Terminally Healed

“Gabriel, you have been to earth.  Explain the humans to me.” 

They could see, the angels could always see us.  Our limitation to one dimension is an earthly boundary.  Before them, around them, were people (of course, the people could not see the angels) and the people were driving here and there, busily going about their business.

“These little contraptions are called cars.  They carry the humans from home to work or a place to eat or to visit with another humans or to a variety of places.  They can not fly or transport as we do.  They take great pride in their contraption.  If it is big, like that one, they like it better.  Shiny, like this one, gives them more points.  This one has smudges and this is not the preferred shape.  This makes the other humans not like the person inside it as much.”

“These little flat devices, they hold to their ears and talk to someone that is not with them….someone with this shape is avoided….if you have less of this paper…..a smaller home to sleep in…”

Gabriel was interrupted by the inquiring angel, “But that is not their home, none of those things matter!  Their time on earth is so quickly lived, why do they waste their resources that were given to them to help others enter heaven for such measly things that do not matter?!”

Sometimes I sit and watch this world and I find such humor in ourselves.  I find humor in myself! Why do I care so much about these possessions that are outdated, broken, and useless tomorrow?  Why do I care so much what other people think about me?

The big C word is a brand on my forehead that demotes me to a lower status.  Oh, many use it for “pity me points” but I do not want your pity.  I have seen some use my own brand and their association with me to be the one up story or the gossipy prayer request.  I want to be free, I want to be low maintenance, take care of myself, independent, strong, and healthy.

And that is one of the very reasons that I believe that God gave me this thorn in my side,  “Caroline, depend on me.  You CAN NOT do this life on your own.”

So, for nineteen years I have lived having to explain my condition, lived with the secret and knowing when to share, just now being able to tell my story over Beautiful Life with Cancer, realizing that all these little habits that I fall into with the rest of the world, DO NOT MATTER!  It is absolutely ridiculous when I take a minute to separate from this silly culture and this human life to see the sacrifices I make to “fit in” while I am walking right by someone in need or being selfish for the sake of things when I am called to serve and give.

I AM HEALED.  Nineteen years of this thorn in my side means that I beat it!  I have survived.  If this story trails behind me and part of my purpose in life is to share it, and that is how I can help others, then I thank God and I beg of him to be the strength inside of this human that sometimes makes no sense at all.

Faith Doesn’t Matter

Pushing against the open wound of the nail stuck in his foot, his human body pressed against the shocking pain until his chest was able to gasp and then he released, feeling the choking pressure against his chest.  Beyond the worst day in history, his was the worst life.  No other suffering on earth could begin to even comprehend his bursting heart that bled water and blood at the rejection of his Father, the breaking of the Trinity, perfect holiness carrying the burden of complete sin.

Mary looked on, her mind overcome with what she beheld.  She is the only mother that, rightly, ascended her son to her personal God.  She remembered the miracle of the joy of a virgin birth announced by the Angel Gabriel.  Her marriage with Joseph had forever been bonded with the realization that they had been sent here to raise the God of the Universe.  Her life, her faith, her son, her everything hung in agonizing pain and she could do nothing to relieve him.  Everything was dying here.  Satan had won.

He, literally, stood in heaven in the very presence of God himself.  Lucifer was the director of the choir, spending his days in worship of God Almighty.  His voice, his body, his eternal life was beyond beauty, it was heaven.  He, literally, spent his days in the perfection of heaven.  Lucifer believed in God, as real as anything he had ever seen, touched, or experienced in any capacity.  If there was even this life that he lived, he knew it was created by God that sat upon his throne.  And yet Satan turned.  And he was flung into the fiery pit of Hell.  Even the demons believe, believe in the one true God of the Universe, and their belief does not save them.

My Western culture holds tight to few things, but remaining in the hearts of the vast majority of Western thinkers is the foundation of LIFE, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of HAPPINESS.  And I will take it!  I cling, with those that vary so much from me, to the belief that these ideals have made my home nation who we are today.  We are a people that stop whatever we are doing to fight for freedom, as well we should.  We believe that one life is important, we believe in holding debates and agreeing to disagree, we believe in differing opinions and a different perspective of personal happiness, and we believe in not taking away those rights from our neighbors.  But somewhere along the way, this belief was skewed into the belief of believing:

“Believe whatever you want to believe.”

