On the night of June 23rd, right before my initial brain surgery to remove the long-undiagnosed tumor in my right frontal lobe at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, I had one of those life-altering moments when the elders of Blanchard Alliance Church came to pray for me before surgery the next morning. It was one of those “gut-checks” when everything is on the line: that there’s no going back from where you are–take it or leave it–when you know the next day holds no guarantees, and you’re forced to take account for the life you’ve lived. From what Karyn tells me I also prayed after the elders prayed for me. In that special moment all I could think of was that I was satisfied–truly content with the life I had lived with Jesus to that point…and that situational contentment moved my soul to a profound sense of gratefulness–that I had been blessed with a courageous wife and 3 great girls–an awesome, God-trusting family who had followed and supported us wherever He was calling us to go…to Cambodia and Warrenville and back…Mind you, I’m no Paul–nor am I trying to compare my life to his. But, I’m so thankful that when push came to shove that night at CDH, I truly believe I’ve lived the life God has asked of me…no matter what happened during surgery the next morning ….that’s a great, confidence-building gift I get to keep with me in the future, I will always be thankful for when I think back on it for the still-challenging days ahead…And speaking of contentment…as I’ve followed after what God asked–look how He’s always taken care of me and those I love…amazing! That’s Psalm 23 coming true right in my own life–how many times has my Jesus “led me beside quiet waters, into green pastures and restored my soul”?
And you know what thought struck me this morning when I first woke at morning’s first light, this Saturday, July 31? Everything that happens to me today is a gift from God…with Grade 2 brain cancer that could come back any time I cannot afford to take anything in my life for granted. Will I take full opportunity to live what God brings me today–and take full advantage? Stuff has a way of just slipping us by in life doesn’t it? I can’t afford to be that way anymore. Nothing is guaranteed. And as I move into the next phase of my recovery from surgery, my daily calendar is filling up pretty fast–a huge stack of books to finish reading (“Culture Making” by Andy Crouch is first…required as part of my therapy, thirty minutes of left-hand strengthening exercises with fluorescent green therapeutic putty. Thirty minutes of exercises for my legs and arms, fifteen minutes of dog training for our newly installed invisible fence for Penny (Thanks, Dad and Dave Muzzey and Mike Dunivan!) Tired yet? I am…and the day’s just getting started…As I just read in “Culture Making” Crouch writes,
“We make sense of the world by making something of the world
(p. 24″ So, Today, this good Saturday, July 31,I want to make something of my world–I will not idly let life pass me by without reaching out–with my weakened left hand?— to alter the ripples, the flow of the currents of God’s Gracious Holy Spirit as they flow by As Paul so beautifully wrote of this divine, daily dance in Galatians 5:25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”
this new Saturday my Great God has given me, how will I honor Him by being a divinely-created Creator and Initiator for His goodness and glory? This is a very high calling, one that I will not take lightly… Being given the privilege of being a Co-Creator alongside the Great Creator of all–now that’s a job description that’s tough to beat, isn’t it?
And to put all of this in the context of Warrenville campus life–what fun for me to be back in church with all of you last Sunday–to hear men like Curt Anliker stepping up to lead Ministry Notes and give a beautiful benediction from the book of Jude and then to hear Todd Williams stand and recruit for the Country Ridge Block Party coming up on August 14–a profound way for us as a church to impact the neediest parts of our community in Warrenville in just a few weeks(are you planning on stopping by and helping if you can? I’m sure Todd can use your help…). By putting together back packs of school supplies for some of the neediest kids and families in our neighborhood as they get ready for another year of school. Little ripples of opportunity floating by…a chance for us to reach out and not be complacent–but to make something of Today as God brings it to us. So, I’m proud of you, Todd, thanks for stepping up in my absence and inspiring our little Church to step up and into this Divine Opportunity. Thanks for your service and willingness to lead out of your passion for hurting kids in our community. May many more people from Blanchard Alliance Church take the opportunity of the Country Ridge Block Party on the 14th to rub shoulders with families and kids who need a little love and care and encouragement in Christ–to take a step or two along with the Holy Spirit in us–to make something of Today…