Life is the most incredible gift that I have been given. Not just once, but I have been given it many times over; times of which I am aware and times of which I am not.

I have been spared from wrecks or worse when I was that stupid teen and young adult, willing to take any chance that came my way. I once drove down on an interstate at 140 miles per hour in the dark with my lights off. I can’t remember how many times I drove home from parties blind from alcohol consumption.

In my years at Grady Memorial Hospital, I was spared from catching fatal diseases. I served my time in the Army and except for a knee injury came through unscathed. More than once, I have ridden an ambulance through downtown Atlanta with the siren screaming and lights flashing. I flew on a Boeing 737 in Costa Rica that had lost hydraulics. I was misplaced on a mission trip to Quito, Ecuador with three large duffels of undocumented drugs (medical supplies but someone else had the documentation).

I suffered a widow maker heart attack at 32 and bypass surgery at 33. My right coronary was 95 percent blocked and my left was 98 percent blocked. I suffered another heart attack in 1980 and bypass surgery to bypass the previous bypasses. I was brought back from the brink of death in 1977. I had a ruptured intestinal diverticulum in 2001. I was blessed with a heart transplant in 1997. I survived a massive infection, a shutdown of my intestinal tract and kidney failure in 2004. I was cured from prostate cancer in 2008. I lost 13 inches of my large intestine in 2009 and was given a kidney in 2009.

Those are just the narrow escapes of which I am aware, how many other times have I been spared of which I am not aware? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could see alternate outcomes by some method of twisting the space-time continuum?

I have learned something in thinking about all of this. It is how little control I have over life. Of course, I have the ability to make decisions about how I treat my body, what I eat, to smoke or not, what time I go to bed and get up, who I marry and a myriad of other things, but I have no control of those outside things that impact my life.

Once I had a car wreck. I was driving in a quiet neighborhood when out of nowhere a car slammed into my left side. The impact caused my car to swerve and hit a telephone pole. I was thrown quite forcefully into the steering wheel. My chest was bruised which precipitated my first heart attack. Because of the car wreck, my deadly coronary blockages were discovered before they killed me.

I was within days or hours of dying when the word came that a young man had crashed his car and that his family had made his organs available and I would get his heart.

I had no choice of my parents or the genes that I would inherit.

I could go on and on with the experiences that I have been through where I had no choice in the events that precipitated them or their outcome. However, I think I have made my point.

The other thing I learned is that my life must have some purpose to have been delivered through the minefields I have survived. Looking back, I can say that I discovered my purpose without even realizing at the time I was fulfilling it.

If life has purpose then it must be more than a simply biological process. There must be some intelligence guiding it. I have survived far too many near misses to call my survival mere circumstance. If life had purpose and is created by an intelligence, then what is that intelligence. I choose to believe the intelligence is what I call God. I have a friend in A.A. who calls this intelligence his higher being by the name light bulb. No matter what you call it there must be some benevolent intelligence higher than humanity.

Certainly, that raises all kinds of questions, both theological and philosophical. I am not raising questions of religion; I realized the foolishness of making that argument many years ago. I am not particularly religious, but I believe religious practices can have positive effects on life as well as evil ones. I chose to act out my spirituality through the United Methodist Church with all of its many faults because it allowed me to fulfill my purpose of improving my own spiritual life as well as the lives of others.

Therefore, here is my bottom line. I must believe that there is an intelligent design behind life. I believe the intelligence is in some way involved in life if we accept its possibility. I believe life has purpose and meaning. As I near the end of life I am thankful for all of my life experiences, both good and bad, that have brought me to this place.

My spiritual journey, theological and philosophical studies, and life experiences have led me to the certainty that the higher intelligence has revealed itself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Not a restrictive, condemning, judgmental, limiting, dominating, Anglo-Saxon Jesus as taught by so many religions, but a gentle, gracious, accepting, loving person available to any who seek the truth.

Believing these things brings me great joy in living and in knowing that I still have a purpose for being.

Jack deJarnette

Jack deJarnette

I am a United Methodist Minister who in June 2008, was placed on incapacity leave due to kidney failure.  My kidneys failed due to immusuppression medications secondary to a heart transplant in 1997. The ministry is my second career having spent 12 previous years at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta as Chief Respiratory Therapist and Technical Director of Life Support Systems at Emory University School of Medicine. I  have a wonderful wife of 45 years, two super children, and four grandchildren. My life has been exciting, challenging, and full of wonder as in my early years I was concerned with saving lives and in my later years saving souls I was graduated  from Georgia Military Academy in 1961 (Woodward Academy). I attended Emory-at-Oxford College, The University of Georgia, Georgia State University, and Emory University for postgraduate work. I received my ministry credentials through the United Methodist Church Course of Study at Emory's candler School of Theology. My Theology is primarily Wesleyan and varies with the particular topic under discussion. I refuse to be labeled either liberal or conservative. My politics are moderate embracing what I hope is the best of all parties. I have a deep love for Christ, the Church, and the United States of America. Bev (my wife) and I are deeply thankful to God for the blessings that have been showered on us throughout our lives.