Tag Archive | heaven

A life lived with terminal illness – and with hope

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending an extraordinary thanksgiving service for the life of an extraordinary man – although he would never have allowed anyone to call him that.

douglas-and-alison

Douglas Mark’s desire was that his thanksgiving service (which he planned himself) would be ‘a time infused with joy and thanksgiving’ and that is exactly what it was – just as his life had been.

Douglas had lived with cancer for 10 years and had been through more than 40 chemotherapy treatments, but he refused to say that he was ‘battling with cancer’ or ‘coping with cancer’. He ‘lived with cancer’, fully accepting that this was part of the journey which God had chosen for him. He demonstrated joy as he trusted God with every detail of his cancer.  One of his favourite sayings was this:

 Life is not waiting for the storm to pass – it is learning to dance in the rain.

 

Douglas trusted God and that was clear right till the end of his life. He believed that it is more important to trust God than to understand Him. I am sure that it was that unshakeable trust in God which gave him the joy which characterised his life as he lived with cancer.

At the seminar which he and his wife Alison gave at New Horizon this year – which they called ‘Living with terminal illness, and with Hope’ – he said this about joy:

Joy is a self-assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, a quiet confidence that ultimately everything will be alright and a determined choice to praise God in all things.

Douglas had chosen to praise God in all things. When asked how he was, he used to reply, ‘I’m thankful to be as well as I am’. His prayer was that he look for signs of God’s faithfulness every day.

Douglas and Alison were passionate about encouraging Christians to model to the world what it’s like to live with the hope of heaven in the face of death. They spoke in many churches and other places, encouraging Christians to live out their faith in this way.

Alison gave a very courageous tribute to Douglas yesterday, in which she said this:

Don’t allow what you don’t understand about God to destroy what you already know about Him.

As Douglas’s health declined in recent weeks, Alison refused to talk in despairing tones, choosing rather to say that Douglas was ‘edging gently home to heaven’. What a beautiful picture. And that is exactly what he did. There’s no doubt that he has heard his Lord and Saviour say ‘Well done’ as He welcomed him home.

He leaves a legacy: not just a life well-lived, but the challenge to us to live our lives well. For Douglas and Alison, that meant living their lives in the light of eternity and through the lens of eternity. It was that perspective which gave them the courage and faith to live with cancer and hope, at one and the same time.

To download a copy of the seminar which Douglas and Alison gave at New Horizon, go to http://newhorizon.org.uk/resources/mp3-downloads/

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Living with Eternity in View

Feeling frustrated at being so ‘earth-bound’ and so unmindful of eternity and what it means, I looked for books that might help me out.

The first one I read was ‘Code Red’ by Andrew Drain, a cardio thoracic surgeon who in 2007 was diagnosed with the worst form of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. I wanted to read the thoughts and discoveries of someone facing a terminal illness, with heaven in view.

I was not disappointed. Andrew writes honestly about the ups and downs of his treatment, using the book of Job to inform his growing understanding of suffering.

When his final relapse began in 2009, he found he could face death with confidence because he knew that his ‘redeemer lives’.

The second book I read was ‘Forever’ by Paul Tripp. Written with Paul’s usual honesty and depth of insights, this book is for anyone who feels that the ‘pack-it-all-in mentality’ we live with has led to frustration and disappointment.

Paul argues that having an eternity perspective will enable us to live for something bigger than ourselves and larger than this moment. No longer trapped in the shrunken kingdom of ‘right here, right now’, we can learn to lead lives of greater significance and peace.

Using real-life honest examples from his own life, Paul says that God used the concept of Forever to teach him the following lessons:

1. The future grace of eternity guarantees me present grace.
2. The guaranteed end of the story secures control over my story in the present.
3. Final peace guarantees the presence, power and provision of the Prince of Peace in the here and now.
4. Eternal hope gives me reason for present hope.
5. God’s work of change, which will culminate in an eternity where all things are new, assures me that real change is possible in the here and now.
6. The final restoration of all things guarantees me the help I need until they are restored.

There is a Hope

I was reminded of these words this morning. They are powerful in their comfort. Take time to allow them to change your thinking and touch your soul:

There is a hope that burns within my heart, that gives me strength for ev’ry passing day; a glimpse of glory now revealed in meager part, yet drives all doubt away: I stand in Christ, with sins forgiv’n; and Christ in me, the hope of heav’n! My highest calling and my deepest joy, to make His will my home.

There is a hope that lifts my weary head, a consolation strong against despair; that when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit, I find the Savior there! Through present sufferings, future’s fear, He whispers, “Courage!” in my ear; for I am safe in everlasting arms, and they will lead me home.

There is a hope that stands the test of time, that lifts my eyes beyond the beckoning grave, to see the matchless beauty of a day divine when I behold His face! When sufferings cease and sorrows die, and every longing satisfied, then joy unspeakable will flood my soul, for I am truly home.

(Townend and Edwards, 2007)

Celebrate!

This would have been my Mum’s 89th birthday, had she lived to celebrate it.

Part of me wishes she had. I want her to be here – to hear her laugh, to share a cup of tea with her, to have her worry over me, to celebrate her birthday.

But she is in a far better place – and she doesn’t want to come back here.

She is celebrating. She is enjoying a party such as she has never done before – a party in heaven.

With God the Father who is delighted to have her join the party, thrilled to welcome her home.

With God the Son who came to this earth and died on the cross to make sure my Mum would be at that party.

With God the Spirit who comforted her and counselled her and guided her all through the 87 years she lived on earth.

With the angels in heaven who threw a party the day my Mum decided to trust the Lord.

Why would she want to leave all that to come back here?

She doesn’t. But we will go to be with her. We’ll join the party. And what a party that will be!

No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, 
   Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— 
   What God has arranged for those who love him.

I Corinthians 2:9