Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

A Pilgrim Arrives Home

Posted: February 11, 2013 in Christian
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This post was written by Pastor Matthew whom Nick affectionately called PM. Matthew spent six years as Nick’s youth pastor and since his graduation has been proud to call Nick a friend. It has been written upon the request of Nick’s family.

 

 

Life is a journey. That has clearly been what Nick intended to write about here on The Pilgrim Man. The journey he was on as he fought cancer. The journey he was on as He pursued God’s plan for his life. The journey he was on to make a difference in this world. Yet, every journey ultimately has a destination. Nick defined his destination as one day being with his Lord Jesus Christ forever.

While the pain resides with those of us that remain, Nick reached the end of his journey on January 31, 2013. Though we cry and intensely feel the loss, in that moment Nick laid aside all his suffering and experienced the healing he has desired to receive. He has reached the goal. He is now residing pain free with the Lord for eternity.

On behalf of the family, I would like to thank everyone that has prayed for Nick and supported him through this time. Even though his blog here was short in duration, we have been blessed to discover that it was touching lives around the world. Sometimes, as we found out, it was even touching lives of people in the same hospital that had no idea he was just down the hall. As the family is going through Nick’s writings, they are finding things that they will be posting here from time to time that will hopefully challenge and encourage you.

May you be blessed as you continue your journey through life and prayerfully you will make the decision, as Nick did, to make Christ your ultimate destination.

http://www.vindy.com/news/tributes/2013/feb/02/nick-ree/

In my room, hanging beside the window just above a desk, hangs a painting. Now, whether it is a real painting or not, I do not know, it could just be a simple, computer-made print out. As for the artist, if there is a real one, I do not know that either. But I do know that I enjoy this painting very much. It depicts a rocky coast, with waves crashing up against the boulders, ocean-spray being flung into the air. All the colors are very dark, deep blues. You can clearly see to the left the dismal openness of the ocean, with heavy, rain-filled clouds bearing down on it. There are even some scattered sea birds who probably got lost and are now stuck in this dreadful gale.

Sounds like a lovely picture, doesn’t it? No, not really. However, I didn’t describe what is in the middle of the painting. Up in the corner the clouds break and a strong shaft of light pierces through the storm and, it seems, where it hits the water, there is calm. Now, there is no sun, and you can just barely make out some sky, but it is there; the light.

I purchased this piece of art for cheap at a garage sale several years ago and ever since then I have never been able to take my eyes off of it. It is possible to draw up an appropriate metaphor because, to me at least, it screams to be explained in comparison to my own life; the hard waters, the troubles of life, the shaft of light, the hope in Jesus. I could go on.

Even though the eye is naturally drawn to the beam of light, I’ve come to a point in my relationship with the picture when sometimes, especially recently, I look first to the daunting sea and oppressive waves and to them, I just stare. I know I shouldn’t because to fixate on that instead of the light seems almost wrong.

The past few weeks have been rather difficult. And I can tell you that every fiber of my body wants to look to the sea, instead of looking to the sky. But I can say without a degree of difficulty that there will always be a beam of light waiting to shine down, a ray of hope to take you out of the despair if you trust and obey. Paul knew what it was like to be in despair, especially as he wrote in prison to the Christians in Rome. He said,

“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has lured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given.”    -Romans 5:1-5

No matter how bleak the storm may seem, there is a hope. Hope in an everlasting peace, a peace that gives us what we need, even though our problems will not all but dissolve. But never forget this because it is easy to say when everything is peachy. Try saying it in the lowest valley. You may be surprised to find that you won’t spend that much time down there, after all. God bless.

-Nick

Many years ago, a young and aspiring artist named Johnny Cash wrote a catchy little diddy called “Walk The Line”. Although simple in lyrics, Cash expressed the difficulty he faced everyday but emphasised it was all for his love, his wife (funny thing, he was doing drugs and adulterous-type things when he first began singing this song). A line from the song goes, “Because your mine, I walk the line.” I suppose, in some ways this is a perfect idea of what I face. It is the idea of doing the noble thing but also being very close to oblivion. It is also this tension between what we ought to do and what we are tempted with or even what we want to do instead. But while Cash sung for his wife, I face the temptation of insanity.

Insanity? Really?

