Have you ever heard the phrase, “Dead man walking?” The expression was made famous by Hollywood, but was based on fact. Evidently, a couple of generations ago, when a death row prisoner was led from his cell to the electric chair, the prison guards would call out, “Dead man walking,” to warn fellow prison staffers that a very dangerous man with nothing to lose was approaching. Perhaps there also may have been an element of malicious taunting in the warning?
A couple of weeks ago, I had my yearly checkup with my cardiologist, reminding me that I had a bit of a “dead man walking” experience myself.
I had walked away from the Lord in 1991 after some problems with our church. Not to go into great detail, but our marriage subsequently fell apart, we divorced, sold the house, and moved out on our own in 2001. I then fell in with a group of friends who were younger than my 45-year-old self. They were big into team sports and I tried to keep up. One particular Friday, we were slated to play a softball game. I had a very bad cold, but I wasn’t about to let my friends down. During the game I felt very strange, as if I was going to blackout. I took myself out of the game and sat on the bench, hoping the feeling would pass, but my heart felt like it was going beat right through my chest. I reluctantly asked a friend to take me to the ER. When I got to the hospital, I described my symptoms to the admitting nurse and she rushed me right in. They immediately hooked me up to a monitor and I could see my heart was beating wildly and rapidly, up to 300 beats per minute. One of the nurses grabbed the heart paddles (manual defibrillators) and stood there anxiously watching the monitor and me. It was a surreal moment. I was wide awake, fully conscious, and watching this nurse standing in front of me waiting for me to die. Meanwhile, I was injected with a drug that eventually slowed my heart down. I was later told that I had a bad case of Ventricular Tachycardia (VT), a heart arrhythmia that’s often fatal. My doctor later told me that extremely few people have a case of VT as bad as I did and live to tell about it.
I was prescribed a blood pressure medication to keep my heart from racing, and that worked for several years. Praise God, my wife and I remarried in 2003. However, in 2010 I started to feel palpitations and dizziness again. I then had a cardiac ablation operation in which a surgeon used a laser to destroy the heart tissue that was “misfiring” and causing the arrhythmia.
My heart’s been doing well since then, and no prescriptions, although I have yearly visits to the cardiologist including electrocardiograms just to make sure nothing’s changed. In this last visit, the doc was pleased to see I had lost 30 pounds and was walking 4-5 miles every day. But I’ll never forget that moment laying on an ER bed watching that nurse observe me very nervously with paddles in her hands. Yup, I was a dead man walking. Praise God for giving me more time to reunite with my wife and, FINALLY, to return back to Him in 2014.
The Bible says that everyone is spiritually dead and must be reborn in Jesus Christ. If you have not repented of your sin and trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone you are a “dead man walking.”
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” – Colossians 2:13-14