What Cancer Cannot Do
March 28, 2004
On Saturday March 13, when our dear sister Nancy Reed was first hospitalized, I was driving to the hospital to visit, and I considered that, if this was, indeed, nearing Nancy’s appointed time to go to be with the Lord, we could not, on the Sunday after her homegoing, have a sermon with “business as usual.”
We’re a family, and a small enough church, that we must mark this Sunday in some significant way. So, I began to think of how we could address what’s on all of our minds, in a way that would honor the Lord, honor Nancy’s memory, and provide encouragement for the whole church family.
And then I immediately remembered another Sunday at TCF. It was April 10, 1994.... just a few weeks shy of ten years ago today.
Just a few weeks before that date, all of us here at TCF had received word that one of our founding members, a longtime elder, and by that time, elder emeritus, Willard Hudson, yes, for those of you who never knew him, that’s Nette’s husband of more than 53 years - Willard had been diagnosed with cancer.
While we will often greet our missions speakers, or sometimes other guests, with applause when they get up to speak after an introduction, this is not something that ever happens with one of our own.
Well, that morning, TCFers stood and applauded Willard as he stood at the pulpit. It wasn’t the last message he’d preach at TCF, but it was the beginning of the last year of his life, because on March 10, 1995, nine years ago this month, Willard left this earthly life, to be in the presence of the Savior he loved and served.
That was the last time a member of TCF passed away, and this morning, as we mourn the passing of our dear sister Nancy, I thought it would be appropriate to remember some of the things that Willard said that day.
It’s appropriate because, as much as any message I’ve ever heard from this pulpit, and in 24 years, I’ve heard many that I could say this about, but that morning, Willard brought an inspiring word.
More than that, it was encouraging, especially in light of what we knew he was facing.
I’m praying that the same Holy Spirit that spoke through our brother Willard, on that April day almost ten years ago, will strengthen and encourage us this morning as we remember the things the Lord spoke to us.
Willard had come up with a list of 12 things, titled, What Cancer Cannot Do.
One of the things most people remember about Willard is that he had a great sense of humor. He proved it that day by joking about what most of us were in tears about.
“for those of you who are wondering about this certain radiance about me, it’s not because of a spiritual encounter. It’s because I’ve had two weeks of radiation treatment. The glow is of the world. But it beats the chemotherapy because you lose your hair, and I wanted to keep my sideburns.”
Now, those of us who remember Willard don’t remember much hair on the top of his head to begin with, and we certainly don’t remember sideburns.
But in saying this, Willard gave us permission to maintain our sense of humor. Let me tell you, my church family, Hal has maintained his sense of humor throughout this ordeal. Willard went on to tell us that he’d found this list, and he read the things that he was given on his first visit to the oncologist.