About a month before I was diagnosed with cancer, I colored this picture for a sister in Christ who’d had a particularly difficult, soul-searching year because of circumstances that were beyond her personal control. Little did I know, at that time, what the message of HOPE and symbol of the ANCHOR would come to mean to me.
Like it or not, one of the first things you think about when you deal with cancer, any cancer, is the possibility of death. God didn’t waste any time in getting me to that point as I realized a host of unknowns that I didn’t have to face before. He is always faithful & orderly in His progression of lessons. He knows my bent. He taught me in a way I could understand. 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “ Not that we are adequate in ourselves, to consider anything as coming from ourselves, BUT our adequacy is from God.” On three different occasions, I listed out realities that I wasn’t adequate to face, that I couldn’t change, or that I couldn’t control. Those lists totaled a whopping 53 items! If you have any allusions that you are a powerful person, think again.
With my personal limitations clearly established in my mind, He reminded me to be quiet before Him. This came through a lightly scripted message on a coffee mug I drank from one morning. It’s not that I hadn’t used the cup before. It’s not that I hadn’t heard the message. But given my circumstances, the Word hit home in an entirely new way. “Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God.” Funny how familiar truths take on new meaning. His Word never grows old. This was going to be a new & different journey with Christ. I wasn’t going to get answers all at once. I had to trust Him in the process. There are a lot of waiting room times in testing, both medical and spiritual.
“For not one of us lives for himself & not one of us dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14: 7&8) I gulped. I had to face the possibility of death as my outcome. Still do, really. There’s nothing like a surprise event to remind you of that fact. We are all vulnerable. Death is one of those things on my don’t-feel-adequate list. I’m not necessarily fearful. There are some things I still want to do & live long enough to see. I’m ready to die because I know the indwelling life of Jesus through His Spirit. I’m ready to die because I know it’s all about Him & how He wants to use me. But humanly speaking, I’d like to hang out a little longer.
From the point of looking death in the face with the Lord, I was bombarded with messages of hope. Check out “…the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation & hope…” in Philippians 1:19&20. (This complete scripture became my cancer journey “theme.”) 2 Corinthians 1:9&10 references deliverance from death by “He on whom we have set our hope.” Hebrews 6:19 (the anchor picture) proclaims, “ This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure & steadfast…” A couple of my all time favorite HOPE passages are in Romans. Chapter 5:5 says, “…and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us.” (The ultimate gift!) Chapter 15:13 declares, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy & peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Dear friends, hope is not a feeling. It doesn’t come & go. Hope is a person. Hope is the Spirit of Jesus alive in you. You’ve either received Him & have been “born again to a living hope”(1 Peter 1:3) or your hope is external & temperamental, based on your feelings. And your feelings are not adequate to meet your needs. Jesus Christ is.
Don’t think for one minute that I’ve got it all together in any given day. I am painfully human & subject to emotional reactions without notice. I struggle sometimes but I am not hopeless. There are unknowns but I am not hopeless. I have to relinquish fears but I am not hopeless. I have been hurt but I am not hopeless. THANKS BE TO GOD ALONE! Our flesh remains a factor until heaven but it does not define who we are. A few weeks ago I received a gift in the mail from a friend in AZ. It was a standing nautical plaque with a blue anchor on white that boldly states, “STAY ANCHORED.” It’s on my desk & I see it daily, multiple times. The truths represented by the anchor picture I colored, & this plaque, are the protective bookends to my soul. My life in Christ, my sanctifying living hope lessons, who I really am, are sandwiched safely in between.
MEDICAL UPDATE: When I was scheduled for my 2nd surgery, I asked you to pray that the second procedure would be viewed as an addition/followup to the previously submitted application to the Foundation fund. It was! So thank you for your prayers. God did a miracle, in our estimation! Yesterday I received a letter from the Medical Center that the Foundation would be covering use of the surgery facility, for both procedures ----100%. J This is a huge weight off of our financial shoulders! I am sufficiently healed from my second surgery & will meet with the oncologist this week, the 20th, to solidify my treatment plan. More on that later.