What do you do when a death sentence is pronounced over you? Where do you look? To whom do you look? … For Simone and me we looked to God though His Promises in the Bible. They reveal the character of the God we are trusting in for everything.
On January 1st this year I resigned from active duty with ISMNZ and at 73 became classified as Senior Retired Staff. Simone and I were looking forward to our retirement together. I have limitations because of severe heart failure but about that time I was also diagnosed with Myeloma, an insidious incurable cancer of the blood. Expectations were in terms of days rather than weeks or months. My Haematologist specialist reminded that that was nine months ago! Simone calls it, “stable unwell-ness.”
I felt numb at first, not angry because I had confidence in God’s Goodness. I was also blessed and supported to realize that God’s love has been directed towards me from before the World was created. The promises of God’s character and Faithfulness were no longer just good ideas to encourage someone else with but they were absolutely all we had to rely on at that time. The prospect of going to heaven and personally meeting the Saviour seemed an immanent reality. What would it be like?
The truths that have supported our faith over this time are all connected to memory verses from earlier years. How Simone and I thank God for the Scripture Memory and Bible Studies we have done over the years. The anchors to ones faith must be in place before the storm comes!
Sickness has a way of sifting friendships to show those who are real and caring. We have been uplifted by many who are praying for us and we remain very grateful for this. Simone has been a wonderful support and carer. It has not been an easy time for her as she anticipates the uncertainty of the future. Priorities become focussed when time is short. We value the time we have with each other. Likewise time with our children and grand children is so precious as we seek to encourage them to follow the Lord.
Even so, in many respects life goes on as usual. The journey is not over and we do not know how long it will be. Each day is a new gift from God to be thankful for and to experience His sustaining Grace in it.
As folk move through our home and lives we desire that our conversations have a spiritual tone to them. I like Malachi 3:16, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said….they recorded the names of those who feared Him and loved to think about Him.”
They spoke about their God, not just the weather or aunty Grace’s rheumatism problems or who the latest person was they knew had died of cancer! These people loved to think about God. I wept when I read this. How precious it is to be in the company of people who love to think and talk about God: His Grace, Compassion, Truthfulness, Unfailing Love, Mercy, Goodness, Generosity, Purity, Holiness, Beauty, Righteousness, Faithfulness, Justice, Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence, etc. My Faith needs such encouragement at this time.
An old English Bible teacher referred to the Apostle Paul as a “Christ intoxicated little Genius!” We can’t change our height but we can talk much about Jesus and what he has done. To me this seems more relevant now that time is short!
The first line of the old hymn came to mind as I was writing this:
“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord: Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak, Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.”
I wonder if those looking on at us today would say that we were Christ intoxicated?
Let’s make sure that we spend time in His presence regularly, starting with today!
Retired Christchurch Ministry Leader