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.
Feb2TueFebruary 2, 2016 by Mike Wilkins
When Elisabeth Elliot wrote a book about her husband, she entitled it “The Shadow of the Almighty,” a phrase from Psalm 91. Her book tells the story of how, in January 1956, Jim Elliott and his four missionary colleagues were speared to death by the Huaorani Indians, an Ecuadorian tribe that they were seeking to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This psalm begins with these words:
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge…” (Psalm 91:1,2 ESV)
No one should think that this brilliant young woman’s choice of title was inappropriate. It was a definite part of her faith to believe that even when the people of Christ experience hardships, even painful and deadly hardships, God remains their refuge and their fortress, keeping them “in his shadow,” sheltering and delivering them from “snares” and “deadly pestilence” and all other troubles, the way defenceless little birds are sheltered under the wings of their mother.
Proof of Elliott’s conviction can be seen in another book she wrote entitled “The Savage, My Kinsmen,” in which she tells the story of how in 1959 she and their daughter Valerie, by then three years old, entrusted themselves to God and trekked into the jungle to live for two years with the same tribe. The men who had done the killing were still there. (By the way, both books are still in print, readily available and well worth reading.)
Bearing in mind these stories of such mortal danger and such great faith, the fact that this Friday I am again beginning a series of biweekly chemotherapy treatments hardly seems to be worth mentioning, except to say that the words of Psalm 91 are a source of strength and comfort to me — and to all of us who place our confidence in the Lord and trust him to be with us in all of our challenges and to deliver us from every sort of trouble, even “deadly pestilence.”
Having said that, I should add that to read all of Psalm 91 is to find that just as we who have committed ourselves to the Lord, body and soul, have reason to expect him to be our refuge and our fortress in our times of trouble, so the Lord himself has expectations of us, as set out in the final three verses of the psalm.
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16 ESV)
There they are. Three of God’s expectations for us who look to him for help. He expects us to hold fast to him in love, to know his name, and to call on him. These expectations I also need to take to heart and keep in mind this Friday, as do all those who expect to be kept “in the shadow of the Almighty.”
As for the "matter-of-fact" concluding statement that God will "satisfy" such people with “long life,” I have two closing thoughts. On the one hand, “long life” is a relative term that can reasonably be applied to the life of a man in his early sixties.
And on the other hand, the "salvation" that God says he will show us is, in fact, “the free gift of God” that is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV) That particular gift is reported to be both priceless and endless.