So often I close my e-mails with “God is Good, All the Time, God is Good” and I am often told by friends or family how much these words mean to them, what an encouragement they are. It has struck me over the last few days that my meaning “God is Good, All the Time” may be very different from others. While this is fine, I do think it is important that you know what I mean in the context of all my e-mails.

One thing you should find consistent is that I repeat this over and over “God is Good, All the Time, God is Good” regardless of my physical circumstances. It comes from sharing some very challenging times over the years with my dear brother, one of my closest friends, Dan Jessup. So often one of us has been deeply discouraged by the challenges of our days or lives, but we have always closed our conversations with this saying. It is an acknowledgment that regardless of life circumstances, God is with us, grieving, encouraging, or giving us patience or insight.

When is he doing this? All the time. Why? Because he is good, he loves us all the time, he longs to be with us in an ongoing relationship. This is something hard for me to explain as a scientist, but I am more sure of its truth every day that passes. So whether I have a good day or a bad day, I can always say God is Good, All the Time, God is Good. I can also say that every day, whether good or bad, is a great day.

I am asked if I am religious, and I find myself quickly saying No! The next statement is usually, “But I thought you were Christian”. My answer: Religion is not a relationship, and while Christianity has attempted to be, it too has failed in many ways as a religious institution to help me and many others experience the personal relationship with Jesus. I strive to be more Spiritual than Religious, I love all people from all parts of the world regardless of their religion and I hope they treat me with the same Grace. I prefer to call myself a follower of Jesus. If I were to be described by a religion, Christian certainly comes the closest to describing my core beliefs.

Do I believe in God? Yes, with all my heart. Do I believe in Jesus? Yes, with all my heart. As I have gone though this season of serious illness, I have had many dreams and visions that I have written down. Some dear friends emailed yesterday and asked me “Don, do you think you should share some of those dreams once in a while?” Their question prompts me to share a few thoughts from my journals.

All of us have a God-shaped void or vacuum in our hearts. Some of us are lucky enough to learn this at an early age, and as a result, we develop tender, open hearts. We are also blessed throughout our lifetime in giving and serving others. Others of us never get that experience while we are children, we can die with heavy, hardened hearts abused by the world, at least in our minds. Sometimes what seems like some random event can trigger a huge change in our lives. Sometimes it is not until we have everything that we could ever imagine. This is one of those times we most often feel the empty void in our hearts described by the brilliant French mathematician Blais Pascal. This describes me and a number of my friends at different points in our lives. We have been blessed with so much in the material sense. I can tell you from personal experience that many times, it is harder to give and serve others when you are blessed with much, than when you have nothing but your heart to give.

The irony of this is that God asks us to love him with all our hearts, souls and minds and to love our neighbor as ourself. This is the teaching of both the God of the Torah and Jesus in the New Testament. This is a very simple teaching, but in reality it is very difficult for any of us to achieve. But if we make this the focus in our lives that void can be filled. I really think the world would begin to look very different because we would begin to look different. Where ever we are, asking ourselves who is our neighbor and acting accordingly.

Is it too late to start? Will we ever wake up?

I don’t think so. I pray not.

But enough of my dreams and visions.

Why was today so jam-packed day with joy?. Well, here in Seattle it was sunny, and that is never anything to take lightly. In addition my chemotherapy went normally. I also was injected with a radioactive dye right after chemotherapy, then received a full body/bone radiography this afternoon. Before receiving those results I had another appointment with my infectious disease specialist, Dr Bill Ehni and he asked me about my ongoing night temperatures since all my recent blood tests have again been negative. He was also curious about my bone scan and the pain in my ribs when breathing. He gave me the full treatment pushing on every part of my abdomen and chest as well as the area of my tube. Nothing hurt!

Dr Ehni said he didn’t think it was my ribs, he felt it was more likely an inflammation or infection on the membrane outside my liver. As I breathe in deeply I am irritating that inflammation. His thought is to change antibiotics to one that will attack anaerobic bacteria in that area. He also went on to say he continues to feel it is good news when I have blood and clots in my liver bag like last week, feeling it must be dead cancer cells and when the color is tan it is flowing from the colon. We also talked about tumor temperatures. He had thought this was not likely since the tumors are so much smaller. But he also conceded it makes sense, since the temps are occurring at night without clinical symptoms. So while he wants to agree this is tumor temp (which would be good news we’re killing the cancer cells) he wants to make sure they are not missing an infection somewhere.

After my appointment, Doug Lee called and told me the total bone scan of my body came back negative. I shared with him all the news from Dr Ehni and he was as pleased as I was. He said he would sleep much better tonight.

photo-44.jpgThank you for your prayers and so many thoughtful notes. I do think your prayers took care of the fluid on my lungs and my bone scan. Can you see my hair growing?

God is God, All the time, God is Good!


P.S. — I realize I may have gone over the edge with some of the things I shared and I am sorry to those of you I may have offended. Please e-mail me so that we can dialogue further about this. It was never my intent to offend anyone.

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3 Comments so far

  1. David Carlson on April 20, 2007 7:31 am

    To go from further concern yesterday to the glory of this update buoys my heart and increases my own faith and followership. Thank you for chronicling and sharing Don…the tenor of which encourages any who need it that read it and surprises, I suspect, those who think otherwise. May today’s rising orb of Spring-light fill you further with wonder.

  2. scott hightower on April 21, 2007 7:07 am

    Don, your sharing gives such encoragement and blessing. Yes, indeed, God is good….all the time. The first time we were introduced to that statement was from a visiting pastor from Uganda, Father Jonathan, Jesus radiating from his face. (We had him over for dinner) Although he and his wife are very educated, they are very poor, but he thinks they are richer than most Americans. He was constantly saying “God is good….all the time God is good.”

    Yes, Don, being a Christian is all about relationship. That’s what the Lord of the Universe desires from us. He wants to communicate to us what is on His heart (prayer)and how often are we too busy to talk to Him. Can you imagine –too busy to talk to our Creator, the One who loves us with an everlasting love!! How His heart must grieve. Thanks for sharing this. Being in prayer is what He is calling us to.

    Love and blessings from two fellow “Followers of Jesus”

    Scott and Betty

  3. MikeChapman on September 5, 2007 6:04 pm

    Dear Valencias,

    I have not ever had the pleasure of meeting you all, but I’ve been praying for you regularly via Dan Jessup’s updates to his Thurs. men’s group, of which I’m part. (I’m also working w/TJ Oliphint at the Air Force Academy, and I know he’s praying for you as well) I have spent the past 2 hours reading through this blogsite, and I’m overwhelmed! I can so relate to so many things you’ve shared, Don, as I went through probably the darkest period of my life beginning last November. Although my circumstances were nowhere near as challenging as yours, Jesus has met me in very similar ways, and like you, I wouldn’t have missed that for anything.

    I was so struck by this particular post that I took the liberty of copying and pasting it into an e-mail to a couple I’m doing long-range premarital counseling to help them understand the difference between Jesus-followers and all the negatives stereotypes of believers. You articulated it SO well.

    Please know that you and your family will continue to be in our prayers.

    Mike Chapman

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