Friday, January 22, 2016

I was jogging along and then this thing came up ahead of me!

A major hurdle in my twenty year battle with serious illness has been passed this week. On Wednesday we heard that the local health authority has granted funding for a major transplant operation to take place in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north of the UK. After turning me down twice this was a much welcomed turn-around and has brought a ray of hope to keep me running in this hurdles' race.

Initially I will be travelling to London again next week for further treatment. After that I will need a preparatory operation which will probably be done in Guernsey. There is at least a six week wait for that, and I will need a month after it to recover. Then, or perhaps before, I get to go up to Newcastle for a week of intensive assessment and 'working-up'. If they find me suitable then I will approach the final hurdle that will be the major op itself. This will involve removing my pancreas, spleen, duodenum and part of my stomach, and then transplanting the tail of the pancreas containing the 'islets' into my liver, so that it can continue to produce insulin there if all goes well. If I am still running after that hurdle I will be looking towards the finishing line!

Seeing life as a hurdles' race is a helpful analogy for me. The Bible speaks about running the race of faith and going into training for success in that race. I sincerely hope you will never have to run the particular race that I have run, but then I probably could not have hacked yours!  We are each called to our own individual race, but the important thing is not to give up! "let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus"... I really hope I can keep doing that as each of these hurdles comes along!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

When I read these words on New Year's Day, I wept.

Early on New Year’s Day I was looking through my favourite version of the Bible for inspiration after a difficult Christmas period. I had been up to A & E over the special season, including on Christmas Day itself, and in touch with my GP twice in the space of four days or so. I endured the usual diet of overwhelming pain, fever, the rigors, extreme nausea – all the signs of a classic flare-up of my old enemy chronic pancreatitis. I say “old” because it was Christmas 1995 when I was admitted to hospital in Cardiff for the first of what would become over 100 such admissions in the last two decades.  Twenty years of frustration, struggle, and the loss of my ministry due to no fault of my own. It’s starting to get to me as you might well imagine.

And then I came across this promise of hope. God, speaking to His people Israel in the Old Testament, promised them that “I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). Wow, that really hit home to my discouraged heart. Years ago, when we lived and worked in Africa, we were hit by a small locust swarm one evening. With the sound of an approaching express train it descended on a large bush in our garden and stripped the lot in seconds. When it lifted, like a swarm of hornets into the air, what had been a large and fruitful shrub was left a desolate collection of bare branches.

Maybe you have faced the hordes of locusts too. Whatever length of time has gone by, you probably can’t forget the sense of grief and loss you feel at opportunities denied you, relationships gone sour, loved ones taken away in their prime. The ‘not fairness’ of life takes its toll on us all, whatever the cause of the pain.

God knows our distress and hears our cry, even in the dark of the night. The Bible says in typically pictorial language that He keeps all our tears in His bottle. He must need a tanker for mine! I don’t know if the locust swarm will leave me in 2016 though I sincerely hope it does – but if not, this promise of God keeps me going as I start a third decade. “I will restore to you [place your name here] the years that the locusts have eaten”!

I don’t know how, or when, but I do know who will achieve this, and I’m holding on to Him for dear life!

Happy New Year!