“Whom have I in heaven but you? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…….as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.” Psalm 73:26
Such calm and peace on this Good Friday as I reflect at the end of this weeks journey alongside of new and unexpected friends. Yesterday, day 4 of my mom’s radiation, there were no huddled families discussing details, overwhelmed with information or shuddering hard as they face cancer’s abrupt detour along winding roads.
I took a deep breath as I chose my place to settle. I take my mom’s coat and purse before she signs in and off she goes. Today, I am a little sad that the beautiful window into hearts of late may not be as telling of God’s presence that has been so real. Truly my strength has come in the honest surrender and in the telling stories of the providence of God’s plan for every soul. He continues to show Himself trustworthy. His glory in meeting the hearts of His beloved in hard places of fear and unrest is woven in almost every conversation. Today I miss the sweet moments of care among this community that know this so very well.
I quietly give thanks to the Lord for the sweet communion He has given as a gift. Cancer, this precious and uniquely crafted pearl, began as an irritant but is proving to create, if only in my heart alone, a thing of beauty. These are the daily miracles that tell our life’s story. Cancer. Life altering disease. An accident. Financial ruin. A rebellious child. Hard things that we learn in the midst of finding what is good and to that we cling….. There are beautiful stories of perseverance, bravery, strength, faith, deliverance……. On this day, my heart longs to tell of them all as Cancer teaches me how to live an even deeper entrenched life carved out by God in this battlefield
I close my eyes and smile after what seems like hours of God’s presence permeating my spirit. And when my eyes open, she sits down one seat away and in that grand space she is now adjacent to me. And of course, the Lord well knows that I will not ignore that I have seen her. Her hair is gone, her small frame so frail and weak. I speak hello in the awkward silence. I make sure that our eyes meet. Her bald head is of no importance to me but I have seen the anxious stares of those who do not know what to say. She bends her head down and puts her hand on top of her head as if to hide the obvious. I want to run and wish that I had not spoken and drawn even more awkward attention to the obvious. All too well I know that He longs to love her fully and even more real in the next few moments that we share.
This beautiful young life has been stilled and this horrible pause in her has stunned her. So I wait for a moment, I pray hard for her heart to be held and for her to know how very much God loves her. The silence is deafening. I speak quietly, out of respect. “You. Are. Beautiful. Courageous. Strong. Fearless. Loved.” She raises her head. We were alone in this large waiting space. In a whispered response that I can barely hear, she responds “I keep praying for strength.” I reach deep and am reminded that everyday faith-based, God-Inspired responses does little to comfort a despairing heart. While I know that God is good, His ways and plans are perfect every day of our lives are not always supernaturally “happy”. No platitudes. Only whispers of hope unspoken and in the silence I beg God to speak peace to her whole being. Our eyes stay fixed and I feel her soul beg for rescue.
Few words are exchanged between us in this timeless window. She IS a person of faith but for her, cancer has tested everything that she thought she knew. She laughs and speaks boldly of her new-found life experience; “Easy to trust God, praise Him and celebrate when you have your hair and health.” We smile. I may not know THIS very well….but these things I do know from every messy place that God has gifted on my life’s journey to wander. I restrain myself from running to her. This was NOT that moment. I encourage her to run hard and fast to the truths that her heart knows. It is fair for our hearts to feel abandoned and to wonder why. Why me? Why now? And I swallow hard, but really- Why not?
I wish that I could say that my response along life’s hard places have always been that of a beauty surrendered with no whys, no doubts and always FULL faith.
She is so very weak. I see her settling back to find that comfortable place. She is day 30 of radiation after a very long and aggressive series of chemotherapy.
The truth is, moments allowed like these in the full scope of the sovereignty of God have ALWAYS led me to my knees. As His beloved, that is exactly where God fully is. In our surrender, He bows low to where we are because He understands more than we the pain of suffering. Dying on a cross so that we can live, not just glide through life but know it in abundance.
His love and care shape us. His glory appears when we let go and receive in knowing and understanding that He sees, He knows and carries the pain and suffering In our lives. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. He holds us strong as does the Father and the Holy Spirit. He hears our most intimate tellings and the very things our hearts are never prepared for. Beloved of God, Jesus, the prince of peace, is at the right hand of God the Father interceding on your behalf.
Out time together ends and yesterday as night fell, my heart was still mulling over this 3-5 minute God ordained appointment and I give thanks. Not for the eyes to see but the heart to know, to feel and identify with in some small way the indescribable pain of facing ones own mortality. This heart acknowledges my responsibility to examine my own life. To boldly live out the days that I am given instead of getting derailed by the things beyond my control. To find the balance in it all, so as not to miss the world around us as we run fast forward through life. To march fully into each day that we are given and take hold of life even more purposefully on this side of heaven. The journey through suffering prepares us to be even more committed to the work of the kingdom of God, to its building and to bring glory to the indescribable gift of eternal life.
Living in this world is not eternal life. Learning to live well even in dying leaves behind the beauty of God’s promise through Christ…..
I have gone to prepare a place for you. Do not be afraid.
These things I know, at this day’s beginning……
She will wrangle with the Lord during these days that seem to stand still in time as she faces the valley of the shadow of death. Her path will continue to be made straight as her strength to trust God fully returns. She will go to be with the Lord when and only when The Lord has made known in the heavens and His work for her is done. I find great joy in affirming her that her life has impacted and challenged mine in these sacred moments. You ARE His masterpiece, clothed in beauty. Our hearts beat together and His presence resonates with the angelic beauty waiting at the gates of heaven to welcome her…… Someday. When the Lord wills.
i open my tablet and begin to read and sing Psalm 23 over her as a prayer. My unutterable prayer beckons the heavens to open up and envelope this precious, wounded heart and fill her up with strength, courage and peace.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Your are loved precious one so much more than you know……and of this we can be assured. Be comforted in knowing…… we will always be with the Lord!