I sincerely hope that this entry finds you, and finds you well.
Much has happened since July 12 - what is that, just a short 8 days? Wow.....
I had a doctor's appointment earlier in the month, at which time I had a chest xray. This is nothing out of the ordinary nor unusual, as he's been performing one every 3-4 months for the past 5-6 years.
When he first began doing the xrays, it was discovered that I had a spot that caused him concern enough that he wanted to closely monitor it for changes. For a few years, there were no changes, so I didn't really think anything of it. No news was good news, so I worried not an ounce.
So, when I had yet another xray done earlier this month, it was nothing but business as usual for me - or so I thought. You can imagine my surprise when, around 4 days later, his nurse called my phone and left a voice mail urging me to call at my earliest convenience, as she needed to "discuss your recent chest xray". I knew immediately what it was, so it came as no real surprise when it was confirmed when I phoned her.
The spot has now evolved into a growth.
Most folks would be biting their nails to the quick and losing sleep night after night, and going into "survival mode" finding out what they could do in order to erase the news they'd been given, turn back the hands of time, and not have to worry about the dread "C Word".
When I first learned of the spot, I would sit and wonder "What am I going to do if I receive that dreaded news?" I would literally experience feelings of utter terror, and would relentlessly worry over something that hadn't even transpired. So, I figured that if I ever did receive that news, I would fall apart and be a basket case, useless to everyone around me. Boy, was I ever in for a surprise!
When I heard the message on the phone, I honestly didn't think anymore about it after initially processing and digesting it. I knew what it was, and I was honestly okay. I didn't experience feelings of impending doom or otherwise freak out about potentially having lung cancer.
I have nobody but myself to blame for this.
I remember being in the 8th grade at Gilead Christian Academy. I had this teacher, who I really didn't then, and don't now, care for. I mean, he claimed Christ as his Savior, but he really had a pretty poor attitude back then. Anyway, I very vividly recall having a conversation with him over lunch one day regarding smoking. I told him "When I grow up, I am going to smoke." I will never forget his response as long as I live (however short or long that may be): "I hope that you die of lung cancer". So, George Lord, wherever you are, I remember what you told me, and it's never once left my memory!
The horrible truth about that conversation was, even in the 8th grade, I was already smoking. I believe I was around 13 or 14 years old then -- If I live to see my October 4th birthday, I will be 43. So, that means that I've been a smoker for 30 years - the latter half of which I would classify myself as a "heavy" smoker.
After I finished school and a 2-year stint in the Army, I would go on to obtain my certification as a Paramedic. During my time in school, I was able to observe a few autopsies, which I found to be totally fascinating. I was shown what the lungs of a healthy individual looked like, as well as what the lungs of a smoker looked like. The difference between the two was astounding.
Still, I battled with the addiction that had taken total control over me.
During my decade-plus as a Paramedic, I worked countless calls where individuals would expire from the results of being a smoker. While this would personally affect me, it could do nothing in the way of releasing me from the sheer power that nicotine had over my body.
I had a wife and 7 kids. I knew that if I ever wanted to grow old with my wife, witness my children grow up and have families of their own, that I had to stop smoking in order to have a shot at experiencing that -- but even that was powerless in releasing me from the addiction.
I became a follower of Jesus and trusted Him to help me with my life - but the flesh was so powerless over the power of nicotine that I was unable to stop for more than half a day.
I do not understand how someone can be dependent on alcohol or illicit drugs - that is something that has never touched me. However, I can understand what an addiction is, because I am addicted to nicotine and seem powerless to stop. I have absolutely no desire to continue smoking, but my body has been lied to for so long that it actually believes that it needs nicotine in order to keep functioning. My doctor has prescribed Chantix to me, which I took for greater than 6 months - to no avail.
I've even thought about having my wife drop me off in some remote area for a couple of weeks with nothing but food, water, and shelter. I'd leave the nicotine at home (or better yet, in the garbage!) - but, something tells me that I'd find something to smoke, even if it were the paper packaging that came with the food.
When I was younger, growing up on the family farm, I would run out of smokes and go to the cornfield, get some corn silk that had dried out, roll it and smoke it. It was absolutely nasty, but was effective in giving my body what it had been deceived into believing that it needed. Later on when I'd moved away from the farm and would run out of cigarettes and money, I would sell whatever I had to in order to feed the addiction.
In a strange, twisted sense, it's almost like having this unknown individual that you have to support. The only thing that you know about this individual is that if you fail to support him, he is going to make you feel like microwaved dog crap. So, you have no choice but to support him.
So, I've received this "dreaded" news, and I am perfectly fine and dandy with it. Now, those around me aren't -- far from it!!! But, me? I have a perfect peace about everything.
My dad once told me "Son, expect the absolute worst, and rarely will you ever be disappointed." That isn't exactly the mentality that I've adopted -- not exactly. I am anticipating/expecting the worst, but not because I anticipate any disappointment or elation. Rather, I am expecting the worst so that it will not come as a shock should that be the news that I receive. If it's not as bad as I am expecting, then I'll be alright. If it's nothing at all, then I'll be alright. If I'm told that it's terminal cancer with zero hope of remission, recovery, or treatment, then I will also be alright.
I guess in order for you to be able to understand that, you'd have to understand that I've already had some pretty bad things happen to me over the last 14 years:
1-01-1997: House fire
5-25-1998: Accident with shotgun resulting in loss of left leg below the knee. I was alone, believed that I was going to die. Was found by my wife after 2 hours; first saw a doctor 4 hours after the initial shotgun blast.
