It’s been about five years since we heard the answer to the question Yaacov and I had never thought to ask: “Am I going to die of cancer?”. The response was certain. Death was knocking at the door, loudly. It banged in rhythm with my heart. It was louder than the voices on the other end of the phone as I shared the news with loved ones. It pounded furiously through every word of each prayer, demanding attention as we sought the wisdom of the only One who can rescue us from earthly death or from eternal wrath. The only One who really understood every bit of what we were going through.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”—Hebrews 4:15-16
Death colored every conversation that Thanksgiving, and later cast his dark shadow over each Christmas carol and gift. My mind became a kaleidoscope as the reality of my impending exit reflected off each sight, sound, thought, memory, and perception.
I’m so different now that I can’t get a good understanding of the way I used to see and think about things. But I know He moved me from constant sadness and terror into deep faith. By the time the Lord miraculously removed the cancer from inside my bones and my lungs I wasn’t even surprised that He had done it. I remember thinking, “Of course He did, He IS GOD!”.
I wish I could end the post here. It’s almost Thanksgiving, I haven’t posted in forever, and I want to glorify Him with my words. But the truth is, some sinful, idiotic part of me rose up around the time He healed me. And it would serve to boast in myself if I didn’t admit it. My faith grew like never before, but so did my pride. How can that be? My God, my God, how I have sinned against you! Stolen your credit, took your mercy for granted.
It was like I conveniently forgot about my weaknesses and decided I had earned His favor or delight, and that was why He healed me. I started thinking I had been strong, but in reality I was as weak as a person could be. I forgot that He rescued me because I begged Him like crazy to do so. Because I was scared to trust Him with my kids. Because I was scared to die. He healed me because I have more to learn on earth, more to experience, more to grow in. Somewhere along the line I got the impression that it was about my awesomeness. That I would be so good for the kingdom work on earth that y’all needed me down here. Yes, at some point between funerals of other women who died of breast cancer, I found myself standing up straight–because I had been chosen, selected, found worthy to be on earth. I had arrived!
Shame fills me now, as I drink in the humiliation. It’s like I danced and sang my way through a graveyard of godly people, rejoicing that I was on earth. And the joy of getting what I wanted was nothing compared to those who truly get to rejoice in heaven! THIS world is the one fading away. THIS world is where hopelessness reigns, where evil lies around each corner, if it isn’t already stuck to your shoe. Death can’t chase us there, it has been defeated once and for all!
“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”–I Cor 15:24, 26
I am so embarrassed by my sin, I kind of want to throw up. But I don’t want to carry it anymore. I don’t want to leave it unconfessed on here, leaving the appearance that the pride that might have colored previous posts had gone unnoticed–or unwashed by the blood of the spotless lamb. He has been graciously revealing it to me over the past year, and there have been many times I need to wear a “No Trespassing!” sign, because it’s been exciting, excruciating, exhausting, and exhilarating all at once, and even an extra hug would send me over the edge.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all our uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:25-26
So this is a new, better year for different reasons than the last five. It’s not about life and death anymore. I am still healed by His mercy, still rebirthed in the blood of Christ. But I am even weaker now. Weaker physically because I have a lot of bone and joint pain. Weaker mentally because I’m still working through this “new me” business. And, with much more excitement, I declare: I’m weaker in pride, weaker in my own abilities, weaker in my independence. Because He is teaching me to appreciate His glory, so I can see His majesty and power at work. And I have a front row seat!
“But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God”–Ezekiel 37:23b
If you’re reading this and you haven’t “arrived” yet either, that’s okay. The truth is that none of us have, it’s just that some of us are too prideful to notice. No matter what you’re struggling with today, there is an answer. And there is One who will answer. He is hope, He is love, He is courage, He is power. He is Jesus, and He has arrived. He IS God with Us.