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.
Sep11WedSeptember 11, 2013
That charming stereotype we call "the Optimist" has sometimes been differentiated from his gloomy counterpart "the Pessimist" by his (or her) description of a glass of water that is, in fact, both half-full and half-empty. At last week's meeting with my oncologist, the good doctor told me that whereas, back in May, my chances of surviving this cancer were in his opinion very bleak, he now upgrades my odds of survival to a solid 20%. Committed as I am to the Optimist's cheerful outlook, I can now say that my particular glass of water is apparently one-fifth full.
John Piper says "You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God." He wrote this, just before his surgery for prostate cancer, in an excellent little article he entitled "Don't Waste Your Cancer" (which you can easily find by searching www.desiringgod.org) The fine print explains, "The design of God in your cancer is not to train you in the rationalistic, human calculation of odds. The world gets comfort from their odds. Not Christians … The aim of God in your cancer (among a thousand other good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on him."
For this powerful piece of writing, I thank John Piper. And I think that his references to "the design of God" and "the aim of God" and "a thousand other good things" add up to a very important truth. As the Bible makes clear, the life of a human being is not, in fact, a thing of uncertain duration. That long-suffering, non-optimistic Old Testament man named Job was clear on this. He says to God, "Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble … his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass…" (Job 14:1-5 ESV) And King David was on the same page. He writes "… in your book were written the days that were formed for me, every one of them, when as yet there was none of them." (Psalm 139:16 ESV [except that I rearranged the phrases for the sake of clarity] )
The point here is plain, I think. Every human life is long enough to accommodate every one of the good and pleasant things AND every one of the good but "full of trouble" things that God means THAT particular human being to experience. Life is always long enough for the purposes of God. Every human life, including mine.
So while some medically-knowledgeable people are giving me a 20% chance of being alive in a year or two, it will always remain a 100% certainty that I will live on in this world, in some state of sickness or of health, until every one of "the days that were formed for me" and my entire "number of months" have been lived, and until all of the designs and aims of God have been accomplished, and until "a thousand other good things" have been realized.
So there it is. I am a man with lousy odds, and they are against me. In fact, my odds are not even "even." But by God's great grace, against all odds, I am maintaining an even keel. And clothed with the righteousness of Christ, I am at peace, being assured by the Word of God that I will one day stand before my Judge and Maker with a 100% approval rating.
And the Word of God teaches me what to say: "Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments … He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid until he looks in triumph on his adversaries." (Psalm 112:1,6-8 ESV)