The following is a devotional companion to God in the ICU:

Chapter Two


Quote from God in the ICU:

“History was being made. The heart, mystically associated from the beginning of time with the very essence of a person, was being given as a gift of life to a dying man. Would it work? Was it, after all, only a beautiful, intricate pump?”

————- o ————

Psalm 139: “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

There was a video doing the rounds a while ago of the bereaved members of a family trying to placate a baby whose parents had been killed, leaving it orphaned. The child was crying hysterically as it was passed from person to person. No-one could pacify it. Eventually it was passed to a man standing by. As he took the infant, it gave a little gurgle, settled comfortably in his arms, and went to sleep.

Then the astounding caption spread across the bottom of the screen: “THIS MAN RECEIVED THE HEART OF THE BABY’S MOTHER IN A HEART TRANSPLANT.”

In a way we cannot understand, something of the mother was imparted to the baby through her heart in the chest of a stranger.

Contrary to what we have been taught for decades, the heart is not just a beautiful, intricate pump, as I describe in God in the ICU. It has approximately 40,000 nerve cells that are just like those in the brain, and these are connected to the brain in a nerve bundle, where 80% of the nerves carry messages from heart to brain and only 20% from brain to heart. The heart has its own minibrain, which scientists now call ‘the heart brain.’ It appears that somehow the mother’s heart brain was able to placate her baby.

What is the point of this story? It’s an introduction into the subject of impartation. You are far more fearfully and wonderfully made than you imagine or that the scientists have yet discovered.

God has implanted in your very makeup characteristics which are unique to you — not just in your personality, but in every part of you — even in your heart. And, in ways we do not fully understand, something of you can be imparted to others. There is something about your presence with another that is far more impactful than your image and voice on a TV or cell phone screen.

When I was teaching my junior medical staff, I would say, “If the sister in ICU phones you with a problem, don’t try to fix in on the phone. Go there! Something about being present at the bedside gives you a connection with the patient and an understanding of the problem that you will not get from the end of a telephone.”

The Bible has many examples of impartation. In Romans1:11, Paul writes: “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong.” And in many instances the apostles laid hands on others as a means of impartation. In Acts 19:2 we read of Paul’s meeting with Ephesian believers: “(He) asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

After explaining what the difference was between John’s baptism and baptism into the name of Jesus, He laid hands on them “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” (Acts 19:6) 

It is a natural thing for us, in comforting someone in distress to touch them. God has put in us an instinctive knowledge that there is something imparted in touch.

Even without touch, think about your own mood when you are in the company of a depressed person. Don’t you feel a heaviness in your spirit? And what about when you are with a group of people who are complaining. Is there not a temptation to join in?

Now, lets apply that to the church. Lockdown has changed the way many of us have had to do church. The only way has been to access a service and hear a sermon online. In many ways it has made life so much easier. You can watch when you like, in your pyjamas and slippers if you so desire. You can flip to your favourite preacher at the touch of a remote. Do not be deceived, however. God has designed you to impart what He has placed in you to others and to receive what He has put in them. You can only do that by your presence. You must be present for the phenomenon of impartation to take place.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “And let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see Christ’s return approaching.”  This is a strong word for today. There are many signs that God is preparing His church for the return of Jesus. The church the writer to the Hebrews addressed was suffering intense persecution. There would be much more incentive than we have for them to have stayed safe and remained at home, but the writer urges them to keep meeting, because he knew how important it was for them to impart to one another what God had put within them. How important it is for us to take Paul’s words to heart today.

Further Bible reading:

Acts 2:42-44

Mark 1:40-41

2 Tim. 5:22

For discussion:

After the isolation of Covid, have you returned to your church or have you become comfortable staying at home and watching online?

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