I’m In His Hands -Testimony of an Overcomer
As you come before God and read my testimony of faith, let us all experience through the ministry of song the peace of knowing whatever we are facing, we are all in God’s hands. In all the noise and stress in your life refresh your soul as you Come to the Quiet as you rest yourself and your life in God’s hands.
My dearly beloved friends,
I awake at 4:00 a.m. two days ago out of my sleep with severe shortness of breath.I immediately have to take Salbutomol, Atrovent and my Advair. The first two medications are for immediate airway opening while the third is long acting. They are all used in the control of asthma and for me to also control that part of my breathing affected by my extremely rare auto immune condition of systemic mastocytosis.
Yesterday, I wake up with serious broncho spasm. For those who do not know what this is this is when your airways constrict. The spasm is so painful it can resemble the pain of a heart attack. When I was an Assistant Professor of English as a Second Language in 2000 at Kwandong University in the eastern coastal city of Kangnung, South Korea, in the middle of a class I take one so awful that the excruciating pain of it causes me to collapse. I recall with fond affection and honour being carried by some of my students as they brought their arms together, taking me to the stretcher when the ambulance arrives.
To add some much-needed levity to this respiratory problem of Tuesday evening, I recall laughing in my spirit uproariously as the stretcher causes me to sway back and forth because there are no straps in it. It really is quite comical when you think about it. Joy floods my soul as I remember the students are saying through this action what respect they have for me as a professor. I think of Mr. Keating in the movie Dead Poet’s Society starring Robin Williams, as the students stand on their desks in protest of this courageous teacher, who is fired for standing up for a principle based on the thought of the poet William Butler Yeats, that education is not the filling of a pail; it is the lighting of a fire. As I taught my students creating creative curriculum that made their learning an enjoyable experience, I too paved a path of not following their conventional, dull and dry textbook I was given to use. It is my hope that I lit a fire in them for the love of learning.
Yesterday, at 4:45 p.m. after fighting this ongoing battle with breathing that kept getting worse I instruct Karen through my failing breath to call 911. My airways are closing up. At the Englehart & District Hospital in northern Ontario about a two and a half hour drive north of North Bay, Ontario, it will be determined that I have the flu that worsens my asthma. My Lord reminds me through this experience that our lives are in His hands.
In 2009 as the amount of oxygen in my blood dips down to 77% and I am in respiratory failure from what we now know is a mast (immune & systemic) attack as the chaplain prays with me she asks for the answer to two critical questions. My Lord is calling me to a point of decision. My answers will determine if I stay here for His elected time or am called home. The questions are these: 1) Am I willing to release my physical life to my Father if He requires it of me?, and 2) Will I let go of my fear that Karen will not be provided for?. I hesitate as that final act of surrender is hard to make because I believe I was raised to be the provider, a thought I still struggle with yet knowing in my heart God is the provider of all things. The accumulating phlegm choking me worsens. I can no longer speak. Karen is with me terrified I will give the answer to travel into the arms of my Father to end a life of being an overcomer, to end the long and arduous journey that has included horrific abuse from my schizophrenic father, having an alcoholic father and stepfather, being on welfare under the leadership of Premier Mike Harris’s Common Sense Revolution, false judgments of my character being weak and lazy (a blood disorder called pernicious anemia a.k.a. B12 deficiency will be diagnosed in 2001) and experiencing the judgment of many of my friends and family that I am a malingerer. Yet, my closest friends and family never doubt the severity of my declining health at that time.
I confess the choice of eternal joy in Heaven versus a life of ongoing struggles with my health is the most difficult decision I have made in my life. In 2000 as a professor in Kangnung, South Korea, I reflect that nearly dying from asthmatic bronchitis as I am drifting into coma after collapsing in my apartment, my Lord offers me the choice to go home. If I do there will be no loss of crowns in Heaven. If I stay Christ, my Commander-in Chief, will fashion me into being a passionate and fiery social advocate. He will use thousands of hours of mentoring, education and experience in the seminary of Christ’s compassion to speak for those who are too worn down by the injustice they experience from a system that can feel to them to be cold, callous and indifferent, to their plight of perpetual joy-stealing and spirit-killing poverty. They hope for that strong and caring hand out of their circumstances to a realistic hope of a good job or a solid education that will lead to work.
My Lord knows me well. From the time I am conceived in my mother’s womb before I enter this world the Enemy knows I will be a threat to him. After over 36 hours of labour I enter the world knowing I believe somewhere where I feel I can recall with a vivid clarity, that mine would be a calling to shine for Christ through all the arrows of doubt, fear and rejection the Enemy will throw at me. At around the age of four my father watches as I fall into the water off the dock at Georgian Bay in Ontario. He sees me drowning. I believe that in that moment God gives my father back his sanity suffering from schizophrenia and removes the darkness with his father being a member of the cult of the Rosicrucians. They believe that they have the power to dispel clouds and to move inanimate objects.
