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February 5, 2018

Everyone has heard some form of the old saying, “When the devil knocks you down, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the fight.”  Or maybe your favorite is a more spiritual version that goes something like this, “When the devil knocks you down, just trust in Jesus to help you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the fight.”  Of course, the really spiritual among us will affirm this rendering, “When the devil knocks you down, just hand it all to Jesus and He will pick you up, dust you off, and give you more strength for the fight.”

Friday was not a day during which I could truthfully say I exhibited an unquestioned belief in either version.  That day I broke…

Two days prior, we were given the hopeful news that, barring any unforeseen complications, my upcoming surgery could be all the treatment I need to become cancer free.  The procedure is long and the recovery requires a week in the hospital plus continued healing at home but, considering the alternative, my family and I are happy.

The awesome beauty I married has also received some much-needed encouragement.  The scans are clear, the source tumor gone, her ‘glory’ is beginning to show, and she is getting to work at her favorite dental office from time to time. 

To be sure, there have been many “knock-downs” during our several months long adventure and each time I was able to apply one of the above versions to the situation and get on with life.  Each time I could be the strong spiritual leader for my family and especially for my bride.  This time I could not… more correctly, I did not… Instead, I broke.

Ironically I had relished the opportunity to honestly share with dear friends that remaining faithful to my Lord and joyfully at peace with our circumstances was not that difficult.

“I don’t know how you and Mrs. Teresa can remain so positive and upbeat all the time” they would say.

I would truthfully respond that when I consider all that God has already given me, being positive is not that hard.  If He were to do nothing else from this moment forward, He has already showered me with more blessings than anyone else on earth!  All I need to do is think of the bride I shouldn’t have, the kids (and spouses) who are absolutely remarkable, or that perfect grandbaby.  Or I can think of my extended family who have always been ready to jump in and shoulder our burdens or support us in our hours of greatest need.  Who has ever pastored as great a church as the one I did or ministered so joyfully among the greatest Association of churches like I do?..

And what can I even say about the dear friends who have stood by our side since all the ‘knock-downs’ began?!

I wish I could say that last Friday I once again picked myself up, dusted myself off, and got back in the fight but I didn’t.   I broke… I had myself a good-old pity party. I let my lady see that…  Only God knows the shame I felt (and still feel) over my weakness.  

As my bride so eloquently reminded me, “I am supposed to be the one to tell you to curse God and die (see the book of Job for scriptural reference) but I will never do that!.. You are a preacher… you should know better!”

She is correct as usual.  I should know better and, in all honesty, I do. 

The Lord and I have talked a lot since Friday.  He reminded me that “to whom much is given, much is required”.  And, once again, He has picked me up, brushed me off, and given me more strength for the battle.

Thank you for your continued prayers for that girl of mine.  Despite the good news of late, we know that her struggle is ongoing and your support lifts her up every day.