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...with Jesus, doctors and common sense

December 2008 Archives

God Bless you and a merry, merry Christmas to you wonderful readers all around the

world.

And if it's not asking too much, I'd like each of you to email me right back right now

before you forget it if for no other reason but to say, "Merry Christmas and Happy New

Year."

Please. I need to hear from you.

This is my 65th Christmas. My dear mother, Sarah Loraine Sanders, lived only to

enjoy 43 Christmases and my father, Rev. Anderson Douglas Banks, Sr., lived only to

enjoy 63.

I had some serious concerns whether I'd see this Christmas when I was told in April

that I not only had end-stage congestive heart failure requiring a heart transplant to

assure me I'd live out the year, but that I also had brain cancer and prostate cancer,

which promptly disqualified me from being a candidate for the heart transplant.

But through faith, prayer (yours and mine) and the God-blessed care of doctors,

my wife, family and friends, here I am today singing, "Deck the halls with boughs of

holly. Fa la la la la la la la la. Tis the season to be jolly. Fa la la la la la la la la" as well as

a host of other Christmas carols. I love Christmas carols. And my wife Joyce and I

celebrate Christmas for two weeks (from Dec. 2o to Jan. 3) and have raised our children

to do the same and to understand that Christmas is the mass for Christ. It's JESUS.

So, thank you Jesus!

I love winter. It's my favorite season, cold weather and all, because it is when we

celebrate on Dec. 25 the birth of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. I love snowflakes

falling, chestnuts roasting, jingle bells ringing, fireplaces burning, carolers singing,

Christmas trees being lushly trimmed with dazzling decorations, colorful-wrapped

presents being exchanged and families fellowshiping.

Thank God for Christmas! Come on and shout it out with me, if you will. Thank God

for Christmas!!!

My most precious memories are those of past Christmases spent in my childhood

when our family--my parents, four brothers and three sisters--were all together at

home to celebrate this most blessed of holy holidays. My parents were poor, which meant

so were we children. We were dependent upon what the poor parisherners of the

churches my father pastored were able to give him in salary and special offerings. And

when our church members could not give him money, they'd give food and produce for my

mother to cook.

And my mother--have mercy!--was one of the best cooks in the history of the planet

earth. If daddy could catch it, whatever it was, mama could cook it. This includes rabbits,

squirrels, possums, coons, fish, ducks, geese, turkeys, peas, greens, beans, corn, okra,

sweet potatoes........

Despite our poverty, which included, yes, us fighting bill collectors, eviction notices,

rats, roaches, turned-off utilities, frequent hunger, cold, sickness and shame, mama and

daddy did the best they could to assure that we would have at least a little teeny, weeny

piece of a merry Christmas.

I remember my father crying a couple of times before the family prayer, apologizing

that he hadn't been able to do better for us that Christmas and emphasizing that Santa

Claus and presents and decorated trees were not the real foundation of a merry

Christmas anyway. Naw, naw, naw. It's Jesus.

I said, it's Jesus. Christmas is JESUS. He is the reason for the season. Jesus. I said,

JESUS. Close your eyes, if you will for one moment, and say with me, "Happy birthday

Jesus."

There would always be presents under our Christmas trees, which were sometimes

skinny and skimpy. Then there would be a box of fruit, mixed nuts and candy. Daddy often

would buy a great big ol' pepperment cane, which he or mama would break up and ration

out to us gleeful kids.

As time went by, death started dropping by our house uninvited and unwelcomed.

First, he took five of my infant sisters and brothers, including four who did not survive

the cradle to enjoy Chritstmas with us surviving eight. Second, he took our mother at

a young age and in a most painful way as she died in Mount Bayou, Miss., from blood

poisoning after her 13th baby died in her womb and she did not have competent medical

care to prevent this or to find it out in time to effectively remove the baby to save her

life.

Next, death took daddy. He died of a stroke. By that time, most of us had grown up

and moved out on our own to have families of our own. Only my older brother, Sonny,

who was mentally retarded from a childhood illness and my youngest brother, Hansel,

lived at home with my stepmother Mildred Johnson-Banks.

Death then took my oldest sister, Mrs. Maude Lee Burrell, who died of end-staged

congestive heart failure when she could not shake an infection to qualify for the

transplant, and then my brother Hansel, whose congestive heart failure was exacerbated

by alcoholism. He died of a heart attack.

Then came my health challenges--my brain cancer, prostate cancer and bad heart.

I could feel death trying to sneak up on me. I felt that I would be the next to go. But I

would not go without a fight.

When I was a boy, I was scared of death. When we got evicted from a house in

Indianapolis, a two-bedroomer where five of us slept in one bed, three at the head and

two at the foot, we had to spend some nights living in the church basement. I was so

afraid of that experience because I would be haunted by the memories of funerals that

had been held upstairs in the sanctuary.

But as I matured over the years and grew in faith and God's grace, I conquered my

fear of death and of dead people. It dawned on me that no dead person had ever called

me "Nigger" the way white folk did in his Mississippi boyhood. No dead person had ever

cursed me out, beat me up or threatened to cut or shoot me. So it dawned on me that

I should fear the living people instead of the dead people.

