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Footsteps to Follow: I used to say; now I say

Romans 5:1-5 states: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, 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 boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (NIV).

Believing my whole life to have faith in God allowed me to have discernment for eternal life.

As our children grew up and moved out, and my husband and I became empty-nesters, I became very aware that time was ticking away on our life clock. I thought to myself, “I do not fear death, but wonder what is around the corner for me.” I thought I had reasoned through that process until the “corner” arrived.

In December 1996, I had what appeared to be a runny nose from a cold. This symptom continued for many days. Then I visited an ear, nose and throat specialist who took a sample of the fluid. The results were shocking. It was cerebral spinal fluid leakage from my left nostril. After more tests, I was sent to a neurosurgeon.

It took two surgeries the week of December 7, 1996, to repair the problem, which included a craniotomy and a lumbar shunt placed in my back. I was now having an unforeseeable experience and learning some of what was around the “corner.”

It happened so fast that I did not even have time to realize what was going on. I know I never prayed as the “corner” had me so dumbfounded. I just followed what and where they told me to do and go next.

I found out later that I was surrounded by prayers from my family, friends, and the members of my home church, First United Methodist Church, Muncy.

The word spread quickly that I was having a craniotomy. Many other congregations placed me on their prayer request lists. I could feel the Holy Spirit supporting me from all the prayers. I simply focused totally on the preparations I needed to make for the surgery and left the praying to others.

Friends, that is what it is all about: helping your neighbors. I have now recovered and have become a certified lay minister. I tell my Unityville United Methodist Church Charge parishioners that neighbors are not just the people next-door. That means everybody. People we come in contact with, whether we know them or they are strangers, are our neighbors.

Well, I was better for a while, but I required more surgery later. Eventually the “corner” got wider because the leakage started again. A total of eight surgeries were completed in the 15 years that followed, but I had no fear after the first craniotomy because God had proven He was beside me for each one.

The “corner” and fear has dissipated because my faith in God is stronger. God walked me right through that fear with the help of prayers from lots of known and unknown prayer warriors.

I am happy to report that I am doing great since 2011.

Now I say, “My favorite word is hope.” That is thanks to the Romans 5:1-5 scripture. The “corners” don’t have to be frightening, but they can be filled with faith and perseverance, character, hope, and God’s love.

Pastor Kathy F. Burkhart, certified lay minister, Unityville United Methodist Church Charge

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