The following is a guest post from Pastor John Mueller. John will update via this blog from time to time.
A New Journey
In 1994, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC), an inflammatory bowel disease of the colon. Unlike regular colitis or other issues with the bowel, it has no cure outside of radical surgery. Over these past 18 years, I’ve learned to manage the ongoing symptoms pretty well. It rarely affects home or work as you’ve seen me travel to some difficult places in the world on mission. I’ve been blessed!
Every couple of years, I go to the doctor for a colonoscopy to make sure the disease hasn’t progressed to something more serious. UC patients are at higher risk for other health issues including cancer. On April 30, I went in for such a test and learned a week later that one of the biopsies had returned positive for cancer. For a person with a healthy colon, removal of a portion of the colon and reconnection is usually a good option. For a person with long-standing UC, the only option is removal of the entire colon.
So Lord willing, on May 21, I will be having my colon surgically removed at Washington Regional Medical Center here in Fayetteville, AR. There are a couple of options that we’re still in the process of deciding. One of those options requires two surgeries. Either way, it’s a pretty significant surgery requiring a fairly extensive recovery.
I’ve already been greatly humbled by the outpouring of love and support as word of my new journey is getting out. I realize that there are many in our church family dealing with much greater health issues and life challenges than me. I don’t want my situation to overshadow or distract from the other needs around us. At the same time, I want God’s character and work brightly displayed so that He is glorified, our church body is encouraged, and the world is shown the greatness of God’s redemptive story.
In closing, let me share with you what God has been teaching me through this new journey. I’ve been drawn to the Psalms in my times with the Lord. Consider the passages below:
Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)
Teach me Your way, O LORD, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. I give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify Your name forever. For great is Your steadfast love toward me; You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. (Psalm 86:11-13)
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work, and meditate on Your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What God is great like our God? (Psalm 77:11-13)
First, the Psalmists call out to God to teach them His ways. As you read the context of these passages, you discover that they’re going through challenging times. Yet, in the midst of the challenge, they want to know His truth. They want to walk in the center of His path led by His hand. Second, they are grounded in His character. They know that He is the God of their salvation. They know that His love is constantly pursuing and present. They know that they have been delivered from darkness to light. They know that His deeds and work are awesome. There is nothing to fear, for God is a great and mighty God. Third, they are drawn into deep, intimate worship. They learn to wait on the Lord all day. In the middle of difficulty, they continually give thanks to God and glorify His name. They learn to ponder and meditate on all of who God is and what He has done. Lastly, they learn that God’s way and plans are perfect. God’s way is holy – it is set apart, sacred, without flaw or error, brilliantly bright, glorious, and perfect.
In my cancer, God’s ways are holy. He is greatly to be praised and worthy of my devotion. I will give thanks and bless Him for my new journey. I know that He has much to teach me, and I look forward to knowing Him more deeply and sharing Him more passionately.