And since by the salvation of Christ Jesus, I have eternal life, there is no need for

me to fear death. For the grave is not the final resting place of the redeemed of the

Lord. We all have a home eternal in heaven, a building not made with hands.

So I conquered my fear of death a long, long time ago. I can look death in the face

right now, as I am doing, and say, "Death, in the name of Jesus, get the hell outta my

face!!!"

That's right. Yes, I said "Hell" because death makes me mad. Death punks too many

people around. But not me. Those people death bullies most are people with little faith in

God and little knowledge of the Truth that shall make them free.

Death ain't nothing but a possible bridge to heaven. It can also be likened unto a

short nap or a rest stop on the highway to heaven. But if Jesus comes back in the

rapture for His church while I'm alive, I won't even have to die. For I will be snatched and

caught up to be with Jesus for ever and ever more.

So death, I'm not afraid of you anymore because I got the victory and I have power

over the grave through Jesus Christ if I should have to go that way. So I'm not worried and

I'm not afraid. Death, get your ugly, cock-eyes, snagged-tooth, silly self outta my face.

You ain't (excuse me English teacher) nothing but a tramp while, in the name of

Jesus and by the grace of God, I am not only a champ, but I am more than a conqueror.

Death, get outta my face! I have dominion over you.

Death, get outta my face because if God be for me, and He is for me and in me, He

is more than the world against me.

Death, get outta my face because all things work together for good to those who

love God and to those who are called according to His purpose.

Death, get outta my face because the Lord is not only my shepherd and I shall

not want, but because the Lord is my light and my salvation. So whom shall I fear? For

I am persuaded that nothing but nothing shall separate me from the love of God, which

is wrapped up, tied up and tangled up in Christ Jesus.

Death, get outta of my face because I am providential private property; I am a

member of a chosen generation and a royal preasthood.

Death, get outta my face because I got Jesus and that's enough. And yea though

I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because I got

somebody in the Lord, who walks with me, talks with me and tells me I am His own and

His rod and His staff, they comfort me. And you best not let God have to hit you with His

rod or His staff. He'll kill you, death.

So, will this be my last Christmas? Well, No!

In the name of Jesus and by the grace of God, I declare unto you, my sisters and my

brothers, that there will be other Christmases in my life.

It's been a rough year for me. It's been the worst year of my life in terms of my

health issues. I've suffered tremendous pain and shame. I curse--yes, I am a preacher--

more than ever before because I am full of fury and of fight. But most of all, I am full of

faith. In other words, I am faithful. I know the Lord will not fail me nor forsake me.

Death, get the hell outta my face because God is hearing and answering my

prayers and at the end of the day, He will get glory out of all my ouches. Plus, I'm coming

forth as pure gold. And my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and

righeousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name. On

Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Death, get outta my face because It's Christmas. And for me, Christmas ain't a time

for me to be dying. It's a time for praise and thanksgiving. It's a time for new life and glad

tidings of great joy. For unto us, a child is born; unto us a Son is given; and the

government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called WONDERFUL,

COUNSELOR, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, THE PRINCE OF

PEACE.......THE ROSE OF SHARON......THE LILLY OF THE VALLEY.....THE BRIGHT

AND MORNING STAR.

His name is Jesus, my savior.

God bless you and merry Christmas to everybody all around the world.

It's Christmas!

It's Christmas!

It's Christmas!

Hallelujah and thank you Jesus!

God bless you and Merry Christmas to you all.

I feel like having church, if you don't mind. So if you have nothing better to do, I

wonder if you might not mind gathering 'round me for a moment. Pull up a chair. Sit down,

make yourself comfortable and let me share a word or two of the Lord with you. And in

the process, I want to lace this presentation with lush passages from scriptures and

gospel songs.

Sisters and brothers, I'm tired. I'm tired because suffering ain't easy. Pain has never

been a friend of mine. And though I know that patience is a virtue, even patience often

plays hide-and-go-seek with me.

I'm tired. It's Christmas time. 'Tis the season to be jolly and I'm tired.

I entered this blog with the best of intentions. I started it to chronicle the grace of

God being manifested in His healing me. That was eight awful, agonizing, anguish-filled

months ago.

And today I am still sick.

I'm better.

My brain tumor is benign. I treat that cancer with a pill a week.

My prostate cancer is in slow remission. My PSA reading last week was 2.01.

That's better than the 7.01 that doctors said I had earlier this year. Still, the radioactive

seeds cause me pain.

And my weak heart is holding steady with the aid of nine different medications I

take regularly.

I first wanted the Lord to heal me instantly and completely. But He has chosen to

heal me slowly. And with that slow healing comes much anxiety. So the challenge

for me to is to suffer with faith, courage, hope and patience to wait on the Lord.

And to those of you who are also suffering some health issue just like I am, you

know what I'm talking about and I know what you are talking about. Suffering ain't easy.

