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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hope or Denial

I wrote this on 27 Dec 2006. I guess I just forgot to post it. It is about a faithful God who cares as much about your smallest worry as He does about our struggle with cancer. It is about our choice to believe.

As I read this I think this blog encompasses what this is all about. It is "Our Journey to Healing" This is as much a spiritual journey as it is a physical one.

This is about having faith.
To have faith we must abandon ourselves, to abandon ourselves we have to trust Him, to trust Him we have to know Him, to Know Him we have to read His word, silence our life, and listen. When we listen He will be the lamp unto our feet. When he lights the path we must step out in faith and the cycle continues with each and every step we take.

By knowing Him, trusting Him and following Him we are able to look past this life, it's comforts, it's trials and the seemingly unfairness of this world, and live a life of joy.

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit

In the past month life has gotten pretty busy with Andrea getting pretty sick a visit by her family, and two visits from my family add on top of that the holidays and our change of command and you have a pretty busy month. Too busy in fact. So busy that I have found it hard to spend the time I was before in prayer and reading. Time I needed to give me strength, a habit grown out of the despair and struggle of dealing with cancer. It was not meant to be time spent to "buy" or "earn" Andrea's healing. It made me think am I trying to earn Andrea’s healing? Why do I feel that I’m not doing enough? What is the level of “spiritual” time I should have? How does this all fit together, my faith, and my study of God's word? Why does it seem to be an never ending process. In my type A mind I want to identify the problem, fix the problem and move on. Why do I feel like I'm resolving the same problems over and over, relearning the same lessons? Once I have faith is that not enough? I think not. Faith is not a one time installment in your life. I think it is more like a tank of gas, you only go so far then you need a refill. And sometimes life is more difficult and the tank empties much faster.

As we enter Andrea’s 19 month of chemo and her 40th month of dealing with cancer, I have found that time with the Lord and listening is what sustains me. And I started thinking about hope, my hope that Andrea will be healed, and hope is fueled by faith, faith that I know she will be healed. The two are tied together, faith and hope. Faith is the doorway we walk through that gives us hope. And as the Bible says hope does not disappoint. But how do we as believers fill our tanks with faith? How do we live a life of faith that produces hope in a circumstance that seems hopeless?

To an unbeliever hope can be misunderstood as denial, denial in the reality of the situation. Let me assure you that we are not in denial to the facts and reality of cancer. It only takes me or any of you five minutes on Google to understand the battle Andrea faces. When you hear about a new promising drug take, a minute and read what modern medicine offers, maybe five months before disease progression instead of three months. Don't be fooled that is the miracle medicine offers us.

Let me explain in this way. Andrea’s cancer is real, the seriousness is real, the odds are real, but so is faith and so is God. And through faith in God we have hope. Of course I can’t speak for God but I can speak to His character by reading His word, and the Bible revels God to us. Our hope is born from the faith we have in the character of the God we serve. But everyday we are reminded of the reality of cancer. I see it every day when I see my wife without hair, when I see the affects of chemo, when her jaw hurts from the bone dieing as a side effect of the chemo, when the joints ache, when she sleeps 12 hrs and wakes up exhausted, every time she struggles for breath, every time she speaks and her voice is horse, every time I see her scan and I see the tumors peppering her lungs and liver, when see wakes up with blood on her mouth from her skin being so dry it cracks and bleeds, every time we walk into the chemo room and I watch them stick Andrea, every time we walk into a doctors office and wait for test results, every time Andrea describes her latest symptoms to the doctor, every time we sit in the chemo room surrounded by cancer literature and the empty stares of those cleaning on to life.

Trust me you can’t live with cancer and not understand the reality of the disease. I don’t deny cancer existence but I do deny it the right to take my hope or faith from me. Meaning you live everyday with the reality of cancer but you live it with the hope. Hope of being cured, knowing the security we have in Christ. Of course I know the odds of healing cancer that is as extensive as Andrea’s but I also know the reality of the God I serve. There is no cancer, no problem, no trial that is bigger then God. People may call that living with my head in the sand; I call it living with my head in the clouds. It ‘s not that I don’t want to face cancer but I’m not going to give it power and authority that does not belong to it. And let me say this to those of you who think you can't mention a struggle in your life because it is so small compared to cancer, there is also no problem to small or insufficient for God either. That is what makes our God so great, He cares as much about our small difficulties as he does cancer.

Remember this, they are all small to God.

These trials whether big or small serve us and they serve our creator, we don’t serve them. Trials serve to form us into the person God intends us to be. I think that without trials we would settle back a life far below our potential and far below the purpose God has for us. Knowing that God can use this trial to form us into the people He intended makes this all easier. It has made the past 18 months the best I have lived. It makes the days joyful instead of fearful.

