The Blog of Pastor Mike Wilkins

In The Long Run

"The long run" referred to in the title of this blog is, in the first place, the many years Mike Wilkins served as West London's solo pastor, and then its Senior Pastor, since he and his wife Deb moved to London (and this church) in 1984.

In these past few years (beginning November 2011,) Mike's various health challenges, particularly a serious and ongoing case of cancer, has added another layer to the "long run" metaphor, and lots to blog about. Mike is currently on an extended Sick Leave, but generally worships with the church family on Sunday mornings.

With the publication of a book he wrote in 2016 entitled "Glory in the Face" (now available electronically and in paperback from Amazon.ca, and other online venders), Mike has just launched a new website, which will serve as a sort of scrapbook for readers of the book, with relevant background photos, for example, of That Last Final Solo Canoe Trip in May, 2011, as well as additional information about the book, and--coming soon--a new set of blog posts, mostly about the peace of God and the joy of the Lord and the face of Christ and the strength to face anything. You'll find the new website now at www.gloryintheface.com.

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  • Nov13Fri

    Defiant pleasures

    November 13, 2015

    If I were you, that is, if I were one of the people I know to be keeping up with me and my significant health challenges by means of this blog, I would be wondering about the Wilkins family with Christmas coming and with me again on chemotherapy (to be continued biweekly for as long as the trimonthly CT-scans indicate that the friendly poisons are doing more good than harm.) Doctors tell me that this stuff might keep my health stable for six to eight months. If I were you, what I would be wondering is how we are planning to do Christmas this year with one of us more-or-less dying. (Not that we are the only family bearing a significant sadness at “the most wonderful time of the year” — but we are one of them.) To me, the question is a good one, because from the day I joined the Cancer Club, I have tried to take a stand against living in denial.

    Last week, I came across something written by one of my current Five Dead Men (the one who died at the age of 62, I note with interest) on the subject of celebrating Christmas and other feasts and festivals and celebrations that occur in the Winter. “The whole point of winter pleasure,” wrote G.K. Chesterton, “is that it is a defiant pleasure, a pleasure armed and at bay.” I liked what he wrote when I first read it, and now, a week later, I like it all the more. Once again, the mind of the “Prince of Paradoxes,” filled to overflowing as it was with “wisdom, wit and wonder,” enlightens me.

    So if you are wondering about me and my family and this coming Christmas, I am happy to report that we are planning to put our whole hearts into it "defiantly." With all our hearts, we will celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will buy and decorate a really tall Christmas tree, and also our house, inside and out. We will listen to Christmas carols and we will drink eggnog and other fancy drinks, and we will eat shortbread cookies and other Christmas goodies. We will watch Christmas movies and we will work away on a 1000-piece Christmas jigsaw puzzle. We will attend a Christmas Eve Carol Service (I already have one particular church in mind), and we will listen to Christmas readings and a Christmas sermon and we will sing Christmas songs about the tidings of comfort and joy that Christ by his birth brought into the world. And we will sit down together to eat a great big turkey dinner and there will be Christmas pudding (with hot caramel sauce!) for dessert. And we will, at least for a good few minutes, wear brightly-coloured paper hats. Less certainly but quite possibly, everyone will agree to let me read them George MacDonald’s “The Gifts of the Child Christ,” — fully aware that, this year more than ever (because of my many prescription drugs), there’s not a hope that I will get through the reading without some degree of uncontrolled sobbing. And everyone will laugh at me because up until these days I never really have been much of a weeper. And all things considered, a good and joyful Christmas will be had by us all.

    Our plan is to just go ahead and really enjoy Christmas 2015, with our eyes and our ears open wide to the beauty and the mystery and the splendour of it all, and with our minds not closed to the hard truths of what is almost certainly going to happen to me in the months to come.

    On a related note, putting our whole hearts into Christmas 2015 will be good practice for us, because there is now a big celebration on our 2016 calendar. As some of you know, the plot of the story that our family is telling has been recently thickened by plans for a wedding on April 23. (My daughter Joanna’s, to a fine young man that we all like named Andre Vanderlaan.) I am happy to report that auditions went well and I did land the role of Father of the Bride, which adds a certain zip to the doctors’ words about me and the upcoming six to eight months. That’s just about the number of months that I will need to remain this healthy in order to be able to walk down a certain aisle with a certain Lady-in-White and to answer a certain question about this woman being given to that man.

