Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

A Dispatch From My Cave

I’ve joked for many years that I feel like a caveman. Unfortunately, ALS has turned me into somewhat of a recluse; the weaker I get, the more reclusive I’ve become.

As most of you know, I cannot speak or move. I use an eye-tracking computer to type and “speak.” Light affects the camera tracking my eye movements so I keep it dark in my bedroom, where I spend 95% of my time.

Allow me to paint you a brief picture of this scene: I’m in our large bedroom reclining in my wheelchair. I’m tethered to my breathing machine and a little pump that slowly releases manufactured sustenance into my feeding tube. We have blackout curtains that are usually closed and the only light coming in is from the open blinds of the door leading out to the back patio.

You can see why I’ve nicknamed our bedroom “the cave.”

Most days I’m sitting here on my computer for ten to twelve hours. Technology is an incredible blessing for someone like me. I read the Bible, Kindle books and blog posts. I listen to audio books, sermons and music. I scroll through Facebook, type emails and reply to comments on my blog. And, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, for about the last seven years I’ve been volunteering as an Online Missionary with Global Media Outreach. Daily I communicate with people from all over the world – all from my little cave.

It feels so good to be unhooked from my machines and just sit in the yard for a few hours, especially when my grand-kids are over like this past weekend.

I don’t mean this to sound like “it’s all good.” ALS stinks! Trials are so difficult even for the strongest of Jesus’s disciples. Even if you are not physically isolated as I am, trials, and the depression that often accompanies that trial, can make you feel as if you’re living alone in a dark cave.

Before he became the King of Israel, David had a death sentence hanging over his head. David’s predecessor, King Saul, and a large group of his most skillful warriors were searching for David in order to kill him. David wrote some of the Psalms during this time, including the following Psalm which he wrote while hiding out in a darkened cave:

Psalm 142
“I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD; I make supplication with my voice to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk They have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul. I cried out to You, O LORD; I said, “You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. “Give heed to my cry, For I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are too strong for me. “Bring my soul out of prison, So that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me.”

The Cave of Adullam, where David wrote the above Psalm. Taken by Ferrell Jenkins
I know the circumstances are different, but it’s so easy to relate to the anguish that David was feeling in the midst of his trials. Sometimes it can actually feel as if the trial is some kind of demonic warrior trying to thwart God’s plan for our life, much like Saul trying to kill David so he wouldn’t become king.

We see this pattern repeated throughout the New Testament; beginning with Satan trying to use temptation, suffering, and finally Jesus’s death in his vain attempt to derail God’s plan for us and our eternity with Christ. This pattern continued with the trials, temptations and ultimately with the martyrdom of all of the Apostles and millions of disciples in every nation on earth over the last two thousand years.

Why did they have to suffer and be martyred?

They dared to obey the final commandment of Jesus; The Great Commission:

“…All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Regardless of what we’re going through, we should do our best to carry The Great Commission.

I was thinking about this when my friend Heidi asked Mary and me if we would consider being interviewed on a national Christian radio show. Remember, I can’t speak at all and Mary gets nervous just speaking in front of a small group. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention it was live radio.

After a few days of discussing this, Mary and I agreed to do the show. We both concluded that it was worth the risk of making fools out of ourselves if we could encourage even one person that’s going through a trial or maybe give hope to a discouraged caregiver.

If any of you would like to hear our interview with Chris Fabry on Moody Radio click HERE.

Thank you for reading.

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181 thoughts on “A Dispatch From My Cave

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  1. Melinda Nelson on said:

    Great interview! Thanks for having the courage to do it. And I am shocked your wife gets nervous speaking in front of even small groups, as she seemed like a natural.

    My husband and I are missionaries in Mozambique, so we see and experience a lot of suffering. But like the title of your blog testifies to, we have an unshakable hope that is our anchor.

  2. Just thought I’d drop by to see how you’re doing, Bill. Things move at a slow pace in this rural area. Coming from an urban background as I do, I find it amazing to drive past the fields. The corn is already taller than I am. Everywhere I look, nature praises the Creator. Blessings, A.

  3. Bill, I know you don’t post often, but I’ve nominated you for a Sunshine Blogger Award anyway! To accept, go here and follow the guidelines posted. https://wordpress.com/post/mitchteemley.com/29977 Love you, brother!

  4. Bill, thank you so much for sharing your trials with us. It’s not about the trials though, is it? It’s about how God uses them in our lives for His glory. Thank you so much for pointing that out! I appreciate you stopping by BigSisterKnows.com recently, and I look forward to reading more of your posts. May God bless you and your family as you continue to do His work.

    • Thank you for your comments, Ashley. You are so right, I would not blog about trials, how boring would that be? 🙂 it’s ALL about hope in Christ in the midst of our trials. That is Unshakable Hope.

  5. I’m not sure you realize the positive extant of how much your story and writings effect others. Not just those of us who drop by your blog either, but your messages of hope and inspiration in turn affects our own interactions with others and then theirs with still others more. God’s purpose for you is solid and your continued commitment to Him blesses us all.

  6. Thank you for sharing these words with us.
    We each take for granted so many simple
    things in this life, & sharing our stories with
    each other is a way of not only humbling us,
    but also filling us with hope. The work you
    do is clearly touching people (like myself) all
    over Gods great kingdom, which is a miracle
    in itself. Again thank you for sharing! Sending
    you love & respect, & well wishes from Miami.

  7. Hi and blessings. Would it be OK if I gave the web address for your site and used an excerpt from your last post in my next post? Helen from Wildernessjoy

    • Thank you for your comments, Helen. Of course you can use portions of my posts, I’d be honored. I like the name of your blog – only through Christ can we have joy in the wilderness times of our journey.

