Let me state at the outset: Every Day is a Gift!
The week of June 10-13 is forever etched in my mind. Until six years ago those dates were just early days in the first half of the month of June. It all began with an annual physical in March 2013 when some disturbing “numbers” cropped up. Back and forth visits to the Doctor, eventually led to me having, on June 10, 2013, a biopsy to determine if I had prostate cancer. Four days of anxious waiting followed as I waited for the results. Then on June 13, 2013, the phone rang delivering the “word” for which I had been waiting. It’s a phone call I will never forget. It was 6 p.m. My wife and I had just sat down to eat supper. I had only taken a few bites. WXII news was coming on the TV…and then the phone rang. The news of the world had to be put on hold as I awaited news regarding myself. The phone rang one more time before I could answer it, but I instinctively knew who was calling.
Answering the phone, I nervously said, “Hello.” The doctor didn’t mince words, he got right to the point. “Rev. Merritt,” he said, “I wish I had better news for you, but of the twelve samples we took nine came back cancer.” My heart sank as I listened in disbelief. I hoped I had heard him wrong. I thought to myself, “Surely he has gotten my samples mixed up with someone else.” But I had heard right. Yet, even in bad news there was some good news, as the doctor added, “We have caught this very early, your prognosis is better than 90% recovery rate. We will sit down and look at what are your best options for treatment.”
I honestly cannot remember much of what else was said because I was numb from what I had been told. I wasn’t the first person to receive such dreaded news and I certainly won’t be the last, but when it is you receiving the news that puts a different perspective on the situation. As I slowly hung-up the phone I tried to explain to my wife, as best as I could remember, what the Doctor had said. We both sat in stunned silence. I tried to finish my supper but my appetite had vanished like a leaf in a wind storm. The thoughts in my mind were twirling faster than a mid-west tornado. Over the years my phone has rung thousands of times, yet that phone call turned my world upside down and put me on a path of uncertainty.
For the next eight weeks my time was spent reading everything I could read on prostate cancer, talking to men who had traveled this same road, visiting several doctors discussing my best options, and finding shelter under the Wings of Christ and in the Words of Christ. I would be less than honest if I didn’t confess that there were many anxious and fearful days. There were times I felt like a trembling cat treed by a big-bad, barking dog. There were times I got by myself and wept. Our God wept through human eyes (John 11:35) so tears are a language He understands. Through it all the Lord was/is faithful (I Thes. 5:24; 2 Thes. 3:3) and His sustaining strength and grace was/is ever present. Though I had always known it, I now KNEW IT…Life is a Precious Gift!
After much prayer and consulting wise doctors, which I was so blessed to have, it was decided my best option was to take 43 radiation treatments. They began on Sept 10, 2013, and ended on November 7. There were times I thought they would never end, but “this too shall pass.” And it did. For the first five years afterwards I had follow-up check-ups every six months, with each check-up proving continued success of the treatments. Doing remarkably well, this past year my check-up was changed to once a year. I realize I will have to have check-ups the rest of my life. But that is ok. Each doctor appointment is a reminder that every day is a precious gift from the Lord.
It has been six years now since I got that shocking phone call and I am here to tell you, the LORD IS FAITHFUL. He was with me every uncertain step I took. His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us is true. That He is a Shelter in times of storms is true. That He is our Certainty in uncertain times is true. That He is an Anchor when the ship of life is being tossed to and fro is true. That He is a Rock that never trembles when we are trembling is true. That He who is the Prince of Peace is able to speak peace to the troubled waters of our souls is true. That He is our Foundation when we feel like we are sinking in quicksand is true. That He is our Strength when we are weak is true. That He is our Burden-Bearer when the load is too heavy to carry is true. That He is our Wisdom when our minds are perplexed is true. That He is our Great Physician when sickness invades our lives is true. That He is our Rest when our soul is restless is true. That He is our Courage when we are cowards is true. That He is our Light in our darkest hour is true. That He is our Way when we can’t see the way is true. That He is the All-Sufficient One when our sufficiency is lacking is true. That He is the Great I Am who is in the present tense of our every circumstance is true. Yes, the Lord is faithful.
And again, I am here to tell you every day is a precious gift from the hand of the Lord.
We never know when that life-altering phone call or knock at the door will come. But I can assure you when you answer the phone, He already knows the contents of the message you are about to hear. I can assure you when you answer that knock at the door, He already knows who stands on the other side and why they are there. We can always be assured He is there no matter what we are confronted with or what we go through. He is there and that makes all the difference in the world, in eternity…and in our lives.
The Lord He is faithful…and every day is a precious gift.