“It does not matter what you believe, as long as you have enough faith.”

And this is why we see our culture beginning to crumble.  From inside the church, inside the educational system, inside government, and the very core of our foundation:  the family. We are falling apart because we no longer cling to right and wrong, we believe that as long as you believe in something, that is all that matters.  But what if BELIEF DOES NOT MATTER.  Faith is not what saves us.  Even the demons believe and shutter.

If you want a religion of faith, there is none greater than Islam.  Muslims believe so wholeheartedly in the afterlife that parents proudly offer up their children to jihad.  Wealthy husbands leave their life of comfort and their wives and children behind to strap bombs to their chests and die in the fight.  WHY?!  This blows our Western minds!  IT IS BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH!  It is because they believe more boldly than the majority of Christian believers believe in their God that Allah is going to send them straight to a world of bliss where there will be more pretty girls waiting for them than they can comprehend.  According to the words of the Qua-ran, girls that will never have to blow their nose or menstrate, girls with beautiful dark eyes, girls that can not take their eyes off of their martyr hero.  And these men will have supernatural ability to have sex over and over again.  This is why they want to leave this world as quickly as they possibly can!  Because they have so very much FAITH!

So, why are Westerners running out of the church as soon as they are off to college?  Why are Christian marriages just as likely to end in divorce as any?  Why does our culture now criticize and despise Christians?  Why are followers labeled as hateful as soon as they mention their God?  IT IS BECAUSE FAITH HAS BECOME THE FOCAL POINT OF THE WESTERN CHURCH!

Now, Am I splitting hairs here?  Don’t I, myself, speak of my faith and praise faith?  Yes!  An extremely important side note is that FAITH IS IMPORTANT, FAITH PERFORMS MIRACLES, FAITH IS NECESSARY AND GREAT!  So, what am I complaining about?  And it is this:  Faith is not the most important, LOVE is!

Love is why Jesus nailed himself to the cross.  Love is why Mary will be in heaven even when she lost all faith at the foot of the cross.  The absence of love is why Satan was thrown out of heaven and into eternal damnation.  The absence of love is the leader of jihad.  And the absence of love is why the American church is falling apart.

Love restores marriages.  Love rescues families.  Love gathers people to church (not rules!). Love saves lives!  The only answer is love.

AND THESE THREE REMAIN:  FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE.  BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.

Apprentice God

My self-serving, instant gratification, arrogant, self-righteous humanity demands explanations.  What?  When?  Where?  And Why?  If I don’t understand it and put in my vote, ain’t gonna happen.

I have been well taught by the culture that surrounds me and when there is a God that I can not understand, uhhh….not really my thing.

What do I not understand?  I do not understand that babies die.  I do not understand that someone would devote their life to missionary work, pray over a dying father and God allows them to die.  I do not understand that mothers get cancer, I personally do not understand that.  I do not understand that children see their mothers raped.  I do not understand…A LOT!

And then God asks me to accept?  He asks me to trust?  He asks me to follow?  He asks me to worship him?!  I DO NOT LIKE THAT!

And that is the very answer.  I AM NOT GOD.  I have my plans of how I think the world should look.  I have my plans for my life, and trust me, it did not include cancer!  I have my plans for prayer being answered.  I have my plans for babies being rescued.  But God is not here to serve me.  He does not have to get my approval.  He is not my apprentice.  That is a god that I create.  Hard to swallow, but I am never asked to understand.

I can hear the insults now:  Dumb Christians!  That is a fairytale!

And I hear another response:  I only follow what I can understand.

Really?!  Do you get all the government inside scoop?  No?  Then you should live your life in fear.  Are you a specialist of every disease, do you understand all the parts of the body?  How could you ever trust a doctor?  Did you build your own home?  How can you trust it will not fall on your head while you sleep?

