Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
In July I was diagnosed with colon cancer. In September my church anointed me with oil and prayed for me and I had major surgery. Not exactly the summer I’d planned.
Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Ephesians 3, about God’s great plan for the universe. He unveiled his mystery, hidden for ages, the mystery to make Christ’s family of believers a triumph of wisdom and leadership, and to expose and defeat unseen evil powers in the heavenly realms.
God may have unveiled his plan, but it’s still a mystery to me. I keep up on the news, but they don’t report on evil powers in the heavenlies or the worldwide impact of the church.
How did Paul fit his experience into this grand scheme? He says, “Don’t be discouraged that I’m in prison. My sufferings are for your glory” (v. 13).
Really? Is Paul saying, “I’m stuck in a stinking Roman prison, but it’s all according to plan, because God is managing the big stuff”? Is he saying, “My orange jump suit and prison number don’t matter, because that’s just on earth and the important stuff is happening in the heavenly realms”?
In my life, I read fantasy novels as an escape valve from cancer. In one novel, the protagonist, Thomas Covenant, is a leper on earth, divorced by his wife and rejected by his community. But sometimes he is transported into a different world, where he has power, honor, and respect. He is constantly conflicted, trying to live out his two identities.
That’s how I feel in my post-operation recovery . . . as I wait for chemo. I wouldn’t mind being transported into a different reality–perhaps into God’s grand plan for the world, the church, and me.
But the big plan escapes me. How and when will God work everything out? How much must the church suffer before he does? Does my life really make that much difference?
My only comfort comes from one small sentence in Ephesians. “In Christ and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (v. 12).
I don’t need to grasp the big picture. I can go to God, freely and confidently, bringing my cancer-inspired angst, my dread of chemo, and my doubts about God’s goodness. God doesn’t block my phone number or put my calls on ignore.
Our father, the big picture confuses me. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church supports Putin’s war, driving a new wedge between his Christian church and others.
The American right fuses individualism, patriotism, and nationalism, with Christianity using the slogan, “Don’t mess with my faith, my family, my firearms, my freedom.”
How can I reconcile the fragility of my life with the robustness of your grand plan? What to make of modern western Christianity, fracturing into tribes over politics and pandemics and culture wars? What of worldwide violence that gives no quarter to peace?
I humbly accept Paul’s advice, to approach you freely, confidently, hopefully. Not because I am right. Not because I deserve to be heard. Not because I understand. But because you invite me to approach. Because you offer yourself as a refuge. Because you call yourself counselor. Because you love like a father.
Hold me in your ever-loving arms.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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