by Robert Earl Houston
For the last few weeks and most noticeably in Frankfort and now at the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky session in Louisville, I have been walking with the assistance of a cane. It actually belongs to one of my deacons who was kind enough to allow me use of it during my cancer surgery recovery. It’s a beauty. A brass plated hame, “Bubba Stik” with the words “Made in Texas by Texans” on a plate at the tip.
Believe me, I’m not using it as a fashion statement. It serves a purpose to help steady me because even though it’s been over 2 months since my surgery, my foot still has an open wound, although 80% of it is now closed (thank God). It also helps me to get up and helps me sit down. I’ve learned how to walk with the cane and it helps me distribute my body weight evenly when I try to get from point A to point B.
Having this “Bubba Stik” has taught me three spiritual lessons (did you expect any less? – smile) that I want to share with you:
FIRST, THE CANE IS MY TESTIMONY
This cane is symbolic to me as the testament of my testimony. It has been amazing this week that many of my fellow delegates were not even aware that I had been through a bout with cancer. I guess you assume that people talk, discuss and share – but there were many, many people who were surprised to see me not walking through the hallways fast and spry, and instead they see me walking cautiously with a cane.
But this cane represents that where I am today is not as bad as what I’ve been through. I’ve gone from those words of my physician “I’m sorry, but you have cancer” to prep, surgery, post-surgery, and now recovery. The cane was not present or needed for the first four items, but for the recovery, it’s helpful. And it’s actually the last milestone for my ordeal. When this cane is no longer needed, then it will signal that my recovery is completed, my healing is done, and I can look forward to moving about as usual.
SECONDLY, MY CANE IS MY DIPLOMA
I sat in awe of Dr. Thomas H. Peoples, Jr.’s sermon yesterday at the Association’s Men’s Convention and he was talking about the Completeness of Christ vs. the Incompleteness of humanity. One of the things that struck me, coming from a noted Christian theologian as Dr. Peoples, was this statement: “the more I know about Christ, the more I discover that I don’t anything.”
What Dr. Peoples was alluding to is that even as we discover more and more about God it puts a highlighter upon our lives and we find out that we still don’t know all about and nor will the Lord allow us to know as much as He does.
Here’s the application – the cane represents the information that I have picked up about several things during this process. I’ve learned more about cancer, melanoma, congregational care of their shepherd, gracious thanksgiving, humility, spousal care, doctors, operating rooms, and even more humility than I have in the first 53 years of my life. This cane is my diploma – not in an advanced degree, but in the practicum of life.
This ordeal has taught me empathy. This ordeal has taught me the power of prayer. This ordeal has taught me total dependence upon the Lord. This ordeal has taught me to release myself to the Lord and to prepare for that eventual day when this body and soul will have a permanent separation. Every time I look at the cane, it reminds me that “I’m stronger, I’m wiser, I’m better, so much better.”
THIRD, MY CANE IS NOT UNIQUE
My cane is “purdy.” I mean it stands out in a crowd. It’s been called “wow” and even by some friends as a “pimp stick” (only a friend would tell another friend that). And I will admit, when I see others with canes, I look at their cane to see what it looks like, etc. It has drawn my attention, because I too am on a cane.
I was really excited, in a strange way, that nobody else in Frankfort had the same “Bubba Stik” that I have. I went to Cincinnati for the Gospel Music Workshop of America for a day and again, no one else had the cane that I have.
But then I came to Louisville and one of the men in the Laymen’s Department walked right up to me and yes, he had a “Bubba Stik” as well. Not only that he began to compare our two canes – mine was of a darker wood and his was lighter colored. He said “you have an older stick.” We laughed and walked away and then I thought about what this stick represents, what I’ve been through and the logical conclusion was there: “you’re not the only one who’s going through what you’re going through.”
Sometimes we have this feeling that “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen” when in actuality, there are people all around us who have gone through or going through what we’re experiencing right now. I had an infirmity, a melanoma and I’ve had this week people walk up to me, especially those who read my article in The American Baptist Newspaper or on this blog, and tell me that they too have had skin cancer. One brother walked up to me and told me that he’s had it twice on the top of his head. Even a sister walked up to me and said “I just found out about it and I’m going to have the same surgery.”
It was like the Lord confirming in my spirit, you’re not unique because of what you’re going through, you’re unique because of the way God handled it.
Because there have been those who told me stories of those loved ones who did not make it or faced very serious amputations or treatments. I’ve heard the ghost stories of those who had the same cancer in other areas of their bodies and required removals and amputations of organs.
My disease was not unique, but my deliverance was. Thank you Lord. So when I look at this cane, made in Texas by Texans, I understand that it’s not the only cane they manufactured, not the only cane with a brass hame (handle), and not the only cane with the black tip. The cane is not unique, and I’m not the only one going through something.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED
by Robert Earl Houston
Greetings everyone! I videotaped this a couple of weeks ago and I want to humbly share this with you. It’s a short, 10 minute, video diary of my infirmity – the skin cancer that sent me to the operating room on May 31, 2013.
I want to share it to encourage African-American males, especially, to get an annual physical. Get checked and don’t be afraid of the doctor – GO AND GET CHECKED. As a result of my begging (yes, begging) over 100 pastors from across the country have contacted me or emailed me or texted me and said they’re getting checkups. Praise God!!!!
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED!