Saturday, December 29, 2012

Being Transparent

I went running on a busy street close to my house today.  I did most of the running on the street, although I frequently had to run on the shoulder of the road to get out of the way of passing cars.  As I was running on the shoulder, I noticed several items that had been thrown out of cars recently.  More specifically, there were lots of beer cans and an occasional empty pack of cigarettes.  Apparently the consumers of these items felt they needed to get rid of the evidence before they reached their appointed destinations, whether it was the local high school or maybe even their own homes.  In other words, they were ashamed to be found with such items in their possession.  They were trying to cover up their actions, even if it meant littering the road.

When I was undergoing chemotherapy, I also felt the need to hide something, although it really wasn't evil or sinful.  At the beginning of treatment, the oncology team warned me that I would lose my hair as a result of the chemotherapy.  To prepare for this, I asked a friend of mine who worked for a pacemaker company if he could give me a scrub hat to wear at work.  You know the's a simple surgical hat you see worn in operating rooms as illustrated by medical shows on television.  I felt it would be a way I could still look somewhat professional in my work at the hospital while covering up my bald head.

Yet, to my amazement (and to the shock of my oncology team), I never did completely lose my hair, although it did thin quite a bit.  But even though my hair looked atrocious, I decided not to wear a scrub hat.  I felt like there was no need to be ashamed or to hide what I was going through.  Maybe it was a subliminal message I was sending out to the world such as, "Look at me!  I'm going through cancer treatment.  Yet, I'm still able to work, go to church, etc."  It was a testimony to the world that I was an overcomer and wouldn't be hindered by my cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The Bible exhorts us to not be bashful in proclaiming Christ.  Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (NASB).  Years later, I'm glad I didn't try to hide everything I was going through with cancer.  By giving the public a glimpse into my illness, I was building a foundation for a ministry.  In simple terms, the light that was radiating off of my balding head was a picture of the glorious light God was providing within my soul as He was delivering me from cancer.  When I tell people now of what it was like to go through cancer, there is no doubting my testimony.  They heard about me fighting cancer.  But, even more so, they saw it!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Warmth of God's Plan

It's a great story recorded in Luke 24.  Two men were walking to Emmaus on  the day that Jesus rose from the dead.  They were trying to understand everything that had happened in Jerusalem that week.  Jesus had entered Jerusalem in triumph with a king's welcome.  Yet, he was delivered to the chief priests and rulers and underwent a horrific death via crucifixion.  Then it was reported that He had risen from the dead.  So, as the gentlemen were walking, they were thinking and conversing to each other what had happened in Jerusalem.  What did it all mean?  They walked and talked, still tying to make sense of it all. 

Then, an unknown figure joined their journey and conversation.  With marvelous clarity, Jesus, unrecognized by them at the time, explained the Old Testament scriptures regarding the Messiah which had led up to the events in Jerusalem that week.  Their hearts burned within as the Master Teacher provided some masterful teaching.  It was all made clear to them.  The death, burial and resurrection were all part of God's plan from the beginning of time.  They now had hope in a risen Savior.  After He departed from them, they exclaimed, "...Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?"  (vs. 32 NASB).  It was a heartwarming encounter with Jesus, a time when life made sense.     

Although I still wrestle with the reasons cancer was thrust upon me, as I read the Scriptures, I can see more clearly why this occurred in my life.  New insights for me regarding pain and suffering.  A new ministry.  New joys.  New friendships.  In a sense, it is a warm feeling inside, seeing the pieces of God's plan come together for my life.  Mind you, I may not understand everything that occurs in my life.  I still have many, many questions.  Yet, what I am able to comprehend as Jesus explains the scriptures to me on a day-to-day basis is very heartwarming.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Invaluable Body Parts

"But now there are many members, but one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."  On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness..." (I Corinthians 12:20-23 NASB)

In describing the importance of spiritual gifts, Paul uses the illustration of the human body to describe the value of each part.  He lists how every part is important, even those body parts which are less honorable or seemingly less valuable.

I truly came to recognize this when I was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2004.  Before then, I was hardly aware of my bladder, except when it needed emptying.  Yet, it is an amazing organ and has a valuable function.  In simple terms, the webMD website describes how urine is made in the kidneys, and travels down two tubes called ureters to the bladder. The bladder stores the urine, allowing urination to be infrequent and voluntary. In addition, the bladder is lined by layers of muscle tissue that stretch to accommodate urine. Hence, the normal capacity of the bladder is 400 to 600 mL or about half a quart.

If we didn't have a bladder, urine would constantly flow out of our bodies.  Wouldn't that be a horrific thing!!!  All activities of life would be affected.  As a matter of fact, urination would be frequent and involuntary...a constant burden upon working, participating in sports activities, and overall daily life.

So, here's to the bladder and all other body parts that don't get much credit.  Every part of the body is important.  Try to keep all of your body parts as long as you can.

Unfortunately, my bladder was killing me and had to be removed.  I talk more about this in my book, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer."  It is available on Amazon and Kindle.  It can be accessed at: