“Jesus, give Poppa the right heart at the right time.” My auntie heart almost burst as Kedrin (Paslay) Cobb, my sister, did her best impersonation of my niece Emerie Paisley’s (age 4) prayer for our dad. Like thousands across the globe, she prayed this prayer with us from the day we were told he needed a new heart and kidney. There is no way I can describe in words the journey we have been on since my dad’s initial diagnosis with heart disease four years ago. It has been a roller coaster of mountaintops and valleys. We have received incredible promises and words from the Lord, as well as vicious ambushes and taunts from the enemy. Through it all we have clung to the Word of God and the strength the body of Christ has continuously given.
From early December through the first week of February, Dad was ready to receive a transplant any day. However, in February the doctors told him his condition was declining and something must be done soon. We prayed and believed God that the answer would come on time. The only thing that was available to Dad outside of transplant was a total artificial heart (TAH). This meant that another major, high-risk heart surgery and extended recovery time would be added to this process. We were devastated and reachedout for prayer.
It was decided by the incredible medical team that oversees his care that if a “miracle heart” did not come by February 13 at 6:30 a.m., my dad would be given a TAH. Tom and I spent the night in Dad’s room. I watched and prayed all night long, believing the “white coats” would come in and say they had received “the perfect heart” for Dad. At 6:15 Tuesday morning, the surgeon came in and stated calmly, “Norman, that miracle heart didn’t come. Are you ready for this?” “Yes, sir, I am,” was Dad’s brave reply. It was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life. How could it be? Thousands are praying in agreement.
What I didn’t know was that approximately eight hours later, this same surgeon would tell our family in the post operation consultation that if Dad had received a “donor heart,” he would not have survived the surgery due to the condition of his lungs, of which the medical team was unaware. The TAH was the only way he made it through the surgery. Another surgeon would confirm that if they had waited a day or two later to do the TAH surgery, it would have been too late. I tell our beloved Ohio District all of this to state what may now seem obvious to you—God answered our prayers. God gave my dad the right heart at the right time.
There is a lot I do not know or understand about this road Dad has been called to walk. One of his main concerns has been the faith of God’s people. On his behalf I feel compelled to share with you what I do know. Dad got to the hospital in Cincinnati that fateful day in December on time. He was able to be transferred to one of the best heart transplant hospitals in the nation on time. Dad was able to be listed at the top of the transplant list on time, in spite of the initial concerns these top tier professionals had that he was not well enough to qualify. And yes, Dad received the right kind of heart at the right time.
We could look at the complexity of this situation and easily be discouraged and confused. This is a battle we fight daily. However, these events make evident that the hand of God is in all of it. None of us know the outcome. We believe in a God who does the impossible. None of what transpired after the TAH surgery was something the surgeon—one of the top four heart surgeons in the nation— anticipated. God promised our family that He had a purpose and a plan. God is not surprised by any of this. The Lord’s hand and intervention have been evident through the last several months.