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.
Oct8TueOctober 8, 2013
I've been home from the hospital for ten days, my gut-wrenching surgery now almost three weeks old. And how am I feeling? I'm happy to report that I am actually very happy. Really. I am really very happy, which surprises some people, I think, considering my circumstances, I mean my ongoing nasty case of terminal cancer.
Now the thing is, I am not by any means a naturally gloomy fellow. I am happy to admit that I have inherited a good genetic dose of what C.S. Lewis refers to (on page 1 of "Surprised by Joy") as the "talent for happiness." But nevertheless I am quite prepared to defend the Institution of Happiness from all nay-sayers, especially those well-meaning detractors who fear that by succumbing to the charms of the thoroughly flighty and unreliable Blue Bird of Happiness, people like me are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Here is my defense.
Without a doubt, my current state of happiness is circumstantial. I freely admit that I am happy these days because the immediate effect of my surgery has been the definite taming of my nine-month long state of Gastrointestinal Chaos. Because of the surgery, I am no longer the slave of a really lousy bowel system and no longer frequently and pathetically held prisoner in any one of the Small Rooms in the house. Along with all of that, I am no longer bound to a restricted diet and so have recently rejoined the World-Wide League of Enthusiastically Committed Coffee Consumers. In all of that, the fact that my current happiness is circumstantial dampens my mood not a bit.
By definition, "happiness" is always circumstantial. The word is derived from the Old English word "hap," which means "chance" or "fortune." In fact, all "happiness" is an emotionally positive response to the way things have "happened," that is, to what is sometimes referred to as being "lucky" or "fortunate." And here my defence makes a humble admission.
The word "happiness" is, in its origin, not so happy a term for the happy state of heart in question. Being people who believe in "God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17 ESV), it is more accurate for us to describe ourselves as "blessed." It's just that doing so fails to explain to people how happy we feel! So, back to my defense.
At the same time, I take in stride the temporal nature of my happiness, knowing that no earthly circumstances are permanent. But still, "everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer." (1 Timothy 4:4,5 ESV).
Meanwhile, as I consider where my cancer is leading me: to several months of intense chemotherapy (beginning late in November, I think) and at least one more big surgery, and maybe two (to "resect" a substantial chunk of my cancerous liver), I accept the coming days of difficulty in the same spirit as I am just now accepting these happy days of strong black coffee. And, all the while, as it is set out in Psalm 16, "… my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices … You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Vss. 9-11 ESV)
So please don't worry about me and my current state of temporary, circumstantial happiness. I am very clear on the fact that FULLNESS of joy and PERMANENT pleasures are only found in the presence of God and at his right hand.