Three doctors walked into room 5N28 at Barrows neurological Hospital with concerned looks on their faces. “You have optic nerve swelling in both eyes and we believe you have a tumor called optic glioma.” Those words sounded as loud and dense as heavy equipment on a construction site. I was devastated at first! Would I lose my eyesight? Would this be the end of a 35 year career in ministry? What about my mission: helping people, our church, and other churches make strides in prayer and prayer ministry? Was it over?
God had already started preparing me for this…
On November 9th, 2015 I was exercising on an elliptical and listening to the book of Philippians. It is not uncommon for me to listen to a book every day for a month or two and try to absorb the meaning. This particular morning I was arrested by Philippians 3:16. (Msg) “If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.” Since I have been having eye problems since June you can see why the words, “…God will clear your blurred vision…” caught my attention.
After the initial shock we settled in on trusting God and have received a peace that can only be described as supernatural. It is not something we are working for, it just came. Probably, from the prayers that have been prayer for on our account.
Along the way I have tried to do several things:
- Staying focused on God is the key. During all this, Satan would love for me to misplace my faith, worry, and cave in to mistrust. But my goal has been to stay absorbed with Him and to ignore the evil one’s schemes. Mostly this is in the form of lots of prayer and time in the word. It has not been easy and I have failed along the way, but why would I want to listen to anything the evil one has to say?
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
- I also watch myself closely for leaks. We can all stand strong when things are going well and the bank account is at high tide. But in crisis, we are vulnerable. Tempting circumstances and thoughts will surface that would never appear at any other time. Learning to watch for our weaknesses and temptations to surface gives us the opportunity to capture them and bring them before God in prayer and surrender. My goal is to see times of crisis as gifts from God and stepping stones to the next steps God has for me as opposed to seeing devastation. I don’t always immediately go here and truthfully, I’d never in my human-ness ask for these trials, but especially in the last three years I’ve learned to rebound more quickly to a place of surrender and trust.
“Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me. And I walk continually in your truth.” Psalms 26:2-3
- I long to leave a trail. If, in some small way, I could leave a trail for my family and friends that would be helpful when they experience crisis, it would all be worth it. That trail, ideally, will elevate God and set people free no matter how life happens.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2
- Secret sauce. One day during all this, I felt like God was calling me to lay my eyes on the altar as a sacrifice to Him. There are a lot of questions still unanswered, but one is settled. My eyes are His, and I will do my best to worship Him and accept His will. I also thanked Him for all difficulties and the still-unanswered questions. I know that all things work for Good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Sacrifice and thanking God are some of the most powerful weapons in the Christian arsenal. I’m working on using them liberally even when they don’t come naturally; especially then.
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18
The truth is I still don’t have an answer as to why my optic nerves are swollen, so I continue to pray. The church has been really unbelievable in their efforts to support Ann and I. We are so grateful. If you would like to join in those prayers feel free. Prayer changes things!