The Blog of Pastor Mike Wilkins
"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.
Jul11ThuJuly 11, 2013
This is Day 24 of my 28-Day Chemo-Radiation regime -- and in the kindness of God I am still being spared from every one of the nasty side-effects I have been warned about. There is always a lot to be thankful for, and I am thankful.
Now about that elephant…
Out of India comes an ancient story of a small group of blind men who, learning that they had some sort of animal in the room, worked together to arrive at a shared understanding of what exactly they had on their hands. As the story goes, it was an elephant, but each blind man's observation suffered from his limited perspective. ("It's like a wall," said the man at the elephant's side. "It's like a snake," said the man at the front of the elephant. Etc.)
Out of last week's post, the elephant in my room is the fact that I am trusting God to rescue me from a sizeable problem (Rectal cancer) that God could have, but didn't, prevent me from getting in the first place. This elephant of mine I think worth blogging about (again) because, as I was saying, "there IS the same sizeable elephant in the life of every troubled person. We all have our stuff" -- which is what reminded me of the small group of blind men collaboratively sizing up the elephant in their room.
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear," Jesus said on more than one occasion. In the same way, we who have eyes to see are obligated to see as clearly as we can. And so I have tried. From where I am standing, I see that the question that my elephant raises is answered by the intention of God to discipline and chastise me in order to conform me further to the image of Christ. Of course, I didn't just make that up. The idea comes from Romans 8:28,29 and Hebrews 12:1-7. This is answer enough to allow the elephant and me to share a room comfortably.
But then, none of us sees perfectly. At best, "we see in a mirror dimly." So now, a week later, I venture to feel my way around this sizeable elephant to see as clearly as I can some other answers to the same question of why this lousy and difficult thing is happening to me, and why other lousy, difficult things happen to almost everyone. I do so because it is so plain to me these days that with this particular elephant, there are other people in the same room.
This dark valley that God is leading me through is a dark valley for many others, starting with my wife. While for me, it's plainly the valley of the shadow of death, for my lovely wife, it's the valley of the shadow of widowhood. For my dear godly parents, it's the loss of a child (Admittedly, a very old child, but still a child of theirs.) For my own grown children, it's the loss of a parent. And then there's my beloved church family, for whom my circumstances are threatening them with the loss of their pastor of many years, which at the very least means a pretty significant disruption to normal church life.
All of this to say that even in regard to something as personal as having cancer, the personal details of a person's life are never just about him or her. The biblical assurance is that God uses the details of every life, including the lousy and difficult details -- in some ways, especially those details -- to accomplish his good and acceptable and perfect will in the lives of many people. And this makes it all the more important that each of us accept the details of our lives, and the details of the lives of the people in our lives, including all of the lousy and difficult details, as important and meaningful aspects of the story God is telling to us and through us, and then having accepted them as such, that each of us respond to them and cope with them and make use of them exactly as we have been instructed. So let us live comfortably with the elephant, and, following our instructions, let us "count it all joy."
I gladly give to the apostle Peter the final words, (him being a man who lived a life with plenty of difficult details.) "And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11, ESV)