3-??-2002: Loss of left leg above the knee as a result of the 1998 accident (also the loss of my career as a Paramedic) Could walk very well with prosthesis, though.
11-6-2004: Loss of my brother to suicide
6-22-2005: Loss of my grandmother
8-13-2005: Loss of my best friend in the world outside of my wife. Bill Lively - he drowned in the Atlantic Ocean while wading in the shallow waters of the beach with his daughter. To this day, the void he left still hurts pretty bad.
5-09-2009: Struck head-on while operating a Harley Sportster less than 2 miles from my home. Immediately prior to impact, I remember thinking "This is it!" - Obviously, I was wrong. Instead, I would be left with innumerable fractures to my pelvis, fractured ribs on the left side, fractured left wrist, left shoulder, right collar bone, and 2 right ribs, as well as being told that I would never have the ability to walk again using a prosthesis. (This prediction would be proven wrong, as I regained the ability to walk just a few short months ago.)
1998 - Present Day: Having to deal with excruciating, debilitating pain as result of the mechanism of injury in May '98. I have, and still do, experience the same pain that I felt when being struck by the shotgun pellets. - This is what I experience when the pain levels are at their worst. At best, 24/7/365, I have the feeling/sensation that you experience after your foot has fallen asleep and is in the process of 'waking up': the painful "pins and needles" that you feel. Some call it "phantom pain" - but there is absolutely nothing phantom about it. It is both very real and nonexistent below the level of amputation. I feel it all within the confines of my thigh.
All of this has not been shared with you so that you'll feel pity for me or feel sorry for me. I share it with you as a means of letting you know that I have had some pretty harsh battles, and emerged as an intact, whole person with an even deeper love for my Savior. I have been through far too much to believe that He would abandon me at this point in time.
I have also learned that anything that happens in my life - good or bad - first has to go through Him. He has to give the okay for ANYTHING that transpires in my life.
Prior to 1998, I didn't have to worry about how my bills were going to get paid. Between my wife and I, we weren't wealthy, but we were pretty comfortable. In the present day, most people would really be surprised/shocked if they realized just how little we do get by on. After the monthly bills are paid, there's not enough left over to even fill the car with gas twice.
Thus, we know that if there's any extra that comes our way, it's nothing short of a blessing from my Savior. In His Word, He tells me that He is going to provide all of my needs. Not my wants, not my desires, but my basic needs. And, that is a place that I am perfectly comfortable to rest in. Should there be extra that comes in, we are certain to thank Him for it. He has yet to fail us. He's been far more faithful to us than we've been to Him.
Undoubtedly, there will be some who read this who will ask "What kind of god would do this to someone who fervently believes in him?"
I'm so glad you asked that question! God didn't do this to me any more than He killed all those folks on September 11, 2001. God didn't do this to me any more than He did this to an innocent child who's battling incurable cancer in a pediatric cancer ward.
If God didn't do any of this, then who did?
That's a pretty easy question to answer: Satan/Lucifer did.
When God created man 6,000 - 7,000 years ago, He created perfect, flawless, innocent, and pure human beings. He created them (man and woman) totally stark naked. But, neither had any knowledge or awareness that they were naked, because, while they were adults, they were as innocent as a newborn baby.
When Satan/Lucifer entered the picture, it's been nothing but trials, tribulations, and trouble since that time.
Some folks have this mental image of Satan/Lucifer as being someone who walks around in a red suit with horns and carrying a trident. That's not at all what he looks like. The Bible says that Lucifer was the most beautiful creation God ever created. Satan works on you through your friends, family, and yes, even people who follow the same Jesus that you do. (Or, if you don't follow Him, then the very same Jesus that you should be following!) He works in you by knowing your weaknesses better than even you know them. If you're attempting to overcome a particular weakness so that you could be better used by God, then Satan will work that much harder by pulling out all the stops in tempting you with the very things that you've struggled against for a long time. He is a relentless foe - he'll work against you to the point where you grow weary in fighting, and finally just give in to the temptation.
It is oft said that people are only strong in areas that they feed and exercise the most. If you feed your spirit by delving into the Word of God, then you will become spiritually strong. If you feed your flesh, then your spirit will grow weak, while your flesh grows even stronger.
Throughout my life, I've fed both. I believe that I would be best described by what the Bible would call "lukewarm". Don't get me wrong: I absolutely love God, Jesus, and very much enjoy things associated with God. And while I don't succumb to every temptation thrown against me by the enemy, I've given in to enough where I have a pretty pathetic witness for Christ. This isn't me bragging about how sinful I am --- I am actually very ashamed of myself for caving in to the flesh as often as I do. It's nothing more than a fact of my life.
It does not one bit diminish the faith, trust, and most of all, HOPE that I have in Christ. I know that I know that I know He is my Savior. He doesn't lie, He doesn't give you something, only to take it back later. The promises that He makes, you can take to the bank that they will be there and never revoked.
If only I could be as faithful to Him as He is to me................
So, I hope this explains the peace that I have over not just the present situation, but every situation that comes along in my life. I don't expect everyone to accept it -- I don't expect everyone to subscribe to it (although both would be pretty awesome if everyone did accept and subscribe to the same belief that I have) -- I just hope that everyone will understand it.
In closing, I will share 2 (or possibly more) passages of scripture that have come to mean so very much to me in my life - these are verses that have meant so much to me in my life and have proven to be invaluable treasures that I hold very dear. I hope that they will come to mean as much to you as they have to me:
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Thank you for allowing me to share a small part of my life with you.