"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."
(NIV Isaiah 43.18-19 Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 1984)
"What good could come from a kidney stone?" the Senior Pastor asked his congregation just after their wonderful Christmas pageant.
"For those of you who don't know, kidney stones are excruciatingly painful-- it hurts to even think about it. The pain is intense and comes suddenly: when I had mine I couldn't find a comfortable position, and just writhed in pain."
Pastor Rick continued and reminded the congregation about what he went through when he had his kidney stone last summer, and how God used the situation for good.
"My doctor encouraged me to get a colonoscopy...and so I finally did. And I'm glad I did. Otherwise, they would be handing me a death sentence in a couple of years, rather than a prognosis now."
Pastor Rick related the results of the biopsy from a polyp they discovered during the colonoscopy.
The polyp, about the size of a U.S. quarter, was malignant and he was diagnosed with rectal cancer.
Immediately the merry mood of the church shifted to one of solemn seriousness. Even the members who half-heartedly listened suddenly paid attention.
"I just want you to know I'm not going anywhere. I plan to do what I can, as much as I can. But what I really want for you is not to fear. God is in control here, and we have a plan:
"God is doing a new thing for the new year."
By then, most of the congregation was in tears. They had no idea.
Pastor Rick explained how the other Pastors would step up and fill in and do as much as they could.
Always the encourager, Pastor Rick went on, "This is a time to rally. Be united in purpose, prayer and praise." Then, he humbly said, "Mostly, now I need you."
He stepped down in front of the pulpit, joined by his wife, family, and the other pastors. The congregation filled in all around and heartfelt prayers went up.
Prayer: "Father, help me heed the advice of Your humble servants You send my way, and direct my path in Your wisdom."