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.
Sep4FriSeptember 4, 2015
Very recently, I read The Silver Chair, one of the seven Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis. Once again. For the ever-so-many-eth time. Once again, I took a long and difficult walk with a girl named Jill and a boy named Eustace and a Marsh-wiggle named Puddleglum. For the benefit of any (poor souls) who don’t already know, allow me to explain that a Marsh-wiggle is a frog-like sort of humanoid, most notable for its Eeyore-like disposition, but also for living in gloomy solitude in a wigwam in a marsh. Once again, I was motivated to put on gladness and joy and to put off sorrow and sighing, as Isaiah the prophet once prophesied.
So here, at the 55-yard line (so-to-speak, as Pastor Jude would speak with reference to his former life “in the trenches”), half-way between my most recent CT-scan of July 31st and my upcoming CT-scan on September 30th, I take stock of all that I have to be not glum about: all the details of my life to be glad about, I mean in addition to not being invaded by Vikings.
1) These days, I read a lot. I have really loved reading ever since I learned to about 55 years ago, but at many stages of my life, did not have as much time for it as I would have liked. And now I do. Time to read old favourites, like a Narnia book or two. Time to read current bestsellers, like Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (not because the movie based on the same Mount Everest episode is coming out this month but because my daughter Jess has it on her list of books to teach this term at her new teaching gig in Toronto). Time to read theological works that I have always meant to get to, but never managed to (since I learned to love reading that sort of thing about 35 years ago), works like John Owen’s treatise: A Practical Exposition on Psalm 130. All kinds of time to read. My life these days reminds me of something C.S.Lewis wrote (somewhere!) about the pleasure of being too sick to work but not too sick to read. So in this I am glad.
2) Speaking of being “not too sick”, whatever the one or two dozen cancer tumours currently residing in my liver and lungs and lymph glands, and whatever the untold number of rogue cancer cells currently touring my blood stream, are actually up to (which I will be updated about shortly after my upcoming CT-scan), I think the only bona-fide cancer symptom I have to report is fatigue. I do have plenty of that. But I can take a nap whenever I feel like it — or I can just lie down on any one of the very comfortable sleeping surfaces in my very comfortable home and just pick up one of the books I am reading. [See Point 1 above.] For this I also am glad.
3) These days, I am often told that I look pretty healthy, and I usually explain that I look healthier than I am (mostly because of a couple of happy side-effects of the prescription drugs I take), and that I have come to prefer “looking more healthy than I am” to “being more healthy than I look”. I am in fact healthy enough to bike (about 50 or 60 minutes three times a week) and run (about 7 kilometres [with walking breaks] a couple of times a week) and to go for pleasant walks. And besides all that, this summer I have done a bit of paddling in canoes and a kayak I have borrowed. I am living the life of a robust 80-year-old, and, for what it is, and for what it's worth, I am loving it.
4) Since I have been “out of the pulpit”, I have learned this about myself: that the part of preaching I miss the most is the day-to-day experience of mulling over some particular portion of Scripture and planning how to communicate it. So I am quite adequately compensated for the loss of my preaching by working away throughout any given week on a couple of writing projects I've had in mind for a while. What I am now doing throughout the week is what I had always planned to be doing when I turned 70. So in this I am a man ahead of my time, which is generally considered a good thing.
5) My heart and my mind are both still very well guarded by “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” and still “the joy of the Lord is my strength”. Some of that joy is the direct result of understanding that, though quite definitely, "I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”, I am walking according to the purposes of our great and sovereign God, who is good and who does what is good and whose steadfast love and faithfulness have no end. “And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness … but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 35:8-10 ESV)
I am not sighing. I am not glum. Call me Puddleglad.