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Watch Christian Sermons Online (Sermons Archive) » Andy Stanley » Andy Stanley - Surviving COVID (An Interview with Stuart and Kellee Hall)

Andy Stanley - Surviving COVID (An Interview with Stuart and Kellee Hall)


Andy Stanley - Surviving COVID (An Interview with Stuart and Kellee Hall)

Today, you are in for a real treat. As the nation and as the world continues to be ravaged by COVID-19, I have a dear friend for whom the global crisis became a personal crisis. This past March I got word that my friend Stuart Hall had tested positive for COVID-19 and when I checked in with Stuart, he was quarantining at home and his words were, "this thing is no joke". And he was correct. His situation continued to deteriorate, two weeks later his wife Kellee rushed him to the hospital, where he was admitted and...

Well in a minute, I'll let Stuart and Kellee tell you what happened next. I've known Stewart and Kellee for many years. They have three grown kids. We've spoken at camps together, we've actually exercised and run together, we co-authored two books together. Stuart is a phenomenal communicator. Together, he and Kellee have literally impacted thousands of lives, influenced hundreds of adults and students to step across the line of faith. There are church leaders all over the country who point back to a single conversation with Stuart as the catalyst for why they entered full time ministry. So with the uptick in the COVID cases, and so much mystery surrounding this dangerous virus, I thought it would be great for you to hear their story from them. So here we go.

- So Stuart and Kellee, thank you for doing this and I'm sure you've told your story to so many people privately so thank you for sharing it with the whole world and I think the best way to do this is just to start at the beginning and give everybody kind of the timeline, because this journey begins late March into early May and so let's start with this. You started having symptoms and like everybody else, you know all through pollen season we're all like, oh know, is this that? So what were your symptoms and just take it from there.

- Right, well one interesting thing is when you look at the spectrum of the virus my symptoms happened relatively early on comparatively to where we are today. Kellee and I try to exercise and we had just gone on a five mile walk and I just started feeling weird. I coughed a lot during that walk and there's one hill that's really steep and I thought that was the reason why, but I got home that night and just couldn't kick it and progressively started feeling like I had the flu. The more we heard and read about the virus, the more concerned we became. So four days later on March 29th, we went to the emergency room.

- And ER at a hospital.

- An ER at a hospital. And even at that time, I think this is lost on the general public that hasn't had a personal experience with this, even then Kellee pulled up to the emergency room, I got out of the vehicle and she had to go and park in the parking lot, she couldn't come in...

- And wait.

- And wait. They didn't have enough tests at the time. I didn't have enough symptoms for them to go ahead and admit me. They took an X-ray of my chest. Their words exactly were, we're 97% sure you have the virus, but because you don't have enough symptoms and because we don't have enough tests, we're going to send you home to self quarantine. So I went home, stayed in my bedroom the rest of the time until we had to go back and I progressively got worse. My fever would spike to 104. Kellee could use Tylenol and get it down to like 101, but it never got back to normal. In between all that on April the third, our general practitioner contacted an infectious disease doctor who prescribed me hydroxy chloroquine, which is now a controversial drug and there are varying opinions. What we know happened to me is that I didn't sleep for 72 hours after I started taking that drug.

- So you started taking it, how long after you had symptoms?

- I started taking it on April the third, so that was...

- About 10 days.

- About 10 days. And my heart was racing, I couldn't sleep. I would go from a chair to the bed, to a chair, to the bed and it was pretty scary. My fever went away, but my heart was just doing something weird until April the six was a really bad day to the degree that, that night our son stayed in the bedroom with us. And Kellee, to her credit, I'm just stubborn. We had seen so many stories, we knew that if we go back to the hospital they're gonna intubate me, they're gonna put me on a ventilator and we're going to be separated. And I being hardheaded and stubborn was just thinking, okay, let this medicine run its course in my body and I'll be okay...

- And at this point you hadn't been, you hadn't tested positive yet.

- I hadn't even taken a test.

- Right.

- So early morning, April the seventh, I finally looked at her and said, we need to go to the hospital. And so she and our son Grant, rushed me to the hospital. It was this precarious on the way that she almost stopped at a fire station because I just couldn't breathe.

- Wow. Can I back up one second?

- Mm-hmm.

- So you didn't sleep for 72 hours?

- 72 hours.

- And so Kellee, you have to be thinking through all this, I mean, you're taking care of your husband, but you're also thinking if he's COVID-19 positive perhaps. So are you, all the kids, so what...

- I think we all knew we had experienced the virus. I had a fever probably a day beforehand, but mine only lasted, it was very minimal and it only lasted for a couple days. And then my children, our two older children, probably like towards that first weekend, so like maybe Thursday, Friday, Saturday, they were kind of just down, didn't feel good, had a little low grade fever, but then we were all fine. And nothing, no, any type of symptoms none of us had.

- So you didn't even suspect.

