Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just Deserts

The other day Linda and I attended a Christmas performance by the Old Dominion University madrigal singers held at our church. As we entered the spacious atrium decorated to resemble Narnia, we were greeted by one of the hosts who invited us to first visit the serving table, announcing “We are providing just desserts this evening. May I offer you some?”

I responded, “Jay, if I got my just deserts, I would not be here this evening!” To which he quickly replied, “That is true for all of us, isn’t it?”

Eleven months ago today, I was given a death sentence, informed that I had widely disseminated cancer that turned out to be an aggressive form of malignant melanoma. By all reasonable expectations (my own included), I should not be here today. Now after two cycles of high-dose Interleukin-2 therapy, radiation treatment to a left hip lesion, four gamma-knife procedures to the brain, a complicated port-a-cath removal, and a deep vein thrombosis, I am very much alive and anticipating the celebration of Christ’s birth with those I love. Do I deserve such favor?

The harsh reality is that we all have a death sentence. We have all been diagnosed with a terminal condition – it’s called the human condition. For all the millennia past, our mortality rate has been virtually 100%. In spite of all the advances in medicine, nutrition, and relative prosperity on the one hand, and all the devastations of war, disasters, and disease on the other, the death rate has remained unchanged.

And that is what we deserve. I know that is not politically correct, but the truth is that none of us deserves tomorrow. Genesis tells us that a good God gave us life, choice and sex so that we might propagate the gift of life. We squandered that gift when we each proclaimed our independence from the Creator. (Rom 3:23, 6:23) The natural consequence of my rebellion is death. But when I exercise the gift of choice and surrender my will to His, by His grace He restores my life. God sent His only Son to live a life that shows me how to truly live and to die a death that would conquer the grave. (1Pet 3:18)

And there’s the icing on the cake! Not only am I promised eternal life, but the life I now enjoy (day by day) is filled with joy, purpose, and peace. (Gal 2:20, 5:22-23) At the birth of Christ the angels proclaimed “peace on earth to men on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) The offer of “just desserts” still stands.

For me this has become a vital reality. I have tasted the bitter flavor of my just deserts, but in the days that remain I will satiate myself with His favor and feast on just desserts.

May you have a blessed Christmas!


  1. You have been such an inspiration to us all. We are continuing to pray for the whole family at this time. God bless each and everyone of you at this Holiday Season. Enjoy your Holidays!! Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement. God bless you Dr Dan and Linda as well.

  2. Your brother submitted a letter in the Muskegon Chronicle with an update on your journey. I'm so glad I saw it. Now I can pray for you, just as you prayed for me while under your care. And what care it was! I still live by some of the principles you taught me. Thank you. So it's a done deal...You are officially on my daily prayer list. Peace be with you, dear doctor.

  3. What a blessing it has been to follow your blog, your family inspires me and I will continue to pray for you. You seem to have a heart of gold and what a wonderful Doc you must have been. Happy New Year to all!