Thursday, November 6, 2008

Health Update: Five Years after Heart Transplant

Bob Rakestraw
November 6, 2008

I need to send a huge “Thank You” to you, my dear friends, loved ones, blog readers, and acquaintances for your encouragement, love, prayers, and specific assistance in numerous ways in recent years. On November 17 I will celebrate five years since my heart transplant, and I believe I am alive today because of the will of God and the working of your prayers and kindnesses in cooperation with the plan of God.

Most of you know that the road has been quite rough for me since the transplant—physically and psychologically. I have been perplexed with knowing how to answer the question: “Are you glad you had the transplant?” I can answer that I am glad, but that I struggle a lot with the daily side effects of medications and life with chronic rejection (transplant vasculopathy).

One-and-a-half years ago I was told I probably had no more than six months to live, so I enrolled in hospice. After eight months my medical team removed me from hospice because I continued to live. I am greatly encouraged by this and by the scriptures. I just finished spending about a year in the Psalms. I know God has his hand on me and that, as I continue to walk with him daily, I will be on this earth no more and no less than the time he has for me (Psalms 57:2; 139:16; Acts 13:36).

My desire is to live all my remaining days for the glory of God. My physical strength is, unfortunately, decreasing, but my hunger for God is strong. I am mostly homebound. The days are long…and difficult. The main way I now connect with most people is through my blog: I miss teaching at Bethel Seminary. I will value your continued prayers; I am weak and breathing is getting more difficult.

As I learn of your needs I want to pray for you. Thank you again for your kindnesses—in thoughts, words and actions. I look forward to spending eternity with you through the mercies of God.

Here is a marvelous benediction for each of you.

“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NRSV)


Anonymous said...

Hi, Bob:

Thank you for the update. I am praying for you. And I am so impressed with your longevity and spirit, in spite of the immense difficulties. But here is something for our mutual reflection. Have you ever looked at the work of Rene Girard? I am wondering if you have any reflections on the reality of scapegoating within the church. I don't mean just the obvious targets, but the unexpected ones. I have a special interest in this topic and wonder if you have any thoughts on this.

Robert V. Rakestraw said...

Hi Linda,

It's great to hear from you. Thank you so very much for your interest and prayers.

I have never looked at the work of Rene Girard, and I have not thought a lot about the topic in an in-depth way. I would like to, however, so if you send me some pages that I could study I will try to get into the topic.

I'll wait to hear from you.

Blessings and peace,

Meg said...

Dear Bob,

Thank you for your faithful, courageous testimony. You are a light in a dark world. Your words vividly bring the reality of eternal truths into our temporal realm and instruct as few are able to do. Thank you. May the Lord give you peace and painless hours today and all this week!

Love, "Meggie"

Robert V. Rakestraw said...

Hi Meg,

I really appreciate your affirmation. It is my strong desire to bring eternity into the here and now. I like the way you put it.

I can't believe how dark this world really is. When I consider my own stuff, I tend to view the glass as half full, but when I view the world, I see the glass as half empty. Without God, the world is rotting very rapidly.

I am very grateful, even happy, however, when I think of friends like you. I am richly blessed.

Stay strong,

Kim said...

Dear Bob,
On this day -- the anniversary of your birth -- I am so glad that you did receive your new heart. Know that I am grateful for YOU!

I am grateful for your transparency and faithful witness amidst the challenges you face daily. And thank you for so earnestly always inquiring how it is you can help and pray for me (and others!)

How you connect faith and life -- desiring His will -- reminds me that it is what I must be about, too!

Bless you...

Anonymous said...

Dear Bob,

I am touched by your update and by the grace of God upon your life to encourage and bless me and others, even through your suffering and pain. I am blessed by your life, Bob.

On this anniversary of your heart transplant, and also your birth (happy birthday!), may you be surrounded in God's everlasting peace and His abounding love for YOU, His child.

Love in Christ,

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,

It is always good to have a posting from you. This whole blog business (ministry) still seems somewhat new to me, even though my blog is now 1 1/2 years old. Other than relationships (God and people), it is the single most important thing I do with my life.

Yes, I really do desire to connect faith and life. Thank you for being a part of "Bob's blog family."

Peace and joy in Christ,

Anonymous said...

Dear Renae,

How good it is to receive your posting. You are very kind with your words. You mentioned my physical birthday and my heart transplant birthday, but there is a third b'day -- my spiritual b'day -- this Saturday. Three in one week, and I feel abundantly blessed. When I was 19 I received Christ as my Savior and Lord. I struggled a lot because of the implications of the Lordship of Christ -- I was not coming only for a ticket to heaven, although that was a huge concern.

May our Lord strengthen you and use you to enrich and bless others. I know he does and he will.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Dr. Rakestraw!

You probably don't remember me, but I took my first Theology course from you at Bethel Sem. It was about 10 years ago! At that time, I was a Physician Assistant and very concerned about your health. I remember you being weak and prayerfully contemplating whether or not to have a heart transplant.

I have thought of you these past years, wondering about your health. When I did a search for you on "google", I came across a blog written a while ago. You were receiving hospice care and weren't doing so well. I couldn't find any more blogs at that time and cried thinking you had passed away. But when I searched the obituaries, you never showed up! I finally figured out how to read more of your blogs and came across this one. It is truly a miracle that you are alive and no longer need hospice. I am so inspired by your strength!

My life has taken several turns this past decade and I am pleased to tell you I am back at Bethel finishing my MATS degree! It has been a challenge taking Dr. Clark's 'Integrative Theology' course, after being surrounded by Barney and other children activities for the past 9 years!

I am thankful for you and this chance to tell you what a wonderful teacher you are. It truly was a blessing to be taught by you. Thank you.

You are in my prayers.

Brenda Andereck

Robert V. Rakestraw said...

Hello Brenda,

Wow, what a pleasant surprise to get your note. Yes, I do remember you, and I thank you very much for your kind words about the theology class. I, too, am amazed that I am still alive. So many people have prayed.

It is good to read that you are back in class at Bethel Seminary. I know you will use your education to serve God faithfully.

Thank you for your searching,...and your tears.
Dr. Bob