Led to Donate Life, Part 5
I flew to Florida for my evaluation at the end of January 2015, and on March 17 I received a call from the Mayo in Phoenix saying I had been approved to donate a kidney. Now it was back to the waiting game—waiting for them to find a matching pair for our paired exchange.
In the spring of 2016 we were making plans to move. The Lord was leading us to make a change and had dropped a new ministry opportunity in my lap, so we were packing up to move to Pineville, Louisiana. We’d grown to love our church in West Chester, and it wasn’t easy to leave. But this was another instance where the Lord’s leading was clear. We told the congregation we’d stay through the last Sunday in June.
I was also feeling led to go back to school, and was hoping and planning to begin online classes at Lipscomb University in August.
These circumstances only fueled my growing doubts that I was supposed to donate to Donald. At this point I had been waiting more than a year since I’d been approved to donate, and nearly four years since I’d first agreed to donate to him. I still believed God had called me to be a kidney donor, but it was looking less and less likely that this paired exchange with Donald was actually going to happen.
I didn’t see how remaining “on call” to donate a kidney at any time could possibly fit in with these new plans, so I called the Mayo Clinic and told them I needed to put a deadline of April 30 on my availability to donate. I knew God could make this happen before the deadline if He chose. And if He didn’t, I assumed He would work out His plans some other way. I was making the best decision I could with the information I had, trusting the Lord to make things turn out right.
The deadline came and went. I continued to pray—and still do—that Donald will soon get the kidney he needs.
An unexpected email
Then on May 26, with our move only a month away, I received an email. I already mentioned my longtime friend Les. In 2012 he began preaching for a church in Statesville, North Carolina. A high school nurse in that area had sent out a message requesting prayers for one of the graduating seniors there named John.
The email explained that nearly a year and a half earlier John had contracted a virus that attacked both his kidneys. He went on dialysis and was placed on the waiting list for a transplant, but still no donor had been found. No one in his family was a match. He was now developing other health problems, and the nurse expressed her fear that if a donor wasn’t found soon his health could deteriorate so much that he might be unable to have the transplant. The email noted that John needed a donor with an O+ blood type. Since Les knew I was interested in being a kidney donor, he forwarded the message to me.
I forwarded the message to Janel with the added note, “I’m O+.” Yes, we sometimes communicate by email even when we’re in the same house.
Now, I didn’t immediately sense that God was telling me to donate to this young man. But the circumstances seemed suspiciously providential. I was no longer waiting in the paired exchange program with Donald. That deadline had just passed. And since I’d already done my testing and had been approved, I thought if this worked out we could probably get the surgery done before classes began at the end of August. So it likely wouldn’t interfere with my school plans. All this made me think John could be the individual God intends for me to help.
Called by conscience
Remember the story of Esther? When the Jewish people—her people—had been slated for extermination, she found herself uniquely positioned to do something about it. Her cousin Mordecai encouraged her to recognize the probability that God had been carefully arranging circumstances in her life to prepare her for this very moment.
For some reason her family had not returned to Jerusalem after the captivity. For some reason her parents died when she was young, leaving her to be raised by her cousin Mordecai. Somehow Mordecai had risen to a position of prominence in the Persian capitol. Esther just happened to be a beautiful woman, and happened to be chosen for the Miss Persia Pageant, and happened to be selected as the new queen. All coincidence, or the masterful work of God?
Mordecai believed it was providence. When he heard about Haman’s plot to wipe out the Jews, he petitioned Esther to go to the king, reveal her ethnicity, and plead with him to save her people. But because of the stern rules governing access to the king, doing so would put her life at risk. She politely declined.
Mordecai pushed back: “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).
He had a point. I don’t know if his words convinced Esther that God had led her here for this very purpose. Mordecai himself wasn’t certain of that. Circumstances looked suspiciously providential. But I suspect ultimately it was conscience that moved Esther to act. She knew she was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to intercede for the Jews. How could she not act?
For me, too, conscience was the deciding factor. Given the circumstances—I was already planning to be a donor, John was in dire need, and I was the right blood type—how could I not offer to help him? I knew if this wasn’t God’s will, He could step in and stop it. Barring that, I was compelled to act–if Janel would support it.
Sometimes God calls us through conscience.
On board at last
As I noted earlier, there were times over the last few years when Janel was ok with my plans to donate a kidney. But those moments were the exception. The majority of the time she had really struggled with this decision. So after reading the email about John and thinking this could be God’s leading, I told the Lord that if He wanted me to do this He would have to convince Janel.
Now all of this—reading the email, guessing this could be God’s guidance, praying about it, and forwarding the message to Janel—happened within a matter of minutes. When I talked to Janel just a short time later, she had already read the email and, to my surprise, began talking as if I was definitely going to donate to John. I had not made that decision yet. All I had said about it was, “I’m O+.”
I asked her if she thought I should offer to donate to him. Her response showed that she had given it serious thought, looking at it from a perspective that I hadn’t. She said, “I don’t want you to give up a kidney. But if it were my child who was sick and in need, I would want someone to donate.”
Prayer answered. That was quick.