Archive for December 2011

GPS is Spinning

December 27, 2011

Last night we drove to Buffalo so that we would be in town for an 8:00 appointment at Roswell Park Cancer Institute this morning.  This morning, while driving between our hotel and the Institute, the GPS display started spinning, like it didn’t know where it was or where it was going.  We kept driving straight on, and eventually the GPS found its bearings again and led us to where we needed to go.   The outcome of today’s consultation at Roswell is that the doctor wants more information, that is, another blood test, another colonoscopy, and input from another specialist.  So, this afternoon I had the blood test, and tomorrow I have an appointment in Syracuse with the specialist on my (our) way back to Buffalo for colonoscopy #2 on Thursday.

Tonight my head is spinning, like the GPS was this morning.  All the things on my “to do” list that I had planned to do in this already busy week need to be reprioritized.  The things on the list are important to me, but I don’t think I’m going to get them all done, and it really bugs me.  There are tasks I really want to get done and crossed off my list, and tasks that I really need to do.   I even wonder if I’ll have a window of time to get these and other important tasks done before the doctors “check-me-in” in a week or two to get down to business with the colon cancer.

But then I am reminded that each day is a gift from God.  I will never know how many other people had plans and lists of things to do and then something happened, an accident, a diagnosis, a sudden death of a loved one, and then so many of those planned tasks seemed trivial and unimportant.  I am reminded of this thought from a prayer of Moses.

“So teach [me] to number [my] days, that [I] may apply [my] heart unto wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

I need this reminder today, and I need it every day.

Detour Ahead, Exit Now

December 23, 2011

When one is driving on I-88 between Binghamton and Albany, New York it is very easy to get used to the long relatively straight sections of highway with exits every 5-10 miles. The highway is somewhat predictable, veering slightly to the left to follow the sides of valleys and avoid the higher hills. Even if one is unfamiliar with the route, one might be able to approximately guess what the next two to three miles will be like. There are times when the predictability of our lives parallels the predictability of the interstate. One can effortlessly imagine what the next week, month, or year of his life may entail. However, sometimes God intervenes, sets up a mudslide, or other detour, and tells us, “This is where you are to get off the predictable road. I have another plan for you now.”

God did just that to me last week. Thursday morning, December 15, Dr. Lemberg called to tell me, “I just received the results from your biopsy on Tuesday and unfortunately it is cancerous. You have colon cancer.” At that point I immediately sensed that God was telling me, “Road closed ahead, exit now.” The predictable was now a thing of the past, it was time to take a road unfamiliar to me. On the one hand I had a sense of excitement, concern, apprehension, and uncertainty. On the other hand I was encouraged by the multiple passages in Scripture which assured me, . . . “the Lord is good,” . . . . “I will never leave you or forsake you,” . . . “no good thing does God withhold from those,” . . . “all things work together for good to them, . . . .” But, together with those verses, I was also reminded of the testimony of Job.

God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant, Job?” To which Satan answered back, “You are only esteemed by Job because of what he gets from You. You won’t get his praise, You’ll only get his curses if You stop blessing and protecting him.” And thus the stage was set for God to establish that He is worthy of praise even when He doesn’t bless and protect.

As I think about this I wonder whether my “exit” off the predictable will lead to opportunities for me, like Job, to give God the praise that He deserves irrespective of His protection from significant medical trials which He has heretofore provided for my life. And I wonder if God will take me, like Joseph, on a path one would not naturally choose, to accomplish His greater good. And I wonder if God will have me learn that His grace is sufficient, and that my strength is to be made perfect in weakness. And I wonder if God will lead me through trials so that He might have occasion to comfort me, that I might then be better prepared to comfort others.

I have absolutely no idea of what the future holds.  I don’t know where this route is taking me. I have many questions about my future, and the future of my family, my loved ones, and the wonderful people that God has privileged me to pastor.  For now, I am thankful that I will be able to see a cancer specialist next Tuesday, but more than that I am thankful that God is in control of my life.  Even though I don’t know that lies ahead, He has a purpose for this exit.  As God enables, I hope to keep you informed of my journey on this blog.