Then how can you understand the meaning of the universe?  How can you impart your morals on all around you?

Can you just accept that you do not, and you never will, know and understand everything?

Elisabeth Elliott, that saw the death of her murdered husband, she dedicated her life to missionary work to see her life’s work washed away in a flood and her only translator die at her hands puts it this way, “Those hands, that keep a million worlds from spinning into oblivion, were nailed motionless to a cross for us.  Can you trust him?

The Patience of Jesus

It is rarely said of me that I am patient.  When I decide I want something, I want it now!

When I look at pop culture, I see I am in good company.  Everyone longs to be thin and fit and yet the number one health problem in America is obesity.  Why?  Because thin and fit takes time and we choose instant gratification of fast food and TV.  We spend money instead of save, yell at our children for petty offenses, curse traffic, check our phones a dozen times in the grocery line, and blow our top on complete strangers.

When 1 Corinthians 13 states that “love is patient,” I bow my head in humility.

When Jesus asks me to be patient, does he even know what he is talking about?!  Does he know how hard that is?!

Oh, he does.  Jesus lived his life knowing the cross was coming.  He was a man of sorrows that suffered every day of his life and HE IS GOD!  He could have, rightfully, thrown in the towel at any point and gone home to heaven.  He stood in the desert just before the point of starvation (that is waaay past hangry) and was patient even with Satan while he was tempted.  He could have blown him to smithereens with just a thought and yet he was patient enough to stand before him and endure the arrogance of Satan himself, patiently awaiting a victory that isn’t really what I would have had in mind – the cross.  Jesus sat at the Passover meal with his disciples explaining to them that he was about to die a torturous death and they quarreled over who would be the greatest among them in the kingdom of heaven.

Yes!  I guess when the Bible commands me to be patient, Jesus knows what that means.  God, I need you!  I love.  I want to love better.  Please give me patient love that comes only from you!

Why do I have Cancer?

There was no fault to be found with Jesus.  He spent his days healing the blind and the sick, he forgave the sins of outcasts of society, welcomed little children, and raised the dead.  Jesus had no home to call his own, he was rejected by his own brothers and his hometown.  Jesus was a man of sorrows.

His death was the great accomplishment of Satan himself.  He filled Judas as he betrayed him to the chief priests and the officers of the temple.  Satan and his legions shrieked with delight.  Jesus was dead!  They knew he was dead!  Their plan had been accomplished!  Satan had defeated Jesus.

But even Satan does not know the future.  And Jesus is alive!  He defeated death and arose from the grave.  How this devastated Satan!  Jesus had won the victory and he knew it!  It was not what he expected!  Jesus did not come to earth as a king and defeat the Romans, he came as a weak baby to a weak family.  He defeated Satan through SUFFERING!

The suffering of Jesus changed our futures forever!  Because of the suffering of Jesus, we can put our trust in him.  He is a God that knows the suffering of mankind.  His death gave us eternal life in perfection.

It is so hard to suffer.  It is so hard to see that anything good could come out of our pain!  But, oh, when Jesus hung on the cross and the demons were claiming the victory, I can think of nothing more hopeless!  But through his suffering, he rescued the souls of man!

In this life, I will have suffering.  It is guaranteed.  But I am not afraid.  I do not ask why do I suffer?  I ask Jesus, why did you suffer FOR ME?

Perhaps the Atheists Have it All Right

There is no God.  None to be found hugging  the weeping woman on the bathroom floor.  No God made the earth and controls the planets in their orbit.  God does not weep as a baby is discarded in the slums of Ethiopia.  He does not know my heart’s intentions, the depths of the sea, the joys of a newborn baby’s cries, the reunion of lost souls, or the cry of the wounded soldier.  There is no God.  Life is material, evolving from nothing and returning to nothing.  Life is here and now.  There is no God.

There is no God, therefore morals are cultural or personality.  I will determine my own right and wrong.  I will seek only my heart to direct my life.  I will determine my good and be happy at all costs.  I will do what feels good and only what feels good.  Meaning will be found in accomplishments, in gaining materials, and satisfying desires.  If it makes me happy, it must be good.  If it does not work for me anymore, if it hurts, if it is too hard, I will abandon.  There are no absolute morals.

