If you have journeyed with me for very long, you know that I love the holiday season. And, while my personal favorite is Christmas, I do enjoy a lot of the trimmings of Thanksgiving. One thing I have noticed as I have aged is that, every new Thanksgiving, it seems like we have a lot more for which to be thankful to God. That is certainly the case for me this year.
You are probably aware that, for quite some time at the beginning of this year, I was unable to converse with you through this blog due to some serious health issues. During those months, my assistants reposted some of my blog entries from a few years ago that were lost when we made behind-the-scenes modifications to this web site. We felt that these blog entries still pertinently spoke to the needs and conditions of pastors and their families. I hope they ministered to you. And I want to thank my friends for standing in the gap when I needed them.
Now that I am feeling much better, I would like to share a few more details with you about that time as part of my personal Thanksgiving prayer and testimony. I am not looking for your pity or worry, but I want you to see my experiences as an example of the potential trials that we in ministry face and of the power of prayer and personal faith that we all have available during such times. Our God is truly amazing!
For the first half of 2017, I was either confined to the hospital or home health care. It all began with a successful surgery and culminated in a very-difficult-to-treat abscess that resulted in a 40-pound weight loss, having to learn to walk again, and a lack of energy that immobilized me. I could not have survived without Beverley’s care. I am also so appreciative of my long-time assistant, Sue McFadden, for keeping you all updated over those many months. I know there would have been many fewer people praying had she not done so. I sincerely want to thank you all for your prayers and interest in my condition.
I was also unable, during this recuperative time, to engage with many of you much on Facebook, nor to respond much to your email messages, but I did occasionally peek in on what was going on in your lives. It uplifted me to do so, and to see God at work in you.
As time went by, I was praying that I might eventually continue to serve as pastor of Friendship Church. Our people were and continue to be so generous and supportive. I did improve. And, on Sunday, July 9, I delivered my first sermon since February 5. God was present even though my voice was still very weak. I was so encouraged by my time with everyone at the church. Thanks to all who made that day and those that have followed so special.
Then, in October, I was able to travel to Portland, Oregon, for my grandson’s wedding. There were certainly times during the past few months when I wasn’t sure if I would be able to be there. It was my earnest prayer that I could be there. It was beautiful.
Thinking and praying about a subject for that first sermon back at my church, I was impressed with the word PRAISE. It seemed to fit my situation, but should be the echo of every one of us. God responds to our praise. He lives in our praises and we are rewarded. People around us are encouraged by our positive attitude of gratitude. And we ourselves are healthier when we live a life of praise. Our faith grows as we praise, and things that may seem dreary and painful suddenly attract peace and light because we look at life differently.
Are you a person of praise, my colleague? I pray so. The Bible urges all of us, “Let everything that has breath PRAISE the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).
I have learned so much from all of you. We have shared some tough times together, but have also celebrated many victories. Let’s keep caring for one another and keeping our focus on the right thing. Please continue to pray for me, my health, my ministry, and for one another. Be blessed, my blog and Facebook friends, be blessed.