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The Last Year - Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually

365 days ago today, I went through the worst physical pain of my life.  It was a Tuesday afternoon.  Out of the blue, with no warning, I had an attack of acute colonic diverticulitis along with an abscess and perforation in the colon.  As I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, I experienced such pain I thought I would die.  I nearly did.  I recall very little about the first few days in the hospital.  I later learned that the doctors administered major antibiotics in an attempt to fight off my fever and to keep the infection from reaching my blood stream.  I spent 9 days in the hospital, and by God's grace, I lived through the ordeal.  After another flare-up of diverticulitis 3 months later, the doctor recommended colon re-section surgery.  The surgery occurred 4 months after the initial episode and my recovery was complete earlier this year.

I didn't plan for any of this to happen.  I didn't want any of this to happen.  The doctors have assured me that there is nothing I could have done to keep any of this from happening.  They don't know what caused it.  Yet, it was a consuming physical battle that took quite a toll on my aging body.  I don't think I can expect to operate at the pace I did before.  It is a whole new life season.

In addition to the physical ordeal, I've experienced a roller coaster of emotions over the past year.  It's frightening to experience pain that could take your life.  Additionally, it's worrisome to wonder if you are ever going to feel OK again.  I've had some amazing emotional highs as I've experienced relief from pain and healing after surgery.  But, I've also had some deep lows.  I'll spare the details but at the same time I was going through my physical challenges, major decisions were made regarding my role at the church where I pastored for 32 years.  It was one thing to deal with what was happening physically.  But I also struggled with what was happening regarding my calling to shepherd the flock entrusted to my care.  Through tears and deep anguish of soul I tried to cope with all that was happening around me.  Some days, I handled it well.  Other days, it handled me.  My body wasn't the only thing that needed healing.  So did my heart.

The combination of the physical and emotional challenges led to spiritual challenges as well.  As I wrote on my blog earlier, I was never mad at God.  But I wondered what He was doing.  I also wondered what His people were doing.  As a shepherd of souls for so long, my soul needed shepherding.  Yet, it was elusive.  Thank God, I have a deeply devoted and spiritually vibrant wife who kept pointing me back to the Word and prayer.  Good friends did the same.  Yet, as we cried out to God, there were long periods of silence.  You know how that is.  There's just a breath between the experience of God's silence and the assumption of His absence.  I confess that it was difficult to pray and read the Bible, but God did break in through music.  We listened to the song - "I've Been Through Enough to Know He's Enough" - hundreds of times.  Same for the song, "He is Here."  I want to be clear.  I know God was present with us through everything.  However, I struggled to wait and trust that He was going to make something good out of all of this.  I know He will.  I just can't see it yet.

It's been quite a year...physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Like all of you, I'm still growing, learning, and waiting on God.  I'm grateful for all that I've learned in the past year. I'd like to thank some people on this one year anniversary.

1) Almighty God - Thank you for sparing my life and for healing me.  Thank you for reminding me that my life is completely in your hands.  You have all my days numbered!

2) My dear wife, Jan - Thank you honey, for standing at my side, and my bedside, every day during the past year (and the past 44).  You are the great wife I prayed for so long ago.

3) Family - Throughout the last year I've said this over and over - "Friends are great but family is best!"  I can't imagine what the last year would have been like without you.

4) Friends - God blessed us with a tremendous community of friends within FBC and also outside of the church.  Thanks to social media and word of mouth, we have experienced love and support from thousands we have known and loved through the years.  Your prayers and kindnesses carried us through.

I have no idea what is ahead in the next year.  I've adopted a couple of Twitter hashtags to express my hope for this next chapter in my life...physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Here they are: #NotDoneYet #NotHomeYet

Comments

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 Brian Sears

We still love and pray for both of you.

Diane Nicholson

Wow! It's been one year! You both have had a very long and tough year, yet I know you trust that God is by your side and in this whole situation: physically, emotionally & spiritually! You've been surrounded by faithful prayer warriors and encouragers. I'm so thankful that God has kept you both alive! Your family loves you, Bill & Janie. We need you. God HAS His Perfect Plan....

Cindy Gawin

Bless you for being willing to share your heart. Your honesty will encourage others who are on a similar path. Your ministry has expanded through your suffering. God has made you "fruitful in the land of your affliction".

Jessica Odnoralov

We love you and are in continued prayer for you and Jan. We can't begin to imagine what you've been through physically and then add to it the stuff with the church... but we know that we serve a good God even when we don't understand why things happen the way they do. We miss your preaching SO MUCH! God used your preaching to minister to our hearts, grow our faith and challenge us and convict us. It was exciting to leave every Sunday when you finished preaching feeling completely recharged and with a renewed passion to live out our faith in God. I don't think you fully realize the impact you have had on our lives alone. I don't think a day passes where you don't cross my mind. You are loved, appreciated, missed greatly and so admired. Keep walking with the Lord, Pastor Bill. You have left a godly legacy to many and you continue to do so.
-Jessica

Erin Rainwater

I once heard a radio preacher, perhaps Chuck Swindoll but I'm not sure, say that the first word he's going to say when he gets to Heaven is, "Ah-haaa!" As in, "now I get it!" Sounds about right, huh?

Kristina Micksch

Dear brother and sister in Christ Jesus,

I believe God is working something amazing in you both. I am also in waiting to see what he does according to his plans with you two. I am in need of spiritual guidance, but don't know how to connect with you, Bill. God is guiding me, I only need to have a scriptural guidance, please help me see the scriptures I need to follow in His right path. God has always used you to get to my heart, so I reach out again. Can we talk?

