By President Jules Glanzer
On Nov. 28, with my oxygen level not holding, my doctor said I needed to go to the hospital for some supplemental oxygen. He contacted the hospitalist for a direct admit. Knowing year-end legal issues needed attention, I quickly wrote an email to the board chair making arrangements for the possibility that I would not be able to fulfill my duties as president of the college. If that became a reality, I would send a text to her, and she would need to set in motion to appoint an acting president.
As Peg drove me to the hospital, I also sent some texts to family that this was a precautionary move. I thought that I would be in the hospital for a couple of days, get some extra whiffs of O2, and then come home. When Peg dropped me off, I leaned across the console of the front seat of the car and kissed her goodbye. I checked in quickly and was taken to a normal room. Within the hour, the doctor laid out the various levels of medical therapies, and I knew that this was more than a couple of whiffs of oxygen. I was hooked up on a Vapotherm and later a BiPAP.
While on the BiPAP, I had an experience, that looking back, I simply call a “Vision of the Cross.” I found myself standing in front of this huge brown cross. It was very large—rising hundreds of feet into the air, square wood, brown in color, and blocking everything. I sensed that behind me was the world and everything that pertained to living on earth. I had an incredible sense of total forgiveness, deep assurance of salvation, and a deep serenity. It was clear that this was the cross of Jesus. It was not a pretty cross. I remember thinking, “Everything in this world ends at the cross. It is all about the cross. All of life ends at the cross. The gate of heaven is a cross.” I sensed that if I stepped into the cross, I would be on the other side.
I reached for my phone to text Peg, “The world behind me. The cross in front of me. Always was and someday will be. Just do not know when.” It seemed that if I stepped into the cross, I would see Jesus. I then added, “If they let me, I’ll wait at the gate for you and our entire family. First, I want to see Jesus. Then I will wait for the rest of you.”
Then for a few moments there was a time of reflection. The decorative cross on my desk came into view. An affirmative thought about the direction of Tabor came to mind. Making and keeping the cross central to the mission of Tabor was deeply impressed upon me, and how my entire life needs to be focused on the cross. It is all about the cross. All of life culminates at the cross. Lift up the cross. All these thoughts flooded my mind as I stood in front of the cross with the world behind me and the possibility of stepping into the cross and seeing Jesus.
No choice given to me, but I felt this sudden compulsion to fight. And for the next four hours with every breath I took, I fought to stay alive. I do not know if it was four hours, but that is what comes to mind as I remember the experience. With each breath, I fought to live. My doctor later told me that she has never seen someone fight so hard. The next morning they transported me to ICU and began with a convalescent plasma transfusion, plus Remdesivir, along with additional steroidal drug therapies.
When they began the plasma transfusion and again when administering the Remdesivir, I prayed that as these drugs entered my blood stream, that they would wash away the virus just as Jesus’ blood washed away my sin on the cross. What Jesus’ blood did for me on the cross, these therapies would do to the coronavirus in my body.
A few days later, the doctor told me, “The virus is no longer in your body. We are now focusing on recovery of the lungs.” It seemed like my prayer was answered.
I do not understand the sovereignty of God. I think of all those I know who lost the battle to COVID. They had people praying, competent medical professionals, and many drug therapies. Yet, they did not survive. I did. I now see each day as a gift from the good hand of God.
From my limited view, God has given me more days to serve him. And just like 2020 seems to be a year of reset, so the COVID experience, including the vision of the cross, has motivated me to reset my life. It comes at a perfect time as I conclude the presidency of Tabor and move into retirement. I see the hand of God in all of this. I am resetting my life around five words that have been impressed upon my heart during the COVID experience: contentment, gratitude, simplicity, smallness and focused. Jehovah Jireh, God our provider, and Jehovah Rapha, God our healer, are operative in my life.
My COVID journey is nowhere near over. Progress is measured by the week in COVID world, and I am thankful for continued progress toward a full recovery. I find hope, strength and encouragement in the Psalms. Each day a new Psalm speaks to my situation. The “Things I am Thankful for” list I started in the hospital is a long list and continues to get longer. I find many small things I took for granted have great meaning to me now. But above all, I am thankful for the prayers of the people, the medical professionals who cared for me, the pharmaceutical therapies, and above all, the healing hand of God. My recovery is not complete. But my trust is in the One whose death on the cross brings healing, hope and salvation.