people with cancer.
I belong to a "mailing list" entitled Apostles Today. It is a group of folks that God has given as a gift to the church. One of them become a close friend through the miracle of the Internet and cellphone technology. His name: Curtis Forbes. He was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago.
I had seen posts by him on the list, and one day I read that he was in the hospital. I emailed and asked for his cell so I could text him during his recovery. That was back in June. I started to check in with him, and not long after he was released, I called him to say hello; it was a bit awkward at first. We didn't have any history - just Jesus.
Contact with cancer patients is tough, and I am not too good with people in general. Because both my parents died of cancer, I just have heart for folks who suffer from cancer. My strategy is this: it is better to make a few mistakes, then to leave folks alone in their sickness.
During the time that my dad was ill, he was a few hours drive away. I made it up there pretty often. He even came to stay for a week with me on Cape Cod. When my mom was sick I was half a continent away. I made a few trips to Ft. Wayne, either alone or with my girls. I called her every day - that was the best that I could do. She only missed one call, it was day or two before she died.
Two years ago one of the guys in my men's group had cancer. I would call him every day to tell him that I loved him, and I was praying. It went on for a year. He was completely healed and has since retired to Tennessee. The phone calls with Dave were a daily gift.
Yesterday, Friday the 28th, Curtis missed a call from me. As always, I left a voice mail saying that I was praying for him, and if he felt up to it, to give me a call.
This morning (Saturday) at 4:32 am, my friend Curtis went to be with the King of Kings.
I called Curtis just about everyday and on the rare occasion when we didn't speak, there were text messages. He spoke about his family, his church family and about his amazing wife. He was proud of his kids too. We shared the joy of their trip to Disney World just a few weeks ago and the disappointment of another lesion in a new location.
Curtis was a gift to the Kingdom too. HERE is more.
I tried keep up with a dizzying array of doctors appoints, surgery, radiation, Ippi and Chemo treatments; and we prayed. We talked about hope, about love, about our amazing Jesus, and the bad reports that seemed to come in almost weekly. In spite of all that, he only missed one call.
His journey with cancer not was not out of the sight of a loving God. He had peace, he had strength, and he would tell me how he thought he should have fear, but it wasn't there. Day-in-and-day-out, he spoke about the amazing peace of God. I put some of my friends in touch with him to pray, and he inspired them as well.
I last spoke to Curtis on Thursday about 5:15. We had a good conversation, though I could tell he was in pain. We prayed a little - we always did. We laughed a little - we often did. We joked about who had the worst testimony. He told me about an opportunity he was given to share his testimony, his bad boy testimony with the men at his church. I believe that was supposed to be tomorrow. Instead he leaves a testimony of peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Last words matter, and these were his.
"I love you man of God."
Thanks Curtis for the gift you were to me. You will never know what a blessing it was to hear your voice, and to witness your strength. It was you who was truly the man of God.