I shared a few days ago about my dad's journey through prostate cancer on the way to heaven. For me, walking through this experience left its mark on my life. On the positive side, I became very diligent about getting checkups. I have always believed that dad might still be alive if he had received a simple physical exam every year or so. His generation, though, didn't waste time and money going to a doctor unnecessarily. Sometimes they avoided physicians, even when they needed one.
Another way my life was marked came before dad grew ill. While in my twenties, I started worrying about my health. Fear and anxiety crowded their way into my life. I would become overwrought, carrying these fears for days at a time. Sometimes I would go to a doctor, only to find out that I was fine. On the spiritual side, it was this irrational anxiety that helped me know Jesus in a whole different way when I was about 28 years old. It is a longish story, but the Twitter version is this: I was breaking with worry. I cried out in my misery. Jesus met me there.
Even after Christ spoke supernaturally into my heart -- no, it wasn't an audible voice -- I had seasons of doubts and fears. I would notice some symptom. I would obsess over it with worry; then I would realize I couldn't carry the load. As a result, I handed it to Jesus. He set me free. A few weeks later the cycle would repeat. Over time, those cycles because less severe and far less frequent. Finally they were so rare and so small as to be but a tiny blip on my life.
It was by the grace of God, then, that I received two messages of hope a few months before my surgery. Each message was a promise, a down payment of God's goodness which would see me through this challenge called cancer. The first message came last April in the Dominican Republic. Our church has a partnership there with a wonderful church in Puerto Plata. I have been there many times over the last ten years and count scores of Dominicans and Haitians among my friends. One particular lady named Negra prays for me and my family every day. Each time I go to the DR, I try to say hello to Negra, usually seeing her at a church service. That April Sunday night I saw her and we greeted. I was without an interpreter so she ran to get a friend from the congregation who speaks English. We quickly caught up on essentials about our families, then Negra spoke with wide eyes. "Pastor, God gave me a message for you! He said to tell you, 'Do not fear; He has everything under control!'" This wasn't my first message from Negra. In fact, she usually has something which God has placed upon her heart during her prayers for me. I locked this promise away, not knowing for sure what it might mean, but knowing it did mean something.
Four months later we were having a conference in our church in Arizona. People had joined us from many churches in the region. During one break, I stepped into the rest room. Hank, one of our church leaders, was there. He said, "I wanted to tell you something. God has impressed me to pray for you constantly the past few days. As I have prayed, I have sensed a message He is giving me for you. I don't know what it means, but He wants you to know, "Don't be afraid; He has everything under control!" I knew immediately that God was speaking. By the time I heard this message through Hank, I had just completed the urology appointment in which we determined that I should have a biopsy.
To be continued...