This morning I had the opportunity to be interviewed by my friend Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research, at the TBN studio here in Nashville. Ed had asked me to talk about my days battling cancer as a pastor. It was good for me to go back in preparation for this interview and read some old blog posts and remember those days when our family first got the news about my non-Hodgkins lymphoma. It was quite a journey. It was the kind of journey that you hope that no one ever has to make, and yet it was a journey where we experienced the faithfulness of God at every turn. From the day of diagnosis to the day that I was pronounced to be in full recovery, we were surrounded by the love of our church community locally as well as churches around the world. Friends on several continents were praying for us as a family.
This week I celebrate three years of being cancer free (thank you, Jesus). I have been able to enjoy my wife, children, and five (soon to be six) grandchildren. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of their lives and hopefully leave a legacy of faith to each of them. I have been able to continue sharing the gospel around the world and offering hope to men and women who were ready to give up in life. I am building special relationships with young leaders who are going to lead the next generation church and hopefully allow them to gain some wisdom through things I have learned and mistakes I have made.
I have walked beside friends even in recent days that did not survive this horrible disease. I am praying right now very specifically for a pastor friend that God might bring healing to his life. Why did I survive and others did not? This is part of the mystery that we will never understand on this side of eternity. I know that God has created us to live by His promises and not explanations because explanations cannot bring peace to the human heart. Philippians 4 reminds us: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Obviously we don’t give thanks for every situation, but we do give thanks in every situation.
So today I give thanks. Thanks for life, time and the opportunity to continue serving the Kingdom. Thanks for friends who prayed and walked the journey with us. Thanks to the wonderful medical team that were God’s healing agents. Thanks to God for daily strength and new mercies every morning. Whatever you are facing today, please remember that God loves you more than you know. He promises He will never leave you alone. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean in to Him and give Him thanks. He promises a peace that will transcend all human understanding.
Blessings in your journey,