My father grabs me. Tears come as he squeezes me tightly, kissing me all over my face. For that one brief moment in time this man who is cruel one moment like Mr. Hyde becomes more the gentle Dr. Jekyll. I will begin the journey of forgiving him more after his death from pneumonia in November 2005. In the final moments of his life as his own inner terror envelopes him, as the pain of this life will soon be over, I hold his hands as he gasps for his breath. Karen and I pray with him asking that when his time comes to go home that God will be merciful and save his soul. We sing songs to him about a God who loves him with an everlasting love and that sweet gift of salvation that comes to those who accept Christ into their hearts and lives, to sing a forever song that darkness cannot defeat.
I know that when my Commander-in-Chief says that my calling is finished I will meet my father, my mother who died three days before Christmas in 1992 from a massive heart attack at age 57, my stepfather who died of lung cancer from cigarette smoking on September 11, 2006 ( a memorable date because of the terrorist attack of the twin towers on September 11th), my grandmother who her minister said of her in his eulogy that he had received many awards for practical theology, but my grandmother had a doctorate in it as she possesses this trusting faith through all circumstances, and my grandfather who would tell me at age five that he sees in me a boy who will grow up to be a messenger of God’s love to many. He says to me, this man of honour, who suffers the life-long effects of mustard gas poisoning serving as P.F.C. Sandford Dobson age 17, who lies to enter World War 1 as a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (forerunner to the Canadian Armed Forces) with a conviction I shall remember the rest of my life, “Kevin, whatever you do, do with your might, for things done by halves are never done right. Always be a person of your word.”
I believe before my Bompa (British term for grandfather), a term of our deep love for him, died after his third heart attack, he knows he will not be alive long. They will be his last words of loving advice I shall always carry with me in my heart. I still have a picture of him at age 17 as an infantry soldier. As I look into his eyes there is a quiet courage that in my own life I seek to show.
As I write these words through my tears of the joy of knowing my Bompa, I experience comforting and fond reflections of this man who threshed hay for 50 cents a day in those dark days of the Great Depression of the 1930s to feed his family. He studied many years by distance education while working to become a boiler engineer ( equivalent to a degree in Engineering today). He helped another person tutoring him countless hours so he passes the boiler engineer exam he fails many times. Bompa saves my mother’s life when she is eight falling into a well getting her father a drink of cool and refreshing water because he is sweating profusely from working as a blacksmith with the heat from hot iron making horseshoes. He shows this inner bravery with never a word of complaint getting up every day coughing for over a half an hour from the effects of mustard gas exposure,which later would be diagnosed as emphysema. He has an infectious humour as he sings to my grandmother, “It’s a long way to tickle Mary. It’s a long way to go”, causing my grandmother to blush. He will be remembered as always loving his beloved daughter, June.
I say with assurance in my heart I will seek by God’s abiding strength, grace and the help of His people to be a servant of my Lord Jesus Christ. I will fight darkness and injustice wherever I am called to go. I am more than a conqueror in Christ. The God who saved me that cold night March 1982 at The Salvation Army North York Temple in Toronto as I ended my indecision to serve Him whatever it may cost, who would call me into His glorious service to be His ambassador of hope and healing goes with me. I will not give in though there will be those difficult times of those Why questions if we are honest about it we all ask.
The Holy Spirit has called to my heart to leave with you what I pray will be a message to give you hope. God loves you with an everlasting love no matter how much you have failed Him. He always is there when you cry out to Him. In the misty times of fog when the storms of life rage without seeming to cease, God is with you in every breath you breathe, each step you take, in all your questions, doubts and fears.
When you feel you can go on no longer, when you feel God has asked more of you than you can give, it is my heart-felt prayer you will come back to my testimony of faith. May it be an encouragement to you that if God has been there for me through all my abuse, the deaths of those dear to my heart, rejection, illness, poverty, disability, false judgment of my character and times of abandonment I have experienced, He is with you. The Christ with those brawny and calloused hands of the son of Joseph, the carpenter, is here with you always. The Christ who made the blind to see and the lame to walk is still the God of miracles. He is not dead. If I have to say it a thousand times one thousand to the agnostic and the atheist; if I face ridicule and disdain for saying that the path away from God only leads to an eternal hell in this life and after death; if I am judged as one of those “believers” who is judged as being theologically illiterate I will not stop giving my testimony wherever I am called to share it. Yet, at the same time I also pray for all faith groups. I learn more about the spiritual path from all of you.
Let the Son and the sun of a new day come flowing into you. Come seeking God every day of your life until He calls you home to your sweet reward of eternal joy in Heaven. I believe I will be singing one day in the angel choir. What a time of rejoicing that will be!
I put you all back into the hands of your Father. The peace, abounding joy and the amazing love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Kevin Osborne, B.Th. with honours, D.D., D. Sc., Diplomate in Creative Ministry, is training to be a Christian psychotherapist through St. James the Elder Theological Seminary. He will be a Master of Divinity student at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. He will soon be opening a Christian counselling practice called You Can Hope Again with his wife, Karen, who is an M. Div. student at Trinity College. He is a member of The Word Guild, a Christian writer’s group in Canada. We are available to go where God sends us to do His will preaching, teaching, singing, giving marriage enrichment seminars or however needed. You can reach me at my email address email@example.com
Have a Son-filled life!
Posted on January 16, 2015, in On Circumstances and tagged Christ, christianity, church, Community, compassion, faith, Hope, inspiration, life, love, loving others, mind's seat, pain, peace, song, suffering, thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.