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GA News: One more day

SAN JOSE — Two years ago while attending the 217th General Assembly meeting in Birmingham, Ala., I wrote a short piece about living each day with the sobering diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Quite frankly, I didn’t expect to be here in San Jose, nor did I think I’d be writing another epistle about me!

I suppose the sixty-four thousand dollar question is, “What
have you learned over the past two years?” That revelation would take a lot more space than this brief column, but let me be so bold as to offer a few insights.

It is not a cliché to share the fact that each and every day of life is a gift. Among the many definitions of gift are “present, award, endowment, and grant.” We all know the nuances and subtleties of God’s blessings to us of daily bread and daily life, but how do we live into this reality?

I have always taken my call to ministry very seriously, but
my effort to live a life and ministry of encouragement shapes my life today as never before. Like so many, as much as I attempted to live a servant lifestyle, I think I was much more concerned with the details of my own life than I was with the lives of others. Pancreatic cancer has assisted me, indeed it has endowed me, with a mandate to re-order my priorities. I don’t “sweat the small stuff’ nearly as much as I used to! Prayer shapes and guides my
life more than it did pre-diagnosis, and I take uncommon joy in praying through and for an extensive and growing intercessory prayer list. How often we have been told to pray for others, and yet how often do we find ourselves actually doing that? When I encounter people struggling with any issue at all, I find myself called to pray for them, and I realize that I want to let them know that I am doing so. When I am told by someone that I am being prayed for, it lifts my spirits as nothing else does. The mandate
to love our neighbors as ourselves is inextricably linked to a life of daily prayer for others.

As a pastor, husband, parent, and friend, I have tried to be a note and letter writer over the years, and I find myself writing more notes than ever — letters of encouragement and acknowledgement to those who might need to know that someone is thinking about them and praying for them. I
often send notes to those who have encouraged me and opened
doors for me over the course of my life journey. (P.S. These notes often result in receiving responses and e-mails that can make the spirit truly soar!)

When you know of someone who faces challenges — a serious illness, a family tragedy, a professional crisis, or a
personal conundrum, don’t avoid them! Avoidance is tantamount to isolation. When someone faces the direst need, there is a tendency to feel forgotten. Questions such as “Why hasn’t your hair fallen out?” or “What caused your situation” or “What kind of treatment will you have next?” or “What is your prognosis?” or “How are you handling the loss of your job, your spouse, your child, your … ?” translates into “How does it feel to be without hope?” And
that’s not what those who suffer need.

Each of us has suffered or will suffer at some time in our lives. The Book of Job was a preview of what can happen to the most faithful and to the least faithful. Yet, the greatest gift we can offer to one another is encouragement — encouragement through spoken or written word, through deeds however small or gracious, through intercessory prayer and through the kindness of recognition: “I know this is a difficult time for you and I am holding you in daily prayer.” God’s gift of life is truly amazing!

None of us knows how many days we will be granted. As you look into the mirror each and every day, take time to marvel that you have been created in the image of God. Count your blessings often. Smile more and frown less! Tell those you love, how much you love them each and every day. Share yourself abundantly with those who need encouragement, hope, and care. Give thanks that with Christ all things are possible! Keep that twinkle in your eye and help the world learn to laugh.

And, to all who have lifted up me or others in prayer, to all who have confronted the joys and the realities of everyday life, I personally thank you. May God continue to bless you and keep you as you claim the gift of life each day!

(Bill is the vice president for church relations and corporate secretary of the Board of Pensions [www.pensions.org/ <http://www.pensions.org/> ]. This is his 38th General Assembly.)

SAN JOSE — Two years ago while attending the 217th General Assembly meeting in Birmingham, Ala., I wrote a short piece about living each day with the sobering diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Quite frankly, I didn’t expect to be here in San Jose, nor did I think I’d be writing another epistle about me!

I suppose the sixty-four thousand dollar question is, “What
have you learned over the past two years?” That revelation would take a lot more space than this brief column, but let me be so bold as to offer a few insights.

It is not a cliché to share the fact that each and every day of life is a gift. Among the many definitions of gift are “present, award, endowment, and grant.” We all know the nuances and subtleties of God’s blessings to us of daily bread and daily life, but how do we live into this reality?

I have always taken my call to ministry very seriously, but
my effort to live a life and ministry of encouragement shapes my life today as never before. Like so many, as much as I attempted to live a servant lifestyle, I think I was much more concerned with the details of my own life than I was with the lives of others. Pancreatic cancer has assisted me, indeed it has endowed me, with a mandate to re-order my priorities. I don’t “sweat the small stuff’ nearly as much as I used to! Prayer shapes and guides my
life more than it did pre-diagnosis, and I take uncommon joy in praying through and for an extensive and growing intercessory prayer list. How often we have been told to pray for others, and yet how often do we find ourselves actually doing that? When I encounter people struggling with any issue at all, I find myself called to pray for them, and I realize that I want to let them know that I am doing so. When I am told by someone that I am being prayed for, it lifts my spirits as nothing else does. The mandate
to love our neighbors as ourselves is inextricably linked to a life of daily prayer for others.

As a pastor, husband, parent, and friend, I have tried to be a note and letter writer over the years, and I find myself writing more notes than ever — letters of encouragement and acknowledgement to those who might need to know that someone is thinking about them and praying for them. I
often send notes to those who have encouraged me and opened
doors for me over the course of my life journey. (P.S. These notes often result in receiving responses and e-mails that can make the spirit truly soar!)

When you know of someone who faces challenges — a serious illness, a family tragedy, a professional crisis, or a
personal conundrum, don’t avoid them! Avoidance is tantamount to isolation. When someone faces the direst need, there is a tendency to feel forgotten. Questions such as “Why hasn’t your hair fallen out?” or “What caused your situation” or “What kind of treatment will you have next?” or “What is your prognosis?” or “How are you handling the loss of your job, your spouse, your child, your … ?” translates into “How does it feel to be without hope?” And
that’s not what those who suffer need.

Each of us has suffered or will suffer at some time in our lives. The Book of Job was a preview of what can happen to the most faithful and to the least faithful. Yet, the greatest gift we can offer to one another is encouragement — encouragement through spoken or written word, through deeds however small or gracious, through intercessory prayer and through the kindness of recognition: “I know this is a difficult time for you and I am holding you in daily prayer.” God’s gift of life is truly amazing!

None of us knows how many days we will be granted. As you look into the mirror each and every day, take time to marvel that you have been created in the image of God. Count your blessings often. Smile more and frown less! Tell those you love, how much you love them each and every day. Share yourself abundantly with those who need encouragement, hope, and care. Give thanks that with Christ all things are possible! Keep that twinkle in your eye and help the world learn to laugh.

And, to all who have lifted up me or others in prayer, to all who have confronted the joys and the realities of everyday life, I personally thank you. May God continue to bless you and keep you as you claim the gift of life each day!

(Bill is the vice president for church relations and corporate secretary of the Board of Pensions [www.pensions.org/ <http://www.pensions.org/> ]. This is his 38th General Assembly.)

 

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