I stood with a group of believers tonight, hands reaching out and wrapping around a sister who had just told us that the chemo wasn’t working and the tumors weren’t shrinking. I heard my name called out to lead in prayer. My throat constricted. I know the fear cancer stirs up. I wasn’t sure I could do it. I wasn’t sure I could articulate what was in my heart. I am not very eloquent when I pray. But love won out and I opened my mouth and asked God to do something. We prayed for God to give her a miracle. She needs a miracle. She’s been battling cancer for months, in the middle of a pandemic, and there she was, defying the cancer by standing before us and saying she was ready, if this is what God has for her. She is brave…..and she loves Jesus. If she can do this, I can pray over her. We believed God for a miracle three years ago. We trusted God. We walked the road He was taking us down, not knowing the outcome, not knowing if it was even fair to ask for healing or a miracle when so many are taken by this ugly disease. We walked with Him and learned to trust Him no matter what was down that road. No matter how it turned out. She trusts Him, too. She knows that however this turns out, God gets the glory. Why? Because He is the Almighty God, creator of the universe. He is a God that loves us so much, He made a way for us to be able to spend eternity with Him. He gave part of Himself, His Son, for us. A sacrifice for our sins. To make us clean. To have the ability to stand in His presence. He is faithful to us. We call out to Him and He hears us. And when His plan for our lives is to find ourselves facing death through cancer, ALS or even old age…He is there. Holding us up, whispering our names, and wrapping us in His love. We can hold tight to His hand and trust Him, knowing that closing our eyes here one last time, means we open our eyes with Him on the other side. So while we have breath, let us be like my sister standing before us tonight, let us give Him glory for the good and the bad, for the planned and the unexpected, for the hard and the easy. Thank you, sister, for showing us in that moment what it looks like to be real about the hard, and to resolutely give God the glory either way. But most of all what it looks like to trust His hand. Please pray for this sister as she places her hand in the hand of Jesus and trusts where He is taking her.
One year ago. One year ago we were being hit by one storm after another. But the ultimate storm of cancer came and stayed….and now, on the other side of that storm looking back, I am once again reminded of God’s faithfulness, His provision, His comfort, His healing power. I read back over the blogs of the past year and I see a woman clinging desperately to the Savior. I am reminded of the woman who reached out to touch the hem of His garment and I understand her in a new way. I know myself, that I have tightly gripped the hem of His garment in my clinched fists refusing to let go. We have walked through this cancer journey saying over and over “I trust you” aloud for ourselves mostly, but also to our God, declaring that while we don’t understand, and while we know His plan is perfect, and while we were even fearful at times, we would TRUST HIM, no matter the outcome. Our faith is stronger, our family is stronger, our love is stronger and our compassion is stronger. Today, after a year of diagnosis, biopsies, surgeries, chemo, radiation, doctor appointments, uncertainties, waiting, frustrations and sometimes fear, we got the official words of cancer free. I hesitated to even post this because we have friends and family still doing battle with this evil disease. But I want those reading this who are in the battle to be encouraged, optimistic and strengthened. God is with you and you can trust Him with whatever the outcome of your journey may be. People have stated over and over that “God is good” and it is so true. But if we had gotten different news, and the battle with cancer had continued, the truth is that God is still good. He is good even when things are seemingly bad in our lives and life’s storms are coming at us so fast they are tearing us apart. When we feel like we can’t catch our breath between storms and we are staring death in the face, God is good. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. So wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever battle you are in, trust Him. “Be strong and courageous, do not be discouraged or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
This morning I had a sweet moment. I snuggled with my grandson as I rubbed his little back and hummed the same tune I had sung to his mama as a baby. My grandson. Those two words still fall awkwardly from my lips. When I say them, I still feel as if I’m practicing words that are not yet real to me. He’s been here for over ten months and I’ve kept him three days a week since August and still I’m surprised that I am a grandmother. I often think of my Mamaw Bessie when I am holding him close. She had such a kind and gentle spirit. I remember the softness of her skin and the safeness I felt when she hugged me or I just sat next to her resting my face against her shoulder. As I held him and took in the sweetness of his eyelashes resting on his cheek, I continued to softly rub his back and pat his bottom. Without opening his eyes he slid his free arm up my arm and rubbed it slowly back and forth, then rested it there and slowly patted my arm. What a treasured moment of love. He is my grandson, my first precious grand baby and I love him so much.
