Hello friends. It has been a while and things in our world are much different right now. There’s so much that could be said to process what’s going on in our world today, but the point of this is to let you know that we are doing well in the midst of it all. I hope you are too.
Regarding my health, it remains consistent, and consistency is good. There was a time when I nearly felt like I had an impending death sentence. It was clawing at my door relentlessly. As of April 2020 however, I do not. Am I in the clear? No, not really. Treatments have continued to truck along. Tumor-marker levels have continued to be normal. It feels like just yesterday that I was meeting with my Mayo Doctors for one of the first times and they were giving me the news that they recommended I stay on Keytruda treatment for at least another year. Now that “year” is almost here. At some point around the end of next month, I will come off Keytruda. The months following will be my moment of truth. The unveiling of whether or not rogue undercover cancer cells have survived the onslaught of surgery, medications, and prayer that have been dropped on them like war bombs over the past 4 years. Receiving this treatment that happens every 3 weeks has felt like a lifejacket guaranteeing cancer-free life while I have it. It’s even gotten as good as me forgetting to check my tumor-marker lab result until the next day! (Ok, maybe only one time, but still, that was a welcomed moment of ignorant bliss). But when the treatments stop, the life jacket comes off — then what? Will I be able to swim? Did it kill every last rebel cell that has been battling against my body persistently? How long will it take until we know for sure? And you know there that the questions don’t stop.
The “what if” game seems never-ending. But I’m not the only one with those unanswered questions. If we allow ourselves to think about it, we all have a death sentence at some point. Sometimes that death seems far, far away; completely absent from our minds. Other times it seems like it is around the corner hiding, waiting to surprise and startle you. Our physical bodies will pass away at a moment in the unknown future. We all know this, whether we fully accept it or not.
“Indeed we felt we had received the sentence of death but that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril; and He will deliver us! On Him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again!” 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 (ESV)
I love that this verse actually has exclamation points in it. The level of confidence in these words is inspiring. They hold an assurance of what will happen after physical death that brings peace in the midst of any circumstance. There is an offer of life to us. To all of us. When Lazarus was sick and died in the Bible, Jesus delayed getting to Him so that the glory of God would be revealed. When He did arrive, Lazarus had been in the tomb for 4 days. You know there is decay beginning to set in. It doesn’t take long. In John 11, Jesus instructs them to take away the stone of Lazarus’ tomb. His sister Martha however, stopped Jesus—she basically makes a ‘but, God?!’ argument: “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead 4 days.” Jesus responds, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (NKJV) Hmm.
When I feel a death sentence or maybe even see the possibility of one looming, maybe not a physical death sentence…there are many things that can die in the course of our lives. Fill in your own blanks here. How often do I stop God from working by saying “but God!” that would be messy or smelly or that would just be simply uncomfortable or it is just too late for that. Excuse, excuse, excuse.
Look and listen. Look and listen intently for what God is wanting to bring back to life in You – in your life – in those around you. And then get out of His way! Allow Him to work, don’t halt or delay Him with your unbelief or desire for comfort.
That’s what He’s saying to me. Stop being afraid to roll away the stone for fear of the smell that may emerge. The stone of uncertainty and question. Is the cancer dead in there? Completely dead? As in never have a chance at life again dead? Am I the one who’s dead in there? I don’t know. I won’t know, until I know and that is OK. My response is the same. If it is, praise God. If it’s not, still, praise God. I do know this, Jesus wants to bring life and show us His glory, and I am not about to stop Him.
“Most assuredly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25 (NKJV)