- I mean, obviously you're suspecting because you're just going, everything you do at that point and you feel in your body, you're wondering, is this the virus, do I have it? I think everybody in the world is feeling that way.

- And I think it was March the 11th, the National Basketball Association had canceled their season. So that was starting to happen as well.

- And we had brought, both of our daughters had to come home from college. So, I mean, the progression was just happening and then it's just like all of a sudden these symptoms and you're going, no, this can't be. How are we getting this virus? Where did it come from? Who've we been around? And it was just crazy to think that, we just couldn't imagine. And then the fact that we live in such a small community, we didn't want to tell people because it feels as if you have leprosy and we didn't want to freak people out because there's so much, still so much unknown, but we didn't want to just create such chaos, so we didn't tell anyone. We told our family, and we told a couple of friends, because at that point we couldn't go to the grocery store any longer.

- None of you could.

- No.

- Or you didn't feel like any of you could.

- We were all quarantined in the house, so we did ask a couple of families to help. Could you bring us this, could you bring us this? But I asked them specifically, please don't tell because I didn't want our community to know just because of chaos. I didn't want it to create that much drama.

- At the beginning, I mentioned that y'all have three adult kids, so catch us up, age of your kids, and then we'll jump back into the story. So Grant is?

- Grant is 25, just returned from a two and a half year stint with the Peace Corps in Central America. Our oldest daughter will be 23 this month, Chandler, and she graduated virtually from college during the pandemic. And then our youngest, Cameron is 20 and is already back at school. She's a soccer player, so they're already training again, which was also a bit of anxiety sending her back.

- So at this point, all five of you were at home. Everybody's had mild symptoms, you're wondering, but nobody gets tested. Then dad gets sick, sick. They prescribe you the drug. You still haven't been tested. You don't sleep for 72 hours and at some point through all of that, all of us are getting texts and we're praying and then of course in my mind, it's like, hey, Stuart's young and healthy and he'll get through this. So, hey dude, how's it, you know, it's kind of casual, but then the messaging ramps up and we know it's serious. So let's go back to that terrible day. You pass the fire station, you think we're gonna make it to the ER.

- He was like no, take me straight to the ER, don't stop.

- And it's good we're stopping there because one thing that's crazy about this story, the last thing I remember is watching the movie "Creed" on the night of April the six. And the next thing I remember is starting to come out of the fog in ICU and I've had to be told everything else.

- And that's an important thing for our audience to understand that from April 7th on, the rest of this story you only know because Kellee and the doctors and some close friends have told you, because essentially you are out of it.

- I'm out of it, yeah.

- So you get to the hospital, he hasn't slept in 72 hours. He's very sick, his heart is racing, what happens?

- So they allow me this time to go in with him and so my son now is sitting in the parking lot by himself. As soon as I go in, they start asking me, of course, we go into a secluded area and they start asking me every question about his symptoms and what's happening. And then the last thing the doctor says is, "We've got to intubate him". And I'm like, "I figured".

- The same day?

- Mm-hmm, this was when we, it was early morning on the seventh, so he's like, "We've got to intubate him", because his oxygen level was just horrifically low. and I said, "I figured you would". And he said, "You're gonna have to leave now". And I'm like, "Okay". So the last thing Stuart told me is, "You might have saved my life". And they walked me out to the waiting room and I sat there for probably maybe another 45 minutes. At this point my daughters had gotten to the parking lot and we're sitting with our son, so all three of them are sitting in the parking lot and I'm waiting on somebody just to come tell me the next step. Well, the first person that comes and talks to me is a cardiologist, Dr. Carr. And he comes in and says, "Hey, I want to let you know that either your husband is either having or has had heart attack". Which I'm going, what? I mean, he's healthy, that never crossed my mind. And he said, "Do we have permission to go in and look"? And I'm like, "Absolutely". So that was another two and a half probably hours. He comes back finally and says, his main artery was 100% blocked. We have put a stint in, he's also in congestive heart failure, so we've put a pump on his heart. At this time I asked him, could I get my children on the phone that he could tell all of us instead of just me? And he said, "Yes". So he told us all the information at the same time. Well, my son said, "What are his chances of survival"? And he said, "Well, if it was just the heart attack, I'd say 50%". He said, "But the fact that he's COVID positive", they're assuming, they had not tested them at this point, but of course, all signs point there. He's been intubated and he's in congestive heart failure. He said, "It's not good. I don't give him much". Basically, I don't give him much hope. But then he said, "What I will tell you is I'm a man of faith". And he said, "At this point, it's time to pray". And I'm like, okay, I mean, we can do that.

- Yeah and you may have already been doing some of that.

- I was definitely, we had been definitely praying.

- But to hear a doctor say that, so comforting.

