This post won’t go up until July 9. By then I should be in the hospital, just finishing chemo, with no bone marrow and no immune system, and starting a 4-6 week recovery.
My 50th birthday is July 11. Happy birthday!
Tonight, though, June 29, I’m sitting in an RV, and except for the miracle of modern medicine, I’d be dying very rapidly. I may still die, I suppose, though I believe God has told me that’s not the end of this leukemia path for me.
Still, I think about death and eternal life. Even though I know it’s happened to thousands and millions of people, it still amazes me how our lives can go on and on for decades, seemingly so stable and normal, and then death quite suddenly shoves its way in.
So now I have this dread disease. Cancer.gov refers to it as “highly responsive, but usually fatal.” The time frame is usually under two years. At that point, you’re cured or dead.
I don’t want to die.
I don’t mean die on this earth. Everyone’s going to physically die. No sense worrying about that.
I mean I don’t want death to be the end. I want to live forever. The thought of disappearing into blackness is scary to me, and that thought, on occasions in my life, even as a Christian, has really shaken me.
And now, here I am, with a lot of reasons to think about death, and God is so close.
Today, it’s no problem to picture disappearing into the light of God because I’m already there. Today, it’s no problem believing Jesus’ promise of eternal life.
In fact, today, it’s no problem believing that the issue of life after death won’t be an issue for me for at least 20 years or so, even though doctors are going to wipe out my bone marrow and immune system next week.
Why should I be so unworried? Why should this time be the time for me to have the most peace I’ve ever had?
For the same reason those Vietnam POW’s gave thanks to God when they were released.
Because God is real, and his Gospel is real.
And so I sit thankful. I have been given this incredible peace, and such a wonderful opportunity to talk about it.
All because God thinks I can handle having leukemia dumped on me.
I feel honored, and I feel humbled.
I remember making rank once in the military after I refused to study for my test, choosing instead to devote myself to the study of God’s Word. The test scores required to make rank that cycle were lower than any before or after for several years.
I cried on my bed when I was told.
The rank didn’t matter that much to me, but that God would give me such a gift was overwhelming.
You can pray for me. You can think I’m strong. You can think I’m a good Christian, but I’m really not a very good Christian. I can give you lists of people who have lived lives of constant self-denial, while I’ve spent too much time in restaurants, occasionally failed to “get around” to giving, and simply indulged at times when I should have denied myself.
Can I really claim to have “buffeted” my body as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 9:27?
I doubt it, unless you apply the modern term “buffet,” as in a really indulgent restaurant, to the verse, which really isn’t a very funny joke.
People like Mother Theresa cause my conscience to be stricken. Amy Carmichael once wrote a book called If. I couldn’t read it. I’m in the church now, which has done some very positive work on my weak will, so now I can at least read it. Though it convicts me, I can see where God has moved me forward in things that book talks about.
I’ve traveled, and I’ve met foreign missionaries who have hung out all night in jungles being eaten by mosquitoes, then swam a dangerous river towing bible wrapped in plastic, all to bring the Gospel to those who don’t have it. Me? I’m a self-indulgent, wealthy American. Such men make me wonder whether I qualify as a Christian.
May God have mercy on me.
Only I don’t have to say “may.” God has already had mercy on me. He’s let me feel the process of dying, and he’s held my hand and told me he’s with me.
If leukemia kills me, the only thing that will matter is the terrible hurt that will cause my family. May God allow me to teach my children to trust God the way that he is teaching me to trust him. There is nothing like walking in the Spirit.
For me, though, all I can think is the wonderful kindness of being shown eternal life by God because leukemia is destroying my blood.
Why is this happening to me? Why is God allowing me, of all people, to bear this, to experience such wonderful assurances? Why is he choosing me, of all people, to get to carry this disease and talk about the power of Jesus Christ, who never leaves us nor forsakes us?
I do know why. I’m not a very good Christian, but I am a Christian. I am a man of faith, and I have chose to learn from Jesus.
It’s far better to be a lousy disciple than a non-disciple.
Don’t fool yourself, though. To get the blessings, you do have to make a choice to enroll in his school, to choose his ways, and to give up what you want.
Yeah, I know. It’s a terrible price. Your dreams of being a pilot, your college, your exercise, your business, and even your parents, siblings, wife, and children, all don’t mean much to him except as they are put in his service.
Of course, he made them all. I suppose that gives him a right to them.
Personally, it’s a price that today I regret less than ever.