that good? But the Pastor’s messages kept coming across to me so strongly; I actually looked forward to Sundays with the Appel! I read the Bible cover to cover. The most significant thing I found was that the first four books in the New Testament told the story of Jesus from four different people, at four different times, but they all had the same details, and the same significant events of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. I thought, "Hmmm, this actually could be scientifically significant."

Then I hurt my back working on our repo house we had bought, and after a few visits to the chiropractor, and several visits to UCI Medical Center, and spending many weeks on my back on the floor where ever we found ourselves, we scheduled surgery to correct two herniated and ruptured disks in my back.

I also went in to our primary doctor to get my routine physical just to make sure nothing else was in progress. I’ve suffered from migraine headaches and kidney stones for years.  As I am leaving the hospital from a migraine follow up, my cell rings. It was my Urologist. I thought "Ohhh no, I bet it’s kidney stones again." I had passed several over the years and they are really painful! But no, he says, I tested positive for prostate cancer! And could we come in to discuss options? I just kind of slid down the wall and sat there, on the floor, in the medical building. I don’t remember hanging up or putting the phone in my pocket, or how long I sat there.

As I'm driving home I thought, is this the end already? I’m not ready, what about our kids, how am I going to tell Lynn?

Significantly again, I didn’t think of prayer.

We scheduled the back surgery in December, and with a short recovery, scheduled my prostate surgery for January.

A couple weeks after the 2nd surgery, I’m still recovering at home in bed, when I begin feeling very sick, dizzy, and short of breath, shaking like I was freezing but I wasn't cold. I called Lynn at the hospital in San Clemente, an hour away, and she immediately comes home to check on me. She says I wasn’t very coherent when she arrived. She checked my vital signs and decides there is no time to drive an hour to UCI Medical Center where all our records are. So by ambulance we go to the nearest hospital in Corona.

I wound up with 7 doctors on the team trying to figure out what could have gone wrong after the surgeries. I just kept feeling worse and worse. My blood pressure was going down. They couldn’t find a medication that would stabilize the pressure.

I just remember a tremendous struggle to hold on. I felt I was all alone in this dark hole, and it was like having the wind knocked out of you. I just couldn’t catch my breath. I was struggling fiercely. With every ounce of energy I was trying to breath. It seemed like days. It was the most frightened I have ever been. After what seemed like an eternity of struggling I clearly remember just giving up and letting go. And in my head I said, “God, if you’re there, I have nothing left to fight this, if its my time, take me the way I am," And then, nothing.

 Lynn was there just outside the ICU (Intensive Care Unit). One of the team doctors comes out and says to Lynn, “We can’t get his blood pressure to stabilize enough to determine what the root problem is. But I think I see a kidney stone lodged in the ureter. It could be backing everything up and causing a sepsis infection. His pressure is below 50 and dropping so we can't operate. But we need to do something now. I’m his team Urologist, and I have experience when surgery is not an option feeding a special stint bypass through the bladder and up and around the kidney stone to relieve the ureter stoppage. I want to do it right now. Lynn said, "Go, do it."

After he left, She looked to one of the nurses there and asked if they knew how long this procedure normally takes. She was told probably thirty minutes to an hour or more, depending on how many tries it takes. Lynn, with her ICU experience and over 30 years as an RN, began to prepare herself to go home... alone.

But just a few minutes later, the same doctor comes out and says to her, it went in the first try, (amazing), and is draining! Lynn sighed at the hope of a possible recovery. The doctor said, "Now we give him antibiotics and monitor and wait."

Well, he was right. It had been a lodged kidney stone. It had nothing to do with the two surgeries from which I was recovering. It was a totally unrelated event, out of the blue!?

Many hours and medications later, I came back to the living. When I finally woke up, there was my Lynnie, a tentative smile on her face, and she began explaining what had happened. As I looked around, up on the wall next to my bed, without my glasses, I could just make out the many hand painted signs of love from my family. I asked Lynn for my glasses. The first one I could focus on was one our daughter Erin's hand sketched sign, in color, that said, “Miracles happen every second!” So, I looked over at Lynn and I asked, “OK, who is this Doctor "House" (from TV series "House") who came up with the last minute diagnosis? With tears in her eyes she says to me, “His name is Doctor Sheppard!”

The breath caught in my throat, I closed my eyes, tears coming again. And I said, “Thank you Lord for sending me a Sheppard to guide be back.” Lynn and I knew then and there we were believers. There were just too many coincidences to be coincidence. The Lord obviously had something for me to do, and when I asked, He responded. He just had to get my attention! Oh, and Lynn remembers me saying odd unintelligible things while I was starting to come back from anesthesia, when I said, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself". And I had never memorized any bible verse!

Following my recovery we attended church again and Pastor Appel presented his sermon, "Christ: Lord, Lunatic, or Liar." And this sermon spoke to us personally about the proof of Christ. Lynn and I have now accepted Jesus as our Savior and look upon life with a much more positive attitude. We were baptized together in June of 09' by Pastor Appel at the Eastside Christian Church. We both feel less anxiety, and are more positive and hopeful about the future.

I truly believe the Lord sent me a miracle. He still has plans for me. I guess He just wanted to get our attention before leading Lynn and I to faith. The way I think about myself and others has completely changed. I don't judge others, I only evaluate, I am more patient with others, I don't care any more about having a nice car, luxurious house, status in the community or any of the "honors' of my past stature. I am at piece. You don't understand this statement or impact until you accept Jesus as the forgiver of your sins, and try to live your life as He wants you to.

Miracles do happen, somewhere, every second. And I now look around me all the time at this amazing Earth we live on and think, “This is no coincidence.” L.L. Cotton



What about everyone who does not receive Christ?

Know Jesus, Know Life - No Jesus, No Life"...I know there are many Christians who say that all those who die without faith in Christ will be relegated to spend eternity in Hell - even if they have never heard the gospel. I think scripture suggests otherwise - that we are judged on the basis of what we know and how we act upon it. This is not any sort of ecumenical theology or "all ways lead to God." Those who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and have refused to believe, have rejected Him, and, as such, will fall under the condemnation of God, because they have rejected His provision for (recovering from) our disobedience. Therefore, atheists are still without excuse in rejecting God. Those who perpetrate evil, even without the knowledge of the gospel, will likewise be condemned, since they have violated their God-given conscience. In the same way, those who play the "religion game" of going to church on Sunday, but living apart from a relationship with God, will be condemned".                         ---- Rich Deem, "Evidence For God"


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