Looking ahead… without fear

I’m starting to look ahead. What does 2013 hold? What work can I do? What ministries can I be involved in? I’m keen to be serving God, but I’m not keen to repeat much of the hyper-busyness of the past. The past couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of activity. I’ve been up and about, connected with a few friends, and taken on various tasks. I’ve caught up with a number of people for some serious discussions about personal and pastoral matters. I’ve enjoyed a Bible study with some blokes at the local pub and a time of honest discussion and prayer around a fire in our backyard.

Last weekend I spent a few hours teaching at a local theological college on the topics of church planting, preaching and sharing what we believe. It was so encouraging to be able to talk about these important things with a group of ministers and students in training. I followed this with an abbreviated program for our ministry trainees at church. On Friday I joined in a training workshop on strategic planning and team leadership and I attended a prayer meeting for teenagers with some other parents. Today I’ve been at a men’s convention looking at the nature of our identity as Christian men. During the week I attended our church staff meeting and began to discuss potential plans for getting more involved again with the team. I followed this by talking through possibilities with our lead pastor. We worked on some strategies for ministry, pastoral care, and future planning. It’s been invigorating! The cancer’s taken a back seat and it’s felt like I’ve been getting on with life again!

But… the past few days I’ve had increased pain in my chest. I find the pain difficult to interpret. Is it evidence of the chemo doing it’s job? Is it the cancer becoming more active? Or is it something else, such as bruising around the surgery sites, or an infection in the lungs, or something entirely in my head and I don’t need to worry about it? The one thing I do know is that it’s a timely reminder that all is not well. As I’ve begun thinking and planning for the future, I need to remember that important little phrase… deo volente or God willing.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.  (Proverbs 16:9)

Experiencing the symptoms of the cancer raises my levels of anxiety. I know that this won’t help and it could make things worse and it’s something I need to deal with. But I don’t deal with it alone. My loving and competent wife helps me to stay grounded and focused with her wise words and practical help…

“Let’s take your temperature. I’ll check your blood pressure. How about you let me listen to your chest. I suggest you relax a while and take a couple of panadols. You’ve got a scan next week and then we’ll have a better idea of what’s going on.”

Even more importantly God helps me in my weakness. As I walked home from the conference today, holding my chest, concerned about the pain, God spoke to me. Words from the Bible. Words that I’ve previously sung many times. Words that seemed apt for me this day. They were first spoken through the prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel, reminding them that God had acted to rescue them. How much more true are they for those who’ve been saved by Jesus Christ. I need not fear, for whatever happens to me, God has already redeemed me, and I’m secure in his protective custody.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
IMG_2782I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour  (Isaiah 43:1-3)

6 thoughts on “Looking ahead… without fear”

  1. Hey Macca. Have loved following your blog mate. Have wanted to comment every time, so maybe it’s time I did. What particularly resonated for me here is the “God willing” truth. Through Rossie’s treatment for breast cancer in 2008/9 and the ongoing follow-up checks since … it’s a perspective of trusting in God – that it’s all “in his hands” – I’m also learning. I find myself saying “God-willing” a lot more in recent years. Thanks for the reminder brother.

    Steve

  2. “Today I’ve been at a men’s convention looking at the nature of our identity as Christian men.”
    Me too . . . but whereas for you this was one event in the midst of many, for me this was a real highlight — at least of the month! Reading the chapter on adoption in “Knowing God” many years ago was life-changing. Hearing this key doctrine taught publicly today was special. I hope neither of us (nor anyone else who attended) ever take for granted the privilege of hearing a clear presentation of Romans 8 and adoption, no matter how many times we’ve heard it.
    I prayed for you and me that we be given the grace and the courage to live with the privileges and the responsibilities associated with membership of God’s royal family.

  3. Dave,

    It’s honestly an honour to read that reflection on the last couple of weeks. Your God founded courage is genuinely inspiring and humbling consecutively!
    Thanks.
    CS form for kids emailed today.
    Mal

  4. Thank you so much for this post. Like Steve I have often wanted to comment and finally am. I can’t remember how I found your blog but it has been a regular source of encouragement to me as I care for my mother-in-law who has secondary breast cancer in her liver. This week she has had an increase in her pain, discomfort and fatigue after a long period of reasonably good health and control of symptoms. This post was such a timely reminder to me not to give in to fear and anxiety. Just taking one day at a time and working out what God is indeed willing for this next day and next week and next month as we walk this road with her.

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