(Previously published October 19, 2010)
As I stand before the mirror each day, the reflection gazing back at me is one that has become all too familiar.
One I never imagined would be set before my eyes.
I had once imagined a reflection of silvery, gray hair adorning my head, deep set laugh lines (ok wrinkles) accenting my face, hopeful to one day see a body that had gracefully weathered time. A body over time reflecting age and not disease.
What I see with my eyes, the reflection that is cast back to me is one of disease. Of scars still bearing the redness as they heal. Scars across my chest and under my arms from drainage tubes and incisions, sutures as the disease was removed and my body closed back up. A bump that lies just under my skin where my left bra strap crosses my shoulder. My port. The access point of my veins for the drugs that for 8 weeks push through my body. And the disfigurement laying across my chest. That which God gave woman is now gone in its natural state. What shouldn't be foreign is.
A body that over the past 6 months has shed almost 10 pounds, pounds that 6 months ago I was wishing away, now wishing back on. Pounds not shed through diet and exercise. Pounds shed as my body fights a waging battle against this disease. The body staring back at me is thinner, wearing the battle scars from the fight.
And then my gaze is cast to my head where cancer has left its heavy imprint. The effects of chemo as the hair is now gone leaving behind a stark white scalp edging the remnants of a tanned face from the summer. Eyelashes and eyebrows still remain, but in the coming weeks, those too, may disappear as new drugs flow through my veins.
And Satan again stands as a shadow in the background of these images trying to define me. Trying to take this physical body, my flesh, and say that he is the workman. This is what disease has done to me. I am now half a woman. And my body cries cancer.
But I won't let him. As hard as Satan tries to take me down and daily bring before my eyes and those around me, the physical scars and effects of cancer. He won't have me. He won't ever define. He can mar my outside and tear down my physical condition.
But He can't have me nor can He touch the new creation I am through Jesus Christ.
I am HIS. And in me, He is creating a masterpiece. As He is with you.
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10
Satan can touch the outside to His hearts content. But He can't touch who I am in Jesus Christ. I am sealed with the Holy Spirit, the moment I gave my life over to Christ. The moment I said yes to Him and No to this world. The moment I put my trust in Him alone. I am His and He is taking the life that He created, disease and all, and creating a masterpiece for His glory. As He is the master designer. He is my workman.
A friend of mine gave me a mug early on in my diagnosis that read this inscription:
Caner is so limited.....
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the Spirit
As my eyes are, and maybe yours too, are drawn to the outward manifestation of this disease. As my body bears the marks on the outside, my soul and my Spirit cannot be touched by the hand of this disease. They can only be touched by the Hand of God. And as my outside may look marred, my inside is being renewed, refined, and polished for Him. May you see Him and His handiwork and not this disease.
As I taught last Thursday morning for the ladies at our women's Bible Study, this was the message God put on my heart to share as we worked through Ephesians 2:1-10.
It was a message I needed to hear over and over again that week as I prepared to teach.
Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2 that before Christ was invited into our hearts and lives, we were dead in our sins and trespasses. False steps, missing the mark, falling beside the way, violations against God Himself....We were spiritually lost and spiritually dead and meandering along the path of the world. No direction, constantly trying to fill the empty space felt deep in our soul with the things of this world....money, food, materialistic goods, love, fame, power, titles, and more. And without God we are in a desperate state.
Two small words change the whole picture.
"But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved, and raised us up together, and made us sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His lovingkindnesstoward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-7
But God who abounds in mercy because He loves us, even when we lived apart from Him. Even when we put up the barriers and shut Him out. He loves us and desires to give us life through His son, Jesus Christ.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
And through His love: He gave us new life, a new position in Christ, and a new home...a dwelling place with the Lord. The pathway for a relationship with Jesus Christ.
To show us the riches of His grace. He reaches out to save us. Undeserved.
All you have to do is receive Him. Receive His grace. Call on His name and be saved.
And it is by His grace that we have been saved. Not by our works. Not by going to church. Not through our parents. Not by trying to be a good person. Not by giving money to others...all this is good. But it won't give you salvation.
Salvation is a gift from God...through faith....through believing in Him.
And we, are His workmanship. The work of His hands. And our lives are His as He masterfully puts each piece into place creating in us the most beautiful tapestry. The most beautiful landscape. The most beautiful masterpiece.
This cancer. It is one puzzle piece in a puzzle that has yet to be completely put together. What you are going through today.....your pain or hardship....it is one puzzle piece and it will fit skillfully into the next piece and the next and the next...and when you breathe your last breathe and as a believer in Jesus Christ, when He ushers you to your eternal home....the landscape of your life will be life a magnificent sunset setting across the horizon. And on that day, it will all make sense...the pain, the trials, the disease. The day we stand face to face with the designer, our God and Father, Jesus Christ.
But God....He defines me. May this life be all about Him. May these scars be for His glory. May He create His masterpiece through the few fishes and loaves that I have.