I got an email this afternoon that contained only one word… “Well???” Because it’s Sunday, I laughed, knowing exactly what she was asking! “Did Tom teach or not?” The answer is yes and no. Our pastor had the idea that it might be good to video Tom teaching from home when he was having a good day. So that’s what we did last week. Tom wasn’t at church this morning, in person, but he taught his class Hebrews chapter 12 by video! He will do the same thing with the last chapter so he can finish his Hebrews series if he’s not able to make it next week.
Many might watch the video and not realize anything is odd if they have never heard Tom teach when he was well, or are unaware of his present health status. Tom is on hospice care with multiple malignant brain tumors, in respiratory failure, living beyond his anticipated life expectancy. His right leg is almost completely paralyzed, his right hand is uncoordinated and becoming more so, he is unable to walk or stand for more than a few seconds unassisted, he thinks very slowly, has difficulty reading and assimilating information and is in that stage of cancer where he just hurts all over and a lot of things just don’t work the way they are supposed to. But he still loves to teach and communicate the truths in God’s Word. So what drives him?!
When Tom was diagnosed with familial Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in December of 2006 and retired early, we both had a pretty good idea what lay ahead. Tom decided way back then that he wanted to continue living the way he was living and quoted the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:20-21. “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” When you aren’t very sick, this is rather easy to declare. But when dark days of chronic sickness takes such a toll and a body is so ravaged by multiple problems and pain, and it’s hard to even think or talk, one can feel like it’s impossible to glorify God. One morning last week Tom was having one of those days and was struggling just to put words together. He dropped his head and said out loud, “How can I glorify God like this?” And just as soon as the words left his lips he chuckled quietly and said, “Don’t answer that. God already did. I will glorify Him by trusting Him.”
There are many ways in which we can glorify, or honor, God. One way that is most pleasing to Him is to simply believe what He has said, trust Him, and fulfill His will, whatever it may be, with contentment. It is said of Abraham that in his greatest trial, he was strong in faith, giving glory to God. And God honored that faith, because faith honors God. We magnify God’s name and give Him glory when we unashamedly declare who He is and what He has done through the ages, and will yet do in the future. Our praises don’t add a thing to God’s magnificence and glorious attributes. They merely declare who He is, and acknowledge that He is worthy of our trust, honor, worship, praise and gratefulness. We glorify God when we praise him in song. He says, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me.” We glorify Him when we communicate His Word, share the Gospel, and make the focus of our life, Him, not us. Tom and I love 2 Corinthians 5:15, which says, “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
If you would like to see the video of today’s Sunday School Bible lesson, go to You Tube and search for “Pryde Heb 12.”
Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)