Before I begin this long overdue entry, I would just like to thank all of you who follow the blog and – more importantly – lift us up before our Father in heaven as you do. Over the last ten or so days I have received a number of gracious prompts to journal something so that you can be updated for prayer. It is humbling to have so many people take such sincere interest in what I write and share on this blog. Thank you.
Some have even asked whether we have considered the possibility of creating wider, even media, attention for this blog. In response to those kind suggestions, we intend to stick close to the roots of this blog’s foundation which were primarily to keep friends and family updated and to give a living testimony to the power and peace that God gives us through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ as we follow Him through the shadowy valley of cancer. Below and behind this are no other or ulterior motives for this blog. If nobody on this earth ever read it, I am certain that I would still write it. We entrust how far and wide it travels entirely to the Spirit of God…not the Specialists of Google! Consequently, please understand, the delays in posting are not web-tactical, intended to maximise the audience by drumming up support; neither are they literary devices intended to create suspense and intrigue. This isn’t a soap-opera; it’s not fiction. This is life. Our life. And the delays are simply a case of life’s interruptions. Sometimes, the reality of life is that it’s too difficult to find the time or the words; or sometimes, both.
It says in scripture (2 Peter 3:8) that to God, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. God is eternal. He existed before time and is not bound or bracketed by it. He is the author of time and will write its last chapter. God will outlive time.
Wow! That’s mind blowing stuff. So, forgive me for mal-applying that scripture, but it sort of resonates with Annie and I right now! Each day we have is so precious to us that the last ten or so that have elapsed feel like ten or so weeks. It’s nearly mid-February already! And while you’re in the process of forgiving me, I hope you’ll also find room to forgive me for not being able to give you a detailed blow-by-blow account of all that’s happened since the last post!
In summary, I think it would be fair to say for the most part, Annie has been well. There have been brief intrusions of nausea; lingering spells of bone pain and weary periods of fatigue but in terms of sleep, I don’t think Annie has had one sleepless night. As ever, with regards to Annie’s health (with the exception of her weight) nothing happens on a curve (upward or downward). As far as medical science goes, this is a terminal illness and the overall progress is downward. But over the last four months there have been times in the distant past where Annie has looked and felt a lot worse than she has in more recent weeks. And that is especially true of the last ten days.
I make the exception of Annie’s weight, not because she has been closely monitoring it (she hasn’t) but visually we both are aware of the effects of weight loss on Annie. In recent mornings she has woken up in discomfort caused by just not having as much ‘meat’ (Annie’s expression, not mine!) around her hips and shoulders as she once had. I was laughing a bit about that the other day when Annie forcibly queried: “Who ever wanted to be skinny?” I recall the countless hours (yes, I’m probably being lavish with husbandly hyperbole!) lost in clothes shops as I sat down, waiting for the inevitable moment when Annie would exit the changing rooms looking ‘frudgruntled’ (frustrated, ruddy and disgruntled!) declaring: “Nope! No good! I’m too fat for it!” If the Lord should heal Annie and restore her weight, I can imagine how funny it will be to see her joyfully and simultaneously burst out of the dressing room and the outfit announcing “Yep! It’s perfect! I’m too fat for it!” Of course, if she is healed, I hope to remind her that before we visit the clothes stores, we ought to first visit the loft, where last week she retired many of her clothes that are now simply too big for her.
Whatever happens, one thing is for sure, no matter what she weighs this morning, for me, there’s no less of her to love and cherish; every day there is more I love about her than the day before.
I have said to Annie many times, I love her so much that if I could do something to trade places with her, I would; in a heartbeat. If I could take the cancer, even to the grave, I would. Annie counter insists that even if God Himself gave her that choice, she would not accept the offer. Perhaps it’s easier to talk about than to actually do. If it were medically (or prayerfully) possible to transfer my health to Annie only in exchange for her cancerous cells, I can only begin to imagine how it would feel the moment the button was pushed, so to speak. What a significant heartbeat-moment that would be to suddenly begin to experience all this nausea and pain and fatigue in the first person. I’m not suggesting for one moment that I’d have after-thoughts but it would certainly be a significant choice to actuate. And even once this imaginary life-changing transfer was complete, some things in life would not actually change at all. We would still both live with the distinct possibility of only having a short time together; one would still be left to consider the thought of life without the other.
I do often wonder what God thinks about these discussions Annie and I have. Is it sinful to think this way? Life is precious. Human beings are created in a unique way by God; unlike any other creature, we are made in His image (Genesis 1:27). Taking a life – be it abortion, murder, suicide (assisted or not) – is never without great consequence. Life is God’s to give and take away – not ours.
But God is also a God who knows something about sacrifice…substitutionary sacrifice.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8
The bible teaches us that when God looks at us, He sees sinful, selfish, broken, damaged and lost people. And yet, while that pains and angers Him to see, He is moved with such depth of love…that He would die to restore sinful, selfish, broken, damaged and lost people like us.
Whoever you are right now, whatever baggage you have, whatever your religious outlook, agnostic and outspoken atheist alike, the gospel teaches that God loves folks just like you, to death; and that’s not just some divine metaphor to express His feelings towards His creation; He actually has demonstrated this. He has pushed the button so to speak. He has sent His dearly, beloved, precious, only Son not simply to teach or muse about divine love, but to demonstrate it. This is what people witnessed when they saw Jesus. This is what the disciples witnessed when they saw Jesus. An encounter with this Jesus, broke and melted the stony cold hearts of religious folks like Saul who wrote:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
And so while Annie and I express our love for one another by bickering over the idea of trading places, it’s a fitting time to stop and consider that this is how much God loves us. He’s done this for us. He has died so that we might have life to the full, life eternal. He has exchanged the rags of our sin for the robes of His righteousness. Talk about a new wardrobe!
All of this hope and peace and power that Annie and I experience each day is proof that God really does love us to death!
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! – 1 John 3:1
And we continue to see this love demonstrated in and through the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. In a love inspired and empowered by our Lord’s, they continue to commit themselves to remain sleepless so that we might sleep! To this very day many continue their hourly shifts through the twilight hours to lay us at the throne of grace while we lay down to sleep each night.
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Come on. Isn’t this love amazing? We just hope you know it and show it (as we do for ourselves too).
It’s currently a beautiful Saturday morning and I intend to enjoy it that way for as long as possible, so I will draw this entry to a close. We have Mom Ruth and Annie’s cousin Ephraim here with us presently. While it looks beautiful outside, I am also aware from the silver tipped blades of grass that it’s cold too! Whether or not we will venture outdoors today, remains to be seen – certainly the mind is willing. Annie is still sleeping and, as our daily routine goes, we’ll see how she is after she has showered. Quite recently it’s been the shower that has triggered brief spells of nausea. So, if you happen to be reading this moments after I push ‘PUBLISH THIS POST’, you might remember to pray that the shower just does what it’s supposed to do and nothing more!
With love because He first loved us,