I celebrated my 60th birthday this past April. (Wow that means I will be 61 a month from now. I’ve hardly had time to get used to being 60. How did that happen?) Well, the point I was going to make was that although over 40 of those years have been spent trying to help other people know more about God I have come to realize that I know a lot less than I ever thought I would while at the same time I know more about things that I never thought would be important to know. I remember hearing it said that the older you get the less you will know. But of course there is no way to truly be prepared for how much you will not know about what you thought you did. Before I try to make sense out of what I just said, let me interject a few words on my “battle” with cancer which has added to my knowing that I don’t know much of anything and neither does my oncologist.
It has been 3 years since I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. With it being stage 3 there is not a cure but it could be treated to slow its progress. To add to my knowledge of what I don’t know, I can now say that I don’t know a whole lot about this type of cancer other than it is slow growing and Jackie Kennedy Onassis died from it 17 years ago. My daughter challenged me to join in a clinical trial to help the health professionals to know more and maybe find a better treatment, if not a cure. Well, to bring us up to the present, last week I went in for my every 3 month blood work, CT scan and visit with my oncologist. The scan revealed some kind of irregularity in my spleen so I went right over to radiology to get a closer look. My Dr. called that same day to let me know that the irregularity was not so irregular; which is to say, I am good to go until the next visit.
What caught my attention while visiting with my oncologist was an awareness that he was struggling with not knowing as much as he thought he would know or should know after all his training and schooling. In my visit the issue of Lynn Kovach’s death came up and I was able to see through his usual demeanor of professionalism and saw his true vulnerability. You see, my Dr. is the same oncologist that was assigned to Lynn care when her cancer came back to claim her life. He just kept telling me that she was very “unlucky.” He showed up at the hospital shortly after Lynn expired when we were all attempting to deal with the “shock ” of this great loss of a dear friend, daughter, mother and wife. He seemed to be struggling with feeling that he should have known more and the only way he could explain it was that “she was unlucky.”
Now, I have been told that the average survival rate of people with stage 3 lymphoma is 7-10 years and if that is accurate I have an average of 4-7 years to live. Now I know that with the prayer support I have received, I have a good chance to beat the statistics. But the truth is, I don’t know how long I will live and neither does my doctor. One thing I do know is that it is not about being lucky or unlucky. I know that the longer I live, the more I will learn about what I don’t know. In that sense, God is becoming bigger and greater because God lives in all that is unknown. We are all being challenged in these times to hang onto one thing that we are told we can count on knowing. That is that God is good and He is the “rewarder” of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).
If we will be honest, then we all have to say that there is so much that we do not know. And the more honest we are the less shaken we will be when life doesn’t fit our “secure” paradigm. Here are some things that we do know! We do know that God is good and we can count on the truth that “He will cause all things to work for our good” (Rom. 8:28). By faith, we must move beyond the “devastation” of not knowing what we cannot know. We must also move beyond our need to always understand everything and simply trust God fully regarding what we can know. Romans 8:31 says, “Since God is for us, who can be against us?” And Genesis 18:25 tells us “Shall not the God of all the earth do justly.” Those are some truths that you and I can know and rely on.
FYI – I leave for SFO to fly out to Nigeria tomorrow at 4:30 AM along with Isaac and Tammy. Keep us in your prayers. You can follow what we’re doing in Nigeria by going to our blog. We’ll do our best to keep it updated.
Discipleship Team Pastor