Suffering hurts. But it is my job as a preacher suffering right along with you to be a

good example of how a Christian should suffer.

So I tell you as I'm telling myself day in and day out, "Trust in the Lord with all

thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. But in our ways, let us

acknowledge Him and He shall direct our path."

I don't know what ails you. I don't know what your health problems are. But trust in

the Lord and wait on Him. I know for myself that it's difficult. The spirit indeed is

willing. But the flesh is weak.

Nevertheless, wait on the Lord. I can't say that enough. So I sure can't say it too

many times. Wait on the Lord.

He may not always come when we want Him to come.

He may not always heal when we want Him to heal.

He may not always feed or lead when we want Him to. For His ways are not

our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He has His own purpose, His own

timetable and His own place to do what He wants, when and where He wants. God has

His own divine design.

But be not dismayed, whatever betide. In due season, God will take care of you. God

will take care of you and me. He will not forsake us. He will not turn His back on us.

Weeping may endure for a night. But joy cometh in the morning.

Therefore, fellow sufferers, our challenge and our blessing, really, at this Christmas

time, is to wait upon the Lord, be of good courage and He shall strengthen our hearts. For

they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings of

eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint. Wait on the Lord! I

said wait on the Lord. He'll be there.

And when God shows up, He'll sho' nuff show out. When He shows up, he won't

show up empty-handed. He will come packing power from on high.

Power to save.

Power to cleanse.

Power to deliver.

Power to set the captives free.

Power to restore the economy, tranquility, hope and happiness of America if we who

are called by His name will humble ourselves, pray, seek His face and turn from our

wicked ways.

Power to assure us that when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

there will be no need for us to fear any evil. Because He will walk with us and He will talk

with us and He will tell us that we are His own. And the joy we share as we tarry

there, none other has ever know.

Wait on the Lord. I'm a living witness that He will make our weighty wait worth our

while. I have been young and now I'm getting old. But in between the womb that bore me

at birth and the tomb that waits to claim me at life's sunset, I have never seen the

righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.

Wait on the Lord!

Steady yourself.

Be not afraid!

Fear not!

Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.

Be still and know that He is God.

Wait on the Lord! And He shall grant thee the desires of thy heart. But you got to

wait. You can't hurry God. You got to wait. And that's what I'm doing as best I can.

But I'd be lying if I said that I haven't found it rough many times waiting on the Lord.

I'm tired. I said I'm tired.

Really, sisters and brothers, I'm tired.

I'm tired of pills and doctors bills.

I'm tired of tears and fears.

I'm tired of going in and out of hospitals.

I'm tired of diagnosis and prognosis that are producing a special brand of psychosis.

I'm tired of needles and nurses who can't draw blood right because they don't

know what they're doing and they blame their incompetence on me by saying silly things

like ...."you got some funny, rolling veins."

I'm tired of the worst-tasting food in the world that every hospital seems to serve.

I'm tired of nurses with attitudes and doctors who take too long to get back to you.

I'm tired of staying at home because I lack the energy to be out and about the way

I've been accustomed for years. Sometimes, one can be so tired that he can't even

sleep. That's the way it is with me sometimes. There have been days I could not walk

because of a sore foot, a sore knee or toe.

But whereas I'm tired, I'm also determined. Like Job, I believe I'll wait until my change

comes. I thank God for my darling wife, Joyce, of 40 years. I thank God for my children

and grandchildren. I thank God for a special loved one who has come back into my life

from the forest of yesteryear to encourage me.

I thank God for all you sisters and brothers of the household of faith. I thank God for

those of you who are praying for me, those of you who know the Lord is going to heal me

completely, those of you who don't believe He will, those of you who don't even believe

that He is and those of you who are waiting for me to die and are upset that I'm not dying

quick enough.

I thank God for my ups and I thank God for my downs.

I said I thank God for my ups and for my downs.

I thank God for my good days and I thank God for my bad days.

But I can't quit. I am determined to get all my healing. I am determined to continue

being tried in this physical furnace of afflictions until I can come forth as pure gold.

I am determined to run on and see what the end will be. I can't quit. I can't give up. I

got too much to live for. There are some flowers I yet want to smell. There are some

sermons I yet have to preach. There are songs that I've yet to sing. I can't quit. I can't

give up. I promised the Lord 56 years ago that if He saved my soul, I'd serve him until I

die.

So right now, sisters and brothers, I tell you what I'm going to do:

I'm going to trust in the Lord until I die.

I'm going to stay on the battle field until I die.

I'm going to watch, fight and pray until I die.

I'm going to treat everybody right until I die.

I'm going to see God for myself when I die.

And on that glad morning, when this life is over, I'm going to take wings of a dove and

fly away until I get to heaven. And when I get to heaven, as the old Negro spiritual says,

"I'm going to sing and shout, and nobody there is going to turn me out. I haven't been to

heaven but I've been told there's streets up there that are paved with gold."

Wait on the Lord!

Wait on the Lord!

Wait on the Lord!

God bless you and merry Christmas.

Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2008 is the previous archive.

January 2009 is the next archive.

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