Some of you were notified of this post last week and then wondered why you couldn’t access it. It’s because I have not been able to come to a satisfying conclusion and had locked it back down. I also wasn’t comfortable with what I was sharing because it’s what I feel to be a very dark confession and as such I questioned whether is was something I wanted to post on the internet, let alone have the people that I admire most read. Thankfully God in his providence provided a fitting closure to my confession.
Almost 6 months ago, when I first began this journey, a very dear friend emailed me with a number of questions that I never replied to. Mostly because they leave me emotionally conflicted and asking the same questions of myself.
17 years ago in the midst of my divorce I used to find myself writing rambling discourses in a journal. Inevitably it was always late at night and I began to call them my “11 O’clock Requiem – the ramblings of a mad man.” Here I find myself taking
pen keyboard in hand and trying to reply to my friends questions.
My Dear Friend,
I write to you out of everyone else I know because of all that you and I have shared with one another. I’d like to say that I write to you because of your incredible depth of empathy and while that is more than true it’s more so because I know how great a sinner you are in your own mind. You are one of the few people I know who views their depravity as being as unfathomably deep as I do my own. And likewise I know you also shudder when you look too deeply into the darkness of your own soul. But even in saying that I also know that you and I stand solidly on the cornerstone that is our salvation even while like Paul we find ourselves crying out, “What a wretched man I am!” So bear with me brother, what follows is the old “11 O’clock Requiem” and the repentant ramblings of a mad man”
I want more than anything to be a comfort and encouragement… perhaps you can try and answer the question “why does the revelation of cancer, etc. change everything?” does it have to change anything? Aren’t we all in the same boat? Do people act differently toward me now? What has changed and what has not? Why would someone find it harder or easier to talk with me? …. yuck… I have some gall to ask these things…[/blockquote]
Gall or not they are questions that I constantly ask myself. Why does having cancer change my perspective on dying?
I wish I had some profound answer but the simple truth is because it’s going to happen sooner than I had planned.
Well that’s more than a bit pretentious of me and rather laughable as I can’t help but think of James 4:14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. What a word to use to describe our very existence. Could there possibly be anything more insubstantial than mist?
But the sad truth is it has changed my perspective and unfortunately not all for the better. When I first found out about my cancer and the fact that it was stage IV and everything that I read pointed out to a very short and low survival rate – when that was my truth, when the bell curve of my life seemed to be very short indeed – it was then that my spiritual life was energized in a way that it hadn’t been for quite some time. Oh, the knowledge and words had been there but the walk… well the walk had been a slow meandering at best. But with deaths specter looming in my near future my ponderous walk turned into a steady jog. I found myself running towards God and just as often felt that the Holy Spirit was running along side me.
But as you and I know all too well Satan can tarnish the most beautiful of things.
“How? How on earth could Satan cause you to stumble?”, you ask.
Pride my friend. It almost always starts with pride. And while I started to have “feelings” that I was heading towards a fall it wasn’t until I was reading the book you’d given me years ago that my sin was fully revealed. I was reading the prayer The Dark Guest in the book “The Valley of Vision” when the Holy Spirit pointed out my folly like the ghost of Christmas future pointing out with his bony finger the tombstone of Ebeneezer Scrooge.
I know, right?! What twisted deluded path have I been lead down to think such things? But for the first time in my life I felt that the 800lb gorilla sitting in the corner (the one you and I are all too familiar with) was moved aside and I found he’d been sitting on this – hiding it from view. This seemingly simple, innocuous thought “to eye my name in all I do“, but the truth is there is nothing innocuous about that phrase. The reality of that phrase and how it has surreptitiously wormed it’s way into everything that I’ve ever done was revealed for the whale of sin that it truly is.
At the revelation of my cancer I felt very close to God. Oh I may have felt buffeted at times but I was firmly fettered my friend. I looked back on past trials when I had fallen and I reminded myself of God’s unwavering faithfulness through all of them. Instead of wondering why this was happening to me I instead saw this as my final exam. This was to be the culmination of all my past trials and I was determined that with God’s help I would glorify Him no matter what. And maybe that would still be the case if the cancer had continued to progress, but it hasn’t. All the prayers and medicine have had the effect that everyone has desired. 6 months in and I’m still feeling good and the cancer is being held at bay.
But unfortunately with time comes complacency and the further the specter of Death has retreated from view the weaker my spiritual walk has become.
And that which I believe was designed to humble me and draw me nearer to God was turned on it’s head and my name is the name that I began to hear in all that transpired.
– It was Mike that was handling everything so well.
– It was Mike that had such a humble demeanor.
– It was Mike that found his strength in God.
– It was Mike that had such a cheerful disposition during such a dark trial.
– It was Mike who’s writing is so inspirational.
– It was Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike.
And at every turn like a football player that has just scored a touch down; I kneel before the masses bow my head and touch fist to heart to head and then point to the sky in praise, all the while hearing, Mike, Mike, Mike…
Even writing this – my confession – I hear my name, and as I recognize that to be the case I find there to nothing laudable in my writings. I find my actions to be nothing more than the trappings of the pharisee, loudly praying for all to hear while in my heart there is nothing but dead rags.
My friend if there is to be pity for my condition, then let it rest on my soul and not this mortal coil.
A most pathetic sinner,
That my dear reader is where I left things last week and is what I emailed to my friend and why I did not want this to be all that was posted. This morning I found myself reading a blog that I’ve enjoyed in the past and came across this verse and once again heard Satan’s denunciations all too clearly.
And as quickly as Satan wagged his finger at me God graciously provided the following sermon by Pastor Patrick Thurmer at Living Faith Church in Cape Coral, FL. It’s not a long sermon at only 12 minutes and you’ll get through the meat of it in the first 5 minutes but I highly recommend listening to the entire sermon. It’s light hearted tone was exactly what I needed to hear this morning.
I wish I had some pithy closing commentary but I don’t. What I do have is God’s word – thank God!
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”[/blockquote]