Happy New Year! It’s a brand-new year. It’s the time of year when many people start to think about making changes. This year, rather than writing a quick list of resolutions that I’ll likely forget before next month, I’m taking a different approach. This is a good time for me to ask myself, what do I want to be different this year?
While I dwell on my approach, I should mention that I am not even supposed to be alive in 2019. In fact, I came close to dying many times. I now meet every new year and every day with a deep sense of gratitude. My faith and praises to God grow even more every day but sometimes it is still very challenging.
Before my first open-heart surgery at fifteen years old, I’ve always been a high-energy person. My mother often said, “Francis, slow down, where do you get all this energy?” — not in admiration, but in frustrated exhaustion. For me, that energy ties with the enthusiasm to survive.
But in 1999, everything changed. I was diagnosed with a leaking heart valve and chronic heart failure and immediately experienced a decline in my energy and enthusiasm. What I remember most was the weakness and profound fatigue inflicted on my body. No matter how much I slept, by 9:00 a.m. I wanted to go back to bed. I went from being a high-energy guy who never stopped, to being constantly fatigued, confused, and yes, frightened by this weakened state in which I found myself.
Never before had I understood what it felt like to be weak?
The next year, I experienced a miracle when I had my first open-heart surgery in Denver. Shortly, after arriving at the hospital I went into cardiac arrest and almost didn’t make it. Through faith in God, prayers and the abilities of the medical professionals, the surgery was a success.
In high school, I was a member of the environmental club, I went hiking, camped in the rainforest, participated in protests and wrote provoking articles against the government in the national media. I was a member of the student government in college, carried a full class load, and later taught adult education courses at an alternative high school, worked at an NGO and local radio station promoting conservation and environmental awareness. I started my own company in 2005 that took on many important clients all over the world. I’ve sat at tables with world leaders, ambassadors, celebrities, athletes and politicians.
Years later, I would have a second open-heart surgery at 28 years old and a colon resection surgery in my thirties due to diverticulitis and cancer. These were both life-affecting experiences that deepened my faith in God and His purposes for me. I became a high-energy person again but now, more recently, my heart began to fail once more since July 2018. This continues to affect me daily until a new procedure to once again fix the problem happens later this month.
So now once again, I find myself being constantly in pain, fatigued, confused, and yes, frightened by this weakened state.
I knew God was the One who had strengthened me in my recovery from all my health issues and past experiences. He was the source of my strength. He was the strength of my life. This is the truth of Scripture. Our God is an awesome God — a God of ultimate strength. The great truth is this: You don’t have to beg God for strength, and you don’t have to look for strength. God is looking to give His strength to those who need it and will receive it! I want to receive it.
The devil and his forces of darkness may have tried to take me out in 2018 and the past years but he won’t succeed in 2019.
So New Year’s Day is the perfect day to forget what lies behind and strain forward to what is ahead pressing on toward the goal in God’s strength. He will empower me. He will give me the strength that I need for this beautiful, hopeful, promise-filled, fresh new year!
I read in the Bible that “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT
I believe that the thing I am made for is the renewal of all things.
If you will listen with kindness and compassion to your own soul too, you will hear the echoes of hope so precious you can barely put words to it, a wild hope you can hardly bear to embrace. God put it there. So for this new year, I am proclaiming my faith in Jesus to restore my strength and hope. I want Him to renew my hope that He is going to renew all things, including my life. This includes prosperity, longevity, forgiveness, love, peace, joy, redemption and restoration.