Taking refuge under His wings

First published 28th February 2015

Some six years on from diagnosis, the pathology results suggest the cancers are still there, but to me and I am not in some false denial they have just become numbers.

eagle crop

I set my heart on becoming a doctor at the age of 12 years. I missed a lot of the grounding school work through ill health so was dealt a crushing blow when exploring my options with the Careers Master who told me to choose something I was capable of doing rather than medicine.



Steely determination won through, and I made it through medical school, but at the price of a great deal of stress and anxiety - and unawareness that God's hand was on my life.

At the age of 30, I had a profound Road to Damascus type of conversion and now I realise how different all those years of medical school, training and early work as a GP might have been. But in spite of my faith, negative words spoken over me still shaped my behaviour of insecurity.

In 2009, I was diagnosed with two co-existing cancers an uncommon form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and aggressive prostate cancer. The oncologist projected a survival time of two to five years. More negative words.

There were two near misses, firstly with severe haemorrhaging after surgery resulting in further trips to the operating theatre and an induced coma in ITU in Bristol. Then, four days after getting home, I suffered a medical collapse in the A&E in Swindon due to sepsis and spent an uncomfortable night tilted head down as the medics attempted to maintain an adequate blood supply to my brain. Perhaps my friends would say those attempts failed!

Feeling the life ebbing out of me and only too aware of the precarious circulatory observations, I had an incredible sense of peace and awareness of God's presence.

On medical retirement I was labelled as unable to offer regular and effective service. Hardly the most encouraging end to a career of just under 40 years.

Gradually the fight and strength started to return and I managed my first evening Christian meeting. A visiting lady with a trusted ministry in prophecy looked at me and said, You are not going to die. God's still got work for you to do. But this time, it will come from the inside out - what God is going to put in you. What more encouragement could I need?

I am so grateful for all the prayer I have had over the years. I have been especially prone to recurrent chest infections and the enemy delights in encouraging doubts to creep in. I am so grateful too for precious verses of scripture. During many nights I have discovered in a real way what the Psalmist meant to take refuge under His wings (Psalm 91). And Proverbs 3 really did take on a new and deep meaning as I learnt to trust in my Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own (medical!) understanding.

Some six years on from diagnosis, the pathology results suggest the cancers are still there, but to me and I am not in some false denial they have just become numbers. And I believe it is only God who will tell me when my number is up.

Our parish verse for 2015 is Isaiah 40:31:

But those who wait for the


shall renew their strength,

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.

There have been so many times in recent years when I have waited with patient expectation and the Lord has renewed my strength.

I am so encouraged by the signs of spiritual re-awakening I see in my adopted town of Swindon and this is such an exciting journey to be on.



Martin worships at Christ Church in Swindon



Contemplate now

In what way would you want your strength renewed? Pray for this now.

Spend a moment remembering or imagining the peace of God's presence.

In what ways could God re-awaken your community?


Meditate today

Be conscious of words you come across today; their power to shape insecurity and their power to affirm life.

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