Receiving Comfort

Posted: December 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Within three days of my ALS confirmation, I was given the cell number of Ed Dobson.  In case you are not familiar with him, he is a somewhat famous in Christian circles (read more about him on Wikipedia or his website).

Ed was a well-known pastor of a megachurch in Grand Rapids, MI for 18 years.  God has given this brilliant man  the ability to preach, teach, lead and write.  So why did I have several people working overtime to get me his number and insist that I call him?  Because Ed also has ALS; he was diagnosed eleven years ago.  At any point in my ministry, I would have considered it a privilege to meet Pastor Dobson, but now even more so.  Because now Ed and I share something in common that no one else would ever envy….a terminal disease.

So in the midst of planning how to share my news with our church, I carried Ed’s number around for a few days.  It was there in the back of my mind and I found myself wondering if I should call him at all.  What will I say?  What will he say?  Isn’t he too busy to be bothered?

Sitting in my Pontiac Vibe in the parking lot of Parisian, I pushed the numbers and hoped to get his voice mail.  Instead he answered.  His voice was sure and kind.  When I introduced myself and told him of my very new diagnosis, his words soothed my soul…”Patrick, I am so sorry.”  A few more minutes and he said he would be honored to meet me.  Honored?  To meet me?  Assuming it would be after the holidays, he quickly checked his schedule and said that Tuesday would work.  Tuesday…as in less than a week away, Tuesday.  Wow – I hung up feeling relieved and thankful.

Driving up to his condo with three minutes to spare, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Dena had already asked me if I had specific questions and, always the list maker, was willing to write them down for me.  I didn’t need a list.  I had just a few basic questions.

Ed’s wife, Lorna, greeted us at the door with a smile, like she was happily anticipating our visit.  Ed was in the background, walking slowly toward us.  His thin hand grasped mine in a sort-of handshake.  Within seconds, we knew these were genuine, humble folk. He guided us to the couch and asked me to start with just sharing my story.  As I talked, he was attentive and it was obvious he understood.  The conversation flowed;  no agenda on either part.  He shared some of his story and about his most recent endeavor of his film series.  We watched two of his DVD’s together on his computer, words not necessary for the frankness of the films speak volumes.

The “shock and awe” stage is what Ed said I am in.  His lasted several months.  Eleven years later, he is long past that.  His doctors say he is lucky to have lived so long;  he insists he is blessed. Ed didn’t give me any secrets of magic treatments that have prolonged his life.  He didn’t have ten steps to an easy life with ALS.  In fact, he admitted that reading his Bible and praying still takes great effort sometimes.  However, when he is down, he gives himself a five-minute timeout and just quotes Scripture.  Wise counsel regardless of disease.

An hour and a half with Ed Dobson and I discovered that we are fellow pilgrims on life’s journey; two followers of Christ trying to live out the Gospel; two weak vessels losing strength day by day, acutely aware of the the brevity of our days, wondering why God chose us for this road of suffering.

I found I have a mentor and a friend.

(read more about Ed and preview his films at

2 Corinthians 1:3 & 4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

  1. billie baucom says:

    thanks for sharing . you and yours have been in my prayers , and now ed will be also. missed seeing you at church yesterday . have a wonderful vacation ..

  2. Brian Eisner says:

    So glad you were able to meet Ed. Praying for you and your sweet family. Love you bro!

  3. lorie smith says:

    thank you, i needed those scriptures to hide in my heart, started a new ms attack day before Christmas eve, here we go again . . .

  4. Jane Miniard says:

    Praying for all of you. What a great story of hope and comfort.

  5. snookie123 says:

    Thanks Patrick…so wanted to know how the visit went and joyful it was a blessing!

  6. Carl & Lori says:

    Patrick, I could “hear” in your story of meeting Ed Dobson how he ministerd to your hearts. Please know that you have been on our minds, in our conversations and certainly in our prayers. My God continue to speak truth into your lives. With much love, Carl & Lori

  7. Dale Murrish says:

    Thanks for sharing, Patrick. You and your family will continue to be in our prayers. Trust in His goodness in this painful path He has chosen for you. “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

  8. Sharon Nelson says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share with all of us who pray…
    As we are reminded from this post, God is always previous..
    and a God of economy… He wastes nothing.
    Ours is not a painless journey, and we will all have our
    Gethsemane’s and we like Jesus get to ask for pains removal..
    and then we wait to see just WHAT He will answer and do
    with our now… And we live in the moment so as not to
    descrate the now with forbodings of tomorrow…
    As we have traveled the upside down moments with our own
    Kim’s illness we have learned some things… Especially
    never to aniticipate the future apart from the grace of God.

