It’s SO raw…SO unpolished…but sent in OBEDIENCE this day. For Lord whispered yet again, “Write Your Story”…turns out that even means the chapters you don’t want to write…
One month, one day and two hours ago, a short phone call brought three words I prayed I’d never hear…”It. Is. Cancer.”
But something in me already knew. In that 48-hour wait between biopsy and phone call, the Lord had already been preparing me. First, a movie picked by the kids…where the mom had passed away with cancer. Then researching my essential oil guide for ‘hematoma’, my book fell open to ‘cancer, breast’ instead. Then just an hour before the call, I got in my car to head to a business appointment…KLOVE on and a woman’s voice, with such passion and conviction said “You have in you the same authority that raised Christ from the dead so YOU have authority over your disease!!”
So yeah…I kinda already knew. And on the way to that appointment…in the glorious middle of nowhere, I felt the Spirit ask, to depths of my soul, a question He’d asked before. “What if?”
“What if it IS cancer?” He whispered.
“What if it IS cancer?” I replied back.
Because that’s what we do when we’re stalling…when we’re buying time…when the answer’s downright scary and we. just. don’t. wanna. go. there. We repeat the question.
“What if it IS? What if it IS, Lord?”
As my eyes took in the country-scape around me…the green, the trees, the birds…I felt that all-familiar lump rising up in my throat. And I uttered “Even if it IS, You are STILL good. Even if it IS, You STILL love me with fierceness. Even if it IS, Your good and perfect plan for my life will STILL be fulfilled.” And my “What if” became “Even if”. And in my next breath, a beautiful red bird would cross just in front of my path…a symbol God’s used often to bring confirmation and peace…and I KNEW that in the “Even if” that lie ahead, the Lord was ever-present.
And ever-present He has been. The next five days would be THE LONGEST of my life. Already filtering this hard-to-stomach news, I’d again have to WAIT. Another three days for a SECOND biopsy of another suspicious area. And then another two days on yet another phone call. This one bringing the same news…only this one scarier…invasive.
I’d love to tell you that every breath of this journey has been run on faith…but alas, I’ve always been a terrible liar. The truth? It’s been a roller coaster. Moments of fear interjecting days of faith…and moments of faith interjecting days of fear.
And if I’m being honest, we started this ride mostly on the ‘up’…because I never feared the ‘cancer’. In my heart of hearts, I knew it was but a SEASON of suffering. It was that SEASON that I feared. The suffering that I feared. Treatment that I feared. The loss of ‘normal’ that I feared. The loss of MY plan that I feared.
But then, just like Peter, I ‘saw the wind’. My wind and waves came by way of pathology reports and body scans. And again like Peter, I began to sink. My mind RAN with quickness to the darkest corners, where the enemy whispers his lies and fear spreads like wildfire, and for the first time in this all, I feared the ‘end’. Not for a moment, did I fear my final destination. Or even death, per se. At least not for me. If I’m keeping it real, I’d like to go out at age 100…joyfully exhausted from a life used up for the purposes of God. An ugly, hard, painful season of suffering is NOT what I want for my man. A motherless upbringing is NOT what I want for my girls. And if I can be a tad bit selfish here…yall…I just LOVE them. I don’t wanna miss out. On all that God has left for THEM.
And for four painfully-long, AGONIZING days, I was enslaved to the very real fear of DEATH. And in those same four days, our beloved family pet would fall ill…and just like that he’d be gone. And my nine year old wrapped herself in my embrace and through her weeping, she asked me the same questions I’d been wrestling the Lord with myself. “WHY, mommy?” “But he’s so young, mommy?” “But he didn’t do anything wrong, mommy?” “WHY is God letting this happen, mommy?” “WHY can’t God stop this, mommy?” “WHY won’t God stop this?”
And the weeping and the words of that soon-to-be fifth grader met the weeping and the (silent) words of this 36-year-old mommy. And our hearts bled together. For Stripes. And for me.
And though my answers to her were full of FAITH and TRUST in the Lords plan…my heart was literally in two. Broken. Like ripped down the middle. TORN. WIDE.OPEN. I KNEW what I had spoken was TRUTH…but in my own heart I struggled to BELIEVE. “Is THIS…the loss of our kitty…to prepare my children for the loss of their mother?” “Is THIS…the loss of our kitty…to show my children how to grieve well and trust greater?” “Is THIS more than just a season, Lord…is THIS the end?” “NO!!!! LORD….NOOOOOOO!!”
I woke up the next morning with a restlessness of spirit. Our kitty had held on through the night, but it was evident the final hours were upon us and I just couldn’t do it. Doubt and fear were fighting for first place head space and I had a burning to just RUN. To GOOOO!! Far away from the phone calls, the emails, the scheduling, the treatment, the research, the books, the articles. Far away from the CANCER. CANCER. CANCER that had consumed me for three weeks and straight into the quiet presence of Jesus. Cuz if I didn’t, this was about to get U.G.L.Y. My head was swiftly going south and we all know Jesus is the only real remedy. The only lasting up note to a down-trodden soul.
A friend had previously offered up her empty-during-the-week lake house and I decided to actually cash in on the gift. Can I just say “Sweet Jesus”? Cuz that’s what I found there. And that’s what I needed there. And He met me. In every breath. And laying in that hammock, under warm skies, my Jesus Calling devotional in hand, the significance of the day would fall fresh on me. It was on that day, nine years before that I MET Jesus. In His beautiful, always-in-pursuit way, He rescued me from a car accident and made Himself KNOWN to me that day. In all the love that IS Him, He said “You are on the wrong path”. And as I sat in the time and space that had passed from then to now, I recalled the words of the Lord over me in recent days…EVEN NOW…”You are on the right path”. And so I knew, once again, that this WAS and IS a hand-picked journey, intricately designed JUST. FOR. ME. And my, oh, my, how much BEAUTY in this life I have had the joy of seeing and participating in since the day I said “YES” to living for HIM!
At dusk, I sat out to cover every inch of those five acres of ‘holy ground’. As the thunder rolled in the distance, there I was, walking and talking with the Lord. You know…all the pretty stuff first. The praise. The thanksgiving. And then I was back to where I started. And the Holy Spirit nudged “Come and sit a while with Me.” And so I did. And it was there that things got real. All the fears I’d been running from came flooding back. The very REAL possibility that this COULD be the end. A life cut short. Leaving my man. Leaving my girls. Leaving my calling. Leaving my field. Face to the heavens. Tears pouring. Chest heaving. Hands lifted high. And in what grew from a faint groan to a loud and desperate plea, I chanted “I wanna live. I wanna LIVE. I WANNA LIVE!!!!” I inhaled back into my seat…and exhaled “But I want YOU most.”
And with those words of sweet surrender, the skies opened and the tears of heaven met mine. And I knew then, that’s what this is REALLY all about. This was my Abraham and Isaac moment at the altar. Do I love this world more than the next? The temporary over the eternal? The seen over the unseen? Do I love my (earthly) life more than I love the One who gave it to me?
Hours later, a friend would text me a scripture reference. After reading it, my eyes fell upon the opposite page and I read the Apostle Paul’s words to church at Philippi about what it is to become like Christ and the truth of chapter two, verse eight sealed in my soul, our moment in the rain… “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death…”
Oh that the Father KNOWS my heart. My desire to be OBEDIENT above all else. EVEN IF it means death. My God has proven Himself time again. And since He is the same tomorrow as He was yesterday, I think it’s safe to say His plan is always better than mine anyway!