Since the football season and the Super Bowl is now past, I thought I would share with you how one particular Super Bowl changed my passion for life.

My passion changed because God was gracious.

In 2002, I sat in the cardiac critical care unit of the Jackson-Madison County Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee watching the Super Bowl. There were about a million other places I would like to have been, but I could not. I had to be at the hospital.

To make a long story short, by the time the Super Bowl had begun I had been at the hospital for about 17 hours watching numbers bounce around on monitors – my monitors.

When I first came to the hospital, I was diagnosed with a heart attack, and the severity of the diagnosis was only made more significant with the doctor’s choice of words,

“Mr. Gallagher, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a massive heart attack, you have had an 8.5.”

With those words, I looked at Carrie, my bride of five years, and my daughter Alexis, one and a half years old. I felt my world come crashing to a halt with one sentence. Nothing else mattered except the two people sitting in front of me.

From that moment until seventeen hours later, everything was as smooth sailing as the heart attack diagnosis would allow. Then it happened!

As I was watching the Super Bowl, a laser-sharp pain drove itself into my chest. Despite all the blood thinners, morphine and needles jammed into my arm and stomach, along with whatever else the nurses were throwing at me, the pain grew stronger.

Finally, the room began to draw dark. It was the blackness of tunnel vision I had read about before.

While the room faded to black, I said my prayer, asked God to take of my family and turned my thoughts to Carrie and Alexis. As I closed my eyes, I waited.

I waited to see someone from the other side of life, but I never did. When my eyes finally closed shut and milliseconds had passed, I heard the words I dreaded (but needed) to hear, “Get the cart!”

I knew what “the cart” meant, and that was all I needed. I was going to be subjected to the power of two electric paddles jolting through my body to bring my back to life. Upon hearing two words, “the cart,” my thoughts were, “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

The next few moments are hidden deep where only God knows; maybe I blacked out, maybe my heart stopped beating, or maybe I have simply forgotten, but my mind is blank. All I remember is hearing a nurse say my name, pull on my big toe and ask me if I was still around. I casually said, “Yes.”

When opened my eyes, I saw it – the cart. It was sitting at the side of the bed with the power levels on full. Seconds more and I would have been shocked, but God was good!

The next day brought a heart catheterization followed by the good and bad news:

Good news: No blockage, no damage, nothing. My arteries were clean.

Bad news: The doctors could not explain what happened, but I was informed that if I had not been in the hospital my life would have ended.

Well, I could explain what happened, prayer! The Bible says the “effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Believe me, it does!

I knew there was someone higher than my doctors that day. The One who made my heart was holding it together.

I was sent home with a diagnosis of pericarditis and/or myocarditis. If you Google those words, you will see how fortunate I am after 16 years.

After a barrage of test over a six month period, I had my diagnosis, “We don’t know. It might have been a heart attack. It might have been a virus. We do not know.”

Comforting, huh?

I was told to come back in a year and go through more tests. I left the doctor’s office with two orders:

  1. Do not get sick
  2. Get the flu shot

I told them I would do the second and try my best for the first one.

After a year, I came back and went through tests again. Guess what? They still did not know. I was told that I was “normal” and to keep living. Comforting, huh?

In 2005, we moved to South Carolina and our new family doctor, and I had a chat about my 2002 heart attack incident. After examing all of my records, our new family doctor told me that I did not have a heart attack, but probably “viral cardiomyopathy.”

Did you notice that? Not for sure, but probably. There is a big difference in those words.

While I do not know the “whys,” the “hows,” or much else regarding that Super Bowl Sunday, I do know this: God was there, and He blessed me when I deserved no blessing.

My passion changed that day!

My passion for my work grew stronger.

My passion to see my family after this life abounds more and more each day.

My desire to assist others to achieve success grew stronger. The intensity to aid others in living better each day became a purpose.

It is odd how life changes events affect your future.  I left a hospital and several doctor’s offices without any answer. I am content no to have an answer and even more content with what it could have been; viral cardiomyopathy.

My passion changed from everything to one thing – HOPE!

There is hope even when we see no hope!  Many times, hope will appear when you are not looking.  Hope is not a word for wishing; it is expecting confidently what you cannot see.

The present reality is nothing to be compared to the boundless hope of future opportunities. The end which awaits is greater than the present beginning.

Spiritually speaking, your changing life will be met by a changeless hope, because of a changeless God.

The hope of a better life is met with the opportunity for it to be better – all you have to do is look!

Look not at yourself in a mirror, but see the reflection of God. The sunrise reveals his overnight work. The sunset gives light to the day’s hidden stars and their desire to shine.

“The heaven’s declare the glory of God…” (Psalm 19.1)

Look at people around you!

God created each one and placed eternity in your heart. (Ecclesiastes 3.11) Each one is created as he saw fit; there is no “normal.” The only “normal” we should see is the image of the invisible God. (Genesis 1.26)

We have been provided by our Creator with abilities and inabilities given to us to take advantage of the opportunities He provides. God has hardwired each of us with the free will to make choices, goals, and dreams.

Even though our outward appearance remains different, the inner man is renewed day by day if we look set our affection on things above. (2 Corinthians 4.16; Colossians 3.2)

Normal is not found in the physical, but in the spiritual. The spiritual promise of God is success through Him.

My friends, my passion changed because of a stark reality – there is something greater than this world. I knew it for years, preached it countless times, but until God truly took control, things would never be where they are.

My faith and trust in Him became the beat of my heart. The countless hours of wonder brought renewed vigor and faith because He cares.

He cares for you too.

His care reaches the untouchable part of our souls and reaches to the top of our heads. His hands are at work in our lives providing us opportunities and strength, through His Only Son – Jesus.

Many have asked why I want to share a message of hope in a hopeless world, well, now you know!

Find your passion through the God who offers His care and see what your life can become!

For the record, my permanent record shows heart attack. I have taken a few tests since then, and my heart is very healthy. Doctors have told me there is no lasting damage, no sign I ever had a heart attack, and the muscle looks great.

I have been blessed.

I am thankful to many for their visits, calls, cards, food, prayers and so much more during that troubling time of 2002. It is an experience I remember way too often, but I am glad I can remember it.

Anyway, this is one reason I am so insistent on why living life matters.

Just my story and just my thoughts,


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