Calm Amidst the Storm
Introduction to Kathie's comments:
Dear Friends of Bible.org,
I am writing as one of the Bible.org contributors. When the idea of creating the Bible.org website was first conceived, it was obvious that we needed to assimilate a large quantity of good Bible study materials to make available to you. What may not be quite as obvious to you, the end user of these materials, is the thousands of hours that it took to format these materials so that they could be placed on the Internet. (In some cases this entailed scanning the documents, and then editing them, and finally converting them to a format suitable for the Internet.) The lion's share of this work has been done by a wonderful woman named Kathie Keathley. Her husband, Hampton III, is a former pastor and teacher, who now produces Bible study and discipleship materials for Bible.org. (Their son is Hampton IV, the Bible.org webmaster.) Kathie has been a true "Epaphroditus" to her husband, and to the rest of the BSF staff.
It was during the time that she has been working at Bible.org that Kathie learned she had a very serious form of cancer. And yet she has continued to "press on" in spite of her affliction. I think it is important to honor those, like Kathie, whose labor is behind the scenes. And I must say that at this point in her life Kathie has as much to teach us by her example as others of us do by our exegesis. I have encouraged Kathie to share her testimony with you in what appears to be her final days, so that you might join with us and with her in praying that God would continue to be glorified in her life, and if it be His will, in her death.
On behalf of a grateful Bible.org family,
In April 1999 I began keeping a journal for the first time in my life. My desire was to know the Lord in a more personal way, but also to develop a more thankful spirit. I felt that I was taking for granted all the good gifts God had given me as though I somehow deserved them, yet I knew that wasn't true at all.
For 58 years God has blessed me with a basically trouble-free life. He gave me a wonderful husband, three terrific children who love the Lord, eight very special grandchildren, and faithful parents who are healthy, active octogenarians. I've also been blessed with rewarding ministries as a pastor's wife and the past five years with the Biblical Studies Foundation.
Just two months after I started my journal I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. My cancer count dropped steadily so we thought all was well and we were very thankful. As part of an annual physical in July 2000, however, tests showed I'd developed major renal insufficiency (70% loss). Further tests showed that my kidney function was declining very rapidly and on August 24 the nephrologist predicted I had only 4-6 weeks to live.
It is hard for me to put into words all that went through my mind on the way home after hearing this prognosis. I wasn't frustrated, upset, or angry. Nor did it occur to me to ask "why." Actually, my heart was rejoicing in the Lord! I praised and thanked Him for His great mercy in allowing me to go home without a lingering, painful death. Dying from the pain of multiple myeloma had concerned me greatly since I was diagnosed. I wondered if I would be able to glorify the Lord and continue to praise Him even when the pain increased. I was already having a lot of spinal pain and had fractured several ribs because my bones are very brittle. Most of all, I was overwhelmed to think that a wretched sinner like me could be loved by God so much that He was willing to send His sinless Son to suffer and die for me so that I can be seated with Him in the heavenlies right now and one day very soon go home to be with Him!
Yes, there have been tears, but they are tears of rejoicing not sorrow! I cry for my sweetheart of 41 years, for my precious parents whom I wanted so badly to care for in their old age, and for my children and grandchildren who love me and will grieve for me. But I do not cry for myself. And I have no fear, only peace. My heart absolutely sings praises to my Savior all day long! God truly has given rest to my soul because my trust is in Him alone (Psalm 62:5-8 NIV).
Eight weeks have now gone by and many faithful people have been praying for me. Though God has not healed me, He has definitely been answering prayers. My kidney function stopped declining and this last eight weeks have been wonderful! The hot, searing pain in my spine has disappeared, I've had no more rib problems, and I've been able to eat and enjoy food again after being nauseated for several months.
After receiving the news that I had such a short time to live, our two sons and their families came from Texas to be with us. And they are still here ... waiting. When the renal failure did not occur as quickly as predicted the initial excitement I felt over going home to be with the Lord began to fade. I'll have to admit I was disappointed and a bit depressed over this, but then I realized it wasn't because I was trusting Him less. I still had peace; it was just a deeper, more settled peace. Waiting has made us realize how very little control we have over anything in this life and relinquishing control is how we grow.
In the meantime my family and I are learning many lessons while we wait on the Lord. One of my sisters sent me a list of things God is showing her:
1. Waiting reveals what I truly believe, it reveals my heart! (It reveals unbelief)
2. Waiting teaches me to live now as if my prayers are already answered. (It grows faith)
3. Waiting changes my perspective: (An eternal perspective) I beg God to move the mountain and discover He wants to move me instead.
4. Waiting aligns my desires with His desires (It teaches me His heart).
5. Waiting makes me desire Him. He withholds what I think I want in order to give me what He knows I need. (An endless need for God Himself).
6. Waiting teaches me to be in His precious presence. (It keeps me on my knees).
7. Waiting teaches me the discipline of "silence." (Be silent and know that I am God. My soul wait in silence for God only!)
8. Waiting gives me "time" to embrace and deal with pain! Time to deal with things I have ignored, denied or buried. (Don't waste the pain-the Healer is not in a hurry!)
9. Waiting is His gift!
With renal failure there will come a time when I am no longer able to eat or drink. But I know God will provide all I need because His love is better than life. And Psalm 63:1-8 will be even more meaningful to me than it is now.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
My soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
Your right hand upholds me.
Yes, my family and I are in the midst of the biggest storm we've faced, but things are not out of control. God is still on His throne and He is working out His good and perfect plan concerning all of us. As I look back over what I've written in my journals these past 16 months I can see that I've grown to love Him more than I ever would have had it not been for the storms He's brought my way.
Someone sent me a poem by Wendy Greiner that really blessed my heart. I thought the last verse was particularly special and I quote it here without permission because I don't know how to contact the author.
And now I know more storms will come, but only for my good,
For pain and tears have helped me grow as nothing ever could.
I still have so much more to learn as Jesus works in me;
If in the storm I'll love Him more, that's where I want to be!
I am so thankful God has given my family this precious time together. We have a unique opportunity to minister to one another and grieve together as we wait on the Lord. Yes, this is a hard time for all of us, but I know my family will be able to look back one day and see that this time in their lives was also one of those good gifts from our gracious, loving, heavenly Father.
Sheltered under His wings,
P.S. My mom went to be with the Lord Monday, Jan 29, 2001.
On Thursday night, Mom had a very bad night and finally went to sleep. Sometime that night, she went into a coma. Friday, about noon Dad and Wendy (my sister) were reading to Mom from the little promise book she had compiled from various psalms and from which she had been memorizing for the past year and a half. When they finished reading from Isa 12:2 which says "I will trust in Him and not be afraid," mom made a little smile and said "and I'm not afraid."
Those were her last words.
I think it was very fitting because she has been such an example to us all on how to face death.
We are thankful that she got to do all this in her home. That she wasn't in much pain. That her family was there to sit with her, read her promise book to her, play her tape with praise songs and to tell her we loved her and to tell her goodbye. We know she could hear us on Saturday and Sunday for sure because she closed her eyes a couple times in response to questions.
As much as we miss her, we are very glad she is finished suffering and are comforted with knowing without a doubt that she is with the Lord.
I want to thank all of you for your prayers, phone calls and emails these past months. They meant a lot to Mom.
Hampton Keathley IV