- Yes and literally, I felt as if he wanted to cry with me and he wanted to get up and hug me, but we can't do that. 'Cause it was just him and I, there was nobody else in the room. And at that point, they allowed me to stay until he got moved to ICU and when he got moved to ICU, I walked up there, I couldn't see him, but I walked up there. I had to sign release papers and the, the lady, she escorted me out. And I went to the parking lot, met my children, we all got in a car together and just cried. And our older daughter said, "Can we pray mom"? And I'm like, "Absolutely, we can pray". So he did and then we separated cars and we drove home. And on my drive home, I thought I haven't told anybody, but now's the time. If we need a miracle and we need to pray, then I'm going to ask every friend that I have to please pray for him. So at that point I did, put it on all social media channels that I had to please pray and the people just were calling me and texting me, couldn't believe it, 'cause this was like five something in the morning. This was not in the middle of the day, so people were waking up to it. When we got home, we got everything unloaded, I walked upstairs and the sun was rising and I was looking and I was like, oh, look, how beautiful, the sun's rising. And when I looked out my neighbor, which is also a very good friend of our families, she's sitting on the curb across from our house. Just with her Bible open and just praying out loud. And I'm just like, what are you doing? She said, "I don't know what else to do". And I think that's how everybody felt and that's how we felt. I mean, we didn't know what else, we were still in quarantine, so no family could be around us, no friends could be around us, we still couldn't go to the grocery store. So it was such a strange...

- Well you're isolated, he's isolated, and then you're at this place that some people have been, perhaps many people, where you're waiting for the call.

- Phone to phone to phone, phone call to phone call.

- Yeah, so you're on the ventilator, sort of the next part of this story, for a week, so we're from the seventh through the 13th. You're getting calls...

- You do, you live from phone call to phone call. You have a palliative care doctor, her name is Dr. Sayed and she became a very close part of our family. She started FaceTiming us the next day. They did allow us to take some pictures up to the room so they could actually see him and see us, the nurses and the people that were helping. Every time a nurse would come on I would ask, please tell me your name. And our family wrote their names all on our wall on a piece of paper on our wall, just because I wanted them to know specifically, we are praying for you by name and I want you to know from our family how much we appreciate you putting your life on the line and your family's life on the line, just to care for our loved one. And it means so much to us. And I didn't want to forget that.

- And that's a big part of this story...

- It is a huge part of the story.

- For the community and society in general, there have been some, I mean, profiles encourage around the medical personnel, but for your family you know their names.

- They're friends.

- They were a personal hero.

- They are and they a lifeline to the person that we love and are fighting for. So yes, that happened from the next week the community gathered around and tried to do different things. They had a prayer walk, the Florida soccer team created a Zoom call that was prayer, 100s of people got on. It was overwhelming the kindness that people were trying because they didn't know what else to do.

- And meanwhile Stuart, you...

- I just laid there.

- No idea. I had hallucinations that we should not talk about.

- Why not? So tell us another big part of this for those of us who were on the outside, praying, getting information every once in a while, tell us the story about the blue heart in the window.

- So the blue heart came after the next weekend was Easter weekend and we didn't know what else to do. You and Sandra had suggested we get tested in the parking lot of the church and so we said we were going to do that, and we did that that Monday after Easter, but we thought, okay, our symptoms are mild enough. We could at least ride together to the parking lot. We didn't know, we knew he was in room seven.

- Of the hospital.

- Yeah, we knew he was in room seven on the fourth floor. I knew what side of the hospital I came out of, but that's all I knew. At this point we were updating people via social media, so I think some of the people from the hospital started following us and realizing that we were sitting in the parking lot...

- Looking up at the side of the hospital wondering...

- Yes, at the side of the hospital...

- Which window, right.

- Yes and one of his first nurses, her name was Melody, she came back to work after being off and she brought this poster paper and it was a blue polka dotted heart and she put up in his window that faced 400 out in the parking lot. And she told us, "I've put this heart in the window so you can know what room he's in". And a small gesture on her part, she's thinking, but for us, it was life.

- It was huge, yeah.

- It was so life giving for me and my children, as well as for the community friends, family and then it ended up becoming over social media, like this heart represented Stuart. It became like what everybody was praying for. This leonhardt.

- We among many, many people, and for those of you who are not familiar with the Atlanta area or the part of town that we're talking about, there's a major highway and the hospital is on the highway and literally on the highway, you could glance over at the hospital and there's that blue heart and like so many, we drove up, sat in the parking lot, prayed for you, looking up at the blue heart.

- I know, because once I did come out of the fog, this nurse came in my room one day and goes, "I don't know who you are, but I'm pretty sure I just saw Andy Stanley in the parking lot".

- Oh, I didn't know that part.

- Yeah.

- Praying for you.

- Praying for you.

- I'm like, okay, but yeah, so that became a lifeline for us and that ended up, the next weekend the community ended up every 30 minutes somebody sitting in the parking lot, praying, and then also online or wherever they're from, they could pray wherever they were for 30 minutes, sign up for a 30 minute prayer time. It was I mean, just absolutely amazing and overwhelming how much the community came out and loved and supported, online community as well as personal community.

