(Previously published December 1, 2010)
The bedside alarm sounds.
I am unfazed. In a deep slumber. Just a little longer echoes in my mind as I unconsciously lean over turning off the alarm. No snooze. Off.
And my mind and spirit wrestle as I drift back off to sleep.
"Come to Me." I hear. I'm waiting whispers the voice of God.
And I so want to go but don't. Sleep ensues.
And He waits. He doesn't have too, but He does. He stands at the door. Not being an intrusive God. Not forceful. And I'm sure, His heart is aching for me to choose Him over sleep.
He wakes me up at 6:42 with an urgency. I'm awake. The need to be with Him overtakes my need for more sleep.
Forgive me, Lord. I'm sorry.
And the hand of forgiveness is extended. His grace poured out.
I am on a mission as I slip out the bedroom door and go to my new meeting space with the Lord.
The house is quiet and dark. Stillness abounds.
In that stillness we meet as a divine appointment had been planned unbeknownst to me.
Jesus had something to speak to my heart. Something I needed for today and each day going forward.
His love is abundant and real like that. He has that for each of us if only we "Come and meet Him."
So we met as we do almost everyday. This day He poured out upon me as if a deluge of living water flooded my heart with words that dripped truth from every drop.
As the rain outside poured heavily this morning and the wind swept the rain, so too, the Holy Spirit was doing a work in my heart, deep inside.
You see, today, Wednesday, December 1st, was chemo #8, my last treatment. A day marked forever on the calendar. A day signifying the end and a new beginning. A day that should be filled with joy and thanksgiving. Rejoicing.
And I was struggling.
I kept looking past today with the reality that my cancer could come back and with it, more chemo. More treatments. More pain. Was today really the end? What if it is temporary, as I wait through the next 5 years. The next 10 years. What if it comes back and I am back in this room, in this chair? I will be forever in relationship with my oncologist. Forever tested, scanned and prodded. Forever on alert to signs in my body signifying a return.
And I put up a wall of protection. I justified my feelings saying I was living in reality. The reality that my cancer could return. I can "Do" all the right things: eat well, take my supplements, exercise, rest, go for Vit. C treatments, get chemo, get radiation.... and yet, my cancer is in God's hands. My future, it too lies outside of my control in the hands that created me.
And He asked me this morning, "Will you walk in victory or in defeat?" Will you walk by faith, trusting that I have something good for you no matter what? I go before you in all things. Trust Me. Or will you walk in your old ways.....fear? Fearing the future, trusting, putting my hope in "things" outside of him, fearing cancer?"
That four letter word that has been attached to my heart for too many years. I thought I was free from fear and that I had let those weights go long ago.
But I had picked them back up. You see my greatest fear in life has always been cancer and my health. And it ultimately came down to control, gripping tightly to the tangible or letting go to the seemingly intangible. Walking by faith not by sight.
God was asking me this morning to face that fear head on, with Him as He gently lead me by the hand through His Word. His Word is truth and there the intangible becomes alive. Real. Abundant. Tangible.
And He walked me through the fear. He named the sin for me. And isn't that what we do with sin. We justify. We try to give it a pretty name or even pretend that it isn't even there.
But God...those two words that change it all. He says "in me there is victory and with victory there is peace and there is rest. Will you grab ahold of Me? Will you posses the victory that is yours in Christ. He wants us to repent. To come to Him, confess, and be cleansed.
He sent the cleansing rain this morning.
With the house quiet, the lights low and my heart ready. We met.
As we began our walk together through His Word. He didn't waste any time.
I picked up my devotional reading:
"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God." Hebrews 4:9
That rest includes victory: "The Lord gave them rest on every side.....The Lord handed all their enemies over to them" Joshua 21:44. "Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57
And you know what....I didn't realize this this morning as I read, but as I typed that last verse just now and then typed where it is found in the Bible, I stopped.
You see, my life verse is 1 Corinthians 15:58. God gave me that verse when I was pregnant with Joshua just days before I knew that he was fatally ill. It is my life verse because it stands as the platform upon which I stand with Christ.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
My life is in Him and a work of Him. And this verse proceeds it. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
As I type I am in awe once again in my Father, Jesus Christ.
I can be steadfast and immovable because He is. And He gives me the victory through Him alone.
It is the bookend to my faith. As this walk of cancer has been for me. Josh was one end and this cancer has been and will continue to be another. Two roads looking completely different on the outside, but doing a work much the same, only deeper on the inside.
He goes before us in ALL things just as this verse goes before the other.
Victory includes peace. Victory includes rest. Victory is the absence of war. Where there is peace, there is no fear. That is only found in Christ.
You see, the devotional went on to tell the story of a Christian woman, who was plagued by fear, trouble and anxiety. She had a dream. In that dream God met her. She was walking on a highway and on that highway all the people were carrying black bundles. The people were tired and they were weighted down...burdened. These bundles were being dropped along the road by scary, creepy looking creatures. And as one bundle dropped someone quickly picked it up, carrying it along. She, too, carried her black bundles.
