It was a crisp January day when I got a call from my husband, Jesse, who was en route from an MRI (because of headaches) to the Emergency Room. The MRI results showed a golf ball sized tumor in his brain. In an instant, our lives were turned upside-down. My heart pounded. With tear-filled eyes, I squeezed my young children and got into my car and drove. I drove, breathing deeply, vision narrowing in silence, thinking, “God you are faithful, God you are faithful. It’s going to be okay. God is good. God you are faithful.” Deep, slow, breath…in…out. What just happened? What next? Breathe.
The next 48 hours would be the most uncertain time of my life. From the ER to a life flight to the ICU, to surgery, then home, then to recover, then radiation, then to recover again, then more surgery, then to recover, then the tumor was removed, but still a large possibility of recurrence.
God knew it all, and orchestrated it all. And now, we wait and watch.
Recently, as I sat in church, we sang one of my favorite songs, “Oceans” by Hillsong United. This song is a description of Matthew 14, where Peter is called to walk on the water to Jesus. I have known this story for years: Jesus walks out to the disciples, who are on a boat. They become afraid, thinking Jesus is a ghost. Jesus says, “Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid.” Peter replies, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus answers, “Come.” Once Peter was on the water, he saw the wind and was afraid, took his eyes off the Lord and started to sink. Then he cried out to the Lord, “Save me!” Jesus immediately grabbed his hand and said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Peter’s faith would forever be changed.
It’s one thing to know this Bible story; it’s another to live it.
Since January 27th, 2014, God has called me to get out of the boat. He has called me into the unknown, to face the uncertain.
Since January 27th, 2014, God has called me to get out of the boat. He has called me into the unknown, to face the uncertain. At times the winds pick up and howl and my instincts tell me to look down and try to find solid ground to stand on – to return to the path that I had chosen. But now, I find myself off my path, and in the middle of an ocean with complete lack of control. If I look down in search of solid ground, I lose sight of my Savior. I lose my footing and hope, and begin to sink. Instead, I try to journey on steadily, putting one foot in front of the other, in faith that He will see me through.
Ten years ago, God began preparing me for this trial as I studied the book of James. James 1:2-5: “Consider it pure joy my brothers, when you face trials of any kind, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance…and perseverance must finish its work so that you become mature and complete, not lacking anything.” One year before Jesse’s diagnosis, I had been struggling with the overwhelming fear of losing a child. I have never lost a child, but the fear of it gripped me and would not let go. Sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, it was real, it was constant. I was paralyzed by lack of faith. At that time, God began to break down my walls in order to build me back up. He was actively preparing me for the days, weeks and years to come. While at Bible study, a woman shared her testimony about her impending divorce. She was attempting to hold things together in the relationship, but ultimately came to the conclusion that God will get His glory, come what may. With conviction she stated it in a way I will never forget, “God will use this through us, or he will use it through me… either way, God will use this situation for His Glory.”
I wrestled with this. I would lay awake at night with more tears and even greater fear. Would I allow God to use a tragedy in my life to further the gospel? In that moment, how would I respond? Finally, through prayer, wrestling, and time, God settled this for me, and it gave me a sweet freedom to simply allow God to use every part of me for His glory. He knew exactly what I needed to be ready for and he got me there just in time.
Why are we so afraid to suffer, so afraid to take those great steps of faith? Suffering is biblical. Look at David, Paul, any of the disciples, and of course, Jesus – they all suffered for furthering the Gospel. Each was brought closer to his Maker because of it. Suffering makes us better, stronger, wiser.
Why are we so afraid to suffer, so afraid to take those great steps of faith? Suffering is biblical.
There are hard days, when I walk down the path of uncertainty or when I desire to regain control and security in my life. Sometimes the emotion overwhelms me. When I read a story about cancer or death my mind runs, reality hits, and I sink. In those times, I must retrain my thoughts and return to the truth that set me free. Truths like: God had everything already planned from before the beginning of time (Jeremiah 29:11); tomorrow is settled (Matthew 6:25-27); the script of our life is written; He chose us for this; He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) – truths that set me FREE. Returning to these truths gives me the freedom to have peace and joy, freedom to make memories without fear, and freedom to speak boldly about pain and trials, knowing I am called to it.
So why fight the calling? Why stress about something that is already taken care of? I am confident that God has called me to this. God has prepared me for this. God will get me through this. It’s not my feet that are keeping me afloat; it is God, who is sustaining me upon the waters. Would you be obedient to God’s calling in your life, even if it meant losing everything?
Our journey of faith has just begun. We are confident that despite the statistical likelihood of recurrence, God is greater than statistics – but, ultimately, His will be done. We don’t know how long Jesse has to live, or how long any of us have to live, but we are living to make memories of the moments we are in, and to enjoy each day as if it were our last.
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”
“I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine”
– Hillsong United
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Image Credit: Alexander Boden, Creative Commons