I woke up this morning, grabbed my computer, and came to McDonalds. Today is a family day, but sometimes I like to get up earlier and get some quiet private time with the Lord and to think. And, since McDonalds has wifi, and the loud ladies across from me have left, I thought I would share a few things.
It’s hard to believe this struggle with cancer has consumed the last six and a half months of our lives. In some ways they have trudged by, and in some ways flown by. Looking ahead, there are still at least three months of treatment left, and probably a few months of recovery before this season passes—if that’s the Lord’s will. When all said and done, from contracting the cancer to recovering from treatment will probably end up being a two and a half year trial.
The Lord has been teaching us a lot. Here are a few life lessons from recent weeks:
Life is very much a mixture of struggles and pleasure. The Lord wants us to patiently endure the struggles with joy, and he wants to gratefully enjoy the pleasures as wonderful gifts from Him. With chemo there are bad days and good days. Today is a good day, and we have an awesome family day planned! Hang in there through the struggles—God has a bright spot right around the corner!
His grace is a very present, real, dynamic sufficiency. God knows exactly how much grace we need for what He’s placed upon us, when to increase it, when to decrease it, and when to give us a break. Throughout the past weeks between chemo and shingles, God gives what is needed—strength to endure, a bamboo scratcher to itch, a random good night’s sleep after several sleepless, a wife with a great attitude, etc. The list is long. I am blessed. He has not placed anything upon us that He hasn’t also enabled us to handle by His grace. His grace is always exactly in proportion to the need of the moment!
The Christian life is much about encouraging people. I recently saw a sad statement from a Christian man who said his ministry was NOT a ministry of encouragement. I was saddened at how far his heart was from the obvious heart of Christ in scripture. If you’re not in the ministry of encouragement, you must be in the ministry of discouragement, and that’s the ministry of the pharisees!
I just completed reading the four gospels—not over a long time, but in four sittings. They don’t take long to get through, but there’s something special about reading large portions of scripture—a whole book of the Bible at once. I was reminded all over again of the ministry of Jesus with a fresh, four-gospel perspective. He was such an encouraging, serving, teaching, engaging person. He often rebuked the pharisees, as they were relentless in nit-picking every possible thing they could. But his heart for people was massive—indescribable, encouraging, compassionate.
Life is filled with the petty and the paramount—and I must constantly choose between the two. Cancer has had it’s way, in my life, of making very clear what is important and what is not. Cancer draws very clear distinctions between the petty and the paramount. Studying the life and ministry of Jesus has the same affect. He knew what was important and He never was drawn into the petty. Even so, I want to avoid “the petty” and stay focused in life and ministry on “the paramount!”
Between the ministry of Jesus and the ministry of the pharisees—I choose Jesus. He was a leader with a trail of critics behind Him, and I find that all Christ-like leaders have the same—a trail of petty-minded, relentless critics close behind. While the pharisees critiqued, whispered, conjectured, strategized, fabricated, and otherwise opposed Jesus for not conforming to their legalistic system; Jesus just continued touching, healing, teaching, and changing lives. He is our model in life and ministry, not the pharisees.
I know this blog post is somewhat random—hence the title. But it’s what the Lord has been reinforcing in my heart through this health trial during recent weeks.
With the remaining breaths God gives me, and for the rest of the days, I forever want to be fully engaged in the Christ-like ministry of encouragement—ministering His grace, seeing Him change lives, and never standing in the long line of the pharisees.
Matthew 9:13, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” (Jesus in rebuke to the Pharisees…)