  8. What a tremendous encouragement you are to so many people. I firmly believe that eternity is going to be upside down from what we experience here on earth. I think that the way we came into the earth from the womb, upside down, was a little wink from God, hinting at how we would go out. The poor, the mourners, the meek, the hungry, the persecuted…will rejoice for all eternity. God bless you.

  9. “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven” 2 Cor. 5.1,2

  10. Your story gives me such hope, Bill. It’s amazing how God has given you more years than the doctors said, He is providing you and Mary with your needs, and is using you to spread hope to others. What a blessing it is that there is technology that helps you communicate and share the gifts God has given you. When I read your “About” page, this thought brings tears to my eyes – “This trial has taught us that the only way to experience genuine and consistent hope, peace and joy in the midst of a trial is to view our life and situation through God’s eyes.” And on the talk, how you’d rather die still believing in a miracle than live not believing in them. Anyway, I am so glad you took time to “like” my post. God has blessed me today and given me hope through you. Thank you! Blessings of grace and strength to you and Mary and your family!

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. I was speaking with my parents about wanting to make a difference in even one life just by being an example. Just by showing God’s love. Right after saying those words my mom noticed that you liked my most recent blog post. I was excited to see someone liked it. So my mom looked at your blog and then excitedly looked at me and said, this guy is writing through technology with his eyes! I was immediately intrigued. I read this blog post and I just started tearing up. I am so inspired by you, your love and devotion to God. And I am so humbled that you read my blog post and liked it. Thank you, Bill. God bless you!

    • Thank you very much for your encouraging message, Mahalah.
      I think our goal and prayer every morning should be to make a positive impact on just one life that day. At the very least that goal and prayer would keep us focused.

  12. Blessings to you my friend. 1 Peter 5:10-11

  13. You are my hero Bill.you inspire me like a mountain top high at church camp when I was a teenager. Or the accumulation of all the best sermons I’ve ever heard. Every time I read one of your posts, I am so blessed!
    Thank you.

    • You always encourage me, Diane. I like the picture in my head of that mountain top church. Thank you for your encouragement.

      • Your interview is amazing. What a wonderful family you have. Your wife is also my hero. You all always look so perfect. When I grow up I want the same kind of faith you guys have. When I get discouraged or frustrated, I just have to replay your interview and keep finding The Lord in that deep place you have. Have you read THe Shack or seen the movie? I know the metaphoric tones bother a lot of believers. I was wondering what your opinion of it was?
        I wish you’d write a book. So many people need the kind of faith you have!

      • Oh, Diane, we all get discouraged and frustrated, don’t be so hard on yourself.
        It’s ironic that you asked me about The Shack because Mary and me were just discussing this. Like others, I have mixed feelings about it. I read the book, but haven’t yet seen the movie. Obviously it’s not based on anything even close Biblical Christianity so that bothers me. Humanizing the Holy Spirit borders on blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and that is the part that I have a check in my spirit about.
        I’ll watch the movie when it comes out on DVD and see.

      • I never thought of that. “Humanizing the Holy Spirit just short of blasphemy” I guess in that sense, it’s a scary thought. I guess I was thinking it was more perhaps like the authors and illustrations that have changed the Bible into children’s Bibles. Maybe? Maybe not quite the same. Or CS Lewis’s The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe? There’s supposed to be a lot of Biblical symbolism in there. But I know you are a studier of the WORD & that’s why I care what you think! And why I asked. I’d heard a story of how The Shack was initially written for the author’s children to help them understand and for their father to try to share with his kids his version of the kind of love God had for them. And it got into different hands that led to it getting published. And supposedly it never was meant for anyone but his kids.
        Of course when the publishers and now Hollywood has gotten a hold of it, its being judged. When I first read the book there were some very hateful threads and it made me so sad how “Christians” talk to each other when they don’t agree. BOTH sides. It’s sad. I loved your answer because in your sweet and thoughtful delivery, it made me think. THAT is how we should always discuss things. I think being in that cave is a bit like the wise owl at the top of the hill who figures out the wisdom of the world. It is a little bit miraculous how when you have the time to have the right attitude, you can paint an entirely different viewpoint for someone else. Even the most closed minds could be opened by your approach.
        I think you should take up politics. 😏

      • Diane, I probably shouldn’t have used the word blasphemy. But, I think I could make a good case for heresy (Belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine). I love how CS Lewis uses a lion to represent Christ, but the Bible kind of gave him permission to do so (Revelation 5:5). And, of course, God has been portrayed as a father figure. I think it’s okay to have Jesus and God represented by humans. But, to me, the Holy Spirit is another matter. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is represented as a dove, oil, water, wine, wind, fire…, but removing the mysterious nature of the Holy Spirit is a step too far. Obviously millions of people disagree with me and that’s OK. Thank you for challenging me to think more about this, my friend.
        As for taking up politics, no way, not in this political environment, I’d lose my religion 🙂
        Have a good weekend.

  14. You never cease to amaze me. Through your own personal trials which would have crushed most people you continue to follow the great commission and encourage others. The willingness of you and your wife to let God use you right where you are so faithfully is such a great witness. Your testimony is building a legacy that proves the Light overtakes the darkness! Peace and Blessings to you. Always a pleasure to “see” you.

  15. You are an amazing man of God. The trial you are in is not noticeable by your faith. Gentle hugs to you and your family. I am going to listen to your interview now.

  16. Reblogged this on I ONCE WAS LOST and commented:
    “Regardless of what we’re going through, we should do our best to carry The Great Commission.”
    AMEN, BILL~AMEN!

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