A couple of years ago I had a serious cancer scare. To make a long story short, while doing a scan of my thyroid glands, the CAT Scan caught the upper part of my lungs that revealed several nodules. My doctor called me at home that evening to tell me what the radiologists report read…I’ll never forget these words: “Highly concerning…” and “possibly metastasized cancer.” Even at this moment, as I write, I can feel panicked as my heart beat goes to another level. That news sent me spiraling into a deep dark place. Please allow me to repeat…”a deep, dark place.”
Honestly, I can’t adequately convey what was going on in my head and heart as I waited many days to see a Pulmonologist and others. It turned out to be remnants from when I contracted Histoplasmosis many years ago during a mission trip to Nicaragua. The nodules were harmless.
I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Yes, the lessons I learned. And there were MANY—mostly around faith. Here are just three:
Lesson #1: My faith in God and my salvation needed a lot of work. Listen, let me get this out in the open…as a Christ Follower I fail often; every single day. I am one of those who has to really work at resisting my worldly ways—everything from complaining to judging others. But I’ve lived a life going to church, praying, teaching Sunday school, and all the other [check the box kind of] stuff. Well mostly. But would you believe, when I thought I had cancer and was about to die…one of my first visions was God shaking his finger at me saying: “Okay, so now that you’re about to check out…you come crawling to me asking for forgiveness.” I was devastated and petrified that it was too late. I know.
As the long days of deep depression and sleepless nights went on—until I learned the truth—I started a real conversation with God…and I mean it was deep and frankly hard as I stood before him facing up to the reality that while I checked all the boxes, my personal and spiritual relationship with Him was distant at best. Sure, I had my spiritual moments…but otherwise I was mostly living a worldly life.
I learned how much God loved me and that simply wanted a relationship with me…and really that’s it.
Lesson #2: I wasn’t going to necessarily solve this relational problem during this time of desperation. To put it in human words God was saying… “okay, now that I’ve got your attention, all I want from you is the following: “Love me with all your heart and soul; now and later.” Seems like I’ve read that somewhere. Love me and let me live within …and I’ll show you what “boxes” to check.
Lesson #3: I’m a worrier. I’ve dealt with bouts of depression and anxiety from a very young age. But some of it is self-inflicted because of my lack of faith and understanding of God’s word. During this cancer scare I spent A LOT of time thinking and meditating on His word. I remember a moment that I was reflecting on my life and all that was in it. I started thinking on all the crap that I worried about, that irritated me, that caused me to be negative, that I complained about. At that moment, I wasn’t thinking “Kevin, you worry too much!” Rather, it was an epiphany. I realized in the grand scheme of things just how meaningless it all is. God “spoke” to me at that moment presenting this thought. He referred me to a scripture that I had read many, many times.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
But as I listened to God, I realized that wasn’t actually the message. What I heard was… “Kevin did you think those were just empty words? I, God—the Creator of all things—inspired Paul to write them. I meant them.”
So, the lesson was to take those words seriously…and I do. The devil still temps me, I still worry, but I can’t begin to tell you how different my life and mind is. I actually work to practice His words rather than just reading them. Again, I am a work in progress and constantly fail God. But He loves me. And He loves you.
I don’t wish this experience on anyone. Actually, I do if you’re like me…a little hard headed. More, just to prove that HE is listening…before this incident, I often asked God to teach and help me with my lack of faith. As I reflect back, I would say he was trying to help me, but I wasn’t paying attention; I was too busy checking the boxes. So, in keeping to His word, He taught me the hard way. Just saying.
Kevin McNulty is an international speaker, author, and coach. He is also the founder of Humadyn – Life Skills Institute. To know Kevin is to know about his love and enthusiasm for helping people grow personally, professionally, and spiritually. But that enthusiasm also comes with 30 years of study, experience and work in the areas of personal growth and human & workplace dynamics. Kevin is the author of The Gap Between Two Worlds…Turning Difficult Life Transitions Into Personal Growth Experiences.