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.
Nov12TueNovember 12, 2013
Last week, Deb and I vacationed in Florida. And there were dolphins! About a dozen of them, all told. At two different magnificent beaches we visited. At one point last week, as if to entertain us, one of them, swimming in the company of two others, jumped clear out of the water and then, in what seemed like an encore, leapt up even higher to perform a totally impressive front flip. It was one of the vacation's great moments!
This week, this Friday morning in fact, I begin Thing #3: the first of six biweekly, four-hour (or so) sessions in the "Chemo Suite", where I will receive intravenously the first of six large loads of deadly chemicals. Deadly as in "cancer-killing." Deadly as in "destructive of more than cancer cells." Deb and I have received a detailed list of the many possible side-effects I need to be ready for. And what an exciting list it is.
What I have here is a contrast. Last week: glorious Florida sunshine, spectacular beaches, sand like icing sugar, beautiful clear Gulf of Mexico water and a dozen dazzling dolphins, at least one of them impressively acrobatic. This week -- this cold, grey, first drizzly, then snowy week: the start of three months of chemical warfare and the unsettling prospect of feeling like and looking like a man with a serious case of cancer.
As we used to say in English literature classes: "Contrast and compare." The contrast brings to mind a short piece of a real-life conversation between a well-known Old Testament couple.
WIFE: “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
HUSBAND: “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”
The husband, of course, is Job (Job 2:9,10 ESV). And here are three things to notice.
1. In defence of Job's wife: the poor thing had at least as much to complain about as did Job. So let's give the lady a break. "Please, no comments from the peanut gallery."
2. Job's strong response to his wife was grounded on his belief that both good AND evil are received from God. ("The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21 ESV)
3. Job may have been wrong to curse the day of his birth, and maybe wrong about some of the other things he said in his suffering, but he was right in his theology. ("In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Job 2:10 ESV)
So with Job as my example, I contrast last week's days in Florida to this week's hours in the Chemo Suite and acknowledge that both are God's gifts to me. And I note that, in the long run, in view of what is really important, some pleasant experiences do me only a little bit of actual good while some really nasty stuff accomplishes great and lasting good of every sort.
And as for the side-effects? I note that God never does answer Job's questions. Not in the pages of the Book of Job, and not (apparently) during Job's life on earth. So I'm not expecting answers to the questions that might come to mind about digestive difficulties and alterations of appetite and annoying hair loss and frustrating degrees of fatigue. But I know to "cast my cares on the Lord" because, with ineffable love and wisdom, the Lord cares for me (1 Peter 5:7), which is more than can be said of the dolphins.