After awhile, she looked up and starred into the face of man whose face shined with light, peace and love. He moved through the crowd. He came to her and asked her why she was carrying those bundles? He told Him how tired she was. They were heavy. He looked her in the eyes and told her, "Those bundles are not from Me. You have no need for them. They are the devil's burdens weighing you down. Drop them and refuse to pick them up again. Then you will find your path easy and you will feel carried on the wing's of eagles. (Ex. 19:4)
She dropped those black bundles, laid herself at the feet of Jesus and her heart was filled with peace. You see she possessed the victory. She choose to live in it. She choose Him.
And I bowed my head and prayed. I poured out my life to Christ surrendering it all to Him, again.
I then, opened my Bible, to Daniel. And God in His perfect way lead me through His Word, laying my eyes on the exact words that my heart needed to hear. One verse, lead to another, and another until He brought me to my final resting place.
In Daniel He showed me that Daniel "Purposed in His heart that He would not sin and instead, seek holiness and purity." That is He sought God. He would not eat the food dedicated to idols. That which goes against God.
Because of this, Daniel was victorious. You see he was going against the king's instruction and choosing God. All signs said that he would die, be cut off by going against the king and eating something different. But when God is for you, who can rise up against you?" God had gone before Daniel. He was doing a work. He honors obedience and blesses purity.
A test ensued and guess what, God won and so Daniel won. Victory. It is the Lords. It is ours.
And He took me to Psalm 68
My eyes soaked up each word and as they came to verse 7, "O God, when You went out before Your people, when you marched them through the wilderness, the earth shook, The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God.....You, O God, sent a plentiful rain."
He went before His people. He sent rain.
At this point, I couldn't get enough. God had set out the appetizer, and now I was moving onto the meal.
I dug deeper.
I went to Exodus 13:21 and read of the Great Exodus out to Egypt and right before the Israelites were ready to cross the Red Sea, after a long and arduous journey. Hard. Painful. Questioning. Carried.
God reminds them....."And the LORD went before them, by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night." He didn't take the pillar away.
He lead them.
He went before them.
He never left.
He's done the same for you and for me. What do I have to fear?
He prepares. He seeds. He waters. He brings forth a harvest. If only we will Come and follow.
And then He took me to the final resting place for my heart this morning.
The place I needed to be this morning, before I walked through the chemo doors one last time. How would I walk through those doors? Rejoicing in Christ's victory? With peace and joy? or weighed down? Dragging? Fearing the future?
He laid my eyes to rest in Deuteronomy chapter 11.
As I started at the beginning and read through, coming to verse 8....it was there....there that I began to weep tears of joy, tears of thanksgiving.....tears of deep gratitude and love to my Heavenly Father.
He met me. Taught me. Changed me. Encouraged me. Broke me only to renew me!
"Therefore, you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be STRONG and go in and POSSESS the land which you cross over to possess, and that you may PROLONG your days in the land which the Lord swore to give your fathers, to them, and their descendants, A LAND FLOWING WITH MILK AND HONEY. For the land which you go in to posses is not like the land of Egypt from you have come, where YOU sowed YOUR seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; BUT the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God CARES."
He was speaking to the new generation of Israelites who would be ushered into the promised land through Joshua. Moses is challenging them to seek God, the true victor. Their strength. Their guide. The one and only true God.
Here is how God spoke to my heart.....
Stacy, obey me in all things. In Me lies strength. Go and take hold of the victory that I have for you. Possess it. Take possession. I want to lead you to the other side of these treatments. The other side of your journey. I desire your days to be long as you rest in me. With victory comes rest and peace. My ways are filled with that...milk and honey......joy, peace, abundance, rest. Don't go back to fear. Your old ways. Don't walk in your own strength and wisdom. What I have for you will still have hills and valleys, but those hills and valleys are watered by me. The rain I send will bring forth a harvest of righteousness. I care for you. Trust me, today. I go before you in all things. Do not fear the future. I am with you and if I lead you back to the cancer lounge one day, if your cancer returns....I will have prepared you for that day and where I am, there you, too, shall be. Walk victorious. "There is no fear in love."
May His words be cemented to my heart. I don't ever want to forget.
Literally the floodgates poured open. My eyes were opened and my heart received.
I had peace. And I walked in it, in Him, today through the last chemo treatment.
My friends, God is good. What He gave me today, He has for each of you. He shows no partiality. His love is the same. His Word is alive because He is alive. And He has an amazing plan for each of our lives. Are you walking in His victory. You can, even in the midst of your circumstances. Choose Him today. Your life will be forever changed.
I sat in that chair this morning a victor. I pray that door never opens again for me, but I am confident of this, if it does, He has gone before me. He will make the path straight. And today, today....I walk in that confidence, no fear. And today is the only day I am asked to walk; obediently, purely, seeking Him. He will take care of my tomorrows. Blessed be the name of the Lord!!
Chemo #8- it was a celebration on every level...I'll share more tomorrow!
Chemo complete...the chair is now empty......
As God has laid before me doors and passageways, I prayed as I walked over that threshold, out the chemo door.....
That the door will close forever, but the work in my heart will continue......to God be the glory!
Thank you for walking through with me. I am eternally grateful. Please pray for me as I enter into the next 6 days of chemo effects, fatigue and pain. May I lean on the Lord through it all.
In Christ alone,