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f you and I were having this talk over coffee, this is the point where I would lean across the table and say, “What do you

still have that you cannot lose?”


The difficulties have taken much away. I get that. But there is one gift your troubles cannot touch. Your destiny. Can we talk about it?

You are God’s child.


He saw you, picked you, and placed you. “You did not choose me; I chose you” (John 15:16). Before you are a butcher, baker, or cabinetmaker; male or female; Asian or black, you are God’s child. Replacement or fill-in? Hardly. You are his first choice.

Such isn’t always the case in life. Once, just minutes before

I officiated a wedding, the groom leaned over to me and said,

“You weren’t my first choice.”

“I wasn’t?”

“No, the preacher I wanted couldn’t make it.”


“But thanks for filling in.”

“Sure, anytime.” I considered signing the marriage license



You’ll never hear such words from God. He chose you. The choice wasn’t obligatory, required, compulsory, forced, or compelled. He selected you because he wanted to. You are his open, willful, voluntary choice. He walked onto the auction block where you stood, and he proclaimed, “This child is mine.” And he bought you “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19 NKJV). You are God’s child.

You are God’s child forever.


Don’t believe the tombstone. You are more than a dash between two dates. Don’t get sucked into short-term thinking. Your struggles will not last forever, but you will.


God will have his Eden. He is creating a garden in which Adams and Eves will share in his likeness and love, at peace with each other, animals, and nature. We will rule with him over lands, cities, and nations. “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:12 NKJV).

Believe this. Clutch it. Tattoo it on the interior of your heart. It may seem that the calamity sucked your life out to sea, but it hasn’t. You still have your destiny.


My father had just retired. He and Mom had saved their money and made their plans. They wanted to visit every national park in their travel trailer. Then came the diagnosis: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), a cruel degenerative disease of the muscles. Within months he was unable to feed, dress, or bathe himself. His world, as he knew it, was gone.


At the time, my wife, Denalyn, and I were preparing to do mission work in Brazil. When we got the news, I offered to change my plans. How could I leave the country while he was dying? Dad’s reply was immediate and confident. He was not known for his long letters, but this one took up four pages:

In regard to my disease and your going to Rio. That is really an easy answer for me and that is Go . . . I have no fear of death or eternity . . . so don’t be concerned about me. Just Go. Please him.

Dad lost much: his health, retirement, years with his children and grandchildren, years with his wife. The loss was severe, but it wasn’t complete.


Several years after Dad’s death, I received a letter from a woman who remembered him. Ginger was only six years old when her Sunday school class made get-well cards for ailing church members. She created a bright purple card out of construction paper and carefully lined it with stickers. On the inside she wrote, “I love you, but most of all, God loves you.” Her mom baked a pie, and the two made the delivery.


Dad was bedfast. The end was near. His jaw tended to drop, leaving his mouth open. He could extend his hand, but it was bent to a claw from the disease.

Somehow Ginger had a moment alone with him and asked a question as only a six-year-old can: “Are you going to die?”


He touched her hand and told her to come near. “Yes, I am going to die. When? I don’t know.”

She asked if he was afraid to go away. “Away is heaven,” he told her. “I will be with my Father. I am ready to see him eye to eye.”

About this point in the visit, her mother and mine returned. Ginger recalls:

My mother consoled your parents with a fake smile on her face. But I smiled a big beautiful real smile and he did the same and winked at me.


My purpose for telling you all this is my family and I are going to Kenya. We are going to take Jesus to a tribe on the coast. I am very scared for my children, because I know there will be hardships and disease. But for me, I am not afraid, because the worst thing that could happen is getting to see “my Father eye to eye.”


It was your father who taught me that earth is only a passing through and death is merely a rebirth.

A man near death, winking at the thought of it. Stripped of everything? It only appeared that way. In the end Dad still had what no one could take. And in the end that is all he needed.



If our hope in Christ is for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone else in the world. * We know that our

body—the tent we live in here on earth

—will be destroyed. But when that happens, God will have a house for us. It will not be a house made by human hands; instead, it will be a home in

heaven that will last forever. * If we

accept suffering, we will also rule with

him. * Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s great

mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope, because Jesus Christ

rose from the dead. Now we hope for the blessings God has for his children.

These blessings, which cannot be destroyed or be spoiled or lose their

beauty, are kept in heaven for you.

God’s power protects you through your faith until salvation is shown to you at the end of time.

PETER 1:3–5

1 CORINTHIANS 15:19; 2



In Her Own Words:


See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.



Heard recently that if you look closely enough at the scars

Jesus has on his hands and feet, you’ll see your name written there. Scars indicate the site of an injury, the place where pain was experienced and blood flowed. Scars may also mean that you encountered something that could have brought death, but you survived. In that case, the mark is a permanent reminder of the second chance at life you have been given.


When my dad first told me he had melanoma, my heart sank. As a nurse practitioner, I knew that the prognosis was not good and that time was of the essence—but we serve the One who holds all time in his hands. My dad was referred to MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, but the appointment was a month away.


It was certainly the Holy Spirit who led me to pray and ask for an earlier appointment if there were a cancellation—and that was the first time I prayed aloud with my parents on the phone.


Not only did God answer that prayer, but he also spoke a personal message of love by moving the appointment up to my birthday.

During all the hours of waiting for CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds to be performed—all of which would later have only uncertain outcomes—I would Google medical studies on melanoma. If I could just find even one case study that was like my dad’s and that had a good outcome, I thought I would feel comforted. I found none.


What God did show me was the end of Isaiah 49:23 —“Those who hope in me will not be disappointed” (NIV). It was as if he were asking me, “Are you hoping to find comfort in Google and the Internet, or will you allow me to comfort you?” It was so hard for me to trust because I kept wondering if I would end up being disappointed.


I had once heard faith defined as “confident obedience to God’s Word despite the situation or consequences.” Reminded of that, I decided I would just believe God. I would place my hope in him—and him alone!

On Monday, March 21, 2011—after my dad’s diagnosis— we got the call that the melanoma had not spread to the lymph nodes! Praise to the One who holds our futures in his hands!

There was a period of healing, and often the recovery seemed slow—but my dad did recover!

As I write this, it has been a year since that experience. My dad will indeed carry a scar for the rest of his life. It will always remind him of the life he could have lost but was given back. And if you look closely enough at that scar, Jesus’ name is written there.


God surrounds us like the Pacific surrounds

an ocean floor pebble.

He is everywhere: above, below, on all sides.


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