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"If everything is not working, will I even know?"
We have had abundant evidence that God has been with us every step of the way—when we succeeded and when we failed.
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"Is Everything Still Working?"
by Gail Fenter

    My radiation doctor waved his hand in the general direction of my head and asked, "Is everything still working?" It took me a moment to realize that he wanted to know if I could still think clearly after the first nine of thirty scheduled radiation treatments to my brain. The thought that went through my head was, "If everything is not working, will I even know?".

    On December 4, 1996, following two episodes where I lost all ability to speak for a short time, the doctors found that I had a mass in my brain. On December 7, a glioblastoma multiforme tumor was surgically removed in Dallas. I learned that this type of tumor is the most aggressive of the malignant brain tumors and that the median survival rate, with treatment, is 10-12 months. The full impact of the change that has occurred in my life since December 4 has been hard to grasp.

    My husband, Randy, is the pulpit minister for the Golf Course Road Church of Christ in Midland, Texas, which is a congregation of about 1,500 members. We have two lovely daughters, ages 15 and 11, and, besides being wife, mother and the "preacher's wife" (a title always loved and been proud of), I have worked outside the home for the last three years as an attorney. Our family's life together has been busy, loving, fun, abundantly blessed, and (as many have told me through the years) almost too good to be true.

    Since I learned of my condition, a myriad of emotions, thoughts and questions have swirled over and around me. I have had periods of overwhelming grief at the thought of leaving my family—followed by times of unbelievable sweetness as I have read cards and letters from dear friends and realized how blessed I have been with cherished relationships. Dark hours of the night spent in tears and terror of the unknown future have preceded peaceful hours spent counting blessings as Randy and I relive our favorite vacations and tease the girls about childhood memories. Randy and I have spent hours of furious activity researching cancer treatments, alternatives to traditional medicine, and dietary plans. And we have spent hours of what we call "purposeful denial", watching funny old movies and talking long distance to family and friends for hours at a time. Times of prayer and study have been evenly divided between pleas for healing and pleas for guidance, the search for comfort and direction.

    One question that I have not asked is, "Why me?". Of course I am only six weeks into this experience and that time may come, but I feel I already know as much as I will ever know about that question. Randy and I became a ministry family twenty-two years ago. In those years we have witnessed unimaginable tragedy fall on too many sweet people not to learn that suffering is part of the fabric of life here on earth. Satan has the power to bring us suffering in many forms and will as long as we must live on earth. But God's is the ultimate victory, and he prepares us for everything we have to face while earthbound and strengthens us through these experiences.

    The night we learned that my tumor was malignant, Randy and I walked the darkened halls of the hospital for hours and took a long look back over our lives together. The overwhelming revelation that struck us was that God has blessed us far more than we had asked or imagined. After almost twenty-two years of marriage, we are in love and still each other's best friend. Our children love God, have committed their lives to Jesus, are healthy, happy and seem to be crazy about their parents!

    We have been blessed in our ministry. Randy has preached for three very different congregations which had some important things in common. All three congregations were churches that loved and supported both of us. We have been fortunate to get to see God's fruit in spiritual and numerical growth in all three churches. In each church, I had close friends who helped me grow spiritually through each stage of my life.

    Each church had its own unique challenges, but God was at work in each of them. Through the various trials and traumas that come with working with people, God blessed Randy and me with wisdom at some times and the patience of our members at others. We made many good decisions we were not wise enough to make and taught many needed truths we were not spiritually mature enough to understand.

    The bottom line of our review was this—God has lavished his love and care on us through the years in innumerable and unmistakable ways. Even when we made foolish mistakes like depending on ourselves or losing sight of God's priorities, God took our failings and used them to further his plans. We have had abundant evidence that God has been with us every step of the way—when we succeeded and when we failed.

    God has prepared us for whatever we must face. We are praying for complete physical healing, and are prepared to rejoice and give God the glory if He chooses to heal me. But we do not presume to summon God to do our will. God is in charge, and we are not. And if I am not healed, we will praise God for his unceasing care for us and his wisdom in directing our paths.

    So when I ask myself, "Is everything still working?" I can answer with confidence, "Yes!" God's care for me and my family had never depended on my abilities, mental or otherwise. God chose to love and care for me. He sent his son to die for me. God has had a plan for me since the beginning—and God is still working. Gail Fenter


Gail Fenter and her husband, Randy, serve at the Golf Course Road Church in Midland, Texas, USA where Randy has been a minister since 1992. Gail is the Assistant City Attorney in Midland. The Fenters have worked with churches in Fort Worth; Raton, N.M.; and San Antonio, TX. Gail has been active in women's, new member and music ministries and has taught classes at Abilene Christian University, Lubbock Christian University, Pepperdine University and the Red River Encampment as well as at numerous congregations. She graduated from St. Mary's Law School in 1992 and interned at the Texas Supreme Court, Austin. The Fenters have two daughters, Marta, 15, and Rachel, 11.

Come learn more about Gail's story and leave her a message of encouragement!


HEARTLIGHT(sm) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Article copyright © 1997, Gail Fenter. Used by permission.
Design copyright © 1997, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
May be reprinted and reused for non-commercial purposes only if copyright credits are appropriately displayed.
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