Perhaps I’ve learned that if I am not emotional I am not sure that I’m truly processing all the Lord has for me in what He’s doing in my heart and life. It’s who I am…it’s who I’ve always been. So as the tears streamed down my face after walking out of the Cat Scan department today I knew that I was nearer to where the Lord Jesus Christ wanted me to be…tender, needy, and close to Christ.
At the age of 34 I became a cancer survivor. April and I were newly engaged and the thought hit me that Fall, some six months before our wedding, “Maybe I ought to start getting checked out regularly since I’m about to be providing for a family.” And so that’s how my kidney cancer was discovered. Mama died from cancer. So indeed, the fear has always loomed in the background of my mind. But in 2011 that fear came to the foreground as life came to a halt and all our focus was on my newly discovered illness. Thanksgiving continues. No one wants cancer. But I had one of the most gracious types—confined to one kidney, nonaggressive, and healed through surgery. In fact the only pain I ever felt was recovering from the 4 lathroscopic wounds the robot left in my side.
But like so many cancer survivors around the world, every 6 months I get checked out. Indeed every exam has resulted in less and less fear. Then you get to that coveted 5-year mark, and you breathe a little bit. But every person who’s battled disease knows that serious illness is something that now ‘lives’ with you…it’s like a part of you…and it affects how you look at life and for sure how you look at the future.
We made the biggest move of our life last year. Wasn’t planned. Wanted to stay where we were. Wanted a different future. But if you wanna make God laugh, tell Him your plans. We came to the desert of the Coachella Valley in December and hit the ground running serving at a new church. Moving trucks. Car shipments. New temporary rental home. New office. New colleagues. New members. Trips to the utilities’ offices to get stuff turned on. DMV visits. New grocery store. New schools. Everything’s new. So what do you do in transition other than roll up your sleeves and just say, “We’ll settle in after while.” We couldn’t have asked for better entry to a new place. We love it here. Our hearts are full. Our family is growing. And God’s people here have been so good to us.
Then the 6 mos. cancer screening exam appears on your calendar. And you can’t help but think, “What if?” Fear is a real thing. As is worry. You think to yourself, “I wanna see these boys grow up…”, “I wanna give my daughter away some day…”, “I wanna get old and gray next to this bride of mine…”, “I wanna change the world through this church.” Then you see the sheep of the flock weathering their own storms. Your heart breaks when you learn of someone else’s bad news with illness and you think even more so, “What if?”
This is where the Lord becomes the wonder He is in our lives. And may He be that wonder for me and for you. Salvation is not what we think it is most of the time. Salvation is the promise that I am in Christ and Christ is in me. Salvation is the promise, NOT that I will never struggle or bout with fear, but that when I do, God is with me. Salvation is not about prosperity HERE, but the fullness of prosperity for all eternity at the Lord’s feet. Now I know this in my mind, but when fear strikes, and worry weighs me down, it’s hard to press what I know 18 inches southward to my heart. This is why a regularly scheduled exam continues to be such a weird joy. Because these exams produce a closeness to the Father I have not yet produced in my own power. These exams produce in my heart a neediness for God that my regular ‘disciplines’ (or if I have to be honest—sometimes the lack thereof) have yet to consistently manifest. These exams help me to realize my need for my Jesus, my sweet bride, my boys, my friendships, my church family. Regularly scheduled trouble makes me a better believer in God. Today I’m a better me…not a worse one.
So this morning as I laid flat on the CT Scan table (those of you who’ve done it know what I am talking about), and as the motorized table began to slide me in and out of that tube, the tears streamed down, and I whispered over and over again, “Jesus I love you.” For I KNEW He was right there. With me. Holding me tightly. Firmly. Assuredly.
God may bring you through whatever you’re going through. And truth is, He may not. It’s such a hard pill to swallow. If we ever fully do. But ti’s truth…and that makes us free.
So Hear the good news. You are not alone. You will not face one diagnosis alone. You will not face one setback alone. You will not be in one MRI scan or one CT Scan alone. You will not face pain alone. You will not face hardship alone. You will not face financial difficulty alone. You will not face trouble in family alone. You will never ever ever EVER be alone. Ask God’s help to praise Him for this ONE assurance—that we shall never be alone.
For those who are in ‘a season’ right now—for those who I know personally…I pray for you daily. Your names are whispered in prayer daily by me and myriads more. For now, may those weird, joyous tears flow.