Jeremy…husband of Catherine, father of Ben, Simeon, Tom, Joshua & Lydia. Up until the end of April 2015, he was pastor/vicar of a group of churches on the edge of Exeter in Devon, UK. In early October 2014, aged 48, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, a stage four malignant melanoma presenting as a tumour on his lungs. The usual life expectancy is 8-12 months. Then, in late December 2014, 23 year old Ben suffered a seizure. After prolonged medical care for what was most likely to have been a viral infection affecting his brain, Ben died in April 2015. Jeremy has up until recently seemed to have responded well to pioneering immunotherapy treatments that can extend life, but from September 2016 is now facing the fresh development of brain tumours and potentially now just months to live. On January 27th 2017 Jeremy took his last breath and went to be his Lord and Saviour. The family share their thoughts, feelings and reflections as they taJeremy…husband of Catherine, father of Ben, Simeon, Tom, Joshua & Lydia. Up until the end of April 2015, he was pastor/vicar of a group of churches on the edge of Exeter in Devon, UK. In early October 2014, aged 48, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, a stage four malignant melanoma presenting as a tumour on his lungs. The usual life expectancy is 8-12 months. Then, in late December 2014, 23 year old Ben suffered a seizure. After prolonged medical care for what was most likely to have been a viral infection affecting his brain, Ben died in April 2015. Jeremy has up until recently seemed to have responded well to pioneering immunotherapy treatments that can extend life, but from September 2016 is now facing the fresh development of brain tumours and potentially now just months to live. On January 27th 2017 Jeremy took his last breath and went to be with his Lord and Saviour. The family share their thoughts, feelings and reflections as they take this painful and unexpected journey.

img_0027There’s a curious blend of increasing inertia and yet deepening quietness that’s coalescing inside me at the moment. On the one hand, I’m so conscious of numbers of important and mainly family related things that I’m needing to do, one by one. It’s partly and largely spurred on by the five consecutive days of radiotherapy starting next Monday, 26th September. I’m aware that my cognitive functions, including concentration and memory, will likely be effected by it. There may also be some collateral damage caused to the wider area as the beam can’t be focussed too narrowly…a point for prayer. 

Consequently, a number of things lay at the front of my mind to sort.

But at the same time, aware that the cancer, particularly the tumours in my brain, seem to be progressing, I’m finding myself just more than ever, pressing into God – resting back into Christ – more and more “drawing deeper from the wells of salvation” and the resources He’s wonderfully provided for all who come to Him, remembering Jesus words, so familiar to so many…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Last week, though, had some tough reckonings to deal with. On Wednesday, Simeon had a reasonably serious motorbike accident and broke his pelvis, as well as pretty much writing off his bike. He’s now out of hospital and back at his flat with good friends tending to him, but he’ll be incapacitated for 6-8 weeks. His beloved, reasonably new, bike was only insured third party, so he’s pretty devastated.

img_4070

Jeremy having the head restraint mould taken

Then, the following day, I was measured up for the head mask/restraint that I’ll wear during the radiotherapy next week. While there, I managed to spend some time with Andy Goodman, my oncologist. It was one of those sessions where I needed to ask him some straight questions, and Andy, so helpfully and carefully sat with me. My main question was time. Now that the tumours have reached my brain, what, from his experience is the likely time left? His very gentle responses…with no radiotherapy, maybe three months. With radiotherapy hoping for palliative effects, six months. If, though, the radiotherapy has the effect of bump starting the brain into taking the pembrolizumab (aka keytruda) on board, who knows. But I got Andy to reconfirm that he’s seeing that the drug is showing signs of becoming less effective around my body, so it’s therefore unlikely to have any effects in my head.

I guess, from the previous week’s news, I knew it already, but the sobering nature of the specifics of the timings, hit me again. It was a somewhat surreal experience then to walk from the Oncology Department into the Trauma & Orthopaedic Ward to see Simeon – to walk into his situation with my information. Strangely though, his has proved to be a useful distraction to allow mine to slowly sink in.

That night, as Catherine arrived home from the sanctuary that school is for her, we sat and talked it all through. The tears for both of us flowed. And then, later in the evening, I rang my sweet sister Anna in New Zealand and, again, with emotions fully exposed, shared it with her. I needed her to go round to Ma and Pa’s to tell them face to face. Phone, FaceTime or Skype wouldn’t do. That was for the next day.

And so here…here I am. Here we are. I’m feeling – more or less – as well as ever. In a bizarre new twist, I’m going off to the local gym five days a week for an hour. It feels great for this one who, to quote my late best man, Nigel Clarke, in his speech at my wedding,

“At school, Jeremy had the most amazing ability to avoid any form of physical exertion whatsoever”

