Ken Davis has been the director of Project Jerusalem, a church planting endeavor out of Clarks Summit, PA, for 20 years. More than that, Ken has been my pastoral mentor and personal friend for over a decade when I joined the Project Jerusalem team in 2007. This is Part 3 of a 5 part series interview with Ken discussing his cancer journey. This originally was done as an interview Sunday morning at my church, and you can hear the hour-long interview here.
TIM: What has changed in your earthly perspective?
KEN: Two huge lessons stand out as far as how I see things down here. I now realize more than ever that I’m not promised a pain-free life, and I’m not indispensable. Let me explain what I mean.
First, I recognize now that I am not promised, nor should I expect, a pain-free life or one free of suffering. But I am promised that “His power is made perfect in my weakness” as found in I Corinthians 12:9. And I am promised that “He who has begun a good work in me will bring it to a completion at the day of Jesus Christ” as it says in Philippians 1:6.
And what is a good work? As we saw in Romans 8:29 it is to be “conformed to the image of His Son.” Becoming like Christ, Christlikeness. As I read the Book of Hebrews I see that Christ displayed the grace of God through His suffering (Hebrews 2:9-10). I’m learning through suffering I can know Christ better and become more like Him (Philippians 3:10).
My earthly perspective on things has also changed in that I now realize something I should have known years ago – that I am certainly not indispensable. Jesus promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18). He doesn’t need me. God will accomplish His work of redeeming people from every tribe and tongue (Revelation 5:9; 7:9-10). That is not a doubt. I am just privileged to have a small role in the big story He is writing. But I am not the center of the story, Jesus is, and the successful ending of God’s big story does not depend on my skills or talent.
TIM: I am a firm believer in Christ-centered theology. Part of that is realizing that Christianity is not us at the center of our story, but Jesus. I appreciate how you brought that into your everyday life.
KEN: Yes, and it’s a remarkable testimony and testament to His power and grace that He’s able to accomplish anything through me. As Paul says in II Corinthians 4;7 “We have this treasure [i.e., the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ] in jars of clay [in earthen vessels – in our frail human bodies], to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” I’ve learned that I must not take myself too seriously!
TIM: What I appreciate about you is that you haven’t stopped learning. You still send me articles you are reading or talk about books that are teaching you. We were able to go to Nashville together for the church planting training this past fall.
TIM: What has changed in your heavenly perspective since having cancer?
KEN: Two biblical realities have changed how I look at heaven and the next life. First, I realize life is very short and I should not take any of my days for granted. Second, I now am looking forward more than ever to the hope of Heaven and what God has planned for our future as His people.
James 4:14 tells me, “For you are a mist [a vapor] that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” My life is much shorter than I thought it would be. Therefore I should be doing the things today that have lasting value. I should stop and hear people’s stories. Stop and smell the roses. I should spend more time unhurried and undistracted with my wife and children and 17 grandkids, even though they are scattered across North America. I should be present with people God brings into my life. I should reach out also in suffering to those with cancer, and seek to encourage and comfort them (II Corinthians 1). I should take each day as a gift from God’s hand. I’m learning that and have a long way to go.
TIM: The idea of enjoying God’s gifts is foreign to many conservative Christians. Too often we make our lives black and white. We just do what God says, don’t do what God says not to, and forget that we need to enjoy the gifts He has given us.
KEN: The second way my cancer has transformed my heavenly perceptive is it has renewed my hope of my heavenly future. Paul celebrates this truth beautifully in Romans 8:18 when he says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” I have discovered that one of the greatest gifts of suffering, of battling cancer, is the contrast it provides with the glory that is to come.
The great hope for all of us who know Jesus as Savior, and are suffering any type of trial, is the awesome unfathomable glory that awaits us in Heaven when we see Jesus face to face. Our suffering ought to point us to that. Our trials ought to increase our anticipation for Heaven and increase our longing for future glory. Romans 8 has taught me to live by the long view rather than the short view.
There is coming a day when the curse of sin that weighs heavy on this world will be lifted, when the redeemed of all nations will worship together, free from all diseases like cancer, and free from all the effects of man’s sin that we now see on earth. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward more than ever to see that day as the apostle John describes in Revelation 21:3-4. “God Himself will be with us as our God. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
I’m looking forward to that day when King Jesus comes and sets up His Kingdom and the redeemed are finally free from persecution; when there will be no more injustice, no more racial division, no more poverty, no more conflict on earth, no political strife or war. Praise God, we have this certain hope! There’s a glorious day (yet?) future when no one is scraping pennies just to get by; no wife loses her husband to cancer; no more little children with seizures. I have found that the trials of this life point me forward with growing expectation of that glorious day!
Listen to Part I
Listen to Part II
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.