Jon Peterson has been a friend and inspiration since 1998. We met him as an associate pastor of First Christian Church, but our relationship has gone beyond that institution. Two weeks ago he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Just as we have together refused to succumb to headwinds on long rides, we are refusing to accept Jon's 'retirement' from our local peloton.
Shortly after meeting in 1998, I and a few friends were moved to befriend Jon with an opportunity to 'fellowship' with us on bicycles. He was a young pastor attempting to minister with integrity in a church that was in transition. Through prayer and conversation our local cycling group planned a ruse to 'hook' Jon on cycling as an outlet and distraction from the demands of ministry.
On the morning of Jan 1, 1999 six of us gathered in Butch's basement to 'ride' our bikes on stationary trainer stands. For nearly an hour we worked and strained and sweated, imagining sunny skies and much warmer temperatures! As we slowly dismounted our two-wheeled mounts, Jon said 'thanks' and moved to leave. "Not so fast", said Butch. "You're forgetting something!" "What?" Jon asked. "The bike you rode, Jon. It's yours!" Stunned, the young preacher offered thanks, and carried his gift to his car.
Spring arrived, and Jon appeared on bike to learn to ride. It pleased us immensely that he rode consistently, and made really good use of the gift he'd been given.
Fifteen years and thousands of mile (and funny stories) later, we are all living with tension and hope that God will heal Jon that he might ride again.
While the medical community has pronounced Jon's condition 'incurable' many of us are hoping and praying for miraculous healing.
A visit with Jon is as one would expect from a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who has lived in wholehearted dependence on "The Word of God"; encouraging and peaceful. Last Friday I asked Jon what he has learned during this experience that he could not have learned otherwise. His answer: "My response is probably going to disappoint you, Jeff. Nothing really. I've lived every day as if it could be my last, and there isn't anything I want to do differently today than what I've done the rest of my life."
My takeaway? "Godliness with contentment is great gain." (I Timothy 6:6).
A fellow cyclist sent a message to me this past Sunday evening and asked me to get it to Jon: "Hey Jeff I wanted to share a personal experience today on the bike. On the last lap of a road race today I was struck with the feeling that John would love to be out riding and a million other things. I decided to attack the group with about 3 miles to go and repeated to myself many times, "this is for John"... just wanted him to know I was thinking of him today and prayed for him and his family during the race. Btw "Jon's Attack" held on!"
I loved that this mutual friend thought about and prayed for Jon, and that he made the effort to share and to encourage him. Do you have something to say; a prayer to offer? Carpe Diem! Say it now!
*Jon and Melissa's door is open and he is largely without symptoms, except for fatigue. He is very lucid, mentally sharp, and appreciative of visits and prayers. Let me know by personal message if you need contact information or address.
Reflections about a Dying? Pastor
6 years ago