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Monday, October 1, 2007

Finding Rest When Life Seems out of Control

The LORD is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

I have been thinking a lot this past week, especially about, my last blogs. Sometimes I worry how they were taken. It can be hard to know how the blog will come across. I know lately I have been thinking about this cancer and after four years it is hard for me to watch cancer beat up on Andrea. It is my protective side as her husband. It is a desperate feeling to see someone you love suffer and be helpless to stop the physical suffering. I have learned that being a caregiver is in itself a trial. I in no way want to appear to be saying my plight is greater than Andrea's nor do I deserve any consideration in this, it is just the other side of cancer.

This comparison came to me today as I thought about all this.

Cancer dangles you between life and death as if you are suspended by strings and seemingly helpless to control life's events. I think that is a good way to describe it. Like being swung to the point of death and then at the last moment you have a reprieve and swing back and the cycle continues, back and forth and back and forth.

You fight with all you have as you "swing" towards death. Then as you swing back you are given time, a time to rest and forget all the thoughts that you wished you did not think. Because your minds natural defense begins to prepare for your worst fear in a way to try to beat cancer to punch and to say in defiance "I go here of my own accord." When the threat is taken away and you swing back you force those thoughts and details from your mind. It seems as time goes on the rate you swing back and forth increases. The times of relief become shorter the times of dread grow greater. Cancer mocks you and toys with you as if cancer enjoys the pain and suffering as much as the final victory it knows is sure to come. Cancer mocks the doctors with their barbaric treatment and feeble attempts to stop it's progression. As a enemy, cancer does not value life. Its victory leads to its own ultimate demise. How do you fight something like this?

As this cycle continues you become exhausted from the fight. Each time you grow weaker and in each time of relief you try to regain as much strength as you can knowing this time of "rest" will not last. And it doesn't. Soon it is time to get back in the fight, like a boxer beaten swollen and exhausted he is forced off his stool when the bell rings. About round 15 you start to forget what you are fighting for and the breaks become far to short to allow sufficient rest. I can tell you there comes a time when the only relief you can see is the very thing you are fighting against. That is the mental battle you fight. This is the battle ground. This is where faith meets cancer.

When you fall on your face and ask God to give you what you do not have, to do what man cannot do, and to be everything that you are not. Never will I look at Andrea and I and say, "Look what we have done," or ever feel pride for what seems like great faith in an impossible situation because I know how desperate I have been. How utterly weak I am as I cried out to God in the night.

I see two choices in this storm, run from God or run towards Him. But in either case I'm still in the storm.

If I run from God having lost my faith in Him to be faithful to me and to His word, I will only find myself alone in the storm. Helpless against the elements with only my arms to protect me from the hail pounding down on me.

On the other hand if I run to God, I find shelter under His wings, He proves to be my refuge. I have chosen to run to God, and in the process I have met my Lord and found Him faithful. Not because He made the storm go away, but because He showed me I don't have to fear the storm. With Him I find rest. With Him I find peace.

If I had to paint a picture of this I would pick the Bible story of Jesus and the disciples in the storm at sea. Jesus sleeping as the disciples feared for their life. I have found that peace on this crazy swinging ride of back and forth of emotions. And it is not of my doing, it is a gift from the one who first gave to me my most precious gift, salvation and eternal security.

Mark 4:35-40

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along,
just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him,
"Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves,
"Quiet! Be still!"
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples,
"Why are you so afraid?
Do you still have no faith?"

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