- But there was also reason to pray as well, because yeah, I would do really, really well and then tank.

- Yep, we would get so hopeful.

- Yes.

- And we're like he's coming out of this and then...

- They kept saying which, which to begin with there was no hope, then that first weekend, I think a friend of yours is Dr. Callahan and he had his associate come in and see him over the weekend, his name is Dr. Jagadish and that was the first person that ever gave me hope. He told me on a Saturday right before Easter, "I think he's gonna survive". He goes, "We're kind of seeing that, how he is running this course that his survival rate is high". I just broke down, started crying on the phone because he, you know, and he's like, "Are you okay"? I'm like, "Yes, but you're the first person that's told me this".

- Well, so to drop another important date, if I get this right, so you go in on April 7th, on April 20th, I don't know who told me this story first, there's this moment where there's six doctors standing around Stuart all basically scratching their heads, like we've done everything we know to do, it's been up and down, up and down. right now it's just down and we have run out of options. So tell us a little bit about that. That was a big day.

- That was huge. The week before he had been extubated and re-intubated within three hours, it was so drastic...

- So for the non medical folks, taken off the ventilator.

- Put back on the ventilator.

- Apparently I got really, really agitated wanted to get out of the bed.

- And his oxygen dropped again, and they kept saying leading up to the 20th, they kept saying 24 more hours, 24 more, let's give him steroids, 24 for his lungs, 24 more hours. And it kept just progressing to the point where he was on spontaneous, spontaneous meaning that he was breathing on his own, on the ventilator for over 24 hours, but they wanted to wait until like Monday. Well Sunday night, he threw up in his ventilator and it just created this downward spiral of all complications. From that point, he started bleeding internally, he had ulcers from the ventilator...

- My body was septic.

- His body was septic, he had a horrific bacterial infection that more doctors and nurses didn't really want to go into his room because of the bacterial infection than the COVID. He had blood clots in his legs and obviously the blood clot is what created the heart attack, so they had to be very careful about how they treated the GI bleed because of the blood clots, because if you treated one, then you didn't know if the other one was going to dislodge. So at that point, there was like six doctors standing over him going, "He's dying, what do we do"?

- Right, because this was that spiral that happens not infrequently where it just, the body just takes over and it's a little bit like whack-a-mole. If we treat one, it's gonna make the other worse. So they're standing around the bed and then a doctor has an idea that made all the difference.

- Dr Harish.

- Yes. He called me and he said, he basically said "Your husband's dying, he's very sick". And I said, "Yes, I know". And he said, "I want to try something. I want to try a plasma exchange". He said, "It's very low risk. We use it for sickle cell patients, but I think it might work". And if it doesn't, there was no harm. And I said, "Please try it, whatever you want to do, try it, do something". And so on Tuesday afternoon, he started the first plasma exchange, within 24 hours he was a different person. His eyes had lit up, he was moving his hands, totally different person. They did another plasma exchange on Wednesday, they thought they were going to do one on Thursday, they said he didn't need one. His numbers had stabilized, they had taken them off all blood pressure medicine. It was crazy the difference. On Friday, they extubated him. I didn't tell anybody they extubated him besides my immediate family, just because of what happened in the past. And I didn't want to get hopes up and then have to come back and do another nosedive again, so I kept it quiet until late that afternoon and from that point on things just started going so fast. He was sitting in a chair on Saturday, the physical therapists had him sitting up in a chair for like an hour on Saturday after he was extubated on Friday. Sunday, I took his phone to him, he's FaceTiming us himself.

- So is that when you went to the ICU and got to see him for the first time?

- That was a little bit later, because then...

- So this is all within a week? Because I remember getting the text.

- Yes it was, yeah.

- And I was like wait, we're mentally planning a funeral.

- It was bad, it was bad. I remember walking down our street and I wasn't really making eye contact with people and one of the neighbor says, "How are things today"? And I just started crying, I said, "It's not good, it's not good". And at that point, the turnaround was so drastic, his palliative care doctor thought he's about to turn a corner. He can go one or two ways. And she got permission for me to come spend 45 minutes with him in ICU.

- So this is your first time to see him in three...

- Yes, at least, 20 something days.

- Wow.

- I thought it was just a really attractive nurse out in the hallway. And then I'm like, there was a nurse in my room and I'm like, I think that's my wife.

- So you're...

- At this point I'm coming out of the fog and, yeah. And I still am, it's hard for me to talk about. I was so emotional because I couldn't put the pieces together of where am I and I had a heart attack and...

- And he couldn't understand why we weren't there.

- Right, so her coming in the room and just being able to touch her and kiss her and then for her to kind of explain, this is what's going on. It's the brilliance and wisdom of Dr. Sayed 'cause she just called it. She's like, this is what he needs. He wants his wife.

