Thursday, September 8, 2011

Go Throw Yourself Into The Sea

Trust is a subject from which I will never graduate or accumulate all knowledge. Understanding that is the essence of trust. Most subjects are taught and learned before mastery begins but TRUST, is mastered before the explanations are given. We don't learn 'trust' by hearing alone, we learn it through practice.

I thought I had a handle on trusting God, that was, until June 2nd, 2011.

I had trust in the fact that God had led me to discover the mass. And I had trust that His providence made provision for me to walk through a few weeks of instability. I remember the morning I went in for the follow-up sonogram. The Dr. spent a long time rolling the gel covered device over my chest, taking pictures from various angles. I ask her if this was routine, given I'd never had a mammogram before, I didn't know. She said, "No this is not routine. I am very concerned about this." She informed me I would need a biopsy and then left the room.

After she left, I sat up on the bed and thanked the Lord for leading me to this place. All I could say was, "Thank You Jesus. Thank You. Thank You." At the time I thought this was an odd response. But it was unbidden. In my heart, I knew that I had heard a warning and I was grateful for His word and for my own obedience.

A few days later, following the biopsy, I asked the Dr. what she thought I was dealing with. She said, "I think you have a small breast cancer, you'll have a lumpectomy and radiation and it will all be over. Thank God you caught it early."

My heart told me that her preliminary diagnosis was correct. And I hoped that my path would be as simple as she suggested. Although I was shaken, my trust in God was complete through the span of MRI's, total body Pet Scans and even the double mastectomy on June 22. Although the process was much more costly to me physically than the first Dr. suggested, I still had a complete and resonating faith that God had my best in mind.

My biggest battle came when Chemotherapy was suggested. Until then I saw all of this as just a small bump in the road, a minor detour in life, a molehill. But when the "C" word (Chemotherapy) was mentioned the pruning cut deep into my tree of TRUST. For the first time since this ordeal had begun, I started to question God's purpose for my life and that was a Mountain.

"What if I trust God and His outcome for this situation is not what I want?"

"What if His purpose for me here is nearly complete?"

Essentially I realized that I may be trusting Him to get me to my destination (86 years old) and He could have a different destination in mind. This was definitely a mountain I couldn't get around.

After Chemotherapy I experienced the most hellish days of my life. The first few days were fine, then on day three, I felt as if my bed was propping open the gates of Hell. More torment than I can define or describe came upon me. I rocked back and forth in the bed and moaned and wept for the deep sadness and hopelessness that covered me. My mother cried with me but for her own nightmare. She described looking into my eyes in those days and seeing me go away. Like an astronaut, I was sinking into the space around the backside of the moon, where for several black moments I was completely out of range of communication. I have never felt so separated from the peace of God. I now know the nuances that shade the depths of the "shadow of death." There are dimensions of feeling and emotion that I will never forget. By days I was drawn into the the valley and by days I came out.

One week and one day after Chemotherapy I emerged with victory. It was a Saturday and I spent most of it in bed crying. My parents came over and spent a few hours with me, laying on the bed, encouraging me. My dad finally got me to agree to go to dinner with the family. After dinner I came home and got in the bathtub. I knew my family didn't need to hear me crying again, so I hid my sobs under the sounds of the faucet on full blast. As I sat there weeping I had a conversation with God.

Many times through my trial I heard individuals quote the scripture, "It rains on the just and the unjust." This statement was my gripe with God. My argument was that as I understood it, this scripture basically meant, "the same consequences come to the righteous as the unrighteous." And I just could not square that with my knowledge of God. So I said, in a rather pitifully demanding tone, "God, you are gonna have to explain this to me. If the same bad things happen to your children as they do to those with no covenant, what hope do we have of ruling and reigning in your name?"

As I sat in the depth of my valley, staring up at Mt. Cancer, He simply said, "The JUST are joint-heirs. With my authority, you can say to the mountain, "MOVE!" and it will be cast into the sea. Yes, it does rain on the just as well as the unjust but the JUST live by faith. In My name you can speak to the storm. The rain may fall, Amie. But you will not."

