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Colin Holmes was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) last year. But rather than "drifting into self-pity", he says the experience has drawn him closer to God. His take on MND has been to use the initials for 'Making New Discoveries' about God, life and himself. Here, he explains how the scriptures have become especially precious as God speaks personally to him
In February last year I was away in Australia when I noticed my left foot was beginning to stomp around. By July, I'd been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), which was a bit of a shock.
It's been pretty aggressive, and I'm now at a point where I'm bedridden and experiencing increasing muscle loss. MND wastes all your muscles and becomes a respiratory problem, meaning the diaphragm can't work.
When discharged from hospital following a chest infection in April, I was given 3-4 weeks to live, but I am still alive! I have an active mind and appreciate visits from friends and family.
Each day, I have 1000 choices. I can either drift down into self pity (which will be a dark road in the end) or I can just accept it and actually thank God for my condition. There is a verse in the Bible that talks about "the outward body perishing, but the inward man being renewed day by day". (2 Corinthians 4:16) And in an incredible way, I am experiencing that.
I have learned to put into practice something Paul said to a young, first generation Christian. He said: "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17) I believe that, and I embrace that.
Obviously I wish I didn't have this. I even prayed the prayer that Jesus prayed: "Father, take this cup..." - take this MND - "...from me. Nevertheless, not what I want, but your will be done." (Luke 22:42)
I have no complaints or criticisms of God. I've just discovered how much he loves me. And it's fantastic.
I became a Christian many years ago as a result of reading a booklet that was given to me by somebody. I'd never been to a church or read the Bible. My obsession was football - that was my God. And I read this verse from the Bible in this booklet. And I said, "God, if this is real, I want it". My life was totally changed from that moment.
Because of my condition, I'm totally helpless. I sometimes hold Ruth, my wife, and I feel like I'm hugging God, because I see God's love in her. She has become an angel sent from God to help me through these months. I'm learning so much more about God, about how much he loves me. And it is as though he's filling up all the gaps in my life. Before I became a Christian I remember saying to myself, "What is life? Is it just going to school and going to work? Life's boring." There was an emptiness. And God has filled that gap. I'm incredibly grateful.
Over the years, my theology has probably been reduced to one word. And that's love.
God is also merciful and righteous. But to me, he isn't just the creator of the universe, he wants to personally relate to us, which he did, of course, by sending Jesus. I am constantly throughout the day, focusing on Jesus as the shepherd, as my fortress, as the lamb, as the lion - so many wonderful images. And I will sometimes go through phrases of scripture and just think about them. I'm so glad that my mind is not affected and I'm able to recall, and remember scripture.
Ruth is constantly reading to me from the scriptures, when I have those moments of sudden panic, and fear that overcomes me. I say, "God, please help me." And he does.
Paul talks about bringing "every thought into captivity, to the Lordship of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). I have thousands of thoughts and I am constantly filtering them into the Lordship of Christ. I don't allow negative thoughts to settle in my heart and head. I have the choice. And I'm glad God gives me the ability to choose the right things.
I try not to think of the future, it doesn't worry me. I'm happy. Now, obviously, I don't know how long I've got. My original prognosis was up to three years. But it can vary. I might be gone by the autumn. I might still be around in two years. But I don't worry about heaven. I know it's there for me. I'm living in the now.
I've had moments in my life, where God has touched me, and poured out the purest love I have ever experienced. He died for me. He rose from the dead. He's forgiven me. He's promised to protect me and be with me. It's just so amazing. What would we be without him?
Colin Holmes studied at Moorlands Bible College and went on to work in Hampshire as an evangelist with Counties Evangelistic Work. This led to a pastoral ministry, most recently with Epsom Baptist Church. His gifts of evangelism, teaching and encouragement were a great help in strengthening numerically and spiritually several churches that were struggling.
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