Monday, September 30, 2013

Reflections On Being Sick

I had a cold this weekend.

Actually, I've had it for a while, but it got bad this weekend - just in time to interfere with my preaching and teaching ministry on Sunday. I coughed until my sides ached. On Saturday I had to have tissues with me everywhere I went because my nose ran like a faucet.

I prepared for a very difficult Sunday. A handkerchief in my back pocket. A pack of tissues in my suit pocket. Cough drops in my other pocket. A flat of water bottles in the base of the pulpit.

I figured it would be bad.

But then God smiled on me. By church on Sunday my cough was pretty much controlled and my nose had dried up. I had one brief coughing spell - but just one - during the course of my sermon. I took just one drink of water. I used just one cough drop. And the message went forward with minimal distraction from my cold.

Praise the Lord.

I pray that God will do the same and even more with my myelofibrosis. I don't want it to distract from ministry. If anything, I want to see it intensify ministry and cause God to be glorified in even greater ways.

May Jesus Christ be praised!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Moving To The Next Level

I have neglected this blog for a long time, but I will try to keep up a little bit better. It made me smile to read my last few posts - to see what I had written before I knew that I had a serious health issue brewing and before I got the more definite diagnosis.

I wrote about "Happily Ever After" before I knew I was sick at all.
We are stressed trying to get to the point were everything will go well. Then we are stressed by the realization that things are still going wrong. Then we are stressed by the fear that things will go wrong, even if they are not currently going wrong.

The solution is to realize that we are imperfect people living in a broken world. We cannot ever reach the happily ever after point in this world, because this world is broken by sin. Death, disease, frustration, injustice and corruption are an ongoing part of our lives here.

Our goal cannot be "happily ever after life" on earth, or we will be frustrated. We should seek our satisfaction in handling daily problems well. We seek comfort in trusting God to carry us safely through the difficulties of life. Faith in God gives us the confidence that we are loved and even our problems are ultimately for God's good purposes.

Life is an adventure of challenges in which we try to bring God glory through proper attitudes and actions. The real happily ever after of our existence is out of this world and beyond the scope of this life. And it is guaranteed by God in Christ, in spite of our shortcomings in this world.
That was published over two months before I knew I had any health issue - almost three months before I got the final diagnosis. First I had an enlarged spleen, but it was probably a "benign process." That afternoon it was determined to be a "leukemic process" and I had to go to the hospital. Two weeks, a bone marrow biopsy, CT scan and several blood tests later and it is confirmed that I have "myelofibrosis" - a disease in which your bone marrow turns to fibrous material and doesn't work to produce the blood cells you need. There are limited treatment options and nothing short of a bone marrow transplant will bring a cure. The median life span for my phase of the disease is seven years.

What a surprise! Since I still feel healthy, the idea that I have a terminal illness seems surreal! The news has given me a new awareness of various things in my life - of how blessed I have been throughout my life!

God has been so very good to me and having myelofibrosis is more of the same! This is another blessing piled on top of all my other blessings! He had brought me to a place of blessing in my ministry and life, of maturity and contentment. He had blessed me in my family, in my ministry and even with material things. Now the Lord has bumped me up to another level of life challenges to face for his glory.

Praise the Lord! I stand by what I wrote back in June! "Life is an adventure of challenges in which we try to bring God glory through proper attitudes and actions. The real happily ever after of our existence is out of this world and beyond the scope of this life."

Live every moment for Jesus Christ. He is worthy! Nothing can shake us out of his hand!

Emma helps!

Emma helped me rake up some leaves while they were visiting us. That was very nice!