Less than 48 hours ago the results of the CT scan were read to me: “Two enlarging pulmonary modules compatible with progression of pulmonary metastases”
Metastases. The medical term for spreading. My uterine cancer was now spreading to my lungs.
“But Lord, I thought I would get a rest now. I thought now I would have at least 6 or 8 months of normal life. … no chemo appointments, no radiation, no bone pain, no baldness, no fatigue. Lord, I want to have rest & normalcy. I want to focus on other projects for awhile.”
The CT scan was routine follow-up on some suspicious nodules seen 2 months ago, just before we went on the Ethiopia trip. I knew full well that the rate of recurrence of my type of cancer is 60-90% within 1- 1/2 years. But I didn’t expect it this quick. Now what?
After I hung up the phone, I cried a little, then told Dave. And we sat together gathering our thoughts. We had to decide how we were going to deal with this. Of course, there was the usual research that had to be done. Three different types of chemo treatments were suggested; we needed to research these treatments, learn side effects & potential benefits, and be prepared for our meeting with the doctor to discuss and decide which one we were going to do.
That was the easy part. Mechanical research. Logical thinking. Tapping into the expertise available to us.
The other part of responding was intangible… choosing a perspective, settling on a mental course, deciding the base from which I would digest this happening. In short, once again, I had to choose whom I would serve, who would be my lord. “Surrender” is the thought that came to me. “Surrender & trust His love for you.” It is a choice. Yes, the emotions are there….but in the final analysis, Life is a choice of whom to serve.
If I choose to serve myself, my goals, my agenda, my desires…then I am like a leaf floating on the water, completely at the mercy of the waves. When the sun is soft & the waves are gentle, Life is good, and I have an illusion of safety & strength. But when the sun becomes hot, I dry out….or when the waves become turbulent, I quickly sense the depths opening up to me. No, to choose to serve my own self is no real choice….except the choice of Disillusionment & Death.
But to choose to serve Love…the Savior who gave His all for me…the One who birthed me in His mind long before my arrival on earth…the Father who is also All-mighty God…………. In that choice is Life, even in the midst of death. From the beginning, both Dave & I made the decision to travel through this cancer with Truth and Transparency: Truth to anchor us, and Transparency to help others.
Today as I got up from a nap, the Lord met me with a new understanding. To choose Him & His way means to live according to the Truth of Scripture. What does this mean, practically-speaking?
It’s like eating a meal. The food is before me on the plate. I can acknowledge the reality of its presence. I can see it. I can discuss it with others. But it does me no good, sitting on the plate. I must first make the decision to eat the food, and then I must act on that decision by lifting it piece by piece into my mouth. Once in my mouth, I chew on it, savoring the taste, considering its texture, interacting personally with it. But it still does me no good. I am more intimately involved with the food, but I can still spit it out.
I have not committed to it until I swallow it. Only after surrendering to it, after allowing it to pass the point of no return, do I gain any benefit from it. Because with that decision to swallow I set in motion the largely-unconscious absorption of the food into my own body. Blood carries the food to my cells, and my cells now have strength for their work. It is the act of swallowing (not the looking at the plate, not the chewing, but the swallowing) that makes it possible for me to absorb the benefit of the food, so that the food becomes part of me and empowers me.
Truth is like that food. It is real. It is discussed. It is sitting on the plate waiting to see who will “eat”. Truth is the Scriptures, “cooked” by God Himself and placed in front of us. “Come and eat”, He says.
So we gather around the table. We ‘oo’ & ‘ah’, commenting to each other what a wonderful meal. (“Great sermon!”) In our neat little Bible Studies we discuss the colors, the scents, the layout on the plate . We set up hypothetical situations in which the Truth could be beneficial. A few of us, a very few of us, get brave and put a bite into our mouth. We chew on it. We think & meditate on it. We discuss it with the Lord. We test it against our private thoughts. We wonder if we should trust it and take the swallow.
Only the courageous amongst us go so far as to swallow. Most of us prefer to just slowly starve to death, looking at the plate of Truth, happy to sit around the table with others, from time to time bravely tasting a bit, but never committing to the swallow. Never daring to go beyond the point of no return. Perhaps this is what Jesus referred to when He said “The way is narrow, and few there are who find it.” Few amongst us are willing to commit to the swallow.
For myself, I have committed. I have chosen Who I will serve. I have decided Who is the Rock under my feet, the Wind beneath my wings, the Light in my hand for the path ahead. And in that choosing, I have swallowed. And I will continue to swallow as the Lord places Truth before me.
The Truth Food placed before me this afternoon was a reminder of the character of God. “God is love” “God does not change” “God is good, and all that He does for us is intended for good.” “God has only goodwill toward Man.” “The heart of God is pure; He does not delight in pain, in wrong, in injustice.” As I chewed on this Truth, it developed in my thinking. The texture & taste of His love began to unfold.
This is not the first time I have chewed on this Truth. The thoughts were familiar. “My Father loves me. He loves me personally. Because of His character and His love, He does only that which is good for me and for His Kingdom.”
“He does only that which is good for me…..good for me…good for me…”
As I walked around the bedroom after my nap, chewing, the Lord was asking me, ”Do you dare to swallow?”
I dared. I swallowed.
I took that Truth into my being. It settled in my soul. I committed myself to it. And it wasn’t long before the nourishment began to be felt in my spirit. A renewed strength. An ability to leave my bedroom & focus on the work at hand. But it was more than that. Along with the strength came a deeper understanding of Life. And I began to see that there is something greater than peace in the midst of difficulty. The Truth of His love and His intent for only goodness was digested & issued into a JOY about the future.
“I wonder what is the Good He is bringing now? When will this Good come? What shape will it be in?” And flooding my soul came a joyful expectation, almost like playing a game of treasure hunting. Tomorrow will I see the Good He’s working? Next week? Maybe there is more than one Good thing He’s working on. Will this Good be in me or in others?
The Scriptures say that the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace….” I don’t know that they appear necessarily chronologically in our lives, nor are listed in order of importance. But I notice that JOY follows LOVE. And when we swallow the Truth of His character of changeless love, of constant goodwill towards us personally, then He fills us with JOY.
Will you swallow the Truth He’s presented to you? Do you dare to surrender to Him? Do you have the courage to abandon yourself to a God who loves you?
Join me in this Life journey. Let us swallow together. And let us together watch for His great goodness in the coming days & weeks.
August 22, 2010