Young plant

But all the while, I’m conscious – and more than ever – that I’m living with a reality that is drawing in. But in that reality there are possibilities that I don’t dismiss or ignore. Pressing into Christ, on those many promises He’s made to those who love and trust Him, provides Hope (capitalised deliberately) of the fullest kind. I’ve been stirred constantly by the Old Testament story of King Hezekiah from Isaiah 36 & 37. I won’t tell the whole story here (but if you click here you can read it) but suffice to say it tells of a major threat of disaster he, as King of Judah in Jerusalem, received from the marauding Assyrian emperor, Sennacherib. It’s initially verbal. But Hezekiah, after an initial grief reaction, tearing his clothes, seeks God, and receives through the prophet Isaiah, God’s stirring, strengthening response. By the time then a written threat arrives from Sennacherib, Hezekiah is calmed and ready. He walks into the temple, spreads the letter out before God and effectively says, “You, Lord Almighty are God, maker of everything, and over everything and are the only God, and God over all. See what this man is saying, insulting. You’re God, not him. Over to you” . St Paul writes that one of the reasons that Old Testament events were written down was that they were to serve as examples and warnings for us. And as the account of Hezekiah runs on, it’s spine tingling, and has provided me with such encouragement as to what God has done, what He can do, but more than that, who He is in the face of any danger, threat or loss for any of us. It’s not necessarily promising me deliverance from this cancer, but it is reminding me that something – Someone – else has the final word. And that Someone was the same One who stood in full glory after His resurrection from the dead and said,

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

Of course, it’s the Lord Jesus Christ. The final Word.   

As life moves along each day, He’s giving us a ‘normality’ and peace. It’s been great having Tim & Kathryn Handley with us from New Zealand, both here as journeying friends, and acting as my driver and our help around the home. We returned Tom to Cardiff for his final year last week and Lydia heads off to her college placement at a local children’s nursery each day. Joshua prepares to head off to Moorlands Bible College in a couple of weeks…do please read the new piece he’s written on the column alongside this one. It so encouraged me.

All the while, I find myself both drawn and drawing deeper, during the day (sometimes in the early morning hours, lying in bed) in prayer, in worship, seeking to deliberately “practise His presence”, as things move on.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you”

And He is.

   

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Comments on: "“Drop Thy Still Dews of Quietness….”" (44)

  1. Micky Watson said:

    Bless you, Jeremy, you have used this time of trial so well and have been and are, a great blessing, encouragement and example to countless people, far beyond all those who love and care for you and your precious family. Your thoughts are uplifting and enlightening for us all, I am so grateful. With love and prayers, Micky x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear all of you,
    Your recent update seemed to trigger the many harsh realities so many are facing.Sometimes,I see you as the lone gladiator in a vast arena, other times there are many? Cloud of witnesses free now from previous struggles,but some very much in this life,with their spiritual armour on but often needing help as parts seem to wear out or even fall of. Everyone so bravely vulnerable. Poor Simeon,bike,pelvis and cash flow all at one go! But your other news is safe and normally comfortable despite the dismal gray background. I am enjoying a short recuperative Baltic cruise. Bob at home because of rotten hip due for surgery but before that some open heart surgery on Oct 20th Not very very serious but I could still be looking at widowhood. A great Bible ref “And it came to pass” and it all will.
    Loving thoughts to you all.
    Laura p.p.Bob.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Jeremy,
    I have followed your blog for a while and found great encouragement and dare I say beauty in your words.
    May you continue to know and abide in His infinite peace.
    – Dapo

    Like

    • Jeremy Clark said:

      Dapo…even though we’ve not (knowingly?) met, it’s amazing and wonderful to know you walking along side us like this. Thank you.

      Like

  4. Standing on the promises.
    It was with deep sadness that I read this blog, dear, dear Jeremy. But as I read through, it should not have come as a surprise to find myself being reminded of My Saviour, who I long to feel closer to, who reached me through music as a child, now the near perfect words flood back as these hymns and choruses are lodged I’m my memory bank for when needed.
    I ended up singing from my childhood as usual,
    Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
    Though eternal ages let his praises ring
    Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
    Standing on the promises of God.
    Standing, standing,
    Standing on the promises of God my Saviour,
    Standing, standing,
    I’m standing on the promises of God.
    Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
    When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
    By the living word of God, I shall prevail,
    Standing on the promises of God.
    Jeremy, Catherine and family we are all standing on those promises right now.
    Thank you as usual for your honesty Jeremy,
    Catherine we are here for you, you are a tremendous inspiration to all and loved dearly.
    Ben, we miss you, see you soon, in the twinkling of an eye.
    Simeon, we continue to pray you through this horrible time, use this time when you have to be still, wisely!!
    Tom work and play hard.
    Joshua, thoughts love and prayers as you go to college, maybe see you tomorrow, in Hotel Howarth.
    Lydia, may your little charges and your colleagues, see Your Jesus in you.
    Sorry I think I wrote a mini sermon there!!
    Much love Yvonne. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Helen Sinclair said:

    Dear Jeremy and Catherine
    We’ll be praying for your next radiotherapy sessions which obviously have a variety of possible outcomes. Whatever eventuates we know you are in the very best of hands, those of your loving Heavenly Father. I hope Simeon’s recovery will be as speedy as possible although not something to be rushed.
    Love to you all. Helen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeremy Clark said:

      Thanks, Helen. We’re so grateful to know. Email change noted. I’ve removed the last part of the message from the blog to avoid unwanted spam for you! J

      Like

  6. beginningwithmoses said:

    Our thoughts and prayers with you from a distance. Appreciating, as always, your openness and honest faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rev Simeon Damdar said:

    Oh Dear Jeremy and Catherine, may you continue to have the Inner Peace and Assurance which we have all been challenged by you in so much pains and sufferings. Tears and Prayers have been the comfort as we journey in your Pilgrimages.
    Some time ago, at LCM, MY INNER ME, commanded my Outer Me, and I found myself in a Cemetery , in South West London. I walked around, read Epitaphs, but at one Tomb, my attention was held for quite some time as I gazed and pondered. The ground around me was damp and the sticky grass clung to the soles of my Footwear pasted firmly by some mud.

