by Howard and Jeanne Tomlinson



An Open Book

Your life is a book that many are reading.  Does it present an authentic message that gives people hope or is it simply a trivial account with no lasting impact?  It all depends on you.

Many people were amazed at Howie’s joyful spirit and victorious faith after two brain surgeries and radiation treatment and they were now watching him more than ever.
    We returned to Long Island following his second surgery at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix in February ’96, and Howie returned to work full time.  When we went back to church, our friends were thrilled to see how well Howie was doing.  Paul, a friend at Dix Hills Evangelical Free Church, took us aside and told us he had been watching and was amazed by Howie’s attitude.  A few weeks later, on Easter Sunday, we asked Paul if he would like to receive Jesus Christ as His Savior from sin.  He admitted his need and we prayed with him.  That day, the angels in heaven rejoiced to see a lost sheep come home.
    Dix Hills Evangelical Free Church and the Christian Analysis of American Culture both asked if we could submit our testimonies and miracle story for their web pages.  We were thankful for this opportunity to share our story.  The Lord only knows how many lives have been impacted with our accounts of His mercy and grace.
    In late ’96, we discovered the Brain Tumor Listserve, an email support group for families dealing with brain tumors.  When we joined, we started receiving valuable support and information from over 900 members worldwide.  One of these members shared about her daughter Laura, a teenager in southern California who had received academic honors in her state.  When we heard that Laura had a malignant brain tumor, we started praying for her every day.
    Our mutual support system and message of hope was expanding greatly by the end of ’96.  By punching in a couple of keys on the computer, we were able to instantly share prayer requests and praises with hundreds all over the world.  Several of these cyberfriends eventually became some of our dearest supporters.
    In early ’97, we found we needed this support group again.  A routine MRI to Howie’s brain showed “something.”  We sent the MRI to Dr. Robert Spetzler in Phoenix, who told us it could be scar tissue from the surgery or radiation.  He told Howie to have another MRI in six months to see if there was any change.
    Meanwhile, life went on in the Tomlinson household.  We both continued to work and teach Sunday School.  In the early summer, we took a vacation to visit family and friends in southern California.  Later that summer, Howie started experiencing neurological problems, including twitches on the left side of his face.  We kept on praying, not knowing that our lives would soon be turned upside-down again.

Our lives are like open books that others are reading.  If we’re trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord and walking by faith, we can be a platform God uses for sharing His message of grace and hope.  In II Corinthians 3:2,3, the apostle Paul writes: “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”
    People are looking for authentic Christianity, not trivial churchianity.  An authentic Christian is real.  He practices what he preaches, walks by faith and not by sight, trusts God in the storm, is honest, loves his neighbor as himself, and rejoices no matter what happens in his life.  An authentic Christian is not afraid to share his life with others, for he has nothing to hide.

For Those Who Hurt

As others are reading the story of your life, what are they seeing?  They will see an authentic Christian if you allow the Lord to use you to show forth His message of hope in your sufferings.  Keep your eyes on Jesus and share with others what He has done for you.  Reach out to those who are hurting and encourage them.  Your life can become a living gospel, glorifying God and pointing people to Jesus Christ, who is the only source of lasting hope.  And as you reach out to others, you will find your own support system greatly enhanced.



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Chapter 21: The Power of Encouragement Table of Contents Chapter 23: Specific Prayer