It‘s getting close to that time again. It’s been six months since my last one. It’s not something I look forward to, but I have to do it. It’s time for another check-up, scheduled for Tuesday, December 15. It has been two years since I completed radiation treatments for prostate cancer. I had been going every three months for a check-up and blood work, but on my last appointment in June the doctor moved me to every six months. I am most grateful that the previous visits to the doctor my blood work has come back good and I seem be doing very well.
My appointment is only ten days before Christmas, so I bet you can’t guess what gift I want for Christmas! You may ask, “If your previous check-ups have produced good reports and you are feeling well, what is the worry?”
I would be less than honest if I didn’t confess that every time a doctor visit pops up on the calendar I am revisited by those same emotions that welled up inside of me on June 14, 2013. That was the day I hesitantly answered the phone and heard the doctor say, “Rev. Merritt I wish I had better news, but…..” There aren’t words to describe the disbelief, numbness, detachment, and anxiousness that you experience at the moment you hear those life changing words, “You have cancer.”
The paradox of emotions that engulf you as your new journey begins is like riding on a roll-a-coaster. While there is anxiousness, there is a sense of His calming peace. While there is uncertainty, there is a sense of His assurance. While there is detachment, there is a sense of His abiding presence. While there is human weakness, there is a sense of His divine strength. While there is a lack of human sufficiency, His grace is sufficient.
How can one experience such a paradox of emotions all at the same time? I don’t know how, but I am here to tell you that I did and that I do again each time another doctor’s appointment draws near. In my humanness I ponder how the check-up will turn out, in my spirit I know that He is with me and will never leave me or forsake me no matter the result. I have learned that prayer is not me trying to change the mind of God, but me discovering the mind of God for my life and realizing He is at the helm of the ship of my life’s voyage.
I trusted Christ as my Savior many, many years ago and while I have failed and made a mess on more occasions than I would like to admit, there is one truth that has remained constant: He has never failed me and He has never been unfaithful to me. My life is in His secure and strong hands, and after the journey I embarked upon two-and-a-half years ago I am more keenly aware of that today than ever before. I am here to tell you, “He is faithful.”
I now see each day as a precious, precious gift. Each sunrise, each moment, is to be treasured. I love life and nothing gives me greater joy than to be used by Him to invest in the lives of others. My desire is to hang around and do that as long as possible, yet each of us are only one heartbeat away, only one step away, from eternity. I know that someday, unless the Lord returns, I, as well as you, will find the flower of life wilting before the rays of a setting sun. But here is the difference: if you know Christ as your Savior you can say with David, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for THOU art with me” (Ps. 23:4). The long shadow of our last enemy ever lingers near the paths we walk, but we have the assurance of Christ who proclaimed, “I am the Light of the world. He that walks with Me walks not in darkness” (John 8:12). His Light shines brightly in our darkest night and guides us in all of life and, as well, as we travel beyond the veil of time. O, what a Savior.
While I will anxiously await the report from my blood work following my doctor visit, I will trust and not be afraid, for because of His shed blood on my behalf on Calvary’s Hill I have already received the greatest healing of all, the greatest gift of all – spiritual healing from my trespasses and sins. I may answer the phone with a paradoxical calm yet trembling hand, listening intently as the doctor tells me the results; but the Rock I confidently stand upon will never tremble.
Bet you can’t guess what I want for Christmas!