I don’t want to

My children were not especially stubborn as toddlers. For the most part, they were compliant with my plan of action. Get dressed? OK. Eat lunch? Sounds good. Go outside to play? Why not? But there was always a point where they realized they wanted something different than I did. The feet stopped. The posture changed. A realization hit them. I am my own person and I don’t want to do what I’m being asked to do. I don’t want to!

Part of growing up is doing things we don’t want to do. We get up early, we go to school, we sit quietly in the dentist’s chair, we eat our vegetables. As we grow we get more choices, and we think a day will come when all the choices will be ours. We learn about consequences and rewards and we’re pretty compliant because we generally get what we want–graduation, a career, a marriage, children. It usually works out.

But what if it doesn’t? What if God is calling us to do something hard? Something unusual? What if we don’t get what we want?

I don’t want my daughter to have cancer. I don’t want to get any more bad news. I don’t want to be afraid.

As we have faced the possibility of more bad news, we have struggled. We are wrestling with our fears. It’s not that we don’t trust God. It’s not that we doubt His providence or His love. It’s not that we’re unwilling to follow and submit and do the hard thing ahead.

We just don’t want to.

Our pastor reminds us that submission is obedience when we don’t agree. Submission is saying yes when we don’t want to. It doesn’t mean we don’t grieve. It doesn’t mean we’re not afraid. It just means we say yes.

Even Christ sorrowed in the garden. With a full view and perfect knowledge of all His sufferings to come, He submitted to the Father’s will.

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)

We are sorrowing. We are afraid. And if we’re honest, we don’t want to.

But we long to be like Him. We want to be willing. By His grace, we want to say yes.

 

 

 

 

 

What cancer can do and what it can’t

Cancer is a frightening diagnosis. I think we all have a fear somewhere inside us, fear of our body turning against us and the pain it could bring–the possibility of life cut short.

Cancer treatment still seems so barbaric. Poison and cut and slash. Invasive tests and medicines with risks of their own. It’s a battle, and the losses are startling. Even the victories are not without cost.

But in any battle, it’s important to remember the limitations of your enemy. It’s important to consider your strengths and your resources and the war itself. Life is more than this one battle.

Cancer has the power to do some things. It can take your hair and make you sick. It can discourage you and bring you low. It can cause your strength to fail and your smile to fade. It can cause pain and fear, sometimes despair.

But it cannot steal your joy. It can’t change who you are or what you believe. It can’t take you places you were not meant to go.

Cancer can make you appreciate each day, each moment. It can magnify the beauty around you. It forces a right perspective–eternal instead of temporal. It erases shallow thoughts and ambitions. It can draw you close to God.

It doesn’t hide the beautiful. It cannot separate you from God’s love.  It cannot remove you from His mercy–not even for one moment. It is never capable of taking you out of His sight or His reach. It does not diminish His sovereignty or His power or His goodness.

Cancer is not random and does not blindly strike. God has determined your days and written your story before the pages of time began. Cancer does not change your story. Cancer cannot cut your life short, not by one day or one hour.

Cancer cannot erase your name from the palm of God’s hand. It cannot rob you of the peace that only He can give. It means nothing in eternity except an opportunity to praise Him and testify of His grace.

Cancer is an enemy, but it does not win the war. Fight the battle with all your might, but trust in the Commander. Have faith in the keeper of your soul.

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. (Psalm 121:3,7)

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tribute

In memory of my husband’s mother who died of ovarian cancer when she was 40.  I see her every day in him, so I know she was beautiful. The mother-in-law I never had, the grandmother my children never knew.

I never knew you well. I was 16 and you were dying of cancer, but I don’t remember knowing that. And I didn’t understand that you were in the process of letting go.

I liked your son. He was cute and he made me laugh. He was walking in truth and I felt a strong pull to walk along with him. God was working in my heart and I was letting go of some things myself. I think now how hard it must have been for him to leave you that year to go to college. He did it for you. He’s told me many times how he wanted to enlist in the Army but you wanted him to go to college. So off he went.

While he was away, you invited me to your house to show me his childhood pictures. We laughed over cute photos and you shared memories. I’m sorry that I was distracted and shallow, as teenagers are. I’m sorry that I didn’t understand what you were trying to do. I wish now that I had looked you in the eyes and promised you I would take care of him. I wish I had asked more questions and written things down. I wish I had hugged you and told you it would be alright. I wish I had encouraged you with God’s words. But I was 16 and I didn’t know he was my forever love. I didn’t know you’d be gone before spring.

Maybe you knew something on that cold winter day. Maybe you were handing me a gift. Maybe you were saying good-bye.

I wonder when you knew, when you understood that you would be leaving your husband and your children. I wonder how you prepared for that, how you used your grief to make the days count. I wonder how your belief in God and His promises helped you in those final days and how your desperate longing for this life turned into joyful anticipation for heaven.

He still misses you. On the anniversaries of your birth and death, he is far away, remembering. There is a heart string, taut, that only memories of you can pull.

As we approach this Mother’s Day, I want to rise up and call you blessed. I want to say thank you for the hard work of mothering done in the midst of fear and pain. I want to say thank you for staying faithful and full of belief to the end.

I want to say thank you for the beautiful heritage of faith. It follows you still.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. Her children rise up and call her blessed. (Proverbs 31:25,28)