Monthly Archives: October 2008

“Light in my long night” – another poem

I wrote this poem the day after I received the initial diagnosis of primary cancer in my bowel with secondaries in the lymph nodes and spots on my liver. The surgeon had told me they would not operate ‘at this stage’, and that my case was being taken over by the Oncologist. I then had a ten day wait before I would discover the spots are too extensive in the liver to be successfully removed and that treatment would be palliative. I have always been moved by the tune Hamabe no uta , a cello solo by Mischa Maisky on the album Silent Woods. The melody seemed to capture my darkness, the Lord’s response and the rest I discovered in His care. By the time Bronwen and I met the Oncologist we had discovered a profound sense of peace and were not at all shattered by the prognosis. I hope some of you might get strength from these words.

2-11 Narita

(set to the tune: “Hamabe no uta” by Narita ) Click on the media player to hear the tune in the background as you read the words.

Light in my long night

My soul in distress cried aloud in dread,
Oh my God, I feel so alone;
The night is so cold, and I can’t see ahead
And my strength is almost gone.
Where is the joy I knew when
My faith was fresh and young?
So dark! Are You there? How have I sinned? What’s wrong?
Rend the heavens and speak again.

My child, you are safe in my powerful hand
Do not fret, but rest in my care
My Word is your rock, what you feel is sand,
I am with you everywhere.
My way is in the tempest
My purpose to refine.
And when, just like gold, you are purified
I’ll in you be glorified.

Now, shut in with God, I have found new peace,
Though the storm has yet to subside.
In midst of my foes He’s prepared a feast,
And my soul is satisfied.
Not dark, nor pain, nor peril,
Can separate me from
The love of my Saviour, Redeemer, Friend,
Who’s restored to me my song


Posted by on 21 October, 2008 in Poetry


Oncologist Report

Bronwen and I kept our appointment with the Oncologist yesterday. The verdict: Humanly speaking, medical science gives me two years. That omits the God factor. Of course I will seek to push that boundary and trust that the Lord Himself will “do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think according to His power at work in us”

The problem is the liver. If I had a few spots they would operate to remove them. If the spots were confined to one lobe they would remove that. Unfortunately I have 6 or 7 spots spread throughout the liver so the treatment becomes palliative. The Oncologist has presented some options for treatment and because of my ‘youth and fitness’ believes I could withstand ‘the full works’! Their focus will be the liver and hopefully the lymph nodes and the primary cancer in the bowel will also be reduced by the assault.

This whole episode has been an unexpected twist in my life journey. When I look back there have been many twists and turns as the Lord has steered us down unusual paths. The constant factor has been His abiding presence. There will be more twists and turns but both Bronwen and I have a deep sense of peace and consider the prognosis a base of time that is a gift for us to build on and extend.

There are also many other options for treatment that people are graciously presenting to us as alternatives to chemo. We realise that many times the medical profession is only as good in its treatment as the advice it gets from the drug companies and research units. Our Oncologist has an obvious concern for us as people but so busy it is impossible for her or her colleagues to read all the various research papers on the subject.

Please pray that we will have wisdom in knowing which pathway to walk and what advice to heed. Our ultimate trust is still in the Lord who will over-ride our plans with His own.


Posted by on 21 October, 2008 in Medical


Telling the church about the cancer

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Last Sunday I had the difficult task of telling the church about my situation. There is also a lady in the fellowship who has secondary cancers but the hospital cannot find the primary. She is the “Theresa” whom I refer to. Unfortunately the recording does not commence at the beginning of my sharing and launches with a reference to Theresa.

I had prefaced my remarks by referring to our lives as books. Many people love mystery stories with surprise endings. In many ways the story of our lives is a mystery and sometimes there are surprise endings. I had not imagined the story of my life would take the twists and turns it is now experiencing.

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Posted by on 19 October, 2008 in Devotional, Medical



What questions have I been asking God?

To be honest, the thought “why me?” has not entered my head.

The only question I’ve been asking God is “why now?” I have not exhausted the “three score years and ten” that humans were reduced to under God’s anger, nor am I “old and full of years” (at least not in my estimation). After years of ministry I also feel that I am only now starting to get a handle on the Kingdom of God that our mission in life is all about. This was what Christ preached and Paul debated and reasoned with people about. I have been discovering how easy it is to discuss the Scriptures and Jesus, even with rank pagans, when the basis is the Kingdom of God rather than the “Four spiritual laws”. 

I also have continuing responsibilities to Bronwen and the grandchildren who are living close to us for whom I am the major visible male role model at the moment.

And so I ask, “why now?” – I’m just starting to get the hang of what life is all about and enjoying it more than ever before. Needless to say, I’m praying that in His mercy, God will grant me an extension on the tenancy of this body.

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Posted by on 19 October, 2008 in Devotional


God’s family has a huge network

I received an amazing text message from Casey Laulala who is a former All Black and a current member of the champion Super 14 Crusaders and Canterbury rugby team. Somehow he has heard news of my situation. He reminded me that “nothing is impossible with God” and that he and the other christians in the team are praying for me!

About a year ago we had Casey and a couple of the other christians in the team in Hanmer Springs where I interviewed them in church one Sunday morning. Some are now playing in France and Japan. I would never have thought they’d even remember their time here, let alone send a text and pray.  Very moving and very humbling.


Posted by on 14 October, 2008 in Devotional, Medical


Chinese whispers

Two people were chatting over the back fence one day and discussing certain matters. At the conclusion, one said to the other, “Now please keep this a secret; I’ve already told you more than I heard myself”

‘Aint that the truth!  The game of Chinese whispers is often played involuntarily every day of our lives. We don’t always ‘join the dots’ when we hear startling news.

For instance, the other day our son in Australia had someone call him because they had heard I have only two weeks to live!

It is true that something is due to happen to me in 2 weeks but I hope it is not my demise.  I trust I will awake in the morning and have breakfast as usual.

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Posted by on 14 October, 2008 in Humor, Medical