September 18, 2004
It has been a little over two months since my first visit to the hospital during my vacation in North Carolina. Much has happened since that first morning I woke up with numbness and tingling in my left hand and foot. I’ve seen several doctors, been through lots of tests, had cat scans, MRI’s, X-rays, taken several medications, and have seen many symptoms and side effects come and go. I never could have imagined at the beginning what kind of experiences were waiting for me. It has been quite a ride, and it’s not over yet. Some days it’s all I can do to just hold on and pray that I don’t get thrown off. I’m glad I don’t have to rely on my own strength to get through this challenge. Many have commented that they admire my strength and positive attitude in the midst of this ordeal. But I must say that strength is not my own; it comes from Jesus. He is everything to me.
Steven Curtis Chapman has a song that expresses my feelings very well. It is recorded on his CD Heaven in the Real World. The song is called “Miracle of Mercy”, and is copyrighted 1994 by Sparrow Song.
“Miracle of Mercy” by Steven Curtis Chapman
If the truth was known and a light was shown
On every hidden part of my soul,
Most would turn away, shake their heads and say,
“He still had such a long way to go.”
If the truth was known you’d see that the only good in me
Is Jesus, oh it’s Jesus.
If the walls could speak of the times I’ve been weak
When everybody thought I was strong.
Could I show my face if it weren’t for the grace
Of the one who’s know the truth all along.
If the walls could speak they’d say that my only hope is the grace
Of Jesus, the grace of Jesus.
But oh, the goodness of the grace in Him.
He takes it all and makes it mine and causes His light in me to shine.
And He loves me with a love that never ends.
Just as I am, not as I do.
Could this be real, could this be true?
This could only be a miracle.
This could only be the miracle of mercy.
During the first week after I found out about my tumor, I attempted to put a positive spin on the situation by telling myself, “What an honor that God has found me strong enough to bear this burden.” The truth is that, I am not strong enough on my own. My help comes from the Lord. It is only by the miracle of his mercy that I am able to endure. I will take no credit for the testimony I have to tell; it is the testimony of Jesus. He is the author of the story, and simply decided to entitle the story by using my name. But it is His story. I find His strength by reading the Bible.
During my years of teaching sixth grade in Christian schools, I had the opportunity to memorize many Bible verses with my students. Several of them are still with me and come to my mind right when I need strength. I remember lying in my bed outside the operating room before my biopsy surgery. It was a scary, lonely time. But immediately some Bible verses came to mind. I wasn’t trying to remember them at that moment, but there they were: Psalm 121. “I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you--the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
The Bible remains my life line. It would be impossible for me to make it through without His promises and encouragements.
While several have told me that they find my story inspirational and encouraging, still others have trouble making sense of it all. They ask, “Why is all this happening to you? You’re too young, and your family is still so young. You’ve taken care of your health, and you’re a good person. Why would God allow this to happen? It just doesn’t make sense.” At times I’ve wondered the same thing. Then I was given a different perspective from Romans 5:6-8, “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 man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love toward us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Ephesians 2:8-9 continues the story: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. It is a gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” God sent his only son Jesus to earth to be born as a baby, to live a sinless life, to be a teacher, a healer, a friend, God in the flesh. At age 33, he was betrayed, crucified, and buried in a borrowed tomb with no earthly possessions to his name. Why? Because of love. Remember John 3:16? “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life. God knew that the only way for people like you and me to have a relationship with him both now, and for eternity in heaven, was for the price to be paid for our sins. The debt was so large that there was no way for us to pay it ourselves. So God sacrificed his only son, his perfect son, Jesus. Now all we need to do is accept God’s free gift of salvation. We have done nothing to deserve it or earn it. It comes at no cost to us. To me, that doesn’t make sense!
In my human mind, according to my logic, it makes no sense that God would send his son to die for mankind while we were still his enemies. As his enemies, he had every right and reason to take our lives away. But instead, He put Jesus in our place. And now, because of his sacrifice, we have been brought from death to life. All this is given at no cost to us. His forgiveness, our salvation, and an eternal home in heaven is al ours just by accepting this free gift. That doesn’t make sense!
Shouldn’t I have to earn his forgiveness, earn his love, earn his favor? In my mind it seems so. But in reality, nothing I could ever do would repay the debt of my sin or the price Jesus paid by giving His life in exchange for mine. The miracle of mercy.
I’m glad God doesn’t make sense sometimes; especially when it comes to my relationship with him. Otherwise, life would be meaningless and hopeless. I know that the only good in me is Jesus; I can do nothing on my own that would ever earn his favor. It is only by his grace that I am saved and am able to live from day to day. Now my desire is to honor him each day with the life he has given me. I challenge you to do the same. If you have questions about how to do this, please email me and I’ll do anything I can to help!
According to my doctor’s original plan, I have just less than two weeks of radiation treatments remaining. What will happen after that is yet to be determined. I’m not sure if another MRI will be conducted immediately, or if they’ll try some other methods of treatment first. We’ve discussed the possibility of more chemotherapy, but nothing has been determined for certain yet.
My current physical condition is as follows: I am still experiencing some numbness along the left side of my body, especially my left hand and shoulder. The vision in my right eye is still poor, and is possibly the most difficult of my current symptoms. I’ve been having some sinus drainage and pressure. This has affected my nose and my ears. And the newest symptom is a very itchy rash on my arms, legs, stomach, and back. They believe it is from the anti-seizure medication I had been taking. So I am no longer on that medication and am taking Benadryl to stop the itching. So far it hasn’t worked very well and the itching is just about making me go crazy! Additionally, this anti-seizure medication is the first medicine they gave me in the hospital in North Carolina. I’ve been taking it ever since to make sure I didn’t have a seizure. I never had a seizure, neither before nor since I’d been on the medication. I don’t want to have a seizure, so I pray that now that I’m off the medication God will continue to protect me.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Feel free to email me as often as you’d like. It is very encouraging to read your messages!
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