Just a word
This letter is entitled “Letter From a Friend.” I am hoping it is also a letter TO a Friend. I will be very frank with you and will be asking you for something. If you think it’s money, you’re wrong.
Since we moved to Idaho & I took over the Bible institute there some folks have been under the mistaken impression that I’ve retired or even cut back on the pace we keep. Here’s what I do: Wed., teach 6-7PM; Thur., teach 3 classes; Sat., fly out to preach; Sun-Tu preach meeting; Wed., fly back to Idaho & repeat the cycle. Plus, I’m working on five new books.
The pace has actually increased in intensity and neither Kathy nor I have a complaint about it nor a desire to cut it back. I have cut back on taking four meetings every month because I told Bro. DeMichele I would help him with the institute and feel privileged to have time here dedicated to that purpose.
But here is what I wish to speak to you about. As many of you know about three years ago I went to a neurosurgeon. After his examination he told me two things: I have permanent damage to my spinal cord. He said the headaches, which I have had everyday since October of 2015, and the pain & burning in my hands & arms will never go away. (No, don’t tell me about the magic potion you have that will make me as good as new.) Second, he believes the 2008 surgery has come loose meaning my neck is unstable. He advises taking everything out & fusing it all solid from C3-C7. After three surgeries already that’s a big step I am just not up to right now. He understands but said a minor car wreck with an unstable neck will be “life-changing” to say the least. (Full disclosure. I sent the same X-rays to the surgeon who did the 2008 surgery & he does not think the fusion has broken loose.)
Due to having to be in Idaho to teach I fly to my meetings nine months of the year. Once we graduate the students Kathy & I take off for the whole summer, preaching. (2020 & 21 the summers will be in the West) We return to Idaho in late August in time to begin the new school year.
I will not go into details about my neck & its problems. I describe it as being like torn paper: you can tear it more but can’t “untear” it. For that reason the condition does not & will not improve. I just spent a year & a half seeing a doctor who deals with pain management. Although things looked up for a time recently I can only say, “the bottom fell out” and we’re back to where we started only with a little more degeneration to deal with.
There has always been another factor that I have never mentioned, my voice. Cervical surgery damages the vocal cords. When the original surgery was performed in 1973 I suffered paralysis of my vocal cords & couldn’t talk for four months. On the eve of a vocal cord surgery they came back, but not completely. Your vocal cords work by air pressure. Mine remained partially paralyzed. Therefore it takes more air for me to talk. Just before my 2008 surgery I had to see a throat specialist who examined me & said, “Your vocal cords are partially paralyzed and after this new surgery they will be paralyzed even more.”
I have dealt with that although sometimes I run out of air at the end of my sentences when talking or preaching. But, the increase in their use is beginning to show. By the end of my third hour of teaching I am having trouble talking. My voice gets too raspy. I have also had this happen when preaching and just in everyday conversations.
Nope, no retirement is planned! In spite of the spinal cord injury God has given me relatively good health & neither Kathy nor I have any desire to dial anything back. We LOVE serving the Lord and know it can all end next week so we are dedicated to serving Him full-speed-ahead…until the inevitable happens.
Along with the preaching & teaching I am writing five new books. My writing time has taken a hit due to all the time teaching/preaching/traveling to do one-or-the-other. But there is much to be done and the clock never quits ticking.
Which brings me to this letter. People constantly ask me, “How do you keep going?” as though it were some physical strength or determination that keeps me going. I tell them this, “If everyone who is praying for me quits today I will not be in the ministry a week from now.” It isn’t me, it’s you. It’s you who graciously choose to pray for Kathy & I that keeps us going.
I said at the beginning of this letter I was going to ask you for something. Here it is. Please understand I fully realize that none of you owes me anything so am not making any kind of a demand. But my request is that you would continue/increase your prayer for us. As I said, if you aren’t prayer for us you don’t owe us that benefit. Therefore, I am asking that if you don’t pray for us you consider starting to. No special time or amount is requested. Just ask God to keep us going. If you do pray for us I want to say “Thank you so much!” Again, you do not owe any increase in your kind efforts but, at this end the “water we are treading everyday” is getting a little deeper and rougher. Kathy sees it. I see it. I only write this that you might a see a little of it.
Again, according to Scripture it is I who am the servant to you, not the other way around. Therefore we make no demands. We don’t even charge for this letter. Why? Because you shouldn’t have to pay a friend to write to you. Kathy & I love the Lord. We love His people and we are head-over-heels thrilled with the fact that He would allow and enable us to serve Him.
As I’ve already said, we intend to serve Him as long as we are physically able and that is contingent on how long He enables us. We only ask that you ask Him to continue this great grace in our lives.
The fact is that I desire to attempt some new things for Him in order to make our time here more “cost effective.” I am dying! Nope, nothing catastrophic. Just standard “old age” and I understand I will never have the special opportunity I have now to do anything to attempt to glorify the Lord. So, we are “full-speed ahead”, head-down & into the wind!
Unfortunately some of the standard and special problems with our bodies are making it more of an effort. Thus we turn the only place we can, our friends, for the only thing that can help, prayer. If you choose not to pray for us you are not wicked, evil or any other negative adjective. I am still your friend & will do anything I can to help in any way I can. But, if you would be so gracious as to uphold & strengthen us through prayer I will thank you in eternity for your kindness.
God bless you and thank you for reading this!
In Christ’s Service,
Samuel C. Gipp
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel. -Prov 27:9