This week’s Gospel lesson contains the story of the prodigal son, making it rather ironic that I chose this week to begin writing my blog again. If you had been regularly reading this blog, you probably already know the circumstances that led to the nearly year-long hiatus.

One afternoon last October, I went to church to practice and prepare for worship the following Sunday. As I begin to play, my vision became spotty, and I could not focus on the music. I kept making silly mistakes, and I was getting quite frustrated. Over the next few days, I began to experience flu-like symptoms, so on Friday of that week, Bryan and I went to urgent care to see if I had the flu. The doctor there determined that it was not the flu and seemed to think that I would be better quickly. Knowing I would need the weekend to recover, I secured a substitute for Sunday worship. However, as the weekend went on, I was not getting any better, so I began to search for a family doctor with the help of some friends. We eventually found one that was accepting patients and scheduled an appointment for Monday afternoon.

The next thing that I remember is waking up in the hospital two weeks later with a new mitral valve in my heart! As it turns out, I had developed endocarditis, which is an infection in the inner lining of the heart valves. It occurs when bacteria spreads through the bloodstream and attaches to damaged areas of the heart. Gross, I know. I am getting woozy as I type this! I was told that I had been opened up twice, the second time to stop some bleeding that occurred following the valve-replacement surgery. In all, I ended up staying in the hospital for 26 days.

Ok, so there is the nutshell version. I don’t think I have ever told that story quite so succinctly! I have been back at church since January, and I am happy to finally be back to this blog. I will never be able to adequately express how much I appreciate everyone who prayed, visited, sent cards, prepared meals, and showed support in so many wonderful ways.

So now, back to Sunday’s music. As I was thinking about music for this Sunday with the prodigal son in mind, I came across a piece based on Psalm 130.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!

That psalm seems to fit so perfectly with the story of the prodigal son. In the end, he was so desperate, he would have done anything just to come back and be a servant in his father’s home. How many of us have been in a similar place with our heavenly father? There were years of my life that I told God to get out of my way. I wanted no nothing to do with God, and at the time I felt that God wanted nothing to do with me. God did not even exist as far as I was concerned. I am so thankful that through all of that, God never gave up. God was patiently waiting when I finally realized how much I truly need God.

What an encouraging thought to know that no matter how far we go astray, no matter how hard we resist, God still hears us. God always listens to us! Our hope is in the Lord.

One additional note about this coming Sunday: anyone who really knows Jim Dant knows how much he looks forward to his birthday. Anyone who knows really me will understand that I whole-heartedly respect that. So since this Sunday is Jim’s birthday, the postlude is dedicated to him. Enjoy!

– Shelton

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