I believe that the physical universe–the things we can see and touch is not all there is to reality. I believe there is a spiritual world that is just as real (maybe more real) than the one we can see. I have an unshakable intuition that I have a soul–that there is more to my consciousness than neural software. I can’t shake the belief that I’m more than a sophisticated, intelligent, bio-machine. (I teach Computer Science, so I know a little bit about machines that appear to think.)
I got the news four days ago that I have cancer. Just a little over a month ago, I felt fine. The last thing on my mind was the possibility of having a life threatening disease. Then, at a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house, I ate some tasty home-made pepperoni pizza which I thought gave me indigestion that lasted into the next day. But, over the next couple weeks I had worsening stomach and bowel symptoms that landed me in the ER at 5:00am on a Saturday morning. A CT scan revealed a tumor on my pancreas and a subsequent biopsy showed that it was malignant. It was all so unexpected.
If you know about pancreatic cancer you know that the survival statistics aren’t encouraging. As a person who believes in God and follows Jesus Christ, I believe that he can heal–and I’m asking him to! But that isn’t always his plan. This means that I’m facing the possibility of leaving this world sooner, maybe a lot sooner, than I anticipated. As you might imagine, this has led me to do some serious thinking. If my time here is short, what am I going to do? What are my priorities? Here is what I have arrived at: Make the most of the time I have, whether long or short, by facing each day with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22 & 23, ESV). Breaking this down, it starts with loving God, trusting him, and living each day with his peace, love and joy in my heart. Next, It’s loving the people in my life. Treating everyone with patience, love and kindness, regardless of my pain or fatigue.
I want to use each day that remains to bless each person who crosses my path by helping them move closer to God and to show God’s goodness to everyone. It might seem paradoxical to talk about God’s goodness when he has not prevented me from getting cancer. But, I trust him, and whether he heals me (through a miracle or through medicine), or not I believe that he is good and his plan for me is the best possible plan.
My family and I have been in India for a little over a month and one thing that stands out is the diversity of the society here. In the class I teach, my students all speak different languages, depending on what part of India they are from. In the food court at the IT Park where I work, you can get a sandwich from Subway or traditional Chicken Biryani (which is by far the better option!). On the streets of the city we see people going to churches, mosques and temples. Once, while riding in a taxi, the driver pointed out a church. I asked him if he went to a church, temple, or mosque. He said “All three. It’s the same God”.Read more »
I remember sitting on the grass in front of my high school, waiting for the bus and thinking about my life and what I could do that would make it mean something and give it purpose. This question has always been a big deal to me. I don’t want to get near the end of my life and look back wondering “what was the point?”
I thought that if my life was going to mean something, it was going to come from being connected to something big—bigger than myself. Read more »
Almost everyone I know who has faith also has had doubts. There is a story in Mark chapter 9 about a man who brought his son to Jesus for healing. Jesus asked the man if he believed. The man said “I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (vs. 24). All of us who live by faith have had these times when we cry out to God “help me believe!” and God accepts the faith we have and gives us more.
My first serious bout with doubt
When I was in my first year of college (way back in 1978!) I took a class in Ancient History from a professor who made a point of frequently criticizing the Bible. I don’t think she actually made any real criticisms of the historicity of the Bible. She mainly just objected to the accounts of miracles, like the parting of the Red Sea (or Reed Sea?)
Her criticisms made me think. Did I believe the Bible and follow Jesus just because that was the way I had been raised? If I had been born into a Muslim home, I would probably be a Muslim—and think that was the only right way. What were the chances that I had been born into a home where I actually had learned the right way to God?Read more »