Limiting God

Some devoted Christians have a hard time handling or believing the fact that I was healed. Or that anyone they know will be healed of something huge. My faith is so much bigger, stronger, and more fulfilling now that I know I’ve been healed. It is the biggest blessing that could have come out of cancer. I hate the idea that others can’t get into that mindset. It changes everything. I know it can be scary to believe in miracles like that, because they don’t always happen. And there’s no earthly way of us knowing which prayers really will and will not occur. But for me it’s worth the risk. Life is so much better on this side.

It’s normal to be scared to pray for these miracles, or to explain them away. I was scared to believe I would be healed, because if I was wrong my kids wouldn’t understand. Maybe other devoted Christians feel the same now. If I keel over tomorrow, did they lead their sheep astray by having rejoiced that God had healed me? Or, if they dare to believe I was healed how do they explain why their wife’s best friend wasn’t healed? Finally, if I can be healed because I prayed and believed God, how does that change the way they view and pray to Jesus?

I understand fear. We are told time and again not to worry behave out of fear for a reason–it’s everywhere. Our society teaches us to be cautious. Our experiences ensure that we will be disappointed if we let our guards down, so we protect ourselves. And our memories repeat the stories we’ve seen and heard about others being let down. 
The thing is, if you can’t believe God healed me (just for example, this issue is not literally about me), how can you believe He answers other prayers? Do you set guidelines on how much to ask God for? Like, “Take my sore throat away for long enough to do this presentation”, but never, “Lord, I believe you have removed the inoperable tumor from this woman’s brain”. I think that happens but it shouldn’t. A good example is when Abraham walked with God and they spoke about Sodom, he asked boldly for more and more grace regarding His destruction of the city and the people in it (Genesis 18).
If we are going to limit God by what we believe He will do, what kind of faith have we developed? That takes the living trinity out of the mix and basically makes us the god. It turns us into being “spiritual, not religious” like so many lost souls. That is an easier way to live but that doesn’t make it right. People might think it helps them avoid disappointment but it actually leads to destruction instead.
Christians are called to pray to Jesus, who intercedes for us. How egotistical of us to limit what we ask Him, what we expect of Him, to piddly little things that could happen by coincidence. How sad it is for our children to learn to word their prayers out of fear of disappointment rather than true faith. The Bible tells stories of suffering, but that doesn’t make it the theme of the book. Our duties in this life are to grow closer to God and help others to do the same.
So, in this world where people without faith are empowered to do pretty much anything their hearts desire, I think we should feel empowered too. Not as individuals but as children of Christ. The Lord empowered us all to pray boldly, stand firm in faith and to be courageous. The great commandment tells us to love the Lord with all our heart and mind. We can’t love and glorify Him if we’re limiting Him with our own expectations (Mth 22:36-37).

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Hebrews 4:16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Matthew 7:7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

Terminal Cancer

I can’t sleep. I’m having flashbacks of my trip to MD Anderson from last year. I just went back and read the blogs I wrote then (1/9/12) and can’t believe how upbeat I sounded compared to how I felt. The Lord really carried me through that awful time. I have thought a lot about it lately because, as I mentioned, my friend Alison went there for a consultation this Jan. 9. I thought it was really weird that out of 365 days, the Lord had her go the exact same day I went the year prior, so it’s been on my mind even more. Incidentally, her trip there went well. They didn’t offer any great surprises or news but agreed with the treatment she was on and approved of her current doctors, etc.

So, I’ve been thinking about that trip mostly because I recently realized that was the turning point for me. I had been forced to take in the realities of a terminal diagnosis and whatnot, but that horrendous meeting was the last straw in my precarious, man-made world. I was left so empty. So broken. So hopeless. I had held out so much hope that God would use that trip as a lifeline. I knew He could heal me any way but thought all the signs pointed to it being that way.  It was that much more insulting with those hopes to show up there and be treated like garbage. Or, like litter. Garbage matters enough that one picks it up and takes it to a dumpster. Litter is more insignificant, left for the wind to carry off or destroy. I am so thankful that our Lord doesn’t see me like that though. That it wasn’t the wind, but the Lord God Almighty who lifted me up. And instead of destroying me like I deserved, He carried me through the storm and blessed me like never before.