- And in regard to that, there was a couple of situations that happened, but on my way, of course, I threw all risks out the window when she called and said, "I've got a surprise for you". So I'm like, "Yes, I'm in the car, I'm on the way to the hospital". Well, my son calls Dr. Sayed as I'm driving to the hospital and wants her to explain to him why it is okay for me to come now when I couldn't come all this time.

- Right.

- And then could she promise him that he was gonna take care of me? What were you going to do to take care, 'cause I didn't even think about it, but like your dad's almost dying and now your mom's going to be put at risk. That didn't even cross my mind. I'm just thinking I get to see Stuart, I'm going, which when I got to the hospital, Dr. Sayed was like, "Your son just called".

- He's looking out after mom.

- Yes, he was. And then I had to garb up...

- To go in, oh yeah.

- Which totally...

- Well, no wonder you didn't recognize her.

- Right, well, and it does, I think it changed her perspective toward the...

- It does, it changes your perspective towards the nurses and the doctors to understand the layer of clothings you have to put on to even walk into the room and that you have to take all those layers off to leave the room before you can go into another room.

- And start the process over again.

- Yes, it was unbelievable, the experience of that. And then if I have this correct, two days later, they bring Stewart out into the parking lot.

- He leaves ICU.

- I leave ICU. And I think we do have video of this.

- Oh, yeah, yeah, let's just stop and let everybody watch this 'cause this is the moment then they're bringing you out of ICU to take you to a regular room.

- We're on FaceTime so we're watching the whole thing.

- They're playing the Rocky theme.

- They're playing the Rocky theme.

- So let's just roll that, I think everybody will appreciate this, watch this.

- First of all, thank y'all for what you did for my family but also thank you for completely humiliating me right now. Thank you. Very much, thank you.

- Yeah, we all saw that and I mean, we all cried. I just I remember Sandra and I saw it, I cried. I said, "Sandra, have you seen this"? We cried. It felt miraculous as we, you know, day by day.

- Andy, one of the things you'll notice if you watch that video closely is when they bring the out of the room I'm clapping. And I was clapping because this was really a celebration of all those men and women who fought for my life. It wasn't for me and I had such a hard time talking because I just was looking in the faces of people, as Kellee said earlier, that had risked their life to save my life. When you think about Jesus saying, there's no greater love than this, then someone would lay down their life for a friend. I think from now on every time we think about doctors and nurses, that's what we're going to think about and that's what I was thinking about rolling out of there.

- Wow.

- These men and women are clapping for me, survivors get way too much credit. It's the men and women and I mean friends like you and all over this country that prayed and loved me home. That's what that parade was about. And I'm just so humbled and grateful for that sacrifice. We can't be the same after that.

- And for the nurses and doctors that day that stood in the hallway, I think it's hope and that is what keeps them going is the one piece of hope that one person is leaving room seven and is going to a regular room.

- Wow. So from that point on you're conscious of the journey from that point forward.

- Relatively conscious.

- You couldn't see, right?

- Yeah, I was having a difficult time seeing and all joking aside, I did, like I thought when I was in the medically induced coma, I thought I was a part of a drug cartel war. I got stuck in a Tyler Perry sitcom I couldn't get out of. The worst was I was underneath a plexiglass floor underwater and people were walking and talking above me. I had on an oxygen mask, but I couldn't find a way out. So as you're coming out of the fog, like reality didn't make sense, but once I got into a regular room, I was able to, you know, the more that medicine got out of your body, the physical therapist, and all of that.

- And the reason they allowed us to see him outside was because they did think they were going to have to take him to acute therapy where he would have to stay for another week or two. And he was fighting them so hard and I'm like, he will do the right thing if he can just let him see us. If he can see us and touch us, then he will do the right thing if that's what you feel like he needs to do.

- I just wanted to be able to tell my kids that I'm gonna be okay.

- So that was, so that was on...

- The 30th, I think.

- The 30th, April 30th. So they bring you outside in the parking lot. You still can't go in.

- It was freezing that day.

- And this is the first time your kids have seen you and I guess the second time Kellee seen you since she said goodbye to you.

- Yeah and I had, I sat them down after the crying and the hugs and kisses. I just sat him down and said, "I'm going to be okay, but this is what I think I'm going to have to do. I'm going to have to go to acute physical therapy". And this is crazy, the two nurses, two physical therapists that wheeled me down, took me back up to my room and one of them said, "Stewart, have you walked without your walker"? And I said, "Yeah, I have". She's like, "Well, show me", like right when I got to the room and I walked across the room and she said, "You don't need acute physical therapy". And so from that point on...

- Two days later, he came home.

- Yeah.

- When did he come home?

- May 2nd, two days later.

- Two days later.

- All of our friends and family had lined...

- The parade, the parade. Yeah, it was a big deal, big deal.