    So this December and next April, we have some celebrating planned and we mean to get to it with genuine joy, with authentic smiles, with real laughter and with appropriate feasting, not denying anything that we know to be true, but deliberately defying all the Disturbers of the Peace and the Devourers of the Joy that even now are trying to stare us down. Our God is the great King over all the earth, and Jesus is Lord. So "defiantly," we will embrace the pleasures of Christmas and a wedding. Although held "at bay" by the chilling realities of my nasty case of terminal cancer, we are "armed" with the peace of God that guards the hearts of those who trust in him, and with the Spirit of God who strengthens us in our faith.

    Obviously, we don’t know the details of the things to come. Only God does. Obviously, any number of things might happen to change our plans. But “I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in all the deep places.” (Psalm 135:5-6 ESV). If by the grace of God, he is pleased to see us all the way into and all the way through these two big festivities, we will thank him with great thanks. And if he is pleased to tell our story another way, we’ll look to him for the grace to play our parts. Either way, our hearts and our minds will be guarded by his peace. Either way, his joy will be our strength. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17 ESV)

    Comment

    On Sunday, March 6, 2016, Susan Jensen said:

    Bravo! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ

     

    On Saturday, November 28, 2015, Betty said:

    Dear Pastor Mike, I would like to share the bible verse with you .I learn these verses from Dr.Charles Stanley, IN TOUCH MINISTIRES. These bible verses very encourage me when I was down. Isaiah 41:10 " Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righterous right hand"

    In Christ with Love, Betty

     

    On Friday, November 27, 2015, Lois Parker Hanks said:

    I am saddened and strengthened at the same time as I read of your journey. Sending love and prayer for you to continue to know Immanuel, God with you, in each step of this season. Fond memories of you and your precious family, Lois Parker Hanks xx

     

    On Sunday, November 22, 2015, Kathy said:

    As I read this my spirits rose - thank you as ever for being a source of encouragement. Praying that our gracious God allows you to enjoy both these celebrations.

     

    On Wednesday, November 18, 2015, Ken Pringle said:

    Dear Mike, It is always encouraging to read your blog and, to read the comments your faithful loved ones write afterward, no one least of all John Piper could accuse you of 'wasting your cancer'. It has been a help to those who have it and, to the rest of us, what we can probably expect. I like the sound of your family Christmas plans. Love large, my brother! Christmas in a word, ...Festive! God bless the Wilkins family as we approach Advent. Ken.

     

    On Monday, November 16, 2015, Wes Reimer said:

    Dear Mike, as a 'purveyor' of the friendly poisons u speak of, may God 'enlarge their benefit' such that u stay among us well beyond the April wedding as He might will. You came to mind just now and it was a pleasure and inspiration to read (and inwardly cheer) about the race u presently run. In the past three yrs I have lost both my dad and sister-in-law to cancer. It is indeed 'the long goodbye' - or as glory may view it - a processional hello. Either way, it means parting us altogether too soon. I love u and, like hundreds who know and bless u, you have had immeasurable impact in my life for the kingdom of God. I implore u to suck the marrow out of what time it is u have left and do applaud your resolve to make merry. As Nouwen would argue, celebration's bliss is impossible w/o the concurrent existence of the dissonant sting of sorrow. The one frames the other. Bless u allโ—๏ธ

     

    On Monday, November 16, 2015, Patti Gary said:

    Pastor Mike, saw your blog posted on Facebook by my friend, Linda Jarvis of Canada, and I'm deeply moved by your resilience and strength through Christ. Praying you have a defiantly delightful Christmas and you have the stamina to live out all your days in His joy . Sent from Grapevine Texas

     

    On Saturday, November 14, 2015, Henry E. Harley (Hank) said:

    Pastor, My wife Andrea and I are praying that God has HIS way in your life. I am a cancer survivor. A brain tumor was found on my brain. I had an MRI and the Oncologist showed me and my wife the picture. He said, "I need a sample to be checked by a pathologist to ascertain whether the tumor was malignant or not". He went on to say that although he was very confident he was obliged to advise me that not every patient who is "put under" re-wakes. What an opportunity he gave me. I said, "Doctor I'm a Christian. My book says 'I knew you before you were born. I'm preparing a place for you when you die. No Oncologist is going to spoil my plans!" The doctor's reply was, "I hope He doesn't mind my help". God bless AND your family!

