Have you ever been an invalid? I haven’t, but I am starting to get a taste of what it is like, and I definitely don’t like it. Not one bit! This whole year so far has been a time of being knocked down followed by a period of trying to get better, only to be knocked back down and start all over. And now a third time, all because of two little polyps that together were smaller than an eraser on a pencil but with the potential to kill me if left unattended. I feel like the old middle weight boxer in the 12th round of a 15 round fight, getting the stuffing beat out of him, and nobody will throw in the towel.
Am I going down a road that no one else has traveled? Heavens, no. There are those who have traveled much harder roads, for longer periods, and probably did it with less complaining. This road of mine has been specially laid out by my loving Heavenly Father, who is still molding me and shaping me into the kind of man he wants me to be when I finally leave the bounds of this Earth and join Him in Glory Land. I’m not sure just what he is trying to accomplish but I do know that it has nothing to do with my physical being, how I look or feel, but will have more to do with my spiritual being, my integrity, how I relate to others, compassion, love, all those Christ-like attributes I apparently am lacking. Surely there must be more to this than giving me fodder to write about. But try as I may, this is the thing that dominates my life and hence, pretty much obscures all else as far as subject matter.
I am not sure if this is because God desires you to read about what I am going through to encourage you or others when you are faced with similar trials, or if it is to show you that no matter what happens in your life, God, the church and most of your friends will be there to help you through the most difficult of days. This year I have had to rely on others to for some of the yard work and getting in my winter supply of wood. (Well, rather the fall and spring supply of wood, since I have no intention of being here in the winter.)
Because of my weakness, others are being allowed to use their spiritual gifts to help Jeri and me. There have been times when I have been the helper, now I am the helpee. It is not an easy position to be in, but I understand it. In order for God to use the gifts of believers, someone has to need help. That doesn’t mean that God intentionally knocks people down just so someone can exercise their gifts; no, Satan takes care of that side. God just provides the help when we need it. He then uses the experience to teach us about ourselves, and about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I have written about what I have learned in a previous article, and soon there will be a part 2. Any experience, good or bad, has things we must learn. If we do not, then it is a waste of time and energy.
Now my friend Marcus Carpenter is starting down the cancer road that I first began four years ago. I can relate to the anxiety that he and Sharon are going through. He will be deluged with information and choices to make that will begin to overwhelm him. He faces, at the very least, surgery, then maybe radiation and/or chemotherapy. None of it is pleasant. It means the next year or two will be spent fighting this cancer and then fighting to get well. It is a fight and it takes a strong will to endure. Marcus is in good health, which will make recovery easier. And I know he has a strong will to live and serve God. What we need to do as a church family is to be there with encouragement, prayer, and availability to help in what ever area they need when they ask. Marcus has been much like me, very self-sufficient and able to handle things himself. But the time has come when in the days ahead, they will need help and we need to be there for them. He and Sharon will have to make choices on type of treatment, doctors, and where to have all this done, and we need to support them in what ever they decide.
I have gone through two different kinds of cancer and on this day I am cancer free. I have no idea what tomorrow or next year or the year after will bring, but today I am cancer free because of the expertise of the doctors at OHSU, the gifts of knowledge and insight that God has given them, and most of all the prayers of so many people all over this nation: care groups, Sunday school classes, people I know nothing about, but because of one or two friends getting their church to pray for me has made the difference. Now we must join forces and pray for God’s best for Marcus and Sharon. Then in a year maybe we will be able to sing “Halleluiah” three times for Marcus.