- And what's so sweet is our friends feel just as much celebrated as he did, because I think this was a fight. We dug in and we're fighting on his behalf. And it was just a humongous celebration of he did it, he made it, he's alive. He's here and to actually see a miracle walking, and we felt, you know, I don't even know what the number is today, but 131, 132,000 people have died and why God chose to save him, we couldn't understand that. And we couldn't understand just the despair that these people and these families, because of what we felt, but then they had to say goodbye, that we felt so unworthy that we're getting to celebrate him, but we're also so grateful. And to walk in the midst of that of knowing that thank you God for saving him. And then the reality that other people, so many other thousands of people have walked through where they did not have our reality.

- So before we wrap up, I do want to ask some specific questions, really as this, this whole event intersects with your faith. As I mentioned when we started, I mean, both of you been doing ministry for many, many years, you've taught all kinds of things, you've navigated people through all kinds of things as a pastor, but this was your time. Suddenly you're in the valley, literally the valley of the shadow of death and now you're on the other side of it. And as you alluded to earlier, Stuart, you can't come through this unmarked. So, Kellee, I want to start with you. When you told the story before you said there was a moment you were on your porch and it was during a sunrise and you had kind of a breakthrough, you described this sort of this intimate moment with God, as your questions and fears, everything kind of comes crashing in.

- It did. I think the whole time through, from the very first night, I was confident that God could heal him, but I didn't know if he was going to choose to. And my couple of things through the whole process with my family is I didn't want this to tear us apart and I did not want my relationship to God, for them to see a change in me, regardless of the outcome. And that was my two biggest strongest things through the whole process. The night that he threw up in his ventilator, I couldn't go back to sleep and so I got up and I just sat outside, had a cup of coffee and it was and the sun was coming up and I just felt like I just said, all right, God, this is it. We've gone up and down, up and down and here we are, and we're at a crossroads. I don't want to give him up, but I will. And this is, I feel like what I've, you can have him if that's what you want. And the day before I had read something from Bob Goff and it says, "Hope doesn't go to sleep just because it's dark outside. It lights a candle and stays up waiting for the rest of the story. Are you living in anticipation of God surprising you? This is a place where God meets us in the power of the resurrection. It's in the dark places. H finds us in the places between the miracles".

- Wow.

- And I didn't know what miracle I had come from and what miracle I was headed to, but I knew I was in that middle. And I knew that that was the only thing I had to hold onto. I would sit in the parking lot and I would scream Psalms 91 our the window just saying I declare, and every one of those verses and then I would scream "This Is A Move" by Tasha Cobbs Leonard and just scream at the top of my lungs, We need a move in room seven. I knew he was capable, I knew he could perform a miracle, but I didn't know if he was going to choose to. And when I'm looking around at all the death and I'm thinking, why would he choose to save him and not all these other people. And people, so many people would call us and say, God is just going to give him such a great testimony. This is going to be such a great testimony. I can't wait to hear him talk about it or write a book and my children...

- In the middle of it.

- In the middle of it. And my children would go, that has got to be the cruelest thing someone could ever say. Why would God do this to our dad? So he'd have a better testimony? And finally, I got to the point where I would say to people, I appreciate what you're saying, but I'm very confident that Stuart served God before in his life, before this happened and regardless of had happened or not, this would not have changed the love he has and the relationship he has with God. And I don't know that it will make it different if he survives. I'm pretty confident that he'd be content. Him and I to sit in her house in Buford, Georgia, and never go anywhere else ever again if he survives through this, but that was my moment that I had of clarity of God had not given me an answer one way or the other, but I knew there was little small things he was showing me throughout the whole process, but I didn't know which direction it was headed.

- And the thing that's so important about this, listening to you say it, is that is faith because it's something that we've talked about in the past. You know, there's a theory of faith that faith is like a power and if you have enough faith, God has to, or God's going to, and that is not a New Testament version of faith. It is exactly what you said, Kellee, faith is God, I have confidence in you and whatever you choose to do or not do, I have confidence In you. I don't have confidence in an outcome. I have confidence in the one who controls outcomes. And the thing that our audience may have missed in all this, this all happened during the Easter season.

- Yes.

- Right.

- I mean, you're in the middle of this as the world is celebrating a resurrection in the the foundation of our faith. Suddenly Easter takes on a new significance.

- I read this week and I think this parallels with what you're saying, the writer posed this question, have you placed your trust in your theology or the God of your theology? And that's really easy for us to get confused and the way that Kellee and our children have really inspired me is exactly what you're saying. The right of Hebrews says that we can approach the throne of God with confidence and he'll give us grace and mercy, but those are not the outcomes we really desire. What we want to do is go well, no, we want him to live and we want him to be completely healthy and the writer of Hebrews goes, you can have confidence that he's going to give you grace to go through whatever it is that you're gonna go through and he's going to be merciful to you in that process. And it does, it pushes against this if we get really honest, I think all of us, we tend to live, our faith winds up being a churched up version of the American dream with just enough Jesus to make it seem legitimate. And what's happened to us is that that's been knocked out from under us. And now you go, okay, are we going to, are we gonna trust Jesus? Are we gonna lean the full weight of our life on him? Or are we gonna trust what we think about him or what we believe about him? And those are two different things. That's the way I feel like Kellee is still inspiring me. That whole idea.