There is no God, therefore there are no absolute morals, therefore there is no evil.  Do not tell me what is wrong and I will not tell you what is wrong.  If it makes me happy, it can not be wrong.  There is no evil in this world.  Survival of the fittest.  A woman weeping on the bathroom floor brought it on herself for being weak.  A baby discarded in the slums of Ethiopia is survival of the fittest, elimination of unwanted population, natural selection.  I will not protest for the rights of any group of people.  Evil can not be done against them.  There are no wrongs.  I will not sacrifice my own comforts, risk my own life, or serve anyone except myself.  Hitler was not wrong, genocides are natural, and murderers are following their own hearts, I will not tell them otherwise.  There is no evil.

Or, perhaps, there is a God.  It may be, He intimately loves and pursues me.  Conceivably, evil in and of itself is an argument for God.  Perhaps evil is proof that this is not the way the world was intended to be.  Perhaps I should stand up for the weak, and travel the world to rescue a baby that is starving because life is precious, and love abundantly when they have nothing to offer me, and forgive when I am wronged, and give when it comes at a cost, and make peace with my enemies.  Maybe we should fight for good and sacrifice all because there is something bigger than me and the here and now.  Perhaps I will believe.  Perhaps I will wake one day, as if from a dream, and the world and all that is wrong will fade away and I will live in perfection and eternity with God because, perhaps, there is a God.

Why God?! Tell me why!

Suffering rocks our world!  “Why, oh why God?  How can you be a loving God and let people hurt like this?!”

We live our lives with the belief that God is here to serve us.  We believe we deserve to be healthy and wealthy and happy.  We envy and despise those that appear to have “it all made” and we blame God for not giving us more, for not giving us more money, a bigger house, a skinnier body, a smarter brain, a healthier body, a nicer spouse, a faster car, and more obedient children.  We live for the big ME.

Then, absolutely, of course suffering does not fit into that plan!  Scars are not ideal when seeking out the hottest body.  Medical bills are not the plan when seeking to get rich.  Serving a spouse in the early morning is out of the question when I am looking out for my own comfort.  Without a doubt parents yell at children because this isn’t really the way we thought parenthood would go.  It is no shock that divorce is the norm when forgiveness can only come from God.

While in the midst of blaming God for pain in suffering, while in the throws of hating God for ruining our plans, perhaps the only answer is:  IT IS NOT ABOUT ME!

If I can begin to fathom who God is and who I am, the question changes from “Why do I suffer?” to “God, why do you love me?”

Those that do not believe in God do not have to answer the question of “why?”  It is just the way nature is.  Deal with it.  But they also do not get the comfort of God.  While I may not always understand “why,” I do know that one day I will.

One day, not only will there be no more pain and suffering for those that love Christ, one day all the wrongs of this life will be undone.  One day parents will be reunited with babies they lost, one day God will not only heal cancer, he will will make my body perfect, God’s plan is that all children will be loved, in heaven there will be so much richness that even the streets are made with gold.  What is the best life you can think of?  Heaven is better than that!  One day I will live forever with a perfect body in a huge mansion, and I will live with and praise forever the King of Kings.  Why, oh why God, do you love me so much?!

I am Not Me

Fashion waxes and wanes, the memories of trends captured in pictures.  Pictures taken from a camera, not a phone.  The comfort of childhood clothes, a closet full of my profession, maternity pants, weight gained and weight lost.  My dress is admired or my outfit is sloppy.  The daily additions and cancelations, I take them off and I put them on.  The differences because of a choice of clothes that people see in me.

The mirror tells the truth of lines that once were not there.  My grandmother in heaven is remembered by her voice calling out my young pudgy tummy.  Baby fat now carries a new meaning.  My tattoos are scars, they each have a story.  Some written and shared, others written on my heart.  This body grows and this body changes.  Memories of who I used to be.  Simple things accomplished that now can not be repeated.  I just tell of them, of the body that was attached to me.

