Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Race Set Before Us

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1)

One of the delights I have had during this lengthy period of convalescence has been the opportunity to spend more time with my grandchildren. And our favorite family activity when the weather turns cold (next to one of Mama Crabtree’s homemade pizza parties) is to compete with one another on the popular and highly interactive Wii video game system. Everyone from 3-year-old Evie to Grandma and me enjoy manipulating their look-alike Wii characters as they perform super-human feats of athleticism, high-speed vehicular stunts, or goofy bare-back competitions on cud-chewing farm animals.

In the midst of all the fun, there is plenty of opportunity to work on building character: persistence, patience, the value of teamwork, how to lose with grace, and (one I am still working on) how to win with humility :-) Clearly the lessons are not all aimed at the little ones.

The other day, my 7 year old grandson Matthew enthusiastically took charge of the Wii remote to enter the long-distance island run, an event among the Wii Fit games that requires running (in place) with a cadence that optimizes aerobic endurance. As his Wii character strode through parks, over green hills, past a beautiful waterfall, and dozens of encouraging on-lookers, I noticed that he was required to follow a pace-setting guide. His guide not only set the pace according to his ability, but also directed him all along the course, sometimes taking him off the beaten path. When he slowed down, his guide did not leave him in the dust, but waited for him to catch up. And when on occasion he ran ahead of his guide, his Wii character would inevitably fall flat on his face, then dust himself off and resume a more measured stride behind his vanguard.

I am so grateful that we have had a Great Guide along this journey, that He is setting the pace, ensuring our well-being, and marking out our course. (Hebrews 12:2) Past experience has taught us to keep Him in sight, avoid running ahead or lagging far behind. We have also learned He will sometimes take us off the beaten path. The words of the late Tony Snow come to mind and are worth repeating: “We want lives of simple, predictable ease—smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see—but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension—and yet don't. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.”

It is tremendously reassuring to know that He has set the course that lays before us; He knows the terrain and has personally conquered every obstacle. Ours is to keep pace, follow His lead, get up when we stumble, and share the joy in the journey. This is an exciting and highly interactive enterprise, which invites neither resignation nor hubris, but a growing confidence in the beneficent purpose and plans of the One who has run the race before us (2Cor 12:9). This is not a game for couch potatoes!

These past few weeks have demonstrated that He is indeed setting the course before us. Linda and I had the opportunity to visit family and friends in five states, witnessing with joy their response to the remarkable story of my battle with cancer, accentuated by the visible evidence of God’s power and grace. (Matthew 10:27) We also attended a Christian Medical & Dental Association conference aimed at exploring what new directions our Pacesetter may have in mind for those of us who have the finish line in view.

Then last week I alone returned to Charlottesville for consultation with my oncologist as well as the radiation oncologist to determine the best course of action to address the persistent tumor in my left femur. After some deliberation and authorization from my insurance carrier, a specially focused high-intensity radiation protocol was set up to take place in three daily sessions. (“Standard” radiation therapy protocols call for up to thirty sessions spread over six weeks.) As there was an excellent continuing medical education course offered at UVA later in the week, I had already arranged to stay in the area in our cozy camper, commuting to the conference and enjoying the fall colors. I simply excused myself when needed to jump over to the radiation therapy center for the 15-20 minute treatment session and ducked back into the conference. I have had no pain, nor worsening fatigue, nor other side effects usually associated with radiation therapy.

Clearly the course had already been set out before me. I am now scheduled to return to Charlottesville December 1 for repeat imaging studies and follow up. Thanks once more for cheering us on.

Keeping the pace with gladness,

PS -- And hoping to finish well...


  1. Dan

    Once again thanks for the update. Glad to hear that your last treatment period is over and we will be praying that it gives you the results that you are looking for.


  2. So glad to see you and Linda on Sunday. Continuing to pray for both of you. Thanks for the advice when I needed it.

  3. Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement. They are just what I needed to hear today. We continue to pray for your strength, endurance, and healing as you run your race.

    Kathy Gainor

  4. Your perseverance and steadfastness are amazing and inspiring. I only hope I am as faithful to trust and rely on God through this long deployment as you have been through your much longer struggle with cancer. Blessings.

  5. Dan,
    What and amazing journey you are on and story you have to tell. Thanks for sharing it with us. Know that our Sunday Bible Study class prays for you and Linda each and every week. You are always in our thoughts and prayers. May God continue to guide you, to heal you and to uplift and strengthen you. I love you, brother.

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  7. Dr. Dan, your journey is amazing. I love reading your updates, they are filled with wisdom, facts and lessons learned by a man on a journey that is awe inspiring and God focused. May God bless you and Linda as you walk/run this race. Jerry & Linda Jones

  8. Hi Dan. Thanks for the update. I have been wondering how things were going with the tumor they found just before your visit to our house. It was so amazing to see you and Linda during your visit to MI. You simply baffled everyone by how incredibly healthy and strong you looked. God has certainly been looking over you. Keep up the fight and the race! I have no doubt at all you will beat this. God has his reasons for choosing "you" to fight this battle and God's reasons are coming across loud and clear.

    Love always, Your lil' sister