- Well, that moment is, I mean, when you said God, I'm giving him to you, that is an essential part of every extraordinary story of faith is heavenly Father, you know what I want, you know what I want for the kids, you know it would be easier. I'm not going to hold you to that, I trust you. That is New Testament faith. Stuart, this may be a sort of an odd question, but is there anything, and you've kind of covered this, is there anything you want everybody to understand about the virus? I mean, there are so many theories, I mean, you know, there's every perspective in the world on COVID-19 and what it means and what's behind it. And it's been politicized. Thoughts on that?

- I spent all last summer with youth leaders from all across the country, talking about this thing that the opposite of, the opposite of shallow isn't deep. The opposite of shallow is personal.

- Okay, say that again, the opposite of shallow...

- The opposite of shallow isn't deep. We think that the opposite of shallow is deep. The reality is that the opposite of shallow is personal. Once something becomes personal to you, it becomes deep.

- Ah, gotcha.

- And this is the harsh reality that once this virus became personal to us, it becomes deep. And I think our deepest conviction is not for people necessarily to feel sorry for me, or to be even excited for me, even though I appreciate that, our deeper conviction, we feel like it is, because it's real, it's not a conspiracy theory, this is not a political agenda, and more than anything, Andy, it's incredibly disrespectful to the medical community. Men and women who are risking their own life to save lives.

- To save strangers.

- To save strangers. That's the thing I hope and pray we can get. And it really does reveal what may be America's fundamental character flaw and that is we have a difficult time considering other people before ourself.

- That might be universal.

- It may be universal.

- It is certainly American.

- It is very, yes, but at the crux of it all is what we have experienced is people being selfless toward us, whether it's through their prayer, love. James said, you show me your faith, I'll show you my deeds. You know how grateful I am that men and women who were working in the hospital, didn't just pray for me. They put feet to their faith and worked and fought for me. That's the thing I hope people get that, and Kellee did such an unbelievable job of celebrating the medical personnel too, of feeding the ER team and the ICU team while I was in the hospital, things I didn't even know are going on just because that was kind of becoming apparent to her as well, that this thing is real. We could show you texts and emails we've gotten just this week from our palliative care doctors, like pray for us, we're exhausted, we keep losing people. So that's what I would say that at the bottom wrung of our humanity is put a mask on, care about your neighbor. And then obviously more than that, past that.

- Yeah. Kellee at some point in this journey, and I don't know where this was in the sequence, you had a conversation with your kids, again, they're all in their 20s, everybody's still single. They're watching their mom, who's also a wife and you're in both of these roles, but you're intensely in each of these roles. You're parenting because for those of you with little kids, parenting never ends, right? Our kids are in their 20s, but you had a conversation with them about marriage. Can you talk a little bit about that?

- Sure, I wanted my kids to understand at that moment that regardless of what happened to their dad, I wanted them to feel confident in our relationship that if he was not to survive that I have been loved more than 99.9% of the marriages in the world, that we left no regret out there, that the love he has given me in our life and the fight that we have had for our relationship and our marriage was a beautiful thing. And I just wanted them to hear me verbally say, that if this is the way this goes and he doesn't come back, I am content, that I have been loved well.

- Wow, that there wasn't anything unresolved.

- Nope.

- There's no regret.

- And he always told me, because of the fact that he travels, I think we talked about death a lot just not knowing what might would happen one day and if this happens, this is, and he always told me if something happens to me, know that I'm fighting to get back to you and to the kids, know that I will fight with everything I have. And so I knew that. I was very calm because he's told me that numerous times...

- Usually after I watched the movie "Taken".

- That and "Jaws" pretty much changed my life.

- That's exactly right.

- My children looked at me and said, "Mom, we've never doubted, we know that". So that was a very special moment.

- Well, to know that they've seen that is huge. So Stewart I want to wrap up with, I think maybe the hardest question or the biggest question, one of the mysteries of our faith is the providence of God, who's in charge, the sovereignty of God, what role do we have? And you touched on this earlier, did God cause this to happen? Do you just respond to what happens, is life random? Has this event changed your view of the sovereignty of God or God's activity in the world? I mean, the whole issue of certainty. Talk a little bit about that.

