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.
Apr12SunApril 12, 2015
A part of my being a Christian (in the New Testament sense, that is: being personally committed, by faith, to living in grateful obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ) is seeing myself as a part of “the bride,” that is, the church of Jesus Christ. This bride’s personal history, as recorded in the New Testament and various subsequent accounts, makes it clear that while we Christians are collectively (and metaphorically) a bride, individually each of us must try not to be a “princess” about it. In other words, the challenge of being a Christian (but for that matter, the challenge of being any sort of human being) is not for sissies. Moral courage and the strength of our convictions are always in order. And for all of us, these character traits are required at every stage of our lives, perhaps especially as we are approaching the end of our lives, when the only thing left for us to do is to die.
Speaking of which, I very recently learned that what I was warned about last summer has now, in fact, come to pass. My cancer is back. And as was expected, it is back in a big way: in the liver again, but now also quite extensively in both lungs and also in some lymph glands. My initial “10% probability of survival” two years ago has been reset. This time, I’m a zero. Really. Except by some sort of spectacular miracle of God’s power (which of course is not impossible [but I am going to need to die sometime]), it is now quite settled that this cancer is the thing I will die of, almost certainly in something less than three years. No room for sissies, indeed. And no time to be a princess.
The man who taught me to be a pastor taught me to say: “Ready to preach, pray or die at a moment’s notice!” He always said it light-heartedly, and it almost always got a laugh, but I knew that he really did mean it. Working away ever since on meaning it too has been very helpful to me, and it’s helpful now.
Less nobly, I have also been (a little bit) inspired by “The Princess Bride,” that charmingly ridiculous 1987 movie now considered “a cult classic”, whatever that exactly means. In its own quirky way, that silly movie has also strengthened my striving for the courage required to live and then to die well. Two of its many now-famous lines are for me particularly to the point. On the one hand: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father; prepare to die.” And also, "Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning."
No kidding. Both quotations have been (a little bit) helpful. For decades now, I have been working on being a man who really is prepared to die. And in the years since I first saw that movie, I have tried to be open to the possibility that some dread pirate might kill me in the morning. And now I know the pirate’s name. “Cancer. Rectal cancer.”
But here’s the thing. As God strengthens me to hold firm to the courage of my convictions, I find that belonging to the church of Christ provides me with just the sort of strength I need. For the past two years especially, I have found that being a part of that bride means being loved and protected and provided for by the One who “partook” of our human-ness ”that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14,15 ESV) And so the Lord Jesus says to my heart, and to all who have entrusted themselves to him, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17,18 ESV). And my heart responds, as might the heart of any joyful bride, “You have the keys. You drive.”