I am burdened by a new group of terminal cancer patients that I’ve been learning about. The truth is that the doctors insist they’re dying because they are. Technically, anyway. It’s not the doctor’s faults, it’s the result of our fallen world. But as long as I live I will declare that only the Lord can number our days, and that no matter how small the frequency, once in awhile He pulls us out of the fire just in time. So it’s not true that everyone dies once it’s stage 4. Even if there’s just a .000000001 percent survival rate, it’s still something. If He did it for me, He can do it for you. Or your friends or loved ones. So, please keep praying for God’s miraculous interventions in the lives of all the sick people we know. And keep believing in and expecting those miracles, just like the faithful followers who went before us.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12

Still Recovering…and Upcoming Events

I am definitely still recovering from the DIEP surgery. I have had many moments of regretting the surgery. I don’t know if it was too soon or just because I happen to have gotten sick at the same time. Everyone I spent time with at Christmas got sick, so it wasn’t just because my immune system was down, but it hit me so hard I keep blaming the surgery. I still feel about 50% of normal.

It is a new year and so far it’s been great. I’ve had no cancer, no surgeries, no chemo or radiation, not even any doctor’s visits. Oh, no miraculous healings either. I still can’t drive so have been mostly sitting at home playing with the kids. It’s been incredibly peaceful and I’m not stir crazy at all. I think the Lord was trying to show me I don’t need to be so busy all the time.

So anyway, toward the end of last year I became hesitant to talk about my healing. I just felt burnt out and maybe I wanted to move on. Then on a trip to Gainesville I heard this heart-breaking story on the radio about a young (single) mother with stage 4 cancer. I absolutely lost it. I was almost convulsing with sobs as I drove and thought about it. God used that to motivate me. He reminded me that He has changed my heart–forever–to really care for, pray for, and minister to, people with cancer. It’s part of me now and I’m sort of incomplete when I’m not doing it. I began to pray for more opportunities to share the story He blessed me with. Within about 24 hours I had three new opportunities, all of them unexpected. One will be on Easter. I was invited to share my story at a small local church called Mosaic (http://www.mymosaicchurch.com/). The pastor there was my pastor at Chi Alpha that I went to as a grad student and I gave my normal testimony there way back then. It will be different people but still a great “follow-up” to share the more recent news. The next two opportunities will take me completely out of my comfort zone. One will be for the Joanna Francis Living Well Foundation, which is that local group I attend events for. They are having a fashion show as a fundraiser on Valentine’s Day and I will be in it. If you know me well you know I would normally hate to walk down a runway while everyone stares at me. But God has a sense of humor. Back when I was at my prettiest (in college), I wouldn’t have hated it as much. But now that I’m at my ugliest (not putting myself down, just saying the truth), I have to strut down a runway and act like I think I look like hot stuff. However, I will be able to do it because I am the least focused on outer beauty that I have ever been. Hopefully feeling blessed on the inside will help a lot. It isn’t a direct opportunity to share what God did, but anytime I get attention for surviving cancer the story comes out, and I guess this group is one God needs to be glorified around. Finally, on Feb. 23 I will be getting a makeover for the Tallahassee Magazine Top Salon contest. Basically, all these local hair salons each pick a model who they think deserves a makeover, and we get free clothes from Narcissus, free tooth whitening, a nutritionist, short term gym membership, and some other great perks. The contest is supposed to be how the hair salon improves us, but a lot of the judging goes by the model’s personal story. I think last year someone made over a homeless person and she won. The winning salon wins advertising in the magazine and money donated in their name to their favorite charity. Haute Headz is doing mine, so if they win the money will go to the Joanna Francis Living Well Foundation. One of the owners of Haute Headz, Darcy Cavell, is a breast cancer survivor so it all goes together.

Other health issues that need prayer:
My friend, Sarah Allen collapsed today and they think it might be appendicitis. Please be praying for her correct diagnosis, perfect healing and easy recovery!

I mentioned Aly from Texas’ scans last time and the results came back cancer-free, woohoo!!!!!

January 9: Alison with the rare stomach sarcoma is going to MD Anderson to see an expert. That just happens to be the same exact day I went last year! You all know my awful experience there so please pray that she gets only good news. She has had two clear scans and doesn’t need anything to bring her down. Please pray she will see the right doctor/s, ask the right questions, and know what to do in the future. And keep praying she remains permanently cancer-free.

January 11: Debora Passetti fundraiser at Four Oaks. I’m terrified that the turnout won’t be big enough. We are only charging $5/ person so we really need a lot of people to show up. Please pray the right people will come and the family and everyone donating time, talents or money is blessed. Her recent scan came back as improved but not clear and I believe she went off chemo (after 21 weeks of it) and onto Arimidex. Please pray those side effects will be minimal and that God will take the rest of the cancer away immediately. And permanently.

January 14: My friend Jessica with the lung cancer has a scan scheduled. Each has been showing improvement but that’s not enough. Pray for every last cell to be gone.

Let’s pray and believe that 2013 will be the year of healing!!!!!!!!!!

Psalm 103: 15-19, “As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more; And its place acknowledges it no longer. But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, To those who keep His covenant, And who remember His precepts to do them. The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all.”