Paul Cardall: I say pursue Christ and see where it goes. And if that means [it] takes you out of this or takes you out of that or leads you here or leads you [to] that, we have to respect people’s journeys. Because they need healing that we don’t understand.
We Are All Worth Rescuing: Paul Cardall & Charles Martin – Episode #246
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Sometimes situations in life are beyond our control, and when we’re faced with impossible circumstances that begin to close in on us and maybe even threaten our very existence, we can cling to the hope that God will deliver us and heal us, just as David prayed in the book of Psalms 32:7: You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Pianist Paul Cardall was born with half a heart and faced years of heart surgeries before receiving a transplant that changed his life forever. Author Charles Martin was inspired by the Biblical story of the shepherd who left his ninety-nine sheep to rescue the one who had gone astray, which inspired his book, The Water Keeper.
We’ll begin our episode with Paul’s story.
Paul: I am Paul Cardall. I was born with only half a heart, but God’s made up all the difference. He gave me the gift of music. And because of the number of surgeries I’ve had in my life, I’ve been using music as a tool to help heal your heart because He has healed mine.
Growing up, it was, “We don’t know if you’re going to live very long,” but my parents were always optimistic, like, “We’ll see what God has planned.” They involved God in everything we do. God was a big part of our life and leading up to those next major open heart surgeries that I needed to have—because at age thirteen, I got an infection that was so horrible, the antibiotics weren’t even killing this infection. And I was in the hospital, not sure if I’d survive. So they had my family come up and say goodbye to me. So then again, at age thirteen, I’m faced with this. And then at age fourteen, I had to come back for major reconstructive surgery.
And as I was about to go into the third surgery, I was crying and I said, “Dad, I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to suffer. I’m tired of this.” By that time, I had come to know that God is very loving, very kind. And I wanted to go home. I said, “I want to go home.”
And I don’t know where my dad got the strength, but he said, “Son, go in there, get the surgery, and come out and live for your mother.”
So I went in and I did the surgery and I came out and I had a completely new perspective in life and respect for my father. So I was fortunate to have him as my father. I just needed strength, I needed that person in the midst of the storm to say, “Peace, be still.”
Music Brings Healing
For a lot of people, they know that when you’re in a hospital, you hear the tri-tones, the beeps of all the machines, beep, beep, beep. And I came into this world hearing all that stuff and in and out of the hospital, hearing the beep. So for whatever reason, subconsciously, when I sat down, I just slowly hit three notes, and it was so comforting and so peaceful that I sat there for a couple of hours trying to figure out the piano like it was a puzzle. Life is a puzzle. How do you put the pieces together? And I was feeling God telling me, “Everything is okay. I’ve got you. This is a gift I’m giving you.”
“I was feeling God telling me, ‘Everything is okay. I’ve got you. This is a gift I’m giving you.’” – Paul Cardall
I waited 385 days for my heart transplant. And the hardest thing in my world was I knew that for me to live, it meant somebody had died. So I asked my brother, like, “How would you wrap your head around it?”
And he told me, he actually prayed it on me and blessed me. And he said, “Listen, because of your organ donor, you’re going to live a little longer. But because of Jesus Christ, you’ll live forever, and He laid down His life so willingly for all of us.” And that gave me the hope that this is going to work out.
“The hardest thing in my world was I knew that for me to live, it meant somebody had died.” – Paul Cardall
As I came out of that surgery with this young man’s, this donor’s incredible, four-chamber heart, I woke up to heaven on earth because there was my family. And that moment I felt God’s spirit, so strong, so powerful.
The first album after the transplant was called New Life, and it was actually my first number-one Billboard album leading up to this last album that I just barely put out called The Broken Miracle. But The Broken Miracle is the first album I’ve put out that actually shares my story. And so there’s all these beautiful messages.
Narrator: Paul has found Jesus Calling to be a comfort to him as he travels to play music that he prays will bring healing to the listener. He closes his time with us by reading a passage from Jesus Calling dated November 25th.
Paul: I love how I am able to go into an airport [bookstore], and it’s always there. I can pick it up, read something, and feel lifted and motivated. And there’s one particular one that I pulled up—there’s so many, I mean, how do you do it? It says:
When your mind is occupied with thanking Me, you have no time for worrying or complaining. If you practice thankfulness consistently, negative thought patterns will gradually grow weaker and weaker. Draw nearer to Me with a grateful heart, and My Presence will fill you with Joy and Peace.
You know, it’s not easy, because when you get a second chance at life and you’ve gone through countless procedures and surgeries, there’s another type of healing that you need. God said to change your heart, and I did that—literally. He changed it literally, but then began the process of survivor’s guilt and PTSD and depression, and it’s a journey that I’ve been on and sometimes God changes our hearts instantly. And sometimes it’s like the sunrise. It’s a slow process. He is slowly converting me and changing me in such a profound way.