Unfortunately sometimes trials are all that wakes us up to the lack of faith in our life. They tend to force us to our knees when really we should be choosing to go there everyday. Ask yourself this. Does your bible study and prayer time seem to increase and decrease based on the circumstances of your life?

I do not want to walk away from this trial, no matter the outcome, and not be changed. There are many analogies to this, a furnace, a refining process, or the potters forming hands. All involve heat and pressure to exact a change, but the end product always has a higher value then the ingredients that went into it. I know God's hands our on us, and I have felt the pressure of His hands on my life as He molds me. I have felt the heat of the furnace as He refines me, and I know that He is molding me into something of far more value then what I began. That is exciting. But I have found you have to first offer yourself to the fire and you have to trust yourself in the hands of the potter. You can’t step into this as the clay and tell the potter how to do his work. You must abandon yourself and totally trust him.

Abandonment and trust are the key ingredients we bring to the process of living with faith. Abandoning requires us to let go of what we want or how we think it should turn out or the way we think it should go. It is one of the hardest things to do because we want to be in control and we do have desires. We have to know God may give us those desires or He may have something better for us. Maybe He needs us to be a witness in a trial. Are we willing? Will we follow Him when He leads us to places we don't want to go? Like the Bible says, “Be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

We walk it but He lights the way. He leads we follow. He is in charge and we trust. He speaks we listen. We ask and He answers. We seek and He opens the door. We walk through and He gives us a crown of life. You must trust the one you abandon yourself to.

To abandon yourself you must trust the one who is leading.

I can tell you that as a pilot, if I do not trust my flight lead I find myself starting to make decisions as a wingman that are the flight leads responsibility. This leads to confusion over who is in charge and who is leading and who is following. This breakdown of roles is born out of distrust and it leads to an ineffective flight. Our spiritual walk is no different. We have to trust the one we serve and follow.

To trust you must know the one you are following.

Just like when I fly if I know the flight lead I know his capabilities and when I see things going bad I know his character and I can trust my life in his hands. God is the same. We must know His character if we are to trust our life in His hands. And we learn of His character by reading His words and spending time with Him. The more we do this the more we will trust God. When you learn the heart of God and the depth of His love for you you will find your ability to trust Him will only increase. As your ability to trust increases so will your ability to abandon yourself. And as you trust God in bigger and bigger areas of your life and you see His faithfulness and you will soon find a desire to read and learn more about this God who has proven Himself worthy of your trust and deserving of even more.

Here is the hard part to accept when we are young in our faith and learning trust. When your faith and trust increases your desires will begin to mold to those of God's. You will become more Christ like. Don't fear that you will not get what you want because your desires will change as you grow in faith. As you learn about the God you serve things of this life will fade in importance and you will find joy beyond your circumstances. It is just that sometimes we fail to take those steps of faith because we think we won't get what we want. Or when life hands us what seems to be an unfair answer we walk away thinking we were somehow cheated. Let down by God because we saw Him as a genie in a bottle. Someone we beckon whose roll is to only give us what we want. In our immaturity we think our earthly desires alone will bring us joy. They may bring a temporary happiness but they won't bring joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and it comes from God. We falsely see God as our servant here to meet our needs to make our life easy instead of understanding we serve Him for the gift of salvation He first gave us.

Andrea’s cancer has been a fiery furnace that is purifying our life and our faith. And I know that God will not spare us from future trials but will continue this refining process. It is not a one time deal, but an ongoing process in our life. I would not run trying to find a trial but I also would not run from one. Because I know that my God will use it to draw me closer to the purpose He created me for. And fulfilling His purpose is really my life’s goal.
I have found God loves us far too much to allow our comfort to hinder His plan for our life.

No we are not denying we have cancer, but we are denying cancer the right to take our hope. We are denying cancer's the right to take our joy, and we are denying cancer's the right to take our life. We are denying cancer's right occupy God's place in our life. We are deciding to live in hope through a faith built upon abandoning to the one who is worthy, with a trust built upon the knowledge of the one we serve. A faith and hope that tells us our God has a purpose for our life and this cancer is part of that purpose. That life, true life, lies beyond the physical. True treasure lies in what we do for God, and not what God does for us. God has already done the toughest job, all we have to do is accept the gift He offers and keep our eyes on Him knowing He is in control, that there is a purpose and reason for all this. And if someone, somewhere is drawn closer to God because of this cancer then we are the victors.

And I can tell if no one else has been changed Andrea and I have.

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