So we’ve reached another hurdle to jump in this cancer journey. Radiation. It started with a doctor appointment on December 13th. We heard many new medical terms and explanations of radiation procedures. We were again in information overload, but, we left confident that this would be the final kick in the butt of this cancer that has been an uninvited visitor in our lives for the past nine months. It took the programmers, physicist, doctor and who knows who else a month to configure and calculate the big radiation machine (I’m assuming it is a big machine at this point but have not seen it). All this for 22 prescribed visits of 15 minutes of a laser type of radiation to be precisely shot into my big guys body, carefully dodging his kidney, aorta, pancreas and spine while basically frying the shrunken mass. Literally from entering the room to walking out of the building only takes 15 minutes! I am praying they clearly have that mass in their sight before they pull the trigger. I am sitting in the car right now waiting, looking at Springhill Hospital and thinking about how much time we have spent at this facility over the past months and feeling thankful that God created people who have the knowledge necessary to treat people who have been shocked by the word “cancer”. God is so good. I am not oblivious to the countless sweet people who are still struggling for answers and successful treatment. I am thankful He has walked every step with us and blanketed us in peace and the security He is with us. I am thankful that Lynn’s treatment seems to be working. I will never take our time together for granted, and will continually thank Him for letting me grow old with my big guy.
Well. Today’s the day. We’ve come full circle in this cancer journey as we sit waiting, in a room full of other cancer victims, to have another PET SCAN. This one even more important than the last. This one will tell us the cancer is gone….or not. But our gut feeling is this cancer monster has been conquered! Our lives have revolved around that frightening “C” word for seven months. 2018 will be our year of woes that was filled with blessings. 2018 will be our year of victory over cancer. I am not as anxious or feel like a deer in headlights this time. I am not afraid. My big guy has faced this giant with courage, with determination, with soldier like strength and I believe he will walk away a conquerer. Some say they are cancer survivors, but i think they should call themselves cancer conquerors! Fighting this beast is an all out battle both physically and mentally! God has sustained us and will continue to sustain us. He is worthy to be trusted. He will hold you up when you feel you are crumbling. He will provide when you aren’t sure where it will come from. He will send one of His children to wrap loving arms around you or to hold your hand and let you cry. He will provide humor to get through difficult moments and He is faithful to walk every step with you. I knew this before….but I am absolutely certain of it now. I trust Him…..no matter the outcome of today.
Today as I drove to work lost in my thoughts, only half listening to the Christian music station playing in the background, some of the words interrupted my thoughts, “You are not alone….”. I immediately thought of the scripture I had read on Saturday as I prepared my lesson for my Bible Study class I teach on Sunday morning. “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know! I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.” Psalm 139:1-12. I am blown away by these verses! Aren’t you? Just think about this revelation for a moment. The God of the universe, the creator of EVERYTHING, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is attentive to you…to me! There is no place we can go, that He is not there with us! Even into that pit you take yourself, where you think you are destined to live out your life…NOPE!….He’s there. When I’m walking through life, and everything seems chaotic, NOPE!…He’s there! When I’m laying in my bed at night, darkness surrounding me, only the sound of my husband’s breathing can be heard and I replay the day, trying to figure out how to make ends meet….NOPE! He’s there too! When I am alone and disappointed over something or someone….NOPE! He’s right there too! Recently I listened as someone prayed in church service asking God to reveal His presence….I was thinking, “Silly man, He’s already here!” The truth is this….we don’t acknowledge the truth that He is ALWAYS with us! We ignore His presence, run from His presence, look somewhere else for His presence, but according to these verses, His presence is already with us! We want fireworks, rushing wind or a pillar of smoke…not just His presence. He will not slap us in the back of the head and say “I’m right here stupid!” He waits for us to acknowledge He is there….I truly believe that. It’s in those moments that we stop, breathe in the truth that He is right there with us, that we “feel” His blanket-like presence wrap around us. I love that He is not chasing us around like a little kid trying to get their parent’s attention, but He’s there, always there. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He’s looking ahead, checking out our path that He has prepared for us, He knows the words that are about to come from our mouths – even when they may not be pleasing to Him or glorify Him – He still knows. The idea that He would still place His hand upon our heads in blessing is just too big to comprehend! That is unconditional love, people! He knows my thoughts. That is just frightening! I know what goes on inside my head, no one would want to be there! But He knows… He is there to lift my head when I am weary, He is there to comfort me when I am heartbroken, He is there to hold me when I am afraid, He is there to push me forward when I need encouragement to go on, there is absolutely no place I can hide from or be lost from Him. We just have to acknowledge He is there to benefit from being in His presence… So, today, sitting there looking at this computer screen, reading my silly blog (which I appreciate, by the way!), close your eyes for a moment, and just breathe. Acknowledge that He is with you! Allow His presence to fill you and wrap around you like a warm blanket. I promise, you will feel it and you will be overwhelmed by Him.