That’s a Change, Indeed

Hope Tree

Tomorrow, I’ve been asked to share a message of hope in terms of my cancer experience at Uniting Reformed Church in Ennerdale, South Africa. According to my pastor friend, a number of his church body or the family members they love have been affected with various forms of cancer this year. It’s been a difficult journey for some of them.

The message is ready to share. However, any time, something related to cancer comes to the forefront of my mind, a wave of different thoughts and feelings also surface.I even wondered a while back if I had a cancer experience that was worthy to share.

I’m not sure if this is true of other cancer survivors, but one of the things I continually process since I finished my ‘hard-core’ cancer treatment (where I was cut, diced, poked, prodded, marked, and burned) two years ago; is how I have changed since my diagnosis?

Have I?

Changed?

I have scars – and I still have the radiation tag mark. They are visual reminders that my body has undergone something significant.

I have random, unexpected sensations that are like low-grade piercings – it’s difficult to describe how they make me feel at times. Yet, these intermittent shots of pain (almost like pin-pricks) always cause me to remember that things happen beyond my control.

And certainly, my schedule has been affected. I have check-ups and scans and ultra-sounds and other types of tests throughout the year to keep a watchful eye on my body.

So yes, there have been some changes.

But what about me?

The inner me?

At my core?

Where my character is formed and shaped, where my soul is nourished and strengthened, where my spirit lives and breathes?

Honestly, I’m just not sure, at times.

I see my faults.

I see my character defects of impatience, desire for control, and desire to please.

I still disappoint my husband.

I still allow myself to be exasperated with my kids.

I still struggle with envy.

I am prideful.

Even though a cancerous body was removed through surgery and then its residual tissue was burned away with radiation two years ago, the surgeon’s knife and the radiation machine did not carve into my soul and character or burn away the residual sins that I either cling to or demonstrate at will for one reason or another.

They weren’t supposed to, though. That was not their purpose. Heart and soul change demand something else. My God asks me to submit my heart and soul to Him in every possible way.

It says in Colossians 3: 5, 6-8:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry….You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice slander, and filthy language from your lips.

My list of sins that are present in my earthly nature are different than Paul’s list – pride, impatience, control, envy, people-pleasing….no matter. My Lord is asking me to put them all to death and rid them from my life just like the cancerous tissue which was purposely removed two years ago from my body.

And so it is true! My cancer did impact me and change me – down deep, at my core, where my soul dwells.

My cancer gave me a gift.

My disease opened the window of my heart and soul to daily glimpses of eternity of where I am positioned in Christ. My cancer provided an invitation to live how my God really desires me to live  – for how ever long I have left on this earth. My cancer helped me embrace these words of Paul at a heart and soul level like never before:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. New International Version, Colossians 3: 1-3.

My cancer brought my eternal life into greater focus. How I live here counts for eternity – and as I submit more and more of my life to Him and put to death the vices of my earthly nature, I grow more into the likeness of my Savior.

It’s a process.

Change doesn’t just occur over night.

Certainly, it’s been two years since I walked out of the radiation treatment room during the Thanksgiving weekend overflowing with thankfulness and with a heart brimming with gratitude.

So, have I changed?

The inner me?

At my core?

Where my character is formed and shaped, where my soul is nourished and strengthened, where my spirit lives and breathes?

I can say this: I am changing. I am growing. I am becoming.

And surprisingly, as I wrote this post, I began to label my cancer differently. Instead of it being ‘cancer’ (did you notice?), I began to claim this cancer as my own. As I shared, my cancer was given to me as a gift – my gift to embrace my eternal call and my eternal purpose in this life and beyond – and I received it. That’s a change, indeed.

And that is why I can share a word of hope regarding my cancer journey tomorrow with the people of Uniting Reformed Church. We have all been given such a gift in Jesus Christ –  the gift of hope, a significant calling and purpose, and a glimpse of eternity.

 
Photo from Rachel Loves to Laugh of Flickr

 

2 thoughts on “That’s a Change, Indeed

  1. impactful!!! brought tears to my eyes.

    1. Thank you, Gordon. Blessings to you!

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