This is a special report, so I hope you’ll read it carefully — and prayerfully. Normally I restrict my reports to one page, but this one is a bit longer.
(1) HEALTH SITUATION. I continue to struggle with a number of health issues that hinder me significantly. I do not mean the prostate cancer for which I had radiation treatments earlier this year. As far as I know, that condition is improving and will continue to do so, if the Lord wills. But the issues that are plaguing me now were present before the cancer came up; they have just gotten worse over the last year.
I won’t bore you with the medical details (and the last thing I need is more medical advice), but the bottom line is this: evenings have become a very difficult time for me. Even when I am fortunate to have some good hours in the daytime, by 4:00–5:00 in the afternoon, my difficulties begin to get cranked up, and by 7:00 PM I am in a very hard place. For all practical purposes, evenings are lost to me right now, as far as any normal activities are concerned.
I am working with a good team of doctors, including my primary care doctor, a cardiologist, a neurologist, a pain management doctor, a physical therapist, an orthopedic surgeon, and the newest addition, a spinal surgeon. (Also a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker, but that is another story.) These guys have helped me put together as good a battle plan as can be devised at this point. I am grateful for them.
(2) WORK SITUATION. When I travel, I am going to have to stay in a hotel room, without exception. (I have even told my son Grant and his wife, who live in Indianapolis, that when I come see them, I will have to stay in a hotel.) My evening difficulties are simply not going to be manageable on the road if I am in a home, even the most commodious. To make it work, a hotel room is going to be essential. And even in a hotel, I will have to be in that room by 5:00 PM and begin to “batten down the hatches” for the rough hours ahead of me.
What this means, of course, is that gospel meetings are going to be virtually impossible to do. Theoretically, I would be willing to come and do anything anybody wanted me to do, but it would have to be in the daytime. So until Sunday-morning-only gospel meetings become the trend (which may not be too far in the future), it looks like I will not be doing any preaching. The days when I even remotely resembled a “gospel preacher” are gone.
Here is what it comes down to: I need you to let me know which of you, if any, will continue to support me knowing that all I will be doing is writing. I understand that some congregations will not do this, and I will respect each congregation’s decision individually without comparing one congregation to another. But either way, I need to know your decision. I’ve been moving toward more writing and less preaching for a long time and have needed to make a decision about it, but now my health problems have forced the issue. I can no longer delay making a decision.
Even though my writing teaches the gospel and reaches thousands more people than any speaker whose work is in the pulpit, many churches do not consider my writing to be anything they can support financially, if that’s all I do. It does not, in their minds, fall within the definition of what a “gospel preacher” does.
Be that as it may, writing is what I do — and because of my health, it is now all that I can do. So I need to know whether you will support me. If not, I will do the best I can on my own, but at least I won’t have to continue trying to do things I cannot do. Hard as it may be financially, I think it will be a liberating experience for me personally.
I solicit your prayers, not that the Lord will remove my pain (I have learned to deal with that and it is causing me to grow spiritually) but that the Lord will spare my life long enough to complete the writing that, if it can be finished, will make up a coherent, organized body of work. I also hope you’ll pray that God will help me to have the clarity of mind needed to do this writing as carefully as it should be done.
Those who are not familiar with the overall vision I have for my writing will probably not understand how much remains to be done. It is a big mountain I will have to climb, even under the best of circumstances. If I had enough strength to write seven days a week, week after week, it would take me another 10–15 years to complete this work. But I can’t write every day for very long without taking some kind of break. So it will take longer than 10–15 years.
With the Lord’s help, I have gotten as far as I have by forgetting the future and just writing just one page at a time. I will keep doing that. If the Lord gives me the strength (and I don’t lose all my support as result of this report), you may have a copy of Obeying the Gospel in your hands by the end of next year. I am so excited about that particular book that I can hardly wait for it to be finished.
Thank you for your encouragement in the past. I look forward to hearing from those who support me financially as to whether you will continue that support if all I do is write. For those who decide to continue with me, I will make arrangements to visit you within the next year to see you face-to-face and thank you personally. I’ll stay in a hotel when I’m in your area, and if you want me to preach for you, I’ll be happy to do so — as long as it’s in the daytime. 😉
P. S. A friend sent the older members of our congregation a card recently with a tea bag in it with this tag. Wise words for me at this point, it would seem.