Thursday, 6 December 2018

Timing...

When I think back, I can now remember that I never thought I would see old age.  I can’t put my finger on why but I didn’t.

Perhaps I was influenced by the immortal line in the film Blade Runner where the creator of the rogue replicants says to him “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very very brightly.”

I was aware that I had been blessed with so many wonderful experiences of God, beyond anything I could justify. I have heard God speaking to me in many and various ways from my childhood. I experienced things on a regular basis which many Christians longed for just once.  God had been so good to me and his light had indeed burned so very very brightly.

This gave me a kind of fearlessness which embraced racing around the streets of London on two wheels, or sharing bunk beds with a recent triad ex–addict without question.

When I really needed God to speak to me, I knew where I could go and how to wait to hear from God.  I didn’t always get a direct answer to my questions, but I always received the next piece of the puzzle.

I had been so blessed and God’s light had burned so bright for me, perhaps I could only ever expect to live half as long.

That is not so unusual amongst the young, of course.  Being old seems such a very long way away, and so incomprehensible when you are in your teens and your twenties.

As I grew older however, other people came into my life – wife, son, daughter. Priorities change.  Plans change.  Whereas once I could be ready to pack bags at a moment's notice for a new experience in life, there were now other people to think about.  Other considerations.  Growing old starts to become more attractive as the time of life when I could relax with my wife after our children had flown the nest.

Mel and I had planned to retire to Oban on the west coast of Scotland.  I would buy a second hand Rib and explore the channels and islands.  We would hold hands and watch the sun setting over the sea.

I forgot about my younger premonitions.

Now of course, we know that will never be. After another few weeks of struggling, I was admitted to hospital last week for more scans.  They showed that my cancer has now spread to my liver and lungs. That’s a full house for the major organs which are monitored for Prostate Cancer.  It is travelling at will around my body.  I have reached the limit of treatment for radiotherapy.  There is no chemotherapy available.  My cancer is resistant to the standard chemo and I am not well enough to even contemplate the only stronger alternative.

The  consensus is that I have entered my last few months of life on this earth.

And so to timing.

Recently, I shared my ambivalent thoughts on retiring (Broken Vessels) and it just so happened that on the day of my official retirement last Friday, I was transferred from hospital to our local hospice in Dorchester.  The timing was poignant to say the least.

I should only be here for a few days this time to get my meds on an even keel and control my pain to give me some quality of life for the time I have left.

Which brings me to one positive thought tonight and the opportunity to express it.  As I face this shortening fuse, at least I get the opportunity to prepare for my death – a luxury which many do not enjoy - and I want use it to ensure that, wherever possible, I am at peace with others.

So to anyone I have hurt over the years, I humbly ask your forgiveness. And to anyone who knows they have hurt me, may I assure you of mine.

In the last few moments of Blade Runner it is the android, the replicant who is about to die, that displays the greatest humanity.  Built to destroy, he chooses to save a life as his last act before the curtains come down on his own – and he saves the life of the person  who has been sent to kill him.

There is nothing so dramatic in my life, but I have often found myself in conflict with others during my ministry and conflict almost inevitably leads to one or both parties being hurt.

Neither is this a death-bed confession (I've got a few months to go yet and nothing to warrent such hype!) but setting things straight is given a high priority in the Gospels.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says,

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
(Matthew 5:23;24)

In the Lord's Prayer, our own forgiveness is inextricably linked with our willingness to forgive others.

"Forgive us our sins
as we have forgiven those who sin against us."

Forgiveness shared and exchanged is the only way in God’s kingdom and I both offer and seek this as part of my preparation for what lies ahead.

Beyond that, I would ask for your continuing prayers for my wife Mel, son Isaac and  daughter Iona. They are uppermost in my thoughts and prayers at this time and I would be grateful if you could spare a moment for them from time to time.

For myself, I have found encouragement in the words of Psalm 16 recently:

I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Amen.



15 comments:

  1. Thanks once again, Benny,
    Fascinating to read, you have great courage,and Faith. You have truly followed the with all its various twist and turns. May you have a Happy and Blessed Christmas, with your family, and I look forward to reading your next instrumental.
    You are a beacon of Courage for those who seek.

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  2. Benny. My heart and spirit break. I love your writing in this blog for it contains so much truth that some churchgoers baulk at, they believe they're beyond it. For the forgiveness of sins many think 'once saved always saved (no matter what you do)' and you show us here how wrong that is. If at anytime I have caused hurt or distress to you in our working together for HMPS you know I not only seek, but would beg your forgiveness (vice-versa). Many years ago I lost a close friend and shared her final hours together. The legacy of that was for me to 'get sorted out' (I think I did!), and for me you have been a real inspiration, and still am. For you, Mel, Isaac, and Iona, I can only pray that the powerful grace of God will grant you His ability of wrapping you all together in the blanket of His love. Your faith inspires, your love for God inspires, YOU inspire. Be blessed in these months knowing that He is the One who in the words of Zepheniah 3:17 rejoices and sings over/about you.

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  3. Benny, Thank you again, for sharing your faith, love and courage. You and your family are in my prayers. Your faith reaches out across many miles, continues as a beacon to many hearts, continues brilliant and strong. Thank you. ❤️πŸ™πŸ½πŸ™πŸ½πŸ™πŸ½πŸ™πŸ½

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  4. Oh Benny, you seem much to alive to be leaving this world , we love you very much and I do hope you managed to get your writings into book form or at least instructed this to happen. All our love, Liz and Diana xxx

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  5. You are all in my thoughts and prayers Benny.

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  6. Written from the heart and the soul..
    God Bless You Benny..God Bless you..!

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  7. We are all thinking of you, Mel, Zac and Iona.Lost for words in the sadness

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  8. Benny believe me, your light shines twice as bright. You and your lovely family are in my thoughts.

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  9. Even in these poignant days, you raise faith in us. What a great blessing you are.

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  10. Benny,
    At what is an absolute fluke I stumble across your blog, how profound that on Friday I took part in a charity event for Weldmar and there you are a current patient. It makes my inclination to serve and help the cause more than ever before so that they can continue serving the community and of course to serve you as you have served others. Thank you so much for your contribution to my journey, you have impacted many people myself included. May God richly bless you with an abundance of love and laughter as you continue on your journey. Many many blessings, Elaine Galliott

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