It’s been about 6 months since I came to Lifeway, and one of the people I’ve enjoyed meeting and getting to know is Michael Kelley.
As of February 1, Michael is the Director of Discipleship at Lifeway Christian Resources and has been charged with the important task of developing not only a cohesive and compelling vision for discipleship, but also incorporating that vision into truly customized curriculum for churches.
I’ll be able to share more about that last part later.
But one of the other things that makes Michael unique is that several years ago, his 2-year-old son Joshua was diagnosed with leukemia. After more than 3 years of chemotherapy, Michael is releasing a book about that experience called Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God.
Trust me when I tell you that reading this book will be worth your time. I asked to interview him on the blog today about his book, story, and faith:
Michael, as a dad, I can’t imagine hearing the word “cancer” applied to one of my little girls. How does a parent begin to cope with news like that?
I don’t know. I still don’t know. It’s a moment when faith isn’t a noun any more; it’s a verb, and it’s an active choice to believe what you think you know to be true about God and the world.
I also think, though, that moments like that are great reminders of the provision of God. Not just in terms of material stuff, but really in terms of faith. When we woke up the October morning Joshua was diagnosed, we had no idea that he was sick. But we also had no idea that God had provided us enough grace to hold on that day.
One of the most meaningful parts of the book to me was the chapter called “Together” where you describe the role other people played in your journey. Talk about the influence of the community of faith around you during that time.
It’s during times like this that we have an incredible opportunity to really function as the body of Christ. Like Paul describes, when one part suffers, the other parts do as well. So there were people, people who are still dear friends, who really became part of our family during that time. They started carrying little bottles of Purell in their pockets so they could wash their hands every time they saw us so Joshua wouldn’t get any germs. They showed up unannounced with food. I came home several times and my grass had been mowed. Things like that, which don’t sound like much, but were small reminders of God’s love for us.
That’s really how we function in each other’s lives, I think – as reminders. We tend, especially during seasons of pain, to forget about how loving and faithful God is. When we experience love and faithfulness from those around us, we are pointed back to the greater reality of God.
The book is obviously very emotional, but it’s also intensely hopeful, and not just because Joshua is cancer free now. Is that fair?
Absolutely. Hope, by its very nature, recognizes that there is something wrong. If there wasn’t we wouldn’t need to hope. But our hope can’t just be that things are going to be different circumstantially because they might not be. Our hope has to be in something greater.
We know that God may change our circumstances, but in the end, we place our hope not in that change, but in God Himself. In His wisdom, His love, and His provision.
What is the one, key message you hope someone who reads the book walks away with?
That’s difficult to put into a single sentence. But maybe this: Pain can either force you to God or force you away from God. When you run to God, He doesn’t promise all – or any – of the answers to your questions. But He does promise Himself.
This is a great book. I highly encourage you to get it, read it, and then think about who else in your life might need to do the same.
Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal is available now. You can get it here.