“When you get a second chance at life and you’ve gone through countless procedures and surgeries, there’s another type of healing that you need. You know, God said to change your heart. And I did that literally.” – Paul Cardall
Narrator: To learn more about Paul Cardall’s story, look for his book, The Broken Miracle, and be sure to also check out his latest music project, The Broken Miracle album, wherever books and music are sold.
Stay tuned to Charles Martin’s story after a brief message.
The Jesus Calling team is grateful to the men and women who put themselves on the front lines every day, keeping our country safe and vowing to protect our freedoms. To honor that courage and resilience during a particularly difficult season, a special devotional book has been created using passages from the beloved bestselling devotionals Jesus Calling and Jesus Always to create a one-of-a-kind edition especially for Armed Forces. With Scripture, personal reflections, and bonus material focused on first responders, this special, hardcover Armed Forces edition includes inspirational quotes, the US Army’s Mission Statement, US Navy facts, and US Coast Guard facts. Celebrate and encourage the heroes in your life with the Jesus Calling for Armed Forces edition, now available wherever books are sold and at JesusCalling.com.
Narrator: Our next guest is Charles Martin, who spent many years trying to figure out if he could make his dream of becoming a writer pan out. With a whole lot of faith, years of perseverance, and a supportive wife, Charles finally found that God really had called him to reach the hearts of readers around the world through his writing.
Charles: My name is Charles Martin. I’m fifty years old. [My wife] Christy and I live in Jacksonville, Florida. We have three boys, twenty-two, twenty, and seventeen. This is the twentieth year of my career as a writer. It’s really about the twenty-third year, but it’s the twentieth year of my publishing career.
Developing an Understanding of God
I grew up in a house with two folks who dearly love the Lord, and we prayed together all the time. I would go to bed with my folks on their knees saying prayers next to my bed. And so walking through my house, like, the Lord was Lord. I’ve just always known that He was Lord. Now, was I always walking with Him? Of course not. But I grew up in a house where He was very much Lord and still is. My folks are still alive. And so I used to want to have one of those great-sounding testimonies that you had this horrible, I don’t know, whatever the horrible thing is that you do and the Lord grabs you out of that and brings you and resurrects you. And then in a very real sense, He does that with all of us. But I didn’t have that one. Even as a young kid at about six or seven, I remember sitting down and praying the “prayer” with my mom. But even when I’m sitting, I remember this distinctly, even when I’m sitting on the steps praying with my mom and I’m going through the words of, “Please come into my heart,” I remember thinking to myself, Why am I inviting You into a place that You already inhabit?
I love that He really found me at an early age, and I’m grateful for that. That is the grace of God that He placed me where He placed me and found me when He found me and loved on me when He loved on me.
Have I always been obedient? Of course not. But I’m thankful that my heritage is that my folks love the Lord and they walked me up to His lap and let me fall in love with Him in the same way. And Christy and I pray all the time that our boys would, as they get older, that what comes out of their mouth would be a similar testimony, that they just grew up in a house where the Lord is revered as the King that He is.
Pursuing a Meaningful Path
When I finished grad school, I graduated with a couple of degrees. I thought maybe I’d get a job as a teacher, which would allow me to write at night or something. Well, that didn’t really pan out. And my brother-in-law who owned an insurance agency had mercy on me and gave me a job kind of just helping him out. And he was really good at what he did and just gifted, and I kind of helped put legs on his promises. My degrees, all the letters behind my name, allowed him to put me up in front of our clients all across the country. And so I communicated our benefits to large companies all across the Southeast. But it allowed me to start learning how to talk to large groups of people and sound somewhat educated doing it.
This was noticed by the company that we represented, which at the time was American Heritage and later became Allstate. And they invited me to come join the Allstate team and be an officer to help the merger of these two companies. And they laid out for me life on a silver platter, which was, you know, a six-figure salary, a six-figure signing bonus, a staff of people, etc. And the only problem with it was that while I need insurance, I’m not very good at selling it. And in all honesty, I had written this manuscript that was in a drawer in my house, and I really wanted to try and figure out how to become a writer. My problem was like “becoming a writer,” there’s not a there’s not a ladder that you climb.
So I listened to their offer. And I was thankful and grateful and all of that. But in the back of my mind, I’m trying to figure out, How do I say no to this? Because I know the moment I do this, I’ll never write another word. This will put me on a corporate path. And I’ll get comfortable and we’ll be in our house with a white-picket fence and a Volvo out front. And it won’t happen.
So I get home and word has spread to my family that, you know, finally someone has recognized Charles’ gifts, and they’ve given him this job we’ve all dreamed for him. And, you know, my great-grandparents are elated. My dad and my grandfather both grew up on either side of the Depression. And both of them grew up without two nickels to rub together. So they knew the value of a dollar. And they knew what a job like this meant.
And the problem that they had was that they had both sort of reared me—along with my mom—they had reared me to not necessarily ask the question, “What can you do to make the most money?” Obviously, I’ve got to provide for a family. But the question that they had just poured into me as I’m a young kid and growing into my teens and early twenties was this question: “Why did God put you on planet Earth?” What are the gifts He poured into you? What is the thing that you do?” All I knew was I loved to write, and I had this manuscript. I mean, that was it.
