My wife’s astounding response to her cancer diagnosos

13 02 2016

Talking about what it looks like to sacrifice, let me give you this personal story…

The skills provided in this trail guide have been learned through following after Christ over arduous paths. Though these truths rest in plain sight on the pages of scripture, they may be invisible when sitting in the comforts of an easy life. Only as I have been plunged into harsh canyons have I seen these scriptures in their true light. Or shall I say I have seen them only in the shadows? I can trace my own journey into these truths back to a time when my wife became terribly ill.
We had lived in Kenya for the better part of ten years – my wife Lyn, and two daughters Lauren and Heather. When people would ask us what that decade was like I would often reply, “Good… and hard.” Sometimes the lifestyle and work was difficult, but our lives were tremendously enriched by the wonderful Kenyan people, our daughter’s school experience, and the fruitfulness of our ministry. But toward the end of our time there, my wife began to feel weaker and weaker. She began to get various stomach ailments more often than she felt well. To give you the short version, we agreed with the leaders of our mission organization that we should move back to the U.S. Lyn barely survived the long, arduous flight. After hospitalization and tests, Lyn was finally diagnose with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. During the ensuing months of treatment, including a bone marrow transplant, our family endured the most demanding testing of our lives. While she lay in the hospital, and as I lay in bed alone, the thought emerged in my mind, “this seems like a death.” I was not referring to my wife’s death, for she recovered from leukemia. By “death” I meant that God seemed to be asking us to lay down every plan, every assumption, and in a sense, every happiness. Our pain was excruciating – a sacrifice as demanding as we could imagine.
In this instance, the demand of sacrifice preceded our call to surrender. The diagnosis of cancer (our sacrifice) placed us in our Gethsemane, where we had the choice to get angry at God or surrender to Him. After the doctor gave us the diagnosis and left the room, my wife and I hugged each other, weeping, and she said to me, “We must never forget to praise God.” And she meant it, and she lived it. There could be no more powerful way to surrender and say: nevertheless, not as we will it, but as you, God, will it. Do we blame God for cancer? Do we say He is the source of it? Not at all. But sitting in a hospital room with a diagnosis, we knew what was required of us –to please, and even praise Him by walking the trail of the Jesus way.

Frightening prospect of an understandable God

11 10 2015

The man said he could not understand why God allows suffering, war, and disease.

I agreed that the ways of God are often a mystery to us.

He declared that He could not put his faith in a God who did not make a greater effort to be understood.

bird in flightSo I asked the man how well he was doing at flying. “In an airplane?” he queried. “No, by flapping your arms,” I replied. He frowned, mocking my ridiculous question.




Again I asked, “How is your deep sea diving coming along?” He replied, “I’ve never learned how, nor do I have the equipment.” I explained that I wasn’t talking about scuba diving but about plying the deep waters like a shark or whale.whale

Disdaining my stupidity, the man made moves to leave the conversation. So I concluded: “Since you accept the fact that your body has neither the ability to fly like a bird nor dive like a whale, why can you not accept the fact that your brain cannot fathom the depths of God’s mind?”

He stared, unconvinced.

“We live on a planet that is a small speck in a universe of galaxies. Yet we cannot prevent countries from fighting each other. We cannot even keep our citizens from shooting each other. Do you really want to blame the God of the universe for our dysfunction? And more than that, would you really want to put your faith in a God who is no more intelligent than the human mind? For that is what you are requesting when you complain that God cannot be understood.”

He walked away, little realizing that he was at a crucial fork in the road that might not ever appear again.