Okay, so I lied!

I’d promised myself that I was not going to beleaguer the fact that I’d had open heart surgery with triple bypass. I lied to myself. That occurred seven weeks ago yesterday. Today I got up and went to the gym with my wife, Cheryl, and we worked out together on the treadmill, elliptical, and stationary recumbent bike. After getting back home, I fed and watered the dogs and my youngest daughter, Megan, and I went to Ijam’s Nature Center in Knoxville and hiked a mile that posed a 12 degree climb for three tenths of a mile. We did that in thirty minutes.

I suppose what I’m getting at is this. I’ve done everything I could in fifty-four years to not take care of this physical body. I didn’t eat the right things. I ate too much of what I did eat. I had become inactive and developed an attitude that life altering cardiac events only happen to “other people”. I was wrong and I paid dearly for it. Add to the fact that I smoked and I was a pressure cooker waiting to blow the lid through the roof. It almost happened.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I had not observed the warning signs. I can’t help but be thankful that there were warning signs. The onset of chest pain was sudden and at first I thought that it was a bad case of indigestion or heartburn. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if God had not intervened in spite of my own lack of care for this fleshly body. My right coronary artery was 95% blocked. My lower anterior descending artery was 90% blocked. My circumflex artery was 50% blocked and was carrying 70% of the load for the whole heart. I should not have been in a hospital with those blockages. I should have been buried in a casket somewhere. Yet, here I am writing to you.

It is not my intention to throw stones. God knows that I am no position to throw a stone at anyone. But I look around me and I see countless legions of Christians and non-believers alike who are in worse physical condition than I was. I cannot believe the difference in how I feel now compared to the way I felt before surgery. I sleep better. I awaken rested with energy to meet the day. I take time to exercise and spend time with my family. I feel GOOD! I used to lounge around and no interest in anything and I didn’t feel like doing anything. If I did get and do something I usually did not enjoy any part of it. Life is definitely BETTER! My intention here is not to throw stones or judge or condemn. My intention here is a genuine heart felt warning. BEWARE! I did not keep my temple clean and I suffered for it! Yes, God intervened and I was disciplined and FORCED to clean up my act. Not spiritually so much as physically. Granted, there was a spiritual house cleaning to a great extent. However, tobacco and food no longer dominate me. I have overcome tobacco and I control food and drink. I am 110% better for it.

It is my intention now to beleaguer the fact that I’ve had open heart surgery with triple bypass. Although God saw me through the pain, stress, and uncertainty it was no easy ride I assure you. I am going on record now to say that I am giving you all a grievous warning. NONE of you want to endure what I went through. Yes, there are many every year who share my experience but many, including my own experience, could have been PREVENTED!

I WILL share some of my PAINFUL experience so you will know what to expect should you ever find yourselves in similar circumstances. I WILL share with you the means by which I made drastic lifestyle changes that can prevent or, at least, greatly delay the gruesome horrors of open heart surgery for YOU. I do this not to brag or boast or to judge or condemn. I do this because I wish someone had told ME what I am telling YOU! As a nurse who has worked extensively in the cardiac field, I should have known better. That’s the part about how Satan blinds you to your own condition.

Not only should we strive to keep our physical heart in top operating order we should strive to keep our “heart” in order. This, just like strengthening our physical heart, takes exercise. It requires reading and studying the Bible. It requires prayer. It requires faith and love.

Now I know that many of you are going to say, “I don’t’ have the time to go to the gym. I don’t have time to read my Bible or pray.  My response is simple. “HOGWASH”!

You can’t afford to NOT MAKE time to exercise, read your Bible, and pray. As I write this the University of Tennessee is preparing to play Alabama in an SEC game in Knoxville within the hour. I dare say 102,455 seats will be filled. The cheapest seats I could find online two weeks ago were $249.00. That does not mention countless others who will be tailgating or watching the game on television. How many millions of calories will be consumed and how many hundreds of thousands of Bibles will lie dormant during this three hour event?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not slamming college football nor am I slamming good people who enjoy watching a good football game. What I’m merely doing is pointing out where people’s hearts are. They take the time and spend the money to attend or watch a football game. Yet, most will not take the time during the week to exercise physically or spiritually. I’m not condemning anyone but it plainly tells me where the people’s heart is. I know because my heart was once there also. I once did not take the time to read my Bible or pray which develops trust and faith in God. I, at one time did not take the time to exercise or go to the gym. I took care of the spiritual heart and neglected the physical heart. It cost me more than you want to know. That type of living will take your where you don’t want to go, keep you there longer than you want to stay and write checks that your body can’t cash.

We cannot afford to neglect our physical bodies. I won’t do it anymore. I have grandchildren and now one great grand-son. I want to see them marry and have families of their own. I want to grow old and more gray with my lovely wife. I want to plant seed, water, and lead as many to Christ as I possibly can so that when I stand before God and I am judged I can turn and wave towards a great multitude behind me and say, “I brought ALL of THEM with me for the sake of YOUR kingdom!”

In the days and weeks to come, I will be sharing my experiences and life changes with you as well as other aspects of everyday life. I do hope that you will join me from time to time. Believe me, you don’t want to experience what I have. I believe I can help you avoid it. Check your heart physically and spiritually. Is it healthy? If not, let’s get it that way together and rejoice in genuine praise and worship.

‘Til next time, God Bless!

In His Grip,

Lonnie Richardson

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