- Well, Kellee and I had already been wrestling with that a little bit. We did have a window of time as empty nesters, where she would travel with me when I would go and speak different places and the more we've been around the country, the more we've talked to people, the more we've, like I started feeling really antsy about this reality that, and this sounds really harsh, Andy, but I feel like we've made an idol out of certainty. And an idol isn't something, an idol isn't an idol because it has a particular property to it. And the idol is an idol because of the value you place on it. And so much of our existence revolves around security and certainty. And what I think has happened in our life as a result of this is this unveiling of the fact that you've got your value on the wrong things. The only thing you can trust, the right of Hebrews says, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He doesn't say your circumstances are, doesn't say your marriage will be, doesn't say your health will be, it doesn't say your children will be, it doesn't say your country will be, doesn't say the economy will be, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. So the question becomes then, why would I lean my life on anything but him? Do I think that God made this happen? It's such an interesting tension because to believe in an all knowing God is to believe that God knows everything. I don't know if God made it happen. I do know he wants to make it matter and because he wants to make it matter I think she and I feel this almost like this burden that we've got to join him in whatever it is that he's trying to do because of the story, because of what it is that he's done in our life. And what we don't want to do, it's interesting when uncertainty happens, I think we all have this propensity wherever there's a contradiction, we'll set up an opposition to it. Like if something contradicts our certainty, like with COVID, for example, it's a contradiction in our certainty, so we go, well, it's a conspiracy theory or it's a political agenda.

- Yeah, there's something in us that has to reconcile everything with our worldview.

- Correct.

- Otherwise, we feel like we're crazy. But if our worldview is too small to reconcile everything with, the problem is our worldview. And for Christians that oftentimes intersects with a problem with our theology, so this is such a big deal. I don't want to interrupt.

- No, the only way I would end is like I've found myself over the last, so this is my 10th week out of the hospital. The last two weeks I've been looking and reexamining the story of Job. Not that I was anywhere close to Job.

- Ah, maybe.

- Well.

- It feels very Job-ish to the rest of us.

- It's still very Job-ish my dad would say Job-ish, but one interesting thing about that story in the epilogue Job says something to God that I haven't gotten over. He said, "I have heard about you for a long time, but now I've seen you with my own eyes".

- Wow.

- That's where I kind of feel like we are, like I've heard about all this, but now I've seen him with my own eyes. Why would I trust anyone but him? Because he's the only thing that doesn't move. He's the only thing that doesn't change and he's really the one working this in and through us for his own good. Paul says that it works together for good, he doesn't say that everything is good. Not one time have we asked, not because we're more spiritual than anybody, but I haven't asked, "Why me"? I'm like, okay, how do we make this matter? Because she said it best, Andy, that's probably the hardest part for me is why am I still alive? And all these people who have every reason to be alive have passed away. I don't think God made that happen. He just wants us to make it matter. That's kind of probably where we've landed.

- Now, that's a big thought. Go ahead, Kellee.

- And the blue heart, we ended up framing it.

- I'm sure.

- Because as we left the hospital, all the nurses and doctors signed it and wrote like a note to him. And for us, it's become like our 12 stones. And I don't ever want to forget two things, what God did and then what this population of doctors and nurses, just the human decency that they loved us so well and cared for us so well, that helped create the miracle.

- And if we're not careful, I've said this in a couple of interviews, I think it's a Romanian playwright, Romanian French playwright that says, "An over explanation separates us from astonishment". And we are a culture that has to have an explanation for everything. And there's just no explanation, except God, there really isn't. And the faith of people who put their feet to what they believed in.

- Well, I don't know if this will feel awkward or not, but I would like to close by giving you an opportunity just to straight to camera address our audience. And you said so much, you may want to repeat something you've already said or there may be kind of a closing final thought, but if you were sitting over a coffee table with our audience, either single men and women, married men and women, seniors, high school students, college students, and you had your, you know, here's your...

- The elevator pitch.

- The elevator pitch, yeah, this final moment. What do ya say?

- I would probably say that I think we have the wrong job description for love. As humans we're always trying to avoid pain, as parents we're always trying to protect our children from pain, as friends we're all always trying to fix each other's pain and no wonder we always feel like failures because life is, it's the human drama, it's pleasure and pain. And the question I would have you wrestle with is just simply this, what are you going to trust in when that pain happens? When your certainty is made uncertain, are you going to lean your life on your own understanding your own ability to reason, your own ability to wrap this up and put a bow on it, or will you trust your life to the only one that doesn't change, that doesn't move and can actually heal you of your pain, can heal you and your hurt. And the last thing I would say is that your love for Jesus doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be true, it doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be true, so I implore you if you're not a Jesus person, you don't follow him, would you consider what it is you're leaning your life up against? And if you are a Jesus person, you do follow in the way of Jesus, how much are you trusting him? Are you trusting what you know about him or are you really trusting him? That's my prayer for people that they would lean their life, the full weight of their existence on him.

- Wow, well, before we go, In Jesus name, amen.

- Amen.

- Thank you.

- Thank you.

- Thanks so much.

- Thank you.

- Thank you.

- So many of you guys have been praying for me, over the last month and a half, as I fought the coronavirus, and COVID-19-induced heart attack. I just wanted you to know how much my family and I appreciate it. I am home. I'm on the mend. Rehab is absolutely kicking my tail, but it's a beautiful kind of pain. And hopefully, I can see you guys soon. We love you. Thank you again. Thanks for being Jesus to us.
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