    I left there eventually, on the manicured pathway….from the Tomb of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and I saw instead “Foot Prints on the Sands of Time”.

    My Dear Jeremy, it reminds me of “Lives of Great Men all remind us, We can make our lives Sublime,
    Leaving on the Path behind us, FOOT PRINTS on the Sands of Time.”

    You and Catherine together with your family are an exceeding great Testimony to the Saving and Keeping Power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Your Lives are impacting many.
    Our Prayerful concerns are also for Simeon and trust he will recover soon from the Motor Cycle Accident.
    Shalom and Father’s continued Blessing.

    Simeon and Dharamdai.

    At this time we pray for Simeon’s Recovery from the recent Motor Cycle Accident.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeremy Clark said:

      Ah, dear Simeon, my brother and mentor. You’ll never know the special place in my heart you have. The investment you placed in me all those years ago at the London City Mission helped me know Christ better and love his Word. Thanks to you both for the ongoing friendship and encouragement. Much love. J

      Like

  8. Thank you so much for your courage in sharing your trials. I know they will be a great comfort to anyone in a similar situation. May you know the peace of God that passes all understanding. With love in Christ. Kate Reed

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Rob Vincent said:

    John Piper wrote some time back “don’t waste your cancer” which was a compelling, provoking and faith building statement. Jeremy you are not wasting yours! Your honesty, vulnerability and reality is, and will continue, to be a life sustaining source of encouragement to many. Well done good and faithful servant because your remaining has been for the progress and joy of many many people. Respect, love, admiration to you both! Praying for you brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tricia and John said:

    Jeremy,
    We are continuing to pray for you, as are our friends, and we look forward to seeing you in a few short weeks time. Love to all your family,
    Tricia and John

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Diane Fraser said:

    …but God… xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Barnes Home said:

    Prayers continue with yours. Yes Joshua is another profound Clark writer! Grace and peace Bob n Libby

    Sent from my iPod

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Alison and Peter said:

    Jeremy you are amazing . God bless you. Love and hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Steven Marshall said:

    I know it sounds odd, Jeremy, but I do enjoy your posts. So full of faith and acceptance, it is inspirational.
    Love and prayers from us.
    Steven & Diana Marshall
    Christchurch

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Peter Benge said:

    god bless you jeremy xxx

    helen b

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Shirley Bebbington said:

    You guys are in my thoughts. You are the most amazing family, it was so lovely to see you the other week. please send my love to Simeon too. sorry to hear about him and his bike XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeremy Clark said:

      Thanks, Shirley. I think it’s just lovely that, every now and again, we just run into you in some random place…as if God just arranges it, just for old times sake, keeping our connection, including yours with Ben and us, alive and real. Thanks for what you are to us, what you were to Ben.

      Like

  17. Dear Jeremy, thank you for letting us see into your journey in this way. You are much in minds and hearts here in the Arkell home, both grieving for you and your family and egging you on in our prayers as you (all) ‘press into Christ’. Really sorry to hear about Simeon. With our love, John & Kate

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Peter Benge said:

    walked the dog by the hutt river after reading your latest blog and there was the most enormous rainbow – made me very mindful of you xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jeremy, you are such a man of courage my brother – and thank you for bravely taking us on this journey. I was also really impressed by your son Joshua’s words – what tremendous maturity and trust. I wondered if I might come down and see you sometime this week or next? God bless you and keep you. Here is a verse that has been very meaningful to me… Isaiah 26:3

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Caroline Colin said:

    Praying in humility. With love Caroline

    Liked by 1 person

  21. The sun comes up
    It’s a new day dawning
    It’s time to sing Your song again
    Whatever may pass
    And whatever lies before me
    Let me be singing
    When the evening comes

    Bless the Lord oh my soul
    Oh my soul
    Worship His Holy name
    Sing like never before
    Oh my soul
    I’ll worship Your Holy name – let there be 10,000 reasons for our hearts to find

    Thinking and praying for you tomorrow
    God bless and love
    Tim Tracey Hannah Rosie

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Jim & Sandra Robb said:

    Bless you Jeremy. Your updates – as difficult as they must be – are much appreciated & continue to be a huge inspiration to many back here in Christchurch. Be assured that you’re all very much in our thoughts & prayers. As Leslie Brandt puts in in his paraphrase of Psalm 46 “Relax, stop fretting and remember that I am still your God. I still hold the reigns of this world. God is here among us. He continues to be our refuge and strength”.

    Our blessings & best wishes to all

    Jim & Sandra Robb

    Liked by 1 person

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