Before I speak I enter a near catatonic zone of concentration and Norwegian music.
I say Norwegian music, because lately Royskopp’s “Triumphant” has been my “Eye of the Tiger 2.0.” It used to be “War” by 30 Seconds to Mars and is sometimes, “New Morning” by Alpha Rev.
Speaking is fairly new to me and listening to songs that sound like auditory push ups helps. Soon, I’m doing some brand new comedy at a Dave Ramsey Live event. I’ve got 7 minutes to absolutely guffaw 3,000-5,000 people. Just typing that sentence made me a little sweaty.
I was nervous last week as someone drove me to a conference in Missouri. That is until he told me a sentence that completely stomach punched me.
The conversation started off casually. He was in his late 50s and told me about his history in Missouri and what he did before he worked for the Assemblies of God. Turns out, when he was younger, he worked at a “custom slaughterhouse.” The word “custom” made me feel like you could go in and say, “I’d like my steak in the shape of a 1957 Chevy radiator,” but I was wrong.
It was just a typical slaughterhouse. And after a few minutes of stories I felt like I had a good idea of what happened there. But then, in the middle of the conversation he said something I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. He said:
“It’s easier to bleed them out, if the heart is still pumping.”
Sometimes post ideas flutter into my head like white birds released by Prince in the video for “When Doves Cry.” Sometimes they are as obvious to see as the awkward dating relationship Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian are going to have in the future.
This idea was of the second variety.
It’s easier to bleed them out, if the heart is still pumping. He was talking about the things that made his job easier. It was better for him, if the animal had been killed but the heart was still beating. It was easier for the blood to empty the body if there was still some remnant of heart beating away. Complete death ruined that, but a pulse quickened the process of emptying all the blood.
That’s disgusting, I agree, but what’s even grosser is when that same thing happens to someone you care about. What’s even harder to watch is when that same thing happens to friends and family members. Because the truth is, we’ve all known people who have had “near life experiences.”
I had one for most of my adult life.
I knew all the right Bible answers.
I could quote a handful of scriptures.
I could write a devotional.
I could smile and talk about freedom and grace.
But the truth is, I hadn’t given my heart to the Lord. Deep inside my secret chest it still beat. I might have been wounded by living a life of my own. My selfish identity might have been close to death, but I had never fully surrendered to the Lord. I was afraid of what he’d do if I gave him my heart. (We all know God makes you move to Africa and be a missionary if you give him your heart. You go “zero to hut” in about 3.2 seconds.)
So I held back. My heart still beat, and I still bled out, and I think that’s exactly what the devil wanted. I don’t think he wants you to fall apart. I don’t think he wants you to lose everything, because if you do, you don’t have an idol to cling to anymore. You don’t have something you can worship instead of the Lord. Too many people put their hope in the rock of God when they hit rock bottom. I think the enemy would rather bleed you out slow over a number of years.
My wife’s friend tells that story. She was an alcoholic facing a slow thirty year, heart still pumping death. Then she discovered cocaine and in a matter of days fell completely apart. In her testimony she thanks cocaine for fast forwarding her to a bottom that would have taken decades to reach otherwise.
I had a similar experience five years ago. For the first time I honestly surrendered everything. And it was devastating. It was a nuclear meltdown. But to tell you the truth, I would rather go through hell when I am 30 and wake up to the life God has given me, then slumber and wake at 70 realizing I never knew my wife, my kids, myself or my God.
I hope you are not having a “near life experience” right now. I hope your heart is no longer yours, slowly beating, slowly bleeding.
The verse that encourages me as I think about all of this is in Isaiah 30, a chapter I go back to regularly. Verses 25-26 read:
“In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.”
There will be wounds and bruises. There will be questions and doubts. But when your heart is surrendered, when you’ve died to Christ, you won’t have a “near life experience.” You won’t bleed out slowly.
The moon will shine like the sun and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord heals us.
That is my hope and my prayer for both of us.