And so the next morning, I went in and said, “No, thank you,” and I resigned from my job with my brother-in-law and I began doing whatever I could to make money. I bought a pressure washer, and I pressure washed people’s homes and their driveways. After about fourteen or eighteen months, we were pretty close to running out of money and or we were out of money.
And in the meantime, we had taken this flier and printed 100 copies of the first forty to sixty pages of this manuscript that I had written and sent it out to over 100 publishers and agents around the country. And after fourteen to sixteen months, I had a folder full of rejection letters and I quit going to the mailbox.
I looked like a total fool. My father-in-law thought I was nuts. My family thought I was crazy. And Christy came back with what would be my eighty-sixth rejection letter and set it on my keyboard on top of bills I did not have the money to pay and kissed me and said, “You’re not a reject to me.” I mean, it was a priceless gift. Christy literally stood in the doorway and said, “Okay, we’re going to let you be you and I’m going to fight for you.” I see the enormity of that. And I’m grateful for that.
Words That Touch Hearts
One day I found myself in Matthew 18. We read how the shepherd leaves the safety of the ninety-nine to chase down the one sheep who has again gotten himself lost and “gone astray.” And what we learn is that the shepherd doesn’t just do this once, but he does it repeatedly over and over. And every time he rescues and he brings him back to the flock and he throws a party that’s bigger in celebration than the ninety-nine who stayed.
And for some reason, I’m sitting there reading the Word, the Lord kind of lit it up for me and I began really seeing through the eyes of the shepherd, what he does. And it struck me as completely illogical that the shepherd would leave the flock and the safety of the flock to go get the one who’s got himself lost. And yet he does it repeatedly, and of course, I know that’s the story of the gospel and of course, I know that that’s what Jesus does for us.
“It struck me as completely illogical that the shepherd would leave the flock and the safety of the flock to go get the one who’s got himself lost. And yet he does it repeatedly, and of course, I know that’s the story of the gospel and of course, I know that that’s what Jesus does for us.” – Charles Martin
The Lord will use whatever He wants to reach us in whatever way He knows we need to be reached.There are folks that are never going to grace the doorstep of a church because they they think they’re going to be judged the moment they walk up there, and in many churches, they might be. But the Lord can lay a book on a coffee table, and somebody can be sitting in a hotel and just have five minutes waiting on somebody to come down and they see it and they pick it up and they read from it. You just never know what the Lord’s going to do. And He tells us His words will not return void, and they will accomplish the purposes for which He sent them.
When I look at what has happened with Jesus Calling, part of my reaction is, Man, look what God did with that. And, Look what He is doing with that. I mean, how many homes have you been to where it’s sitting on the coffee table or in somebody’s bathroom or the bedside table? It is amazing to see what the Lord’s done with that with that book.
When I look at what has happened with Jesus Calling, part of my reaction is, Man, look what God did with that. And, Look what He is doing with that. I mean, how many homes have you been to where it’s sitting on the coffee table or in somebody’s bathroom or the bedside table? It is amazing to see what the Lord’s done with that with that book. – Charles Martin
Jesus Calling, October 25th:
I am God with you, for all time and throughout eternity. Don’t let the familiarity of that concept numb its impact on your consciousness. My perpetual Presence with you can be a continual source of Joy, springing up and flowing out in streams of abundant Life. Let your mind reverberate with meanings of My Names: Jesus—the Lord saves, and Emmanuel—God with us. Strive to remain conscious of My Presence even in your busiest moments. Talk with Me about whatever delights you, whatever upsets you, whatever is on your mind. These tiny steps of daily disciplines, taken one after the other, will keep you close to Me on the path of Life.
I noticed something about my own heart. It was as I walked through life, things that I encountered would ding me where there would be places of joy and there would be emotions I would not know how to express. But specifically, the hard places and the hard times formed in my heart, like these calloused places. And I noticed I would feel less the thicker they got. And I didn’t like that.
I also learned I wasn’t alone in this and other people were like me. And so when I would write something, I would write it from the hope that whatever I was writing, somehow the words I wrote, however I strung them together, whatever way I put words together, my hope and my prayer was that they would kind of circumnavigate the hard, calloused places in people’s hearts and maybe come around the back side or whatever and then poke me and them in places where were still tender and still feeling love and hope—maybe where people were still willing to forgive one another. So as I look at my writing both then and now, I’m still hoping the same thing.
If you’d like to hear more stories about how God heals our hearts, listen to our interview with Lecrae Moore.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, gospel singer Kierra Sheard-Kelly shares how she learned to embrace every bold, bright piece of herself. She opens up about how accepting Jesus into her life allowed her to live from a place of security.
Kierra Sheard-Kelly: Because you know Jesus, it doesn’t make you small, it doesn’t make you weird, it doesn’t make you abnormal. It actually puts you in a secure place, in a sure place, because there’s a different thing that we’re resting on. There’s a different being that we’re resting on and there are different guidelines that we’re resting in.