Yes, after years of my body being beat and faith being tested, I believe I have reached a point where the intensity of all that this has created gave way to a perfect opportunity to give in to the sweet callings of nothingness. Where I am the center of my own little world and where the putrid smell of death lingers in my nostrils. Of course, on my darkest of days this is where my demons come out to play, to play with my mind and my heart.

They call out, “what’s the point of living? You’re going to die anyway, your parents standing over your cold, hard body. Just give in, worm food, you are what matters most right now in your life, right? Just end it all and get out of this pain-ridden world. Trust us, it’s the best. No more cancer, no more doctors, no more chemotherapy, no anguish, no more nights of weeping.”

Usually, attacks like these come when the night is the darkest, when my mind is the weakest, and where evil smells blood. But even now, I think, ‘How do I ever survive such nights?’ A curious notion, to be sure. But I do. It’s not like I know the process, but it eventually ends in the LORD. I suppose the darkness begins it’s regression when I just cry out, ‘God, where are You? Why have you left me here to die?’ He replies, as He always does, with a loving and patient answer. He has already promised healing in my body, a life of ministry, and His own Word (You can read about this promise more in the previous post). And the funniest thing happens: after I get over my “dur” moment of “oh yeah, I should’ve known that”, a spiritual comfort envelopes me and I eventually drift off to a peaceful sleep. It is times like these that keep me from the edge, from crossing the line.

So, in a way, I, like Cash, walk the line constantly; a battle between a sane, life in Christ or a mindless, suicidal, insane existence of all my own, dipped in pure evil. Some of you, especially if you’ve walked down similar paths, may relate to such intense barrages of the enemy. Or, perhaps you’ve never experienced such things. But that’s okay. We all have our own battles, at different levels, at different times. But God has made a universal promise to everyone who believes in Him, regardless of our unique paths, that He is with us. His Word says:

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for the darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:7-12

So no matter what line you may be walking, He is there. It is only by the power of God that I can stand tall and full of life, not bent over my knees, drooling onto the ground. I pray that if you, the reader, have never experienced this awesome and life-giving power, that you will find it. Find me on Facebook and send me a message if you’d like to know more. If you feel like you are skirting that edge, that line, all you have to do is reach out your hand in faith and there He will be. God bless.

-Nick

Having cancer is not necessarily a bad thing. Having cancer and not knowing Jesus is a bad thing. And through this blog, I intend to prove why.

I was fourteen when the nasty thing struck. Just ending my eighth year of schooling and having thoughts of joining the track team the school year after, even though I’ve never played any sports. It first started as a tumor in my right knee (medically speaking, the distal end of the femur). I started having some pain there and brushed it off as growing pains or maybe something I did in gym class. But by the time the pain disabled me to where I could not walk, I finally went to the doctor’s for scans. The news came fast and hard, that I had a cancerous lump in me, and after being juggled about by a few doctors, I finally came to the oncologist who told me that I had stage four aevoular rhabdomyosarcoma. And the icing on the cake was that I only had 20-30% chance to outlive this thing.

I did. In June of 2008, just a few weeks shy of my sixteenth birthday and over a year since I was diagnosed, God reached His hand down and preformed what we call the miraculous during a youth group missions trip in Toledo, Ohio. A biopsy a week later confirmed that the original tumor, plus two other metastasises (spots where cancer has spread), were completely gone. That day that He healed me, He also gave me the promise that I would be healed and cancer free until the day when I go to meet Him. He also gave me this word as His promise:

“I will not die but live and proclaim what the LORD has done” Psalm 118:17

I returned to high school, graduated, and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to study ministry at North Central University.  I returned home after my freshman year there with a very familiar and devastating pain in my right knee. It seems, as they told me, that the massive amounts of radiation I received during my bout with the Big ‘C’ caused another Big ‘C’ to return to the area. This one they called osteosarcoma. That was last spring and since then I have had my share, again, of chemotherapy and also amputation and multiple sites of mets (metastasises). I have to look forward to is a major surgery on my lower abdomen after Thanksgiving, another surgery before Christmas, and 6-7 weeks of straight radiation after the New Year.

With this first step, I hope to document all that will happen, physically and spiritually, with hopes that you, someone you know, or anyone will find the hope that I see in this evil existence; where Satan means to kill, Jesus means to have life.

If interested, you can do a multiple of things. You can subscribe directly to this blog with your email and receive updates or follow me on Twitter with the username, @TheCzarNicholas, both of which you can find on the side of this page. Please tell your friends and family, it will be greatly appreciated. God bless.

-Nick