To the man that looks approvingly or the lady that judges me.  I speak to people that are my friends and that are my enemies.  What you see is not.  It is not me.  It changes daily.  Slowly growing and fading, the debt of humanity.  Your dirty smile or your nose turned up goes unnoticed to me because in simple changes that mean nothing at all, your expression would change toward me.

I take off the years like a sweater and my hair will fade to gray like the taking off and putting on of earrings.  Shoes changed is my health fading.  A belt applied is the years passing by.  My body changes like my wardrobe.  But, what you see is not.  It is not me.

Judge me by my character.  The ease of the first glance does not do justice to the soul’s stance.  Let’s be friends and chat and smile and cry. Let’s live before we die.  Because living is forever but this body is and never will be me.  My soul will live for eternity.

Old Sticky Love

I believe in goals.  I believe in knowing what race you are in and running toward that finish line.  I believe in knowing what road you are on and what the destination is.

Love.  I want my love to be sticky.

Newlywed James and Caroline were magnificently in love with love.  We promised and we dreamed but we were only tying on our tennis shoes and the gun had not even yet been shot.  Counseled, researched, planned, and eager, we set out in the race of marriage and a life together.  But we had not yet gotten shin splints, holes in our tennis shoes, and the weather was a perfect sixty-five degree sunny day.

Newlywed James and Caroline sat in the food court of the shopping mall, planning where the day and our life would take us.  And then we got some of the best advice new love can be given.

Their age was old.  The kind of old that can barely move and the movements are slow and thought through.  She sat with white hair and a shriveled body in a wheelchair pushed by a white haired man, leaning over using her wheelchair as a cane.  Her hand was held across her body and her fingers were gnarled.  Their short walk from the door was an exercise in and of itself.

They sat.  Sat at the table right beside us.  He slowly and patiently moved the chair at the table and replaced it with her wheelchair.  There was no talking, just slow movements.  And then, she was left, left waiting.  He, the more mobile one, departed and began a slow shuffle just a few feet away but each step was a goal accomplished.  He achieved what he had set out for and slowly returned to her side.

He dipped the spoon into the cold, creamy vanilla.  Their eyes met and they lovingly smiled at each other.  He lifted the spoon to her lips, his hands were shaking with a tremor and uncontrolled movements.  She opened her mouth as the spoon fluttered forward.

Love.  Love fed her ice cream.  Love was sticky all over her face.  Their painstaking and exhausting mission was to set out and share an ice cream.  After a couple of bites, she had it all over her face, sitting smiling, smiling at her love.

The cup was emptied.  With great labor, he threw away the cup.  With great pains, he returned the chair to the table.  And they began their slow march to the exit.

James took my hand in his.  We smiled at each other.  We each had the same goal.

Now, the gun has been shot.  We have gone through a few pairs of tennis shoes.  We have helped each other up a few times.  We run and run.  Quitting is not an option.  One day we will sit and have our celebratory ice cream and then we will pick ourselves up and soar one last time right through the finish line.

We never talked to them, but their actions spoke louder:  Love can be sticky.

The Great Damned One

The peak of the mountain, tallest in the world.  At the point, the tip, he holds me over the edge.  Held by his claw, in his grip, I wriggle and squirm.  Terror seizes my mind, my heart beats like a drum.  The beating of the drum, the battle call.  There is a whisper in the wind.  A cold north wind blows my hair and chills my body.

He screams a high pitched scream, grabbing my dangling body that he is holding over the ledge, cupping his two hands over my ears.  But the north wind blows and the whisper can not be shut out.  And I know.

My closed eyes open.  He knows that I know.  I know that my one hands controls him.  I know fear is his manipulating tool.  But now I know, I know fear is a bluff.  If I fall, I fall into the arms of Jesus.

I know.  I know that if I mourn, I will be comforted.  My tears will be wiped away.  My failing body will be healed, my poor spirit will be lifted up and I will be given power.  I will inherit.  I will reign.

Satan holds the greatest bluff of all time.  The ending is known, God almighty holds the victory over the war.  Great powerful one, Christian, claim your power.  Call the bluff.