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.
Jul18ThuJuly 18, 2013
Yesterday I visited the Tanning Salon for my 28th session and swallowed my 336th pink pill. With some sense of ceremony, I then stood in the reception area with my girls, mallet in hand, and gave the London Regional Cancer Program's Radiation Gong an enthusiastic whack, signifying to the other cancer patients and their relatives that, for me and for now, that whole business is now over with. A polite round of applause followed, as usual.
Thus endeth my six weeks of Chemo-and-Radiation Therapy, but apparently it doesn't end the radiation. Apparently, just as the roast keeps cooking for a while after it's taken out of the oven, so the tumour keeps glowing for a while after the tanning sessions are over. For two weeks, in fact. (Who would have guessed?)
And now a question comes to mind: "So?" The answer is, "I wait." I wait for two weeks for the radiation of my nether parts to cease, which takes me to the end of July. And then I wait for a few weeks more. In fact, now that Round One in this fight for my life is concluded, I begin Round Two: another six week (or so) Waiting Period in which the battlefield quiets down enough that the results of my 28 and my 336 can be discerned, by means of an MRI (to see what's become of the tumour) and a CT-Scan (to see what my liver has been doing for my summer vacation.) Following these two Dates with Destiny, Deb and I will have a chat with the oncologist to hear what he suggests is next. The obvious happy possibility (I mean, besides a miracle of God's healing, which I continue to pray for, and deeply appreciate your prayers for) is a surgery in September to remove the shrivelled-up tumour. And at the other end of the list of possibilities: a new regime of chemotherapy sessions, either designed to try again to shrink the tumour, or as palliative chemotherapy (An intimidating term!), if it seems that there's not much else that can be done.
So that's what's up for me for the next six-or-so weeks. I wait. I just wait in regard to the enormous uncertainty on my horizon. Just as do many people I know, because this is what life is like --- and because we all have our stuff. Obviously, we don't all have cancer or other life-and-death health problems, but we all have stuff. Some of this stuff isn't so much personal as interpersonal: a marital challenge, or a child-raising problem, or a difficulty with a friend, or a "work related" or "school related" burden. In the hope of being helpful to my fellow "stuff-bearers," I am glad to share what I have learned about waiting (with thanks to Clint Eastwood and the other makers of a 1960's film phenomenon called "spaghetti westerns.")
What's GOOD about waiting.
"Just waiting" is good when it builds character. It can develop patience and perseverance and, if we are waiting on God, it builds faith and hope, all of which are good and beautiful things.
What's BAD about waiting.
"Just waiting" turns bad when I start considering my perspective and my wisdom and my sense of timing and my opinion on what's best for me to be superior to God's. Who am I to say that a certain period of "just waiting" is going on too long? With a mistaken view of myself and of God, my confidence in God erodes, and so does my hope. Functionally, I become more and more a man "without hope and without God in the world." A very bad thing.
What's UGLY about waiting.
"Just waiting" turns ugly when my disapproval or discontentment with God's perspective and wisdom and sense of timing begins to embitter me, especially when it embitters me toward God. At that point, my doubts and unbelief begin to define me, and if "a gentle and quiet spirit is precious in the sight of the Lord," then surely an opposite state of mind and an opposite condition of heart is ugly to God. (Yikes!)
So here I wait. For about a month. And while the radiation continues to do its work on my lower end, I work on my heart and mind, believing that "just waiting" can be a good thing, and seeking to ensure that it is. Coming off of a month and a half experience in which I repeatedly quoted Psalm 16 to myself, I love and am helped by that psalm too much to let go of it now. But I am now taking on another favourite psalm. Over the years of trying to be a helpful pastor, I've recommended it to a lot of people and in many cases have loved to see what strength it supplies to a believing heart.
Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14 (NASB)
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life. Whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I will be confident … I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.
May the peace of God guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. And may the joy of the Lord be our strength.