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What keeps you going? 

I wouldn’t be going anywhere without my kaleidoscope of pills, writes a Baptist minister living with heart disease. But they’re not enough on their own.

How would you answer the question What keeps you going? By Chris Ruddle  


It looks like it’s gonna take a bit more to keep the old boy going from now on. 70 pills a week to be exact.

Pills to stop my blood sticking together, pills to keep down cholesterol, pills to slow my heart down, pills to stop my joints getting inflamed, pills to counteract my allergies to pollen and animal hair. All this plus my constant injections every three minutes, round the clock, to keep the sugar level in my blood in balance. It’s a bit crazy really. 

On top of this, the doctors have zapped my eyes with lasers so I can still see, replaced my missing teeth so I can still smile, scraped away at my wrists so my hands still work and operated on my feet to stop my toes falling off. The country is making quite a contribution just to keep me going, with all this free to me on the NHS. 

I’m told that depression is common amongst folk who have heart disease and I can understand why. It feels like a ticking time bomb. Your heart’s not working as it should, and it can go off at any time. True, the procedures done give your heart a good MOT but you’re never exactly cured.

Living with heart disease is like living with that bomb in your pocket and not being able to see the timer. Tick, tick, tick…

So all these pills and medical interventions sustain me physically. But what will get me out of bed every morning to a new regime of increased exercise, diet and a reshaped pattern of life? 

That’s an important question to which I don’t want to just give the glib answer. You know, the old Sunday School joke where the teacher asks “What’s grey or red, has a bushy tail and eats nuts?” The answer comes back “I know the answer is always Jesus, but is it a squirrel?”

I think, firstly, a desire to change the world. Maybe it’s the idealist in me, the reformer or the activist, but I’ve always wanted to make a difference. After all, what’s the point of this life if you’re not making an impact? If you’re born, live, then die, and don’t make an impact on any other person or place, then what is the point? I want my life to count for something.

And so the idea of sitting at home doing nothing is too depressing to contemplate. After all, even Star Trek runs out eventually and I’ve only ten episodes left until I’ve seen all of Enterprise, Original Series, Next Gen, DS9 & Voyager. (695 episodes in all) Many more episodes of Bargain Hunt and I think I really might go insane. We are meant to be more than entertainment consumers.

I’m realistic enough to know I’m never going win the Nobel Prize for Literature or invent the cure for cancer. But I’d like there to be a net gain to society. After all, with all this cash being spent on keeping me alive, let’s hope it’s worth the effort.

So to live a life that is about serving others, about maybe even having a positive impact on this little corner of Folkestone. That would be a good vision to sustain me. 

Secondly, to see people brought alive by experiencing the love of God. It amazes me how God keeps on revealing himself to people. Again and again, folk walk in off the street, searching for the Divine. Sometimes they’ve had a spiritual experience that they cannot explain. Sometimes there’s a yearning, that there must be more to life than just living. And you can’t imagine the thrill it gives me to walk alongside people as they go on this journey towards God. 

The job of a minister is to explain to someone, overwhelmed by the peace of God’s Holy Spirit for the first time, that this is an experience common to Christian believers. It is to help someone hungry to learn, to really get in to understanding the Bible, to journey with a new disciple as they take steps to turn their lives around and start making positive life choices.

So it’s not unrelated to the first point. It’s still about changing the world. Can there be a more important way of impacting the world than by helping folk in their walk with God? I don’t think so. At least, not for me. 

A quirky thought just came to mind. There are probably some atheists out there whose taxes are going into keeping me on the road, keeping me going in order to preach the Good News of Jesus. I hope they’re not too maddened by this. [??]

So, just to reflect on, what gets you out of bed in the morning? What’s the point of it all? I get that some people are motivated by status or power, by money or the next chemical fix. But is that really enough? 

I wouldn’t be going anywhere without my kaleidoscope of pills. But they’re not enough on their own. To make a positive impact. And yes, Jesus.

(No squirrels this time, sorry.) 


Chris Ruddle is co-pastor of Folkestone Baptist Church. This post originally appeared in his blog, and is republished with permission

Baptist Times, 06/04/2017
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