Cyndi

Our daughter, at 31, suffered a stroke 10 years ago and has been with my husband and I since. Life turned on a dime that day. The struggles have been many and continue to be, but through it all I have never felt mad at God either. But oh His silence is so loud!!! But He is a sneaky one. I still turn to Him first when I am grateful and when I see no where else to turn. And most importantly I am still standing!! I have finally learned what having faith really means. He lives in my soul working 24/7 and I will keep trusting in His plan even though I just don't get what he is doing. He can be the one to knock me down and take me out. Not this life that I have found myself in. Thank you for all your words the 20 years we attended FBC. I still remember many of them and they have helped me so much and still do. There will NEVER be another Pastor Bill! I am happy for you that the worst seems to be behind you. Miss your sermons with humor while you shared real life. You made it all so easy to understand. God Bless you and Jan. You have been through a lot and it is a lot to deal with at once but you too are still standing!! Yes, He is a sneaky one ❤️🙏🏻❤️

Elaine Lovell

Bill,
My heart was right with you when you spoken of your pain, both physically and emotionally. I KNOW that pain.
I also KNOW that God prepares those He loves for a deeper ministry to glorify Himself through excruciating pain.
But, He goes with us.
Because it is through and from our pain we have the distinct blessing to tell others in pain about the One Who heals, comforts, and rescues lived from darkness and despair. Many believers do not get this treasured blessing! We are blessed!
March on, march on for victory has already been won! Praise God!

Sallie

Undoubtedly hard, holy ground. Thank you for being willing to "live out loud" as you journey-- it is an offering of courage, because every one of us will walk similar roads. To know another has gone there may give us what we need to not turn away. Shepherding takes so many forms. Love to you and Jan.

Shirley Rascher Engle

Dear, dear friends Bill and Jan, first of Michigan and then Colorado. You have meant much to Larry and me and now just me, but still the same. I actually would love to be in Colorado with you, but am in another place that God has appointed for this time. Thanks for sharing Bill. I agree you have a gem of a wife. I'm thankful for both of you and praying. Lovingly in our strong source, Shirley

Betty Wells

Thank you for being so open and honest about your crucible experience; it will surely encourage many of us!

Bonnie

You continue to be in our prayers each day. We learned so much of God's Word through you, PB. Sending hugs to you and Jan.

Cindy Galbaugh

Faith is an amazing. Sometimes we all wonder if God is watching over us. I will continue to pray for you.

Jerry B Jenkins

You were stricken on our eldest son's birthday (1975) and also the day that Dr. Tim LaHaye passed (2016). Also Dianna's late father birthday (1922). Also my former book subject, the late Walter Payton's (1954).

Bizarre.

So glad you're still with us.

Donna

Praising our Mighty God for sparing you! What a tough, challenging year! I know God has great things for you and Jan still. God bless you both for your servant's heart. May He continually guide you and Jan through each day. God is faithful!

Karen Mill

Pastor Bill, now don't you let that old devil get to you. I have been studying about Detours in our lives. Joseph is the example. Gen. 50:20 is the main scripture for the conclusion of Joseph's ordeal with his brothers. Joseph was in prison for 2 years unjustly. During that time God was preparing him and that time in history for Joseph's destiny. Waiting upon the Lord to move in your life like in Joseph's life can be daunting but God is working getting the time and you ready for what is going to happen next in your life. Even though some of us are mature citizens and have a lot of life experiences, God still may have some work to do on us and the rest of the world to get things set up just right for the next adventure in our lives. Patience, Trust and Believing in what God has planned for us next can be exciting. Meanwhile we cherish the time we have in Bible Study, Prayer, Praising, Singing, Fellowship and Loving Others. Gobs of love to you and Jan.
Your cheerleader, Karen

David Pitman

Greetings Neighbor,

GOD sent me to FBC to be your Cheerleader on 20 March 1999. That is a role that was JOYFULLY embraced as the Spiritual Gift of Encouragement was released as a result of coming to know OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. Even though we have only seen each other once in the past year no matter what pathway GOD is preparing for you I will always be your Cheerleader. One who stands on a wall for THE GOSPEL always needs those who Encourage in a world of hostility towards the Truth.

IN JESUS NAME and GO CSU RAMS

Brant Farrow

Pastor Bill:
You have been and still are my Pastor, and have been for over 30 years. I still remember when you applied to be the pastor at Foothills. I miss you and Jan, and your preaching, and pray that you with the direction of the Lord will find soon what the next stage of your direction will be.
I don't know if Ken Keely told you, but I have had a different 11 Months and counting with the loss of Diann on of 57 years Valentines day 2017. She went into the hospital the end of Oct. 2016 but had been sick from early Sept.. I stopped my part time job and was with her every day, here at home in the hospital, and at rehab facilities, nursing home, and hospice care. In the hospital she was diagnosed with Guillain Barre Syndrome and she never recovered.
It was a long drawn out experience, but I believe that the good Lord was and is in control. After her passing in Feb., and her Memorial service in March. At the start of April I came down with prostate problems, and have been pretty much home bound since. I had surgery to open a path from the prostate on July 11, and am recovering from that, and it looks as if that will take about one more Month, and hopefully I will be back to some what normal.
I'm sorry for the long note but felt that I needed to send this to you. I could not have gotten through this with out the help of the Lord, and with the prayers of so many friends praying for me. You and Jan are in my thoughts and prayers, and you will always be my Pastor.

Brant Farrow

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