Lessons from the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Lawrence Glasner

By the grace of God I’m a healthy dude for sixty-five—swimming, weight lifting, walking, and a decent diet. But four years ago, February 11, 2015 I waited with my wife and friends in the reception room of Cardiothoracic Surgery Center at Cedar Sinai Hospital for the renown Dr. Alberto Trento to finish his morning procedure and start my triple bypass and mitral-valve repair. In the prior six weeks, I faced death during an emergency abdominal surgery and later the same day from pneumonia following the operation. I spent eighteen days in the Critical Care Unit at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California, the best hospital in the United States.

In the ensuing year death stalked me twice more. Once when my blood pressure crashed to 58/40 recovering from heart surgery, and later when sepsis struck following the routine removal of skin cancer in a doctor’s office.

Just out of the triple bypass…

God, thank you I’m doing okay. Thank you for delivering me from the furnace of affliction. And thank you for healing my wife and daughters from injuries suffered from the whipping cyclonic forces of the terrible storm.

The issue is, have I learned anything meaningful in the past four years? Short answer, yes, a few things, I hope. Here they are…

Listen to your women. My wife and three daughters rallied like champions when I crashed, insisting I leave my law practice to become a writer. But my identity was enmeshed in my professional career. If you asked me who I was, the first thing from my mouth was, “I am a lawyer.” Not, “I am a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband, and father.”

One afternoon during the lengthy recovery, I was sitting on a chair in my bedroom. The Lord whispered “You are weak. Listen to your women.” I resigned from my twenty-seven-year law practice, we sold our house, got out of debt, and changed everything.

Bend. ‘Shalom bayit’ is the Hebrew term for peace in the home. The Jewish people believe a home absent from contention and strife, filled with mutual respect and honor is a home God inhabits. I’ve discovered the burden of building and guarding shalom in the home falls on me, not my wife. This means I must not argue with or criticize my wife over trivial matters.  I confess I love to argue—to test my wits against another. But arguing and criticizing my wife enervates her, it kills her confidence and disrupts her wholeness causing endless arguing and domestic collapse. I am learning an important lesson. It is better to be wise than right!

Bend Not. Keep your word to your detriment. And never let a friend, family member, client, even an influential and powerful client or religious personality to bend you to break the law or violate fundamental principles of fairness and ethics codified in the Bible. This thought encompasses agreeing with, turning a blind eye, or condoning intentional or grossly negligent misconduct. For example, do not steal, if you’re married, don’t flirt or have an emotional or physical relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Pay your employees their wages in full, including overtime and rest breaks. God will condemn us for our sin, but He’s quick to forgive if we repent, change course, and make necessary reparations. These are the basics. See the Ten Commandments.

Trust God. After three decades of litigating employment discrimination and harassment cases, elder and child abuse matters and human trafficking cases, my life was on autopilot. I’d become a dead man running on adrenaline fumes, fear, and a cluster of pills for chronic pain, to pay the mortgage, college tuition, and save for retirement. Yeah, we gave generously, and that’s a good thing. But my first love was near gone. Now stripped of a good income, two Lexuses, law partners and staff, appreciative clients and standing in the legal community I lean on God alone.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
Happy and healthy, to the glory of God.

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