Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 30

Today is my birthday. The second birthday I've celebrated since I was diagnosed with cancer. Birthdays seem so much more special now - now that the prospect of not having any more became a reality two years ago. Thanks to my amazing family, our crazy COF staff, and my sweet friends, I had a great birthday week! There were fresh flowers, shared meals, giant cookies, sweet cards, Facebook messages, surprise gifts, beautiful (?) singing, time with family, lots of laughter, and, of course, ice cream!  Thank you to all of you who made me feel so special today! And thank you to my creator who saw fit to let me live to see another birthday! 

"Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all..." Ecclesiastes 11:8 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Open Eyes

I have always loved the story of the prophet Elisha found in 2 Kings 6:8-23. Mainly because I think it would be so cool to open my eyes and suddenly see what’s really going on in the spiritual realm around me. Wouldn’t that be amazing? The servant’s cry here, his nervous spirit when he sees the enemy army surrounding the city, sounds so much like me much of the time.

“Oh no!!!! What do I do???” I am looking at whatever physical circumstances are going on in my life and I start to freak out. I panic, or I go into the “I can fix it” mode, or I get angry or hurt or scared. Suddenly my life is a whirlwind of activity and emotion, everything spirals down to chaos.

Eventually, I turn to God and normally say something like, “Where were you? Why did you let this happen? Don’t you see what’s happening here? Don’t you care?”

This story is such a beautiful picture to me of God’s constant care. He is watching over Israel’s enemies. He knows everything they are doing, every evil plan they form against His people, and He makes sure that His people have what they need to succeed and survive. I had never really thought of this before. I know that God watches over me and protects me and provides for me. But to know that his care for me goes so far as to include constant surveillance of my enemies is amazing! God is watching, listening, moving, and working on my behalf constantly!

The story confirms the truth that God is omniscient. The word “omniscient” means “total knowledge.” Nothing can be hidden from God. He knows everything about everyone. He hears every conversation, and he reads every thought. God knows everything instinctively, instantly, perpetually, completely, infallibly, and eternally. He possesses total knowledge.

That’s kind of a scary thought. He knows all about us. He knows our thoughts, and he monitors our attitudes and actions. We are constantly under surveillance.  But when we see it from the other side – the fact that he knows everything means that I am completely safe with him – it changes the whole landscape of my life!  I don’t have to worry – God knows what’s going on. I don’t have to be afraid – God has it under control. He isn’t surprised by anything, not by circumstances, not by people, not even by me. 

Can you imagine the servant, when God opens his eyes to the spiritual truth all around him, he must have been totally overwhelmed. I can imagine what he thought – “Are you kidding me?? This is the true situation??  Oh my God (literally!) we are so OK! There is nothing the enemy can do against us! God is here! He is in control!"

One thing that is interesting to me is that Elisha did not pray that God would come and protect him, or that he would send his angels to surround the city. He didn’t have to. They were already there!  The miracle was not the presence of the angel guards; that was a constant reality. The miracle was that the servant saw them.  

Psalm 68:17 says, “The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands.”

It doesn’t tell us in this story how many angels and chariots were surrounding the city of Dothan, but can you imagine if there were thousands upon thousands? How small and insignificant the enemy army must have appeared when the servant’s eyes were opened to see them!

Everything changed in that moment - His whole perspective, his emotions, his attitude, his thinking, and his belief system. His fear changed to courage. Chaos changed to peace. Certain defeat was turned into personal strength.

It all came as a result of the awareness of God’s presence, and it resulted in victory!

God, please help me to see the reality of your presence today.  Help me to feel the security of your constant surveillance.  Help me to trust you again today. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Remember...

This time last year I was wondering if the fear ever went away. I wondered if every PET scan and every lab test and every doctor's appointment would continue to bring up feelings of uncertainty. I wondered if there would ever come a day when I didn't think about cancer. 

Well, last week I had PET scan #4, lab work, and a visit with the oncologist. Much to my surprise, I was not worried about the PET scan at all! I was not nervous waiting for the results. I didn't rehearse in my mind what I would do if the lab tests came back abnormal. In fact, when I walked into the doctor's office my heart was full of peace and confidence! I was so thankful to feel strong and well, and to be coming to his office as a healthy person and not someone who was signing in for treatment! 

The doctor immediately came into the exam room, handed me my PET scan results and said, "Normal!" I think he was as excited as Mark and I were! He did a complete physical exam and declared me good to go for three more months! We stopped by the chemo infusion room to say hello to all the nurses who became like family to us. There were lots of hugs and smiles all around!

As I left the doctor's office, Chris Tomlin's song, "I Lift My Hands" began to play in my mind again. The song has been in my heart ever since we first sang it at Community of Faith. But this day, the words were especially real for me:

I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge You are my strength
As I pour out my heart these things I remember
You are faithful, God, forever

God has been so incredibly faithful to me all my life, but I have seen it so clearly since that day in May 2009 when I first heard the words, "You have cancer." And this day, I remember.. You are faithful, God, forever! 

I still think about cancer every day, but I consider that a good thing. Cancer occupies much of my daily prayer time as I intercede for so many friends and loved ones who are fighting this disease. But I am so happy to report that the fear and uncertainty are no longer a regular part of my daily life. I lift my hands to believe again...