VIEW FROM THE RIDGE
-We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of god- Acts 14:22
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us form the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38, 39
There is a game in poker called seven card no-peek. You receive seven cards face down and you don’t get to look at any of them until it is your turn. The first player turns up a card and bets. The next player turns up cards until he beats the first player and then has to stop until it comes around again to his turn. So it goes around the table until the winner is determined. Sometimes you start out with a good hand and end up with nothing; sometimes you start out with nothing and end up being the winner; other times you start out with garbage and end up with more garbage. You never know what your hand is until the last card is turned up.
I have lately looked at life like the game of poker. You are dealt the cards of life and you play them as they are. You don’t get to look ahead and see what God is going to send your way, or allow, and you do not get to toss cards back and draw new ones. You take them as they come - the good and the bad - and deal with them the best you can. During the years that I have been dealt hard times it was always my faith in God, my church family, my family and friends that helped me get through it in one piece.
I have been dealt many more good cards than bad. Why God has chosen to bless me the way he has is beyond me. Many of my friends have been dealt the cancer, MS and ALS cards and some have lost the battle. They may have lost the battle of life, but they won the war for eternity and are enjoying the fellowship of Christ. They made that decision to trust Christ with their life and were faithful to the end.
The interesting thing about life is you never know when the cards are going to show up. Sometimes they come in quick succession, other times they are years apart - but they keep coming.
This year I have been dealt two cancer cards in quick succession. Apparently Satan is tired of waiting 4 years between cancers and decided to up the ante by doubling up. A March MRI showed cancer in my right sinus, which necessitated surgery in April and May. A routine follow up MRI in August showed signs that the cancer may have returned.
The Radiologist in Kona indicated that based on past history of cancer in that area, the mass detected is most likely cancer. The Surgeon in Portland is not as sure and has ordered a PET-Scan for Monday the 22nd at 11a.m. in Portland followed by an appointment with him the next day at 9 a.m. So I have booked the redeye out of Kona this Sunday at 9:30 at night so as to arrive in Portland at 8 a.m.
Just to make things interesting, Jeri has eye surgery in Honolulu on the same day to repair a swelling on her retina caused by a leaking blood vessel. Most of you know that I have trouble being in one place at a time, let alone two. So our daughter Kris is flying in from Boise on Saturday to stay with Jeri while I am gone and will accompany Jeri to Honolulu for her surgery. Jeri’s procedure is just(?) day surgery and she and Kris will be able to fly back to Kona that late afternoon.
Because of the uncertainty of my situation, Kris and I booked one way tickets. Hopefully whatever is going on will be quickly resolved. Hasn’t happened before but there is always a first time.
Whoever said these were the golden years was totally delusional or 100% lying through their teeth. I retired in 2001 and had 5 good years before cancer struck. Jeri was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the Mid-90’s and I am so glad we decided to start traveling then because we would not have done much after 2006. For Jeri traveling is difficult and we do as little as possible.
Yet, as I have said more times than I care to remember, in every adversity there are blessings if we will just look for them. I.E., (1) I will have a ton of medical deductions that will leave me with no taxable income for the 15th consecutive year. In your face IRS!! (2) God has blessed me with being able to live in Hawaii, which I never thought would happen, and a 400 hp Camaro (which may or may not be a blessing). Some have suggested that the Camaro maybe an answer to their prayers that God would take me quickly rather than a lingering death by cancer.
(3.) I have been blessed with so many great and compassionate friends who are nothing like Job’s friends. Just last Wednesday the young man that does our yard care asked me how my week was, and I said “not good.” We talked a few minutes and then he said “Can I pray with you?” Seriously, how do you turn that down. So we prayed for a few minutes and it was a great time of fellowshipping with a fellow believer, a time that probably would not have happened if not for the adversity of cancer. I have had complete strangers, some that were visiting our church while on vacation in Hawaii, come up to me with tears in their eyes and claim what an inspiration I have been to them and that they would include Jeri and I in their prayers and get their church, Sunday school class, care group and/or Bible study group to pray also. Every Sunday in church so many people give Jeri and me big Hawaiian hugs and ask us how we are doing and was there anything they could do for us. I cannot count the number of cards, letters, e-mails, texts, phone calls, all with words of encouragement and sharing scripture, all great God-given blessings that come out of adversity. I would not trade any of the blessings over the last 10 years to have been cancer free. He has proven to me that His love is so enormous that no matter what we are facing, God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit will be there with us every step of the way.
(4) I have had the privilege of watching God work in my life and others, how He can block the path I think will work best and then have Him show me a better Path. How am I able to call Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital on a Thursday and tell them that I need a PET-scan as soon as possible and they answer do you want an 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. appointment on Monday? Hawaiian airlines is booked but Delta has a flight that gets in there at 8 a.m. with just two seats available. Shoot, I only need one. I can’t make this stuff up, folks! God is in Control! Period!! The sooner we realize this, the easier life will be. It will not be adversity free, but it will be less stressful. The ability to realize that when an adversity strikes, you cannot fix it, so you are better able to concentrate on the other problems at hand. We cannot fix cancer, a heart attack or a stroke or whatever comes your way. Your job is to hang on and follow instructions. Pray for Wisdom, Pray for healing, pray for insight, pray for strength and stamina because you will need every bit you can get. But most of all Pray for God’s will in your life to be fulfilled. That is what each of us has to do from day one; accept and submit to God’s will. Nothing more, nothing less.
As soon as I know something concrete I will let you all know. Please pray for good results, but most of all that I will accept whatever the results are, good or bad, with grace.
"There comes a time when we all must realize that life is short, and in the end the only thing that really counts is not how others see us, but how God sees us. For the believer there is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection." - Billy Graham, speaking at Richard Nixon's funeral
To God be the glory forever and ever.