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.
Jun20WedJune 20, 2012
This is a sequel to the entry posted November 21, 2011 (entitled "A Gnarly Bit of Skull Surgery") in which I explained that I was scheduled for surgery in December. One of "my" two surgeons had explained to me that 'the surgery required to save my vision (and my driver's license) would likely be the newish sort of high-tech surgery in which the tumour is removed through the nose rather than the old-fashioned sort of surgery in which the tumour is removed through the forehead". The November 21 post goes on to explain that the other surgeon thought that "because of the unusual size of the tumour, both surgeries would be required, with a six-month healing period in between."
I am happy to report that the six months are now over and that the second surgery has been called off. To be exact, I did have a second surgery two weeks after the first but that wasn't the second surgery first predicted. That second surgery was a repair job considered necessary because I had begun to leak cerebrospinal fluid (out my nose, as I had been forewarned) (and onto the kitchen counter, which no one saw coming.) Everyone seemed to agree that the repair of my leaky brain was worth the trouble of a second surgery, but it wasn't the previously predicted "second surgery."
So here I am, the day after my six-month appointment with the neurosurgeon, with my calendar free of any old-fashioned "through-the-forehead" surgery to look forward to. The amazing truth, amazing even to the surgeons who did the job, is that, contrary to their own predictions, the first surgery was all it took to remove the entire thing.
For many years, Deb and I have had a very good pair of friends who are also a pastor and his wife. (They say it takes one to know one. Or two to know two, as the case may be.) Just after the first surgery, Deb phoned these friends with a report of how things went. Our friend, the pastor's wife, told us that, while the surgery was going on, she had been praying that God would work so powerfully through the surgeons, and that the surgery would accomplish so much, that even the surgeons themselves would be amazed at what they had done. And so it has come about, just as she had prayed.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord has been very gracious to me, and that the surgeons' unusual success is a specific gift from God, to me and to my wife who by it has been spared the burden of caring for me through a second long convalescence. Dozens and dozens of our friends strongly and happily agree.
But what should be said to the cynics? I mean, those who might ask, Where was the goodness of God when the tumour began, and when it kept on growing to its full "unusual size"? And where was the goodness of God when my brain fluid was forming a puddle on the kitchen counter? And on New Year's weekend as Deb watched spinal meningitis setting in --- and me fading away? I would be happy to be asked such questions so that I can respond. "Very glad you asked," I will say. "Because I am now in the position to answer such questions personally, whereas before all of this, my answers were personally untested."
And here is what I now can say, from experience. The goodness of God was present and at work in every aspect of my experience. The goodness of God was working "all things according to the counsel of his will" and "all things together for good." After many years of assuring many people of these biblical truths in reference to their problems and suffering, there would be no excuse for me to have forgotten to look for the evidence of his good design in the difficulties I experienced. But I didn't forget! And I thank God for that fact, too. With God's help, I saw his designs in all sorts of the details, including all sorts of little joys and pleasures and worthwhile occurences along the way.
At this point in the story, I can honestly say (Actually I did say this to the surgeon yesterday), "It's been a great experience! In fact, for all sorts of reasons, including the warmth of receiving so much love and kindness from the wonderful church family that Deb and I belong to, I really wouldn't want to have missed it."
And to the cynics who give me the opportunity, this is what else I will say: I am glad that God in his goodness didn't prevent the tumour from starting and didn't stop it from growing to its unusual size. It wasn't bad luck that my pituatary gland grew the thing and it isn't good luck that the thing is all gone. It was God at work in my life and in the lives of everyone whose life was complicated or in any way impacted by my adventures. It was God, who in his goodness and his wisdom sometimes has his reasons for taking his people for a walk through a difficulty.
One more thing: I assume that one of the many good reasons that God has caused me to experience and learn all of this is to prepare me for future medical problems and physical pain and suffering, all which awaits me at some unknown time in the future. I mean, unknown to me. To state what should be obvious to everyone, it's not very likely at all that I will never have any more health problems. ("Gulp.") After all, I am going to die. Some day, I mean. And almost certainly I will die through sickness, unless I am hit by a sudden massive heart attack, or perhaps a massive truck. Which means that what I have learned this year from being really quite sick will turn out to be useful to me right up to my dying day. And on my dying day, too.