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, 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

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  • Jun20Fri

    A very small snail

    June 20, 2014

    This post is a sequel to the post of February 7, which was added to this blog just prior to the surgery that I have learned to call my "liver resection" (which makes it sound like some sort of a Liver Repair although it was actually more of a Liver Removal.)

    I called the post "Less liver. More living" and the surgery itself I called "Thing #4." Today, about sixteen weeks since the "resection," I blog again on the same topic. I could have called this one "More liver. Less living," but instead I turn for a title to one of the poems of A.A Milne. Here it is, in part...  (This is A.A. Milne of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin fame.)

    Ernest was an elephant, a great big fellow,
    Leonard was a lion with a six foot tail,
    George was a goat, and his beard was yellow,
    And James was a very small snail.

    Leonard had a stall, and a great big strong one,
    Ernest had a manger, and its walls were thick,
    George found a pen, but I think it was the wrong one,
    And James sat down on a brick.

    … Ernest started trumpeting and raised such a rumpus,
    Leonard started roaring and trying to kick,
    James went on a journey with the goat's new compass
    And he reached the end of his brick.

    [Milne, A. A. When We Were Very Young. Methuen & Co.; London, 1924]

    We met with a Liver Specialist this past Monday. The appointment was the surgeon's idea. Its purpose was to have him look over my case to provide my surgeon (and also my oncologist) with an opinion regarding how my "resected" liver has been getting along over the course of these four months, and whether or not it was up to the proposed third round of chemotherapy. (That would be my "Thing #5".)

    The "heptologist" explained to me and Deb that my (pathetic wreck of a) body has been occupied full-time these past sixteen weeks. And how does a resected liver keep itself busy? By growing back! The process is called "hypertrophy" (the opposite of atrophy.) He explained that whereas it had been surgically reduced to a mere 20-30% of its original size, it has now "hypertrophed" to a whopping 50%. (Hepatically speaking, I am now half the man I used to be. That's up from being approximately a quarter of the man I used to be, hepatically speaking.) He also said that this is why I have been so thoroughly exhausted all through May (and pretty much still am.) Evidently, this is just how tiring it is to re-grow a vital organ. I didn't know that. Happily, the process is going well. But I AM still really tired.

    Yesterday, we met with my oncologist. Taking the heptologist's opinion into consideration, he informed us that he has decided that I am actually too worn down and tired out for this chemotherapy. For now at least, "Thing #5" has been called off. Quite possibly then, another "Thing" bites the dust. (I meet with him again on the last day of July to reconsider the possible risks and benefits of a final set of chemo, so "Thing #5" might return to my To Do List. (But by then, I'll be at the end of the six month post-operative "window of opportunity," so quite possibly "#5" is gone for good.)

    And this brings me to that very small snail named James.

    In a parable found in Luke 12, Jesus says, "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.…" (Verse 48, ESV) Apparently, very little was entrusted to James the snail. But he WAS given the privilege of sitting down on a brick. ("Sitting down"?) And apparently, George the Goat lent James a new compass. So that very small snail, making good use of what he DID have, travelled the entire length of the brick.

    What I am seeing is that for the next six weeks, I AM James the very small (and tired) snail. To be sure, much of what I have been happily keeping busy with since I moved to London (and West London Alliance Church) in 1984 -- For a long time, much of what has defined me -- has been taken away. (At least for now. Perhaps, like a resected liver, some of my pastoral work could yet grow back.) Meanwhile, not ALL that I have loved has been lost. There are still a few bricks to sit down on, and there are still some brick-ends to reach.

    What I am currently entrusted with may not (comparatively) be much, but it's not nothing; it's more than nothing.. And the month of July is not far off. For those thirty-one summer days, while I wait to see what's to become of my "Thing #5," something more than nothing will be required of me.

    All things considered, I suppose the same goes for all of us. As the Apostle Paul wrote: This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:1,2 ESV)