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Heather Tompkins said:

    You continue to encourage and inspire us ....such authentic faith & trust. Truly "walking the talk" of the wonderful man of God you have always been and continue to be. GOD"S RICHEST BLESSING on each one of the WILKINS GANG...as you face this incredible journey together. Lots of love, George & Heather

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, gayle delancey said:

    Dear Pastor Mike Thankyou again for sharing your story in joyous, faithfilled words of hope & trust in our amazing wonderful Lord!! My heart is filled with a resounding`` Amen``. You & your family continue to be in my prayers

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Freda MacDonald said:

    Thank you, dear servant of God. ... Your written thoughts remind me of an old chorus...."Rejoice in The Lord, always...And again I say, rejoice"... This is a wonderful attitude I believe is deeply rooted in your heart. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Deb and family. Freda

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Wende Moran said:

    I keep praying for you and Deb and the children.

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Laura Hahn-Ladipo said:

    Joy to the fullest! Yes to keeping your eyes on the Prince of Peace vs the Disturber of Peace.

    However, you might want to rethink the whole plan of doing a massive puzzle... that seems to disturb peace and cause stress!

    ~You raise a very valid point, Laura. I will think it over.

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Darlene Delamont said:

    Thank you Mike ... once again I pause to drink in what you graciously share with us from the journey you and your Father on are. Grateful!

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Steve Wise said:

    Many thanks for the defiance that only faith can facilitate. It is a Holy fire that consumes us, fast or slow, and we are privileged to be so consumed. The dross that blinds and constrains us cannot abide that flame, so let us 'burn out for God' and do God and our fellow man some good while we can. The Lord's blessings on your defiant joy.

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Neil Siemens said:

    What an amazing story and what an amazing attitude!! How inspiring!! God Bless You and Your Family.

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Wendy McLellan said:

    Hello Mike. I met you a good while back at a CCNL meeting and have followed your journey of health challenges. Your faith has been inspiring and your outlook on the coming celebrations of Christmas and your daughter's wedding is joyful to hear. My family is also walking this journey as my husband's health deteriorates, and your message of perseverance and hope are a welcome respite. I lift you and your family in prayer brother....that God will extend your life far beyond the April celebration and your health will be strong for the walk down that aisle!

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Richard and Hope said:

    You fill me with such hope and we pray against the Disturber of the Peace in your home this Christmas and well past April.

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Paul Theriault said:

    Thank you Mike. I needed this today. I remember our last conversation at Angelo's across from WLA. I talked about my own issues with cancer and it seemed to me at the time that I was leaving London etc to be with my family because dawning on me finally was the reality that there is an expiry date on this wonderful product called 'life on earth'. I think I may have misread the expiry date, it wasn't clear and for that I am thankful, but it is there nonetheless, whether this gets me or something else does. It is my turn to bring a devotional to the council meeting this week. You may be thinking...wha..? ... but we joined this local Reformed Church, mostly because it was conveniently nearby and everyone seemed nice and then the next thing I know my name is being picked at random from a hat - and I'm a deacon - ME! - who just liked to cruise around the outer fringes of the business of Church is now in the inner circle. Not that exciting, I'd rather be playing bass...but anyway this is a very good word you've penned and I want to share it with people you don't even know. Whenever the cancer prayers come to mind (I know lots of people it seems with the big C) you and your famille are on the list. Thanks Mike. Paul

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Shirley Ella said:

    Mike, you bless my heart with all of your writings...particularly this one left me with a few tears. Your heart and submission to the will of God is so very evident. I am claiming the good pleasures of God for you and your family as you are looking forward to the two upcoming celebrations. Blessings and love to all of your family.

     

    On Friday, November 13, 2015, Heather Cushing said:

    Mike, your outlook and your words continue to inspire us. You make God's grace and provision in the midst of suffering a reality. We will be praying for you and your family as you 'defiantly' celebrate His many blessings in your lives. With much love, Scott and Heather

     

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