Russ Holmes, March 22, 2017
I have been dealing with an issue for about a year and a half and I feel God has led me to share my story. It all started in Oct 2015 when I detected a small sore in my mouth. I did not think too much about it at the time, things like this come and go. The problem this time is that it came, but did not go. To make a long story short, it turned out to be cancer, mucosal melanoma.
With that diagnosis, my life completely changed. The normal life I had known and loved disappeared. It was replaced with a life ruled by Doctor appointments, hospital visits and the very real possibility that I could be looking at the end of my life.
I have been a Christian for a very long time, almost 50 years now and it has always been my habit to go to the word of God to find the guidance I needed to negotiate whatever I was dealing with at the time. I knew that this time was no different. I knew I needed to go to God's word and find something to help me, as one well known pastor put it when he was diagnosed with cancer, to negotiate this "unexpected bend in the road."
What I found and what I am now relying on is what I want to share with you this morning.
- The first thing is the promise that my salvation is secure. There are a lot of scriptures addressing this very important doctrine but the one I love the most comes out of John 10. This is where Christ himself says that all those who come to him for salvation will not be snatched out of his hand. And then in the very next verse He says that the Father also has a hold of them and no one will be able to snatch them out of His hand. I like to combine those two verses with the verse in Eph 1 where Paul says that our salvation is sealed by the Holy Spirit. With these three verses I see the full force of the trinity sealing and protecting my salvation. Now, with cancer in my life, this is very important to me.
- The second thing is the promise that God will never leave me nor forsake me (Heb 13:5 and elsewhere). As I have said, I have been a Christian for nearly ½ century and God has shown me on many different occasions that this promise is reliable. So through personal experience and the promise of scripture I am assured that, as I negotiate this "unexpected bend in the road" God will be with me every step of the way. And when I see the final exit approaching I know that God will be there to guide me off the road and down the exit. To quote Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, that gives me great comfort and hope.
- The third thing is the promise that God is always in control, is never taken by surprise, and never wastes any experience in our lives. I love what Peter writes in the fifth chapter of his first letter. After a lengthy discourse on suffering and affliction he draws this conclusion in chapter 5 verse 10: "after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." That promise along with the well known promise from Romans 8, all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, assure me that, even though I may not be the direct beneficiary, God will use my life with cancer to benefit someone, somewhere, somehow.
- The forth thing, and most important, is the promise that deals with the glorification of God. There are a lot of verses in both the Old and New Testaments that direct us to glorify God but there are also many verses that assure us that if we remain faithful and obedient we will glorify God. This assures me that if I remain faithful and obedient as I live with cancer that God will use my life, and my death to bring glory to Himself. That is, to allow people to see Him for whom He really is, His true nature and character. That He is a God of forgiveness and justice, a God of love and of grace, mercy and kindness. When people see God for who he truly is, He becomes irresistible, at least to some. And as for me, there is no greater honor than to be used by God for this purpose.
Psalms 27 (vs 14) says: Wait for the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes wait for the Lord.
With the word of God to assure and guide me, with all of your prayers to strengthen me, that is exactly what I intend to do.