Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, KJV)
As I drove to Church of the Holy Cross in Raleigh early on Sunday morning, July 1, 2012, the word, “Joy!,” suddenly came into my consciousness. This would not be an unusual word if all that I had on my mind was the worship service I would soon be leading. After all, I was about to preach on a passage from the gospel of Mark in which Jesus miraculously heals an older woman and raises a dead girl back to life. I love to preach – and I especially love to preach on healing stories in Scripture.
However, I was also scheduled to undergo surgery the next day to remove a cancerous tumor from my left lung – a tumor of unknown origin – and there were two small tumors in my right lung that would need to be removed in a later surgery. Yet, I felt joyful that morning on my way to church, although I didn’t realize it until I sensed the Lord speaking the word “joy” to me. He was the reason for my joy – and all the conviction in my sermon for that morning, about how God delights in healing, helped me to trust that the Lord also had healing for me. This conviction was a gift from the Holy Spirit and I marveled at the timing of my surgery and my service as a supply priest while my friend, John, was away on vacation. It was no coincidence that on the day before surgery I would have the great privilege to preach about the authority and power Jesus has to heal – and to claim it for myself.
This pervasive sense of joy was present the next morning also, as I arose at 3:30 am to shower with an anti-bacterial soap formulated for patients about to undergo surgery. I was continuing to “press in for my healing,” a phrase given to me by the Lord immediately following the news that a recent C/T scan had revealed the presence of a few small suspicious-looking spots in my lungs. I was buoyed by a profound sense that my life was in God’s hands – and that He would see me safely through the surgery – and through whatever lay ahead for me afterwards.
So instead of being fearful and worried about my own welfare, I was blessed to be “careful for nothing” (Philippians 4:6). I even had a sense that the Lord had an assignment for me: to give witness to Him, by my words and demeanor, to all with whom I would come in contact while in the hospital. This remarkable freedom to be outwardly focused was Continue reading