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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  • Jun26Wed

    Pink pills for pale people

    June 26, 2013

    I grew up in Brockville. I was born in Kingston and I graduated from both high school and university in Kingston, but from the age of two until the end of Grade Twelve, I was a Brockville boy, and always glad to be. For one thing, Brockville is built on the banks of the spectacular St. Lawrence River. For another, Brockville was named after a genuine hero of the War of 1812, Sir Isaac Brock (although dying as he did in the Battle of Queenston Heights, he didn't live to hear that a little UEL town on the banks of the St. Lawrence River had re-named itself after him -- and alao that he had just been knighted.) For yet another thing, Brockville has the oldest railway tunnel in Canada, for me "another thing" more than ever because not only did construction begin exactly 100 years before I was born: September, 1854 --- but also the tunnel, all 1,740 feet of it, was first opened for use in December 1860, the exact month in which my first "Beatrice" play was set.

    Not so much "a thing" for me but true nonetheless is that one of Brockville's first millionaires, a Victorian businessman and politician named George Fulford, made his fortune by acquiring the rights to market "Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People," which brings me to the subject of how else I am doing, that is, to the subject of chemotherapy.

    Every day for the entire six weeks of my radiation regime, I swallow eight pink pills, four after breakfast and four after dinner. That's my chemotherapy and when all is said and done, that will be 336 pink pills "down the little red hatch." Truth be told, I have disliked every swallow. I admit that, as I am under doctor's orders to avoid direct sunshine, I am and will remain one of this summer's Pale People. But it's not doing without a suntan that I dislike. Nor is it the pink-nicity of the pills. It's the fact that they are poison. As Wikipedia puts it: "Traditional chemotherapeutic agents act by killing cells that divide rapidly, one of the main properties of most cancer cells. This means that chemotherapy also harms cells that divide rapidly under normal circumstances: cells in the bone marrow, digestive tract, and hair follicles." Hair follicles, I have found, I can do without but I am of a different mind about bone marrow and my digestive tract.

    So here I am, day by day, a Pale Person swallowing eight little Poisonous Pink Pills, and generally always creeped out by the experience. But I'm not at all inclined to turn away from the counsel of my doctors and from their choice of pills. I've been telling people for years that sometimes you have to pick your poison, and these pink pills are the poison I pick. All 336 of them. Not because I'm pale but because I've got cancer. The alarming truth is, if something (and/or SomeOne) doesn't kill it, it's going to kill me. The fact that the pink pills are killers is the whole point. We're talking about Poisonous Pink Pills for Previously Poisoned People.

    Helpfully, the whole idea of fighting killers with killers is not new to me. For all my life, I have carried around within my body a whole army of killers: pride, self-centredness, lust, envy, spite, bitterness, mean-spiritedness, laziness... For all my life, a part of me has been a big old deadly mess. These poisons are very able to kill my friendships, my family relationships, my peace of mind, my reputation and my relationship with God. From the days when I was a young boy growing up in Brockville, I have always had these deadly poisons at work within me, with many a battle to be won or lost. One of my original Nine Dead Men, John Owen (1616-1683) wrote powerfully on this topic. He was not only a man of deep thoughts but also of big words and so he liked to call it "mortification," and now my chemotherapy reminds me of what he wrote. “Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until it be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death" … "Do you mortify? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

    So how am I doing? Thanks again for asking. I'm doing pretty well, now half way through the six week regime. But how are you doing? Let us wisely pick our poisons, or to change the metaphor, choose our weapons. And the chief weapons in the war against all varieties of inner poisons are the words of the Bible, which describes itself as "a fire and a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces" and "a two-edged sword" that pierces, divides and discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

    And let us be full of hope about all of our battles, trusting the God of hope to strengthen us to fight fiercely with the weapons he provides us with, and so in due time to conquer everything that is positioned to kill pale poisoned people like us.