One of the people whose face would be on my personal spiritual Mt. Rushmore is Tim Keller. His book The Prodigal God, which I read in 2008, was exactly the book I needed at that time in my life. Thanks to the many things I’ve read and listened to from Dr. Keller, I understand, can apply and am liberated because of the deeper understanding of the gospel than I did for the first 25 years of my spiritual journey.
As many of you know, Tim has been battling pancreatic cancer for the past six months. Although he would prefer I didn’t say it that way. His first six months of treatment, he says, have gone really well. He still requires treatment every two weeks, and that will continue indefinitely. But it’s not the cancer Tim says he’s battling. It’s his sin.
“If it wasn’t for my sin, I would be completely resting in Christ, and the resurrection would be spiritually real to me, and I would be fine – absolutely fine spiritually and emotionally and in every way… it’s my sin that keeps me from the spiritual realities that would buoy me up. The way I handle imminent death is by fighting my sin and getting deeper communion with God.”
We talked in church a few weeks ago about the command in scripture to “put on immortality.” That’s exactly what Tim’s cancer diagnosis has stirred in him. He’s been reminded in a very real way that death is ahead for him, as it is for each one of us. He’s doing spiritual warfare with an enemy who would love to see him waylaid by fears, anxiety, sadness and grief.
Cancer, Tim says, is not the real fight. “I’m 70 years old. I’m going to die of something. Not decades away, but probably years away. The thing I need to do now is fight my sin so I’m actually ready.”
“My prayer life,” Tim continues, “has been put on steroids. My sanctification. Because you can’t get through the week without (an awareness of) God’s reality. And my focus has been put on steroids. If I have a year, if I have two years, three years, even if I have five years (which would be a great thing), what do I need to get done?”
Tim continues. “John Newton said one of the biggest things he battled was ‘inordinate attachment to the things of time…’ We really try to turn this world into heaven. We try to make heaven out of earth. And as a result, we’re always unhappy.
“What’s happened with the cancer is that (my wife Kathy and I) have realized we can’t make a heaven out of this earth. Because it’s going to be taken away from us. It just jolts you so much that you say ‘I’ve got to make heaven my heaven.’”
I hope you’ll pray for Tim Keller as he battles both sin and cancer. More than that, I hope God will help each of us put on immortality today. To do what Colossians 3 tells us to do – to set our minds on things above and not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
By the way, if you’d like to hear the recent podcast with Tim Keller where he talks about his perspective on his cancer diagnosis, along with other interesting topics, you can find it here.
Speaking of the book of Colossians, it’s not too late for anyone to join the ladies of our church in the study of the book of Colossians.
|All the details are in a flyer you can open or download by clicking here.|
|We should not be surprised to find that spiritual battles involve struggle and suffering. This week, we’ll pause our study of the whole armor of God to consider what the book of 1 Peter tells us our mindset should be as we face suffering for the sake of the gospel.|
See you (in person or on line) Sunday!
Soli Deo Gloria!