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.
Feb25TueFebruary 25, 2014
"Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take."
I learned this (rather alarming) bedtime prayer when I was very young. And today, the day before I once again lay myself down to sleep for a long (six to eight hour) anesthetically-controlled winter's nap, I find myself quite glad to have known this prayer for more than fifty years! I don't mean to be melodramatic about tomorrow's surgery, but I WAS told in the pre-op discussions that this particular surgery comes with a 3% fatality rate, that is, a 3 in 100 probability of dying "before I wake," which of course nets out as a 3 in 100 probability of dying INSTEAD of waking.
[As for what God "taking my soul" might consist of, I feel fairly filled in. The exact view of the Bible's details to which I have subscribed are outlined in my post of September 18, 2013: "Me Down To Sleep" and my general mindset regarding death and dying is explained in my post of August 7, 2013: "A Big Ugly Bug Without A Sting." Speaking of which, should "worse come to worst" tomorrow, so to speak, please put me down as "asleep in Jesus."]
What's been lolling about in my brain these last couple of weeks is the question of what if tomorrow I DON'T die before I wake. (There IS evidently a 97% likelihood that I won't.) What this question leads me to is the thought that whereas if I DO die tomorrow, I will be able to think about all that I have experienced since my cancer was diagnosed (in April of last year), especially Things #1, 2 and 3, precisely the way the Presbyterian minister thought about his falling down the front steps of the church early one Sunday afternoon. With his personal theological convictions regarding the absolute sovereignty of God firmly in place, Rev. What's-His-Name is reported to have said, "I'm glad that's over with!"
So then, what IF I don't die tomorrow, and it turns out in the long run that, as so many of my family and friends are praying, I never do die of this cancer at all? In that case (which I am also praying about and largely in favour of, by the way), I will find that I STILL have all my dying ahead of me, as do all of my family and friends.
And this is this post's point. If I do once again, by the grace of God and in answer to many prayers, become a bona fide citizen of the Land of the Living, I won't lose my status as a Dying Man, but rather will only be reclassified as "Dying Man: Not Necessarily Any Time Soon."
This would not be to say that there was therefore little or no point to this present experience, for it might in fact result in me becoming a handy guy for some other dying person to get to know. I could be the man who says, "Oh yes. Terminal cancer. A while ago, I had that too." Or the experience might turn out to make me a more sympathetic and understanding pastor. I can see the advantage of that happening. It should certainly make me more ready to die when it really IS my time, whether it's a case of a new cancer showing up (which is kind of likely, I have been told), or I get to die some other way. By contact with a really fast cement truck, for instance.
In the meantime, as I wait to find out what happens to me tomorrow, and as I perhaps live to discover that I actually die AFTER some of the people who read this post do, I leave this post's last words to Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, which is to say I leave the last words to Shakespeare: "If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all."