This past Thursday, September 28, I celebrated the five year mark of being surgically cured of cancer. It was on that day, at Baptist Hospital in Oklahoma City, that I had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor that had been discovered in my colon. I’m so grateful for Dr. Clinton Wallace, who discovered the cancer after I was rushed to the hospital via ambulance, and for Dr. Baratti, the skilled surgeon who removed it. I’m thankful for God who in His grace and care brought me to these men. I might not be alive today without that surgery.
As I sat this week and contemplated what took place on that day five years ago, I struggled with shortness of breath from the atrial fibrillation I have been suffering from for the past two months. This has been one of the most physically taxing things I have ever faced. Having been a very active person, and having been a runner for 43 years, I have not enjoyed being held hostage by a health issue. Before someone waxes hyper-spiritual on me, let me say that I am very aware that God is fully in control, and I will be the first to say how very good He has been to me. I also am so very aware that there are people that are far worse off than I am.
But those realities do not change the reality of where I am on this journey. They may help me cope with my situation, but they do not erase it. God makes no mistakes, and I rest in the fact that my Father knows what’s best for me. This is a trial, and trials have purpose and lessons that are always intended for our benefit. So I’m not griping, just being very transparent that I miss my running trail like a long lost friend, and I long to be climbing a mountain in the Trinity Range while hunting for a muley.
I prefer to not have it this way, but we don’t always get life as we prefer it, do we? This is my path that God has placed me on, and I must travel it. My desire is to travel it in a way that will reflect His love and grace to those around me. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the three Hebrew boys saw the Lord in their furnace experience, but it does say that the king and his men saw the Lord walking with them. It is not as important that we recognize everything God is doing in our furnace experiences as it is that others see Him in the furnace with us. My prayer is simply that others will see the Lord in my life during this trial. I have much to be thankful for, and I am so grateful that God has allowed me to fill my pulpit each Sunday. I am thankful for a church family that has prayed for me, and gone out of their way to carry my burdens. I am a blessed man!
One word of encouragement that I would press upon you: Enjoy your health and realize what a gift it is! Whether you run or walk or ride a bike, or even if you are able to enjoy a restful nights sleep – don’t take it for granted. Health can change with the beat of a heart, and with it so many of the dynamics of life can be altered. Don’t wait until the well runs dry to realize the importance of the water. Soak it up while you have it, and take the time to thank God for the joy of being healthy. Be a good steward of the body that God gave you. It’s going to break down from time to time and will ultimately wear out, but our neglect shouldn’t be the reason it does.
Take your foot off the gas, and slow down. Notice the small things that add color to your life. Embrace the people that give meaning to who you are. Express your gratefulness for who they are and what they mean to you. Smile. Sing. Enjoy what you’ve been blessed with.
While you’re at it, pray daily for those who aren’t in the best of health. Two things I always dreaded the thought of were cancer and heart problems. I had no desire to get acquainted with either. Now that I’ve met both on a personal level, it has given me a burden to pray with depth of feeling for those who are facing those uninvited intruders. It also has reminded me of how wonderful heaven will be when there will be no more sickness or pain. Until that day when I walk those golden streets, I am looking forward to when I can strap my Brooks on again and run my race!