Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Two Things About Life and Your Legacy

While going through my recent bout with ovarian cancer, I spent many moments thinking about our friend Job.   And what-all he went through all because Satan was jealous of Job’s love for God.   

Job inspires most Christians.  We sit back and discuss his patience. And –oh my!—his faithfulness!   He's a remarkable person.   All his friends blame him for what's happened.  Even his wife gives up.  He’s alone in the fight.   His only comfort is a broken piece of pottery to scratch his itchy skin.

But LOOK at the ripples on the pond of Job’s life!    He lived THOUSANDS of years ago, and we are STILL looking at his example of trusting in God—no matter what!

Another person worthy of consideration is Uncle Mordecai.   His niece/cousin Esther (queen of Persia) is nervous and waffling on her duties and M says, “how do you know that God didn’t put you here at just this time for this exact reason?”   Obviously Mordecai is aware of God working in the lives of the Hebrews.

And King David—hunted down by his predecessor or later on when his son attempts a coup—writes psalms crying out to God, wondering if God can (or will) hear his cries for mercy.  

Ripples into Eternity
I used to say I was glad that my life was so unremarkable that it would never be recorded in a book like the Bible, where millennia later people would be dissecting my words and actions the way we do the patriarchs. 

And then I catch myself, because there ARE ripples on the pond of my life that will (I hope!) go out forever into eternity.  

How do I know that I’m not just like Esther and that God has given me this cancer for “such a time as this.”   I don’t know God’s purpose in this.

I don’t know what it’s like to have a king put a price on my head and be hunted down like a rabbit, like our brother King David.    But as surely as he wondered, so have I:  
     “Are you there, God?  Did you hear my cry for mercy?" 
     “Of course You heard me, because You're God and You know my thoughts."   

And that's followed by a sigh of relief, "I know that You have me in the palm of Your almighty hand."

I’m so thankful God prompted David to write his psalms and also that He's gifted me with the ability (and desire) to write, too, for certainly reading how others have handled stress and challenges encourages others, too. May God use my words to bring hope and balm to your soul, too.  

I want to point other people to Jesus.    Through my words and actions.    And boy, that isn’t really very difficult when thing are going along swimmingly.

The true test is in the battle.   And then you have to really suck it up.   I mean, a battle for your faith.  Like kill or be killed. Because that is essentially what Satan is after.  He wants to kill your love for the Lord and take your soul eternally—prisoner.  

This is life or death.  Satan's in it to win it.  He's putting everything he has into making you his eternal prisoner.    A temptation here.   A slippery slope there.   Doubts.  Aspersions.  Beckoning.

Well, not this girl. 

Some years ago, I commented to my Sunday School class and held up the Bible:  “these were real people.”   Look around boys and girls:  they were flesh and blood like you and me.  They laughed and cried, cuddled with their spouse, got fed up with naughty children and irritated by slackers.

Real people.   On display for eternity.   The foibles.   The false starts.   The stupid choices.

So think about that for a second.   Jacob—four wives—12 sons and a daughter.  Think there was some household fighting going on?   Real people.   

And David.  Sure, the dude could write some awesome poetry, but come on:  he’s a class one adulterer, conspired to kill his lover’s husband, had a son committing incest and another son committing fratricide and another son leading a coup for David’s kingdom.  And an infant son who died not long after birth.   Real people.  Real heart aches.  

Our friend Job and his un-named wife.  They had 10 children.  Each one dear to their parents in ways we can surely understand.  Every one of them.  Wiped away in one day.   Nothing in my family laundry can compare with the agony that must’ve been to Job and Mrs. Job.    Her sorrow must've been overwhelming!   “Curse God and die.”  Those were children she had surely nursed and changed diapers; I used to think she was just a heartless witch to say such a thing to her hubby, but she’s a real woman, her heart had to be broken.   We can’t imagine losing ONE child, and they lost all ten—in one day.  How do you deal with pain like that?

And yet these people—their lives, their foibles, their sins—held up to us many millennia later.  And how they handled these sorrows and aches and stupid choices inspire us one way or another and give us hope and help us SEE GOD’s mercy and love for us.

How does my life stack up?  What if people a thousand years from now read about me the way we do about Bible people, and they were discussing how I walked through this valley of cancer?   Will they consider me an example of unswerving faith in God's goodness?   Or will they shake their heads in disgust at my pathetic fear and worry?

My life IS a book to my family and friends:  they read me as surely as we read about Tamar or Rahab or Bathsheba.  Surely there are people in my life who are affected by the choices I’m making in how I handle myself through this cancer-journey I’m on.  They notice if I do or don't trust God as the source of my hope.  My life is an example to them.   It's quite easy to mouth the words "I trust in God"--it's quite another thing altogether to actually LIVE like you believe what you say.     

