My Uncle, Cancer, Death, and The Gospel
My Uncle Eldon has been battling cancer for six years. Chemotherapy stopped working and they couldn’t radiate him because he has too many growths. That prompted me to reach out and start talking to him about once a month. Those conversations have been some of the most significant, emotional, and God-exalting conversations I have ever had. There’s an urgency, intensity, and purpose in his words. We all know that our time on this earth is limited, but he feels it.
My Uncle told me, “I’ve been a Bible teacher for [over 30]* years, but it has taken my cancer to make me desperate to know God.” He went on with more emotion than I can convey: “I need. To know. My Savior.”
Great suffering helps us transition from knowing about God to knowing God. To meditate on God, seek Him in His Word, and in prayer. We get to know just how much we really need Him.
The last time I talked to him, my Uncle Eldon had just found out that the more experimental drug they wanted him to try would cost a few thousand dollars a month (his 20% after insurance). He’s not going to do that because it violates two of his three main guiding principles for his cancer treatments:
- God’s glory.
- Taking care of my Aunt Kim.
- One good year is better than two bad ones.
At a cancer treatment center in California, he saw a couple of his friends spend all their money on cancer treatment, go home; and die. He doesn’t want to do that to my Aunt Kim, so he’s not doing any extremely expensive treatments. This drug would violate that principle.
He would have taken the drug if the price was reasonable, but he didn’t like the idea. It’s one of those cancer drugs where they’re like, “there’s a small chance it might kill you, or make your life utterly miserable, but you’re dying anyway; so let’s give it a shot”. This drug would violate his “one good year is better than two bad ones” principle.
My Uncle Eldon is not afraid to die. He says this might be his “ticket home” to heaven. His main concern is God’s glory, his second concern is not wanting to widow my Aunt Kim, his third concern is trying to maximize his good years.
He told me, “If my death is more effective for the gospel than my life, that’s what I want”.
I keep coming back to that over and over again. It’s one thing to say that when you’re healthy. It’s another thing to say that when you’re staring at the very real possibility of death.
A Life Well Lived
My Uncle Eldon has been very honest with me in sharing his regrets and what he wished he would have done differently. It is amazing to see a man who knows God so well share what he’s learned along the journey of life with the urgency of one who faces death. The common thread through it all is that we need God more than we could ever know. Speaking of his younger years, he said, “You cannot fabricate fruits of the spirit by works of the flesh”. Our self-effort is not enough.
We are called to be faithful to do what God has called us to in His word. First and foremost, to know Him through His word. To pray. To meditate on God with God in prayer. To have fellowship with other believers as we push each other to grow in our knowledge of Him. In all of this and more, we must live like we really believe that we are completely unable to do what God has called us to. We are entirely dependent on Him for it all.
Don’t Waste Your Life, Spend it for God.
If you want to hear my Uncle preach on “Success Without Regrets”, you can do so here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y44QI2WZSME
*He gave an exact number of years, I don’t remember what it was.
P.S. I didn’t post last week, and I’m not going to make it up, I’m going to let it slide. That gave me the time to get permission to share and do it justice.