    All of us humbled to walk this journey with you, as we are
    all stepping Heavenward..

    All Grace to you,

    Sharon Nelson

  9. Tim Vermilyea says:

    Mandi just forwarded your blog link. Will be following your news and praying for God’s provisions of strength and courage for each day. I’m sure as you learn of His grace, those who are following your story will also be encouraged.

  10. JROD says:

    I am so happy to hear more about your meeting with Pastor Dobson. I hope FLA is enjoying you all as much as yall enjoy FLA! While doing some work on the computer today, the iTunes shuffle landed on ” Take My Life” by Chris Tomlin. I just want to say thank-you for living this out and being an example to all of us. No matter the situation (good or bad), you have made it known that HE is on the Throne controlling everything and you will do your best to stand by that truth! See ya soon my friend, mentor, & brother!


  11. Joanne Southern says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey! Great to hear of your meeting Ed Dobson. I remember him as Dean Dobson so very many years ago at Liberty University. He was a wonderful dean and loved by the students. What a small world! We are praying for you as you press on….So glad that God hems us in, goes before us and goes behind us… Enjoy your vacation!

  12. Gail Archer says:

    Patrick you and Dena and the kids have been a heavy weight on my heart, the need to pray for .daily.I always seem to have tears when I’m praying for you, so I know God is showing me how to pray for you. I know through this you will bring many to see Jesus thur your hardship and lead them to know the real Jesus of comfort, light , and life. Love you guys. Gail Archer

  13. Diane Knopf says:

    Patrick, all I can say is WOW! There is no doubt that God truly orchestrates our steps. When we
    are led and willing to be led. what amazing paths and peace we find. You are all in my prayers!

  14. Vivian Poole says:

    Patrick and Dena, Am continuing to follow your posts and when I am prompted by God, to pray for your family. Such a heart-rending sound–terminal illness–. I too, am walking day by day with that as a companion. Last summer, I was diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, stage three of the disease, fatty liver. God has been helping me to focus on other people and their specific needs. I would covet your prayers too. I wanted to share that your friend, Sharon Nelson’s post was such an encouragement to me as I’m sure it was to you. Dena, I know that these days have to be very difficult for you. But I see the “squaring” of your shoulders and “putting on a brave smile” in order to be strong for your friends and family. I am praying for you, too. Love to you, Vivian Poole

  15. Tina Winner says:

    That is wonderful to hear – and thankful you have this chance for a new blessing in your life – I think Ed is a blessing –
    love you

  16. Lisa Davis says:

    Only someone who has been there/done that can really have any understanding. I pray for strength and peace that passes our human understanding for you and your entire family. And I will always pray for a cure!

  17. It must be such a comfort to find a fellow Christian on the same journey. God is definately working through Ed and we know, Patrick, that he will work through you. To him be the glory..! We are praying for you and hope that your vacation is a precious time for all of you!

  18. Kandi Sherrill says:

    That’s so awesome, Patrick. Kalli and I are praying for you and your family every night, and you’re constantly on my mind throughout the day. Even though I don’t go to CBC any longer, many people from there have made a big impact in my life, and Dena and you are definitely two of them. Keep fighting, and thanks for the updates. Love to you and your family!

  19. Mel Stull says:

    Hey Bro, praying for you and the family tonight! I came across an old Kansas tune that has been an encouragement to me through my journey with cancer. The words of this song are amazing. Take a listen.

    My morning star, has always been with me
    Lifting me up, when I couldn’t carry on
    Turning the page, to each song I write
    Leading me on, on through the night

    Here is the song Play On by Kansas enjoy!

  20. Kevin Root says:

    I appreciate these updates. Know you’re in my prayers from here in Denver.

  21. […] wrote the first couple posts, then he dictated and eventually I was writing them all. When Patrick passed away, so I assumed, […]

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