In the late 1980s, I picked up a book in my favorite ever little bookstore on a side street in York, England. The title of the book was FEAR NO EVIL and the author was David Watson, who was an Anglican minister. He was one of the most in-demand charismatic preachers in Europe at that time because he was unique against the dark backdrop of the religious tradition of his day.
He was at the top of his game, as an athlete would say, and in his own words his schedule of writing, broadcasting, and traveling caused his body to protest. Severe attacks of asthma, which continued unchecked, gave him broken nights and much discomfort. On one tour to Ireland, he developed a very uncomfortable side effect of thrush in his mouth. The steroids aggravated the infection, and the problem grew worse. At that time, he took a trip to California to the ministry of John Wimber, and even after all the wonderful healing ministry, he felt he was losing the battle. The asthma continued, and to add to the growing problems, his legs, and his abdomen began to swell. He looked like a woman seven months pregnant. His shoulders and arms withered into what he called skin and bones. He looked more dead than alive. His schedule for the next two years was canceled, his future ministry was on hold, and David Watson was fighting for his life. This book, FEAR NO EVIL, was given as an autobiography of what he went through after being diagnosed with cancer.
One of the most powerful paragraphs I have ever read was what happened late one night when David Watson cried out to God in the middle of a severe asthma attack. “In my helplessness, I cried out to God to speak to me. I’m not very good at listening to God between two and three a.m. God spoke to me so powerfully and painfully that I never felt so broken (and still do). He showed me that all my preaching, writing, and other ministry was absolutely NOTHING compared to my love-relationship with him. In fact, my sure BUSYNESS HAD SQUEEZED out the close intimacy that I had known with Him.”
God showed David that any ‘LOVE FOR HIM’ meant NOTHING unless he was truly able to love from his heart his brother and sister in Christ. He began to write letters to those he felt he had offended. He still was clinging to physical life when he wrote, “ Whatever happens to me, I am ready to go and be with Christ forever.”
I wanted to share this with you today because everything we can find ourselves going through is merely relative to what others may be going through. Another David wrote long ago, “YEA, THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH, I WILL FEAR NO EVIL; FOR THOU ARE WITH ME.” C.S. Lewis once saw an epitaph on a tombstone:
Here lies an atheist all dressed up with nowhere to go
David Watson said, “The church is the only society on earth that never loses a member through death.” A Russian Christian had this to say about death, “The moment of death will be an inrush of timelessness.”
In 1976, the Lord ask me a similar question to what He told David Watson. He asked me, “Do you love me as much as you love what I have given you to do?” I can take you to the spot where he asked me this question. I realized right then and there that if I loved what He gave me to do more than I loved God, the ministry had become an idol.” It was a moment where God re-routed me, and that was years ago.
“FEAR NO EVIL!”.
Your loving pastors, Cleddie & GayNell