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.
Jun20ThuJune 20, 2013
In answer to three frequently asked and always kindly meant questions: "How are you doing?" and "How are you feeling?" and "How are you doing really?", I now break my recent blog silence, with apologies to all the people who have popped these questions to me by email and text and Facebook message and then haven't received a word from me in response. I have been feeling the love, but also feeling too tired to reply individually to every kind soul who asks for a personal progress report. My new general level of fatigue is one reason why I haven't been responding to the questions. The other reason is that, after ten trips to the Radiation Therapy Room, which I sometimes like to refer to as the Tanning Salon, (with 19 trips still to go), I have very little to report, other than that I am now tired all the time, and that I spend a lot of time in the very small rooms in my house. That's it.
On a related note however, I CAN blog about how I am doing, really, at those "two things at the same time" that I blogged about on May 31, that is," "standing still" and "running hard." As I just mentioned, I have been to the Tanning Salon ten times so far. There is a sameness to the experience. Each time, I am called by name from the little waiting area and walked into the Salon (by one of the very pleasant and professional Staff members) where I take my place on the Tanning Bed. There is a large rubber doughnut of a thing, covered in cloth, into which I put my face, having deftly and modestly pulled my pants down (for medical purposes). And there I lie, face down and pants down, thinking about being healed and thinking about not being healed, thinking about living and thinking about dying, while the Radiation Professionals push me and pull me around a little bit to position my bottom half precisely for my very few moments of actual radiation. Then I am left alone in the room and the machines come to life and do their work. Each of the ten times, as the magic begins, I recite a psalm I long ago memorized. It came to mind, thank the Lord, quite uncalled for, my first time in the Salon and I have found it a great help and source of strength each time since. Here it is, with the thoughts of "running hard" and "standing still" I now associate with it.
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
It is God who I am looking to for preservation. As John Piper has written on not wasting my cancer, I am trusting in God, not in the odds. And not in science, even though I'm lying here becoming more radiant every day. I believe that all the good, and the only good, I will receive from these treatments will be the goodness of God to me.
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. What a difference it makes to trust God rather than trusting anyone or anything less. I am strengthened to have joined the company of "the saints in the land," who have lived and suffered and taken refuge in God and found him faithful and good. I am glad to be free from the "sorrows of those who run after other gods." It is God I am taking refuge in. I am looking to him to preserve me.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. Whatever comes of all this, one thing is for sure. I have the Lord and he determines all my outcomes. All the uncertainties notwithstanding, the lines always have, and always will, fall to me in pleasant places and my final outcome will be a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. I'm thankful to God for teaching me how to think about all of this. His words, now written on my heart, are my instructions. The Lord has prepared me for this. With him right here at my right hand, I am unshakeable. The tanning bed shakes a bit in the middle of the process, but I'm not shaking. At all.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. I really am happy. My whole being is happy. From top to --"Ahem"-- bottom, I have joy. And this physical body of mine is safe and secure, even with cancer cells doing their darndest. Even if my "worst case scenario" DOES come to pass; even if this IS the beginning of the end of my life as I know it; even if I die of this cancer, God will not abandon my soul. It won't be me decomposing in the grave. ("I believe in the resurrection of the body"!) The Lord God, who is my refuge, will keep me on the path, running for my life, running towards real life, where the joys are full to overflowing. And when this run of mine is over, whenever that turns out to be, the pleasures of his company will be permanent.
Just about then, the machines quit whirring and the Radiation People re-enter the room. They politely look away as I awkwardly get up off the Tanning Bed and pull up my pants. We tell each other "See you tomorrow" and we all get on with our day. And that, in part, is how I am doing. (Thanks for asking.)