One year ago today I got a phone call that felt like someone had just punched me right in the gut. “Mark died this morning.” She said. I was stunned. It took a while for it to sink in because this was not the outcome I had expected.
Mark had kidney cancer that went crazy and took over his body. He battled for nearly two years with this evil stuff.
Mark fought his battle fiercely and with courageous hope. There really isn’t any other way to have hope other than the courageous kind. Mark was the epitome of a man with courageous hope.
One of Mark’s lifetime slogans was from the film Braveheart.
“Every man dies, but not every man Really Lives”
Mark was a man who truly LIVED. During the last several months of his life, Mark decided that this cancer was from the devil and not from God. (Because cancer is most definitely from the devil). He decided that God wanted to heal him and he began to seek God. During the course of seeking God as if his life depended on it, Mark re-discovered who his Jesus was and that his Jesus had died not just for his sins but for his disease and that Jesus wanted to heal Mark. In his search for healing of his body Mark found a healing for his heart and soul, which led him to a deeper love relationship with God that transformed him. Mark realized that he had a role in partnering with God to see God’s will done and His kingdom come.
In what some people thought might have been foolish or unnecessary Mark went in search of where God was moving and he went there to be a part of the move God was doing. It brought him to healing school in Miami, to Bethel Church in Redding California and to International House of Prayer in Kansas City. At each location Mark had radical encounters with God and healing prayer. He would bring all he could back to us here. There was a group of us who had been hungry for God, hungry to see God move, seeking to abandon a powerless brand of Christianity for a powerful one. Mark was paving the way for us and we began to contend for his healing with everything we had. We began to seek God’s face with more authenticity and fervor than ever before. Throughout the process we were all being changed. We believed in hope and faith that Mark would be healed.
When the reports came that would discourage, Mark would ask the tough questions and then choose to believe God’s report over man’s. He would say, “My God doesn’t recognize my diagnosis. It is not about great faith, but faith in a great God!” When people thought he was crazy he went for it anyway. One day my husband said to him, “You know as we have been praying for more of God, I realize in the scriptures sometimes more of God meant some kooky stuff!” to which Mark responded, “Well then I choose to be kooky if that is what more of God looks like.”
Mark fought for a freedom in the Spirit and a passion in prayer that was bushwhacking down the overgrowth of years of powerless, cynical Christianity. He was a mighty warrior in God’s kingdom and the fruit of his labor has not been completely reaped yet.
Mark faced his disease with a courage and determination like I’ve never seen. He fought until the last minute, not cowering in the darkness but beaming the light of hope through the valley of the shadow of death, saying, “Hope is joyful anticipation of something good!” I’m living with hope today. How about you?”
Mark lived a life of great service to others. Even as he was dying of cancer he was still serving the community and the church where he served as a pastor. His last breaths were those filled with hope for those around him.
Mark and everyone who was praying for him in faith really believed he would be healed. But he wasn’t. There is no rhyme or reason. God did not cause Mark’s cancer. Cancer is always from hell. Sometimes we pray and heaven comes to earth and God heals. Sometimes we pray and it doesn’t. I don’t know why. I have decided that if 100% of our prayers were answered then we would be in heaven. So not everyone gets healed while we are here on earth. But we keep praying, we keep praying for His will to be done and His Kingdom to come here on earth just as it is in Heaven. We do not cower at the threats of the evil one who seeks to devour us but we press on with courageous hope and pray for the sick to be healed.
Now here is where I might ruffle feathers but I like to do that sometimes. I believe it was not God’s will for Mark to die. It was a battle we lost. If I believe it was God’s will for him to die when he did then I would have to believe that God gave him cancer and God most certainly did not give him cancer. There is no disease in God’s kingdom, disease is not from God. We have to make sure we understand this. We sometimes misunderstand God’s sovereignty and we forget what world we are living in. God did not take Mark from us. But he received Mark with loving arms.
Mark lived with courageous hope and I know his hope was not disappointed one bit. Ours and especially the hope of his family were greatly disappointed. But the scriptures promise us if we trust and hope in God then we will not be disappointed or put to shame. So I believe that through all the disappointment God can turn it for our good and redeem it. I can see how Mark’s life and death has impacted me for God’s kingdom.
One of the many courageously hopeful things Mark said in his “Ramblings” he would send out was this:
“Making sense of today takes your faith off the hook, making sense of today gives God a way out.. Making sense today gives Satan the victory…Everyday Satan tries to remind me that my cancer is winning. Every day Satan tries to remind me that my God didn’t really mean what he said. Every day Satan declares that cross wasn’t sufficient for my cancer. But by faith I rebuke his lies and declare God’s truth. If today I give in and begin to make sense of my death, then he wins. If today I begin to bring closure, then I admit defeat. If today I accept those emails of those of you trying to make sense, then I stop having faith.
Therefore, please don’t send me an email trying to make sense of my life “if” I die of cancer. This may sound harsh but I refuse to hear it right now. Instead, I challenge you to stand with me and walk by faith. I challenge you to live in the supernatural with the promises of God in mind. I challenge you to pray Jesus’ prayer and expect his kingdom and his will in heaven to be done today. I challenge you to be a “fool” for Christ!”
If you knew Mark please leave a comment below that speaks of the courageous hope you saw in him.
If you want to read more about Mark click here for the website his daughter made in his memory.