Over the last week, I have started this post and trashed it twice. Usually my posts just flow, so this is a new experience for me. I realize now that there was some work I had to do on a personal level before I could report on our recent trip to Dallas on January 14. So here goes with a report on what has prehaps been the toughest part of my journey so far!
We had a good, safe trip to the amazing Baylor University Medical Center. It is located on a huge campus made up of many buildings, and the Sammons Cancer Center itself is the newest building on campus. It is there that the nations leading research facility on lymphoma is located, and my appointment was with the physician who is the Director of Cancer Immunotherapy, Blood and Marrow Transplant Services for Baylor Medical Center. I have no idea how I landed in such a place to be meeting with the director when there are many doctors in that department, but spending an hour with him sharing his knowledge with Marv and I was worth the trip in itself. He gave us clear information on every possible thing connected to the nature and treatment of Mantle Cell Lymphoma and sent us home with more to read. While I felt better informed than ever, I realized shortly after I got home that I was newly over-whelmed by what has happened to me in the last few months and “information overload” was in full swing in my brain.
I found myself squarely in the center of a dry and dusty road. While I never lost the sense of the Lord’s presence, I began to withdraw from Him in that I had lost my zest for Bible study (which is usually my delight), or even Bible reading as I found myself thinking “What’s the use? Why am I even considering further treatment for this rare and poorly understood disease which carries a very poor prognosis? Should I just walk away from further treatment and let nature take its course? The worst that could happen is my getting to heaven sooner rather than later which looks pretty attractive to me at this moment”. These thoughts whirled through my head and I shared them with no one. I came close to real despair. Prayer became wooden and stilted. I saw no way out.
Finally, yesterday, I let my thoughts spill out to my ever-supportive husband. He listened, and listened, and listened to me. Then he said “Before you say another word, let me read you something”. He began to read to me from three little devotional books that he reads every morning. One was “My Utmost For His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, the second was “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, and the third was “Daily Declarations for Spiritual Warfare” by John Eckhardt. As he read them to me, it was as if every phrase, or sentence had been written to address some aspect of what I had poured out as I talked (and cried) to Marv just moments before. I won’t reproduce them here, but I will summarize their messages in three quotes, one from each book:
“Live in a constant state of expectancy and leave room for God to come in as HE decides” (Oswald Chambers based on Galatians 1:15)
“As you keep your focus on Me, I form you into the one I desire you to be. Your part is to yield to My creative work in you, neither resisting it
nor trying to speed it up.” (Sarah Young based on Hebrews 13:15, II Corinthians 3:18, Psalm 73:23-24)
“My child, I will visit you every morning and will show forth My salvation in your life from day-to-day. My judgements will come upon your enemies
morning by morning. Because of My great mercy toward you, your enemies will not enslave you. My compassions will not fail you; they are
new every morning. My faithfulness will never cease, and I will be your portion forever. Therefore, place your hope in Me. I will be with you
and I am mighty to save. I take great delight in you, and I will quiet you with My love. I will rejoice over you with singing. I will remove
sorrow from you. I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give you honor and praise and will
restore your fortunes before your very eyes.” (John Eckhardt based on Psalm 91:3-5, Lamentations 3:22-23, Zephaniah 3:17-20).
My conclusion from all this was that I had taken my eyes off of God and returned them to my circumstances. And, I am constantly fighting an enemy who knows the power of my keeping my eyes on my Lord and Maker. And that “eyes on God” is indeed the key to victory over circumstances. I was also reminded that I may never know the reason for the circumstances I am going through, but that is perfectly OK because God is acting in my life to demonstrate His power to others. That was confirmed to me this morning after a powerful time of worship followed by a sermon based on Joshua 4 (never under-estimate the power of showing up at church on Sunday morning!). Joshua 4:23 and 24 says “…For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the people of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever”.
So be it – in my life, and in your life anytime you give testimony to the love, faithfulness and power of God.
I spent yesterday on a “mini retreat”, soaking in the Word of God and being delighted by it once again. Next steps became clear. The next step in the natural is to return to Baylor for further testing on my blood, lungs, heart, and kidneys (all in one day!) to help determine the best way to move forward medically. That appointment will probably be within the next two weeks although I don’t have a firm date yet. So please continue to pray for me as this is by now OUR, and not just MY journey. There are decisions and arrangements to be made, and Marv and I count on prayer support as we make them. Your faithful support of me is humbling, amazing and wonderful!
Love to you all, Joy