In that moment, I was the prodigal child. Not in that I had foolishly left the comfort of home but in regard to the realization of how out of place I'd been. I was a favored child found wrestling with miry thoughts. With the instant clarity of remembering my way home, I began to speak to the mountains my friends were facing. I'd like to say that I'm just unselfish in starting with them and not with myself but honestly I was just more fearless on their behalf. One by one as I spoke my authority increased until finally I felt strong enough to look at my mountain: Mt. Cancer.

"Mountain's stand in the way, obscure perspective and block vision. I speak to the Mountain of Cancer, "'Move.'" You will not be the first thing I see when I open my eyes. Cancer will not obscure my perspective nor will it block my vision of the future."

It was so simple. And yet I knew the Mountain was gone. The real enemy had been fear. Not cancer. And I felt no fear. I had come through the valley of the shadow of death and I could finally say, "I fear no evil."

The shadow was gone with the mountain.

When I was done speaking to all the mountains, the wind of my breath had cut a path through the mounds of bubbles in front of me. I stopped crying and started laughing. The mourning ended right then.

The part of this battle that I truly believe can change your life is the dissection of trust and confusion. I had been hearing "it rains on the just and the unjust" and I had been interpreting, "the consequences are the same for the righteous and the unrighteous." My misinterpretation was primarily due to the way in which this scripture is quoted. This scripture IS saying that the battle for the just and the unjust are the same but it is NOT saying that the outcome is the same.

It rains on the just and the unjust. We cannot control what comes to us but as joint-heirs with Christ, we do have input in the victory. It rains on the just and the just, reign.

Take a look at what is blocking your path, obscuring your view. It might be time to name that mountain so you can tell it where to go.

Mark 11:23
"Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Darkness Begins The Day

As I prepare breakfast in the darkness, I contemplate the cozy, deep sleep that avoids me like the white bit of egg shell being chased by my spoon. I have many things to contemplate about the rhythm of my life during this season and the profound effect the changes have made on every part of my being.

When the darkness of my diagnosis first shadowed my life I was bombarded with possibilities, then surgery and at the darkest point, chemotherapy. When I didn't think the night could go on, my hair decided it had had enough of my company. There has been plenty to contemplate during this season. Some thoughts were not welcome but came anyway. How do you refuse to think about hair when its hitting the floor like petals from a flower past it's prime?

Not only must the loss be contemplated, it demands a resolution. Nothing brings resolution to loss like the beginning of a bright, new day. But I have learned that new days don't begin bright.

Darkness begins the day.

My life over the past few months has been what most would call a season of darkness. Figuratively darkness can denote a cluelessness, loss of sight or direction. And a few times through this season I have felt like a child awoken away from home. With exhausted tears I would ask, "Where am I? How did I get here?"

Sleeping through the night makes it go by quickly. But when you toss and turn, awaking many times throughout the night, you wonder if night will ever end. As I watched the clock creep by, the next day introduced itself, black hour then blue. Finally deciding that rest would not return, I rose to meet the day. As I quietly made my way around the kitchen, I thought about the fact that it was dark when I went to bed and dark when I got up. But just because it was still dark didn't mean a new day hadn't begun.

You might still be in the dark but that doesn't mean you are stuck in the pattern of yesterday.

When we are enveloped by darkness that seems to go on forever, we will undoubtably find ourselves eager to see the daylight. It will come. There is no doubt. Whatever the darkness may be, it cannot last forever. Great things begin with darkness. Even God put the night first in the cycle of days.
Genesis 1:5

"God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day."

So according to God, the moment darkness fell in your life, it was the beginning of something new. During the darkness, a shift has taken place. What was moving away from you yesterday has already begun it's return to you. The season has changed even if you cannot see it yet. It's all coming back to you. Bigger, brighter and better than ever! A new day has come!!

Genesis 8:22

“As long as the earth endures,

seedtime and harvest,

cold and heat,

summer and winter,

day and night

will never cease.”