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.
Feb28SatFebruary 28, 2015
A year has now passed since my most recent surgery, and so now I am exactly half-way through the two-year period in which there is a 50:50 likelihood of my cancer returning to the scene of the crime. Although I am not yet actually “back to work,” the kindly people at the Insurance Company do permit me to volunteer as West London’s Senior Pastor on a part-time basis. So I am happily taking on some, that is, “no more than 49%,” of my former pastoral work load. As a matter of conscience, I am being careful to be at least 1% less than half the man I use to be. The church family continues to support me with encouraging words and assurances of heartfelt prayer, and along with the love comes the recurring question of how I am really doing, or as it is sometimes phrased, how I am dealing with the “inevitable down times.” When I explain that I don’t really have “down times”, I often find myself then having to explain, “No really. I don’t.” This has happened often enough lately that I have developed an organized answer to the quizzical looks. Here it is.
In the first place, I am not a very emotional person. This is not a brag. In fact, it is more of a confession, for there have been times over the years when it has actually been awkward for me to seem so unmoved and to appear so uncaring; times when it would have been really helpful to be able to produce a decent supply of tears. But no tears fall. I am what I am: basically an unemotional man. Something like the half-human, half-Vulcan Mr Spock (the Star Trek character originally played by Leonard Nimoy, who died yesterday) but with less excuse since my Mom and my Dad are 100% human and I am pretty sure I was not adopted. So there’s that, my basically unemotional temperament.
Maybe I WAS adopted. At least, I am also Vulcan-like in my tendency to be logical, a trait that also prevents “down times” from being inevitable. “What sense would it make,” asks my pointy-eared inner man, “to be depressed about my present circumstances and my future prospects and the various inconveniences caused by the necessary loss of a number of my vital organs and a number of their related body functions?” Spock-like, I go on to ask, “Would that not be illogical, Captain, to add the significant problem of being depressed to my already long-ish list of other personal problems?” Here then is the second explanation for my non-depressed state of mind.
In the third place, my general freedom from feeling “down” is theological. As I have mentioned from time to time on this blog, I am quite clear about what the Bible says about the sovereignty of our God, great as he is in wisdom and justice and kindness and power. “For I know that the LORD is great,and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.” (Psalm 135:5-7 ESV)
The thing is, I really do believe all of that.
There is one more thing, the fourth. It’s called “the peace of God.” The Apostle Paul included a lot about it in his letters, perhaps most famously in his letter to the troubled but joyful Christians living in the city of Philippi. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9 ESV)
All of that, I believe too, in part because I continue to experience God’s heart-guarding, mind-guarding peace. Just as Paul described it.