I know that God has a plan for my life, and it has boggled my mind to think of the Creator of the Universe is using me for some part of His plan.   Me?   Little ol' me?   No kidding:  a friend wrote a short message when I was first diagnosed; she said, 

"Deb, THIS is a part of God's plan for your life."

If that doesn’t stop you in your tracks—nothing will.   It sure did for me.   Wait. A. Minute.   THIS is part of God’s plan?   CANCER?

"Oh but Deb, trust Me.”   
Over and over in the Scriptures God says this to His children.  And we modern-day Christians shake our head in disbelief at their stubborn refusal to do so.  How could these ancient Hebrews witness the parting of the Red Sea, walk through there while it was held back (for petesake!!!), watch the sea close over Pharaoh's army a few minutes later and then a couple days later whine and moan about cucumbers and onions back in Egypt where they lived in slavery?

Hovering overhead is the pillar of cloud and fire.  God's visible presence.   Should've been reassuring to them and a CONSTANT reminder of Him. Right. There.   And yet they complained.

And I've thought pretty high thoughts about myself.  "Well, I would NEVER be so dumb.  If I saw the Red Sea part like that, I would for sure be thankful and NEVER complain ever again."

Oh really?

Would you stop and think about that for a second.   We always (!!) think when bad things, this couldn't POSSIBLY be part of our Lord's plan, that somehow God let things slip up when (after all) we had this hand-shake contract (ie, “I’ll believe in You, God and You’ll just only send really great things my way = money, success, no problems, etc”)—what?

ALL THINGS HAPPEN . . . ALL.  ALL.  ALL.   All things happen for the good { Good Good Good } of those who love Him who have been called according to His marvelous plan.  

God says, "My dear child, this is good for my plan, let Me take care of this."  

On those nights when my legs were aching and twitching in pain, I thought of our friend Job.   And I. Was. Refreshed.   I was refreshed by HIS STRUGGLE.   By his FAITHFULNESS.  

Cool.  Job's faithfulness helped me.  But never forget Job--a real man, a father, a husband--lived through the real agony of losing everyone and everything.   Do not for a second think it was easy just because his faith remained strong.  He hurt.  His spirit was crushed.   He loved those kids!

Here I was whining because of some pains in my legs THAT I KNEW (!!!) was short-lived (that evening and maybe the next). And here was our friend Job....his children DIED!!!   My pain, lasting a few HOURS, compared to that?   What did I (really?) have to complain about?   It seemed so small in comparison.

And THEN . . . . heart-stopper . . . . then I thought of JESUS.  He was completely innocent.  Separated from his Heavenly Father and the glories of heaven, come to Earth--because of Me and my selfish, sinful choices!!!  

How could I even THINK of complaining in the face of those facts? If Jesus didn't curse his accusers or the soldiers nailing him to the cross--and he was completely innocent of any wrong-doing--how in the WORLD could I lay around and whine about anything?  

Not that suffering is fun or thrilling or in any way/shape/form something I want to go through again (ever!), but when I think of what Jesus did FOR ME—well, this is where Paul says “consider it pure joy….”  that I have a Savior who loves me that much.  


1) Having a c-a-n-c-e-r diagnosis made me pause and evaluate how I'm spending my time, where I'm putting my effort.  Suppose I only had five years left?  Or a year?   What do I want to spend my time doing?   What is the best for God's kingdom?   Does it bring glory to God when I write on my blog?  I'd like to think so, but really:  I don’t know.  Is there any value in these articles I post?   So, please, let me know.

2)  The other thing is that I want to encourage you to make a conscious and well-thought out effort to consider the legacy you are leaving behind someday.  Will the ripples of your life make a difference the way King David has every time we read the psalms?  The way Paul does whenever we read the epistles?    The way Tabitha/Dorcas did when she made coats for the poor?
Ripples don’t happen on their own.

Get out there.  Get in the water.  Splash.  Dive in!   Or stand on shore and throw stones into the water.  But start DOING something.  You can’t make ripples on a pond without stirring up the water.   Some way. Some how.  

Go!  Share your life and while doing so, share your faith.  

Add some ripples that bring glory to God!


Kelly said...

This is a beautiful post, Deb. Your blog is definitely worth your time to write. I am going to share it on Facebook, so even more people can see it. Miss you so! Hugs!

Rebecca Bishop said...

I read John 13 & 14 this morning before my lumpectomy. Jesus said, "...the Father is the goal and purpose of my life." (MSG) Total trust in His Abba's choice for His life. This is the victory Jesus gives and lives in us. It is His legacy which he invites us to participate in, His ripples in the world, His glorysong eternal.
"Can I believe the gospel, that God is patiently transfiguring all the notes of my life into the song of His Son?" Ann Voscamp from 1000 Gifts A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

Deb said...

Thanks Kelly and Beckie. So good to hear from you both. God definitely at work in our lives! Can't imagine going through this without Him!