I have recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and that got me thinking about the workings of God’s grace in my life. I can detect his hand in gently pushing me where he wants me to go throughout my life, even at the times when I was very distant from him. Just a few examples (there are many more).
I was born in Nottingham Womens’ Hospital on the north side of the city. The family story has it that on the previous evening my father wheeled my mother from our home on the south side of the city, on his pedal cycle, across the only bridge open across the Trent at that time. All others were under water because of the Trent floods.
It was four weeks before I was due and mother had been bleeding. The hospital staff thought I had died and waited overnight before doing a Caesarian section to save my mother’s life. They were obviously wrong, but God had intervened to make sure that I survived. God was working right from birth to fulfil his purposes for me.
My family were staunch Methodists and father a local preacher. He took a sermon round each church in the circuit and, by the time I had heard it a few times, had become somewhat bored with it!
As a teenager I found that Sundays were a trial and when I went to university was happy not to go near any church. I developed an interest in flying gliders, which took up a lot of time. Too much, as I failed my finals the first time round.
I came into General Practice as a doctor in Harrogate in 1973 and I don’t recall any thoughts or promptings of anything divine until some time in my thirties when I had a vivid dream that I can remember to this day.
It was of a ‘William Blake style’ God sitting at the end of a long dark tunnel. The memory of this awesome dream has remained with me ever since; not much in the telling perhaps, but a lot in the experience.
Some years later I was thinking about the amazing grace God has shown by sending his Son down to die for us. It was then I really began to get to grips with the enormity of that act and distinctly remember an overwhelming feeling of God’s love and compassion as I realized how he had come to save us and how unworthy we are. I remember how grateful I felt.
I felt his love at that time and have much more frequently lately. Since the cancer diagnosis I have had a stream of signs and indications of God’s love and feel privileged that he has chosen me over all others for a special purpose. The symptom that sent me urgently to my own GP was unmistakable and I know he sent it to me to get my attention to act upon it.
I have been through a prolonged and somewhat trying diagnostic process and have been spared the more invasive treatments. His timing was such that any cure can only be divine. I take each day at a time in trust and obedience to him. I can honestly say I am more content and happy with life than I have been for a very long time, if ever.
I know that I’m a hopeless sinner, but also that Jesus died for me, to save me from those sins, and they are washed away; and that I’m going to heaven when I die. I’m saddened that so many of the people who know me cannot say that; and I hope that they yet will.
Recently I read this glowing passage amidst the sadness of Lamentations, chapter 3: ‘The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so I put my trust in him’. If the Jewish nation, carried off into exile and slavery can still trust in the Lord, how can I not do so?
Dr Mike Matthews