Periodically, someone places a few words in print that strike to the core. Steven Strauch, director of missions for the Laclede County Baptist Association in Lebanon, Mo., is battling for his life against cancer. When I saw these words, I shared with him that it is not unusual for someone facing a life-threatening illness to articulate something incredibly profound. In the context of Thanksgiving, I knew I needed to share these words with Pathway readers, so I asked for, and received, his permission.
Blessed beyond …
I’m writing this from a hospital room and the Spirit has been prompting me for the entire past evening. I am blessed and I pray someone reads this and realizes how blessed they are, too.
Today, my mind has been on a lot of things. Dear people, I know I am dying, our lives all seem disconnected and more.
I am writing this before I lose it. For some reason an image keeps coming to mind of a moment on one of my last trips to India. Our team was wrapping up the week and we were in a market area, which also had a McDonald’s. Well of course when in India, you go.
It was time to go. As I stepped out to signal our driver, I had instructed the team to remain in the store but be ready to go at the door. I knew a team of ten white American students would signal every homeless person to come attempt any hope of coins or food. It seems harsh, but often the sight of tourist-types can cause more confusion among locals than the small help it seems to grant.
I found myself standing outside, having signaled the driver and realized a tug at my hands and a half-drunk Pepsi cup I held. I looked down to an image I will never forget. A small, malnourished, naked boy and young girl standing beside me pulling my hand for a half cup of a drink. That image will never leave me.
Today I sit in a hospital bed with complications of cancer. Someday I will die. Yet my whole life has been lived blessed.
I am sick in a hospital with some results I don’t want to hear, but I get to go home. I’ve been cared for with great medicine and insurance that doesn’t keep me in fear. I have a home to go home to and it is my place of peace. I am blessed I have finances. A ministry that supports me. A support system beyond measure that I can’t believe (one that I can’t even keep up with). I go to a house with food (removing all sweets, sadly). I have heat and water without even a thought. I have clothing. I have a family that even in hard moments we forgive and continue. I have a hope and a faith unchallenged. I live a blessed life.
Sometime soon I will take a drive or ride to Bennett to find mink, muskrat and eagles, or a return to the valley in Arkansas. Sometime soon I will land at my favorite spots for coffee or a meal and be surrounded by friends. Sometime soon I will get another photo shot that makes me happy.
I am blessed to be able to make the list of all these blessings. Some I know can’t check off all these boxes. Some are able to and even more so. Realize you are blessed.
I have worshipped with people who sit on a floor of a shack and have nothing to serve but tea and fruit, who have hearts that are blessed and a smile without compare.
I am sick, but I am alive. I may even be in a new stage of cancer, but I am alive. The journey has another chapter to write. Enjoy the journey.
Be still and know the Lord, He is God. I’m blessed beyond (and you probably are, too).
Steven has blessed so many people with his ministry and his magnificent landscape and animal photography. He challenges us to consider that we really are super blessed people. As he battles on, I join with him in encouraging us to take our blessedness and make a bodacious gift through your local church to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. May we bless the Lord with an offering worthy of Him.