Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kisses of Hope

"Your tests came back positive for cancer. Your Gleason Score is..." Those two sentences change a man's life. I know. I heard them last September.

The moderately aggressive prostate cancer which we discovered was growing in my body caused us to end 2012 in a way we couldn't have imagined as the year started. (I will write more in the coming days about our journey through diagnosis, surgery and recovery.) I was just back to full strength at Christmas when, surrounded by our children and grandchildren, I unwrapped a special gift -- a book -- from Cathy. The book, Kisses From A Good God, by Paul Manwaring, was one of those rare finds that she couldn't pass up. Manwaring, I discovered, is a fellow pastor. Books by pastors are everyday events in my life, but this one fit like an old glove. "Kisses" is the story of a pastor whose aggressive prostate cancer took him on an unexpected journey. What he found on that trail is something that would help anyone struggling with serious illness: God is GOOD! No matter what the circumstances nor how severe the prognosis, God is good!

Page by page, I felt a kinship with Paul (I shall use his first name the rest of this post since, I believe, that is how we would address each other if we were acquainted) as he described his initial shock and accompanying fear. I welled up with joy as he found his first great reason to stay alive: he would see a grandson born! No grandson was on the way, and this would be the first time in Paul's awareness to have three generations of Manwarings alive at the same time. It was that early step of faith and hope that launched Paul through the surgery, including serious post-op complications. Today he is back into a full life of growing intimacy with God, enjoyment of his family (including the new grandson!) and active ministry at Bethel Church in Redding, California.

Paul Manwaring dealt with the frontal attack that is prostate cancer. Though the physical attack is serious and sometimes deadly, the attack on the soul and the spirit can be even more devastating. In the book, Paul describes those enemies one by one, then tells how God helped him face them. Fear had to be conquered early on. Then he had to face the criticism that comes from people who may mean well, but who add condemnation to the mix. Paul walked through his doubts and, finally, discusses a shame he felt over this type of cancer. He concludes the book with a joyful awareness that he needed to re-sign; to sign up again for life yet to be lived. I identified with the questions about my mortality and loved his victory chapter.

For those who enjoy stretching your mind through Biblical exegesis, Paul has some profound teaching from the life of Job. Near the end he opens a treasure regarding the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son that is worth the price of the book. One warning, though: Paul is from "Full Gospel" perspective and some of his experiences may make an evangelical brain go "Tilt!" I spend significant time with friends who are pentecostal/charismatic and one of his stories was over the edge even for me.

Countless books address the subject of cancer. I'm so glad my wife found this one! I hope it might help you, too.

*I wasn't compensated for this review.


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