See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
See Part 6 here.
See Part 7 here.
See Part 8 here.
See Part 9 here.
See Part 10 here.
My mom’s final treatment was just a few days ago. We were never able to get her back up to all the treatments with which we started, but the final round of radiation happened, and mom went home for a few weeks of recovery.
This alone is worthy of praise and glory to the Lord.
It may or may not be the beginning of the end. I wonder a lot of things in regard to this story as it unfolds. I wonder how many people I’m reaching. I wonder how many of those people are reading it, waiting to see how this next series of events unfolds. How many will believe if doctors are willing to remove the rest of the tumor when my mother goes to have her MRI. I worry more over who will decide to never believe if the MRI reveals the tumor is still too large or worse.
I’m still not nearly smart enough to understand medicine or how things should go. I live in willful ignorance in that regard. I wish I could go back to the days when I believed a kiss from my mom could heal nearly any wound. Knowledge has eliminated that degree of blissful naivety, but I do tend to think that once a person goes to a doctor and gets treatment, that person will be fine.
The fact is, I don’t know what’s supposed to happen. What I do know is that whatever happens is God’s will. The past few weeks have seen me fall all the way back to the sin and filth that I’d started this journey fighting to climb out of. This week as seen me climb back out with a little more perspective and a lot more desire to be more Christ-like.
I trust in God. I believe in my heart that he will rid my mother of this illness. That doesn’t mean this round of treatment as the last round, but I pray it does, and I’d ask all believers to pray the same. But if you’re reading this as some sort of “test” to see if that “God thing” really works, I fear I may have misled you into a false idea. God isn’t some sort of supernatural Walgreens. A relationship with him isn’t some transaction in which one man offers a degree of prayer or praise in exchange for this or that. Also, the blessing a life with God offers are so much more than any Earthly return. After all, Earth is at this time, resistant to the will of God. That’s not to say God doesn’t bless us. The point is everything that happens, good or bad, is from God. Seeking Earthly gain is observably turning from God. Fixating on God an living a life devoted to him will have several blessings, the most important of which is salvation and a life with Him.
God is perfect. His will is immutable. His design is without flaws. My mortal belief is based on faith but neither immutable or flawless.
So then I wonder about those who are reading this and wondering what will happen if things don’t work out for my mother. The fact is that, statistically speaking, there is a percentage of people reading this, wondering, for whatever reason, if I’ll turn away.
I would be sad. I’d be devastated. I promise I’d take some time to morn and seek out comfort. But even if the worst happens, it would only be another part of the test to see if I’m truly devoted, and I am.
The fact is, every time I’m at my worst. Every time I’ve been as low as I can be, I’ve reached out to God, and come out feeling stronger and closer to him. What frustrates me is how often I realize my pain and suffering is usually more a result of what happens when I walk away from God. I’m not asserting in this case, though it is possible, that God is punishing me. I’m stating that when we walk away from God, life inherently gets worse.
Premise: I don’t want to follow a life of God because that means I’ll have to give up my worldly desires.
I’m not in that group, but I know there are those who do.
The idea is these people want to live a “full” life and “get everything they can” from it.
The sad irony in this situation is that this thinking makes it impossible for you to live a full life and get everything you could. This isn’t because God will take it from you, it’s because you’ve forsaken yourself. The world is inherently selfish for just those reasons. If everyone in life does what they want and takes everything they can, it creates a confrontational setting in which those things (because money, fame, and sex) are all limited resources. The fact is everyone can’t be rich. Everyone can’t be famous. It’s ridiculous to think so. Fame is the condition of being known or talked about by many people. The definition I’m looking at now also continues to assert that that recognition is based on achievement, which is also limited. Everyone can’t win a gold medal. Everyone can’t do something first. With that logic in mind, everyone can’t be famous, because there are only so many ways one can achieve things and, therefore, only so many ways one can be notable.
So people want. They want that “full” life and the want “everything they can get,” but when they don’t receive these things, they grow bitter. They grow depressed. They grow angry. They suffer. The fact is, Christians suffer as well, but not to the degree that those who demand worldly things ultimately do.
For starters, non-belivers ultimately die, and regardless of the existence of Heaven or not, those people don’t go to Heaven. So their lives may, unfortunately be full lives of suffering because they never “got everything” they wanted. Yes, the suffering ends, but there’s no bliss afterward because they’re dead and get nothing after that mortal life. This idea saddens me.
Now, a believer may also suffer his whole life. However, the end of this mortal life will not only end his suffering, but result in joy everlasting. This alone would have been enough to convince me to devote my life to God.
I may never be a best seller. While my current marital prospects look blissfully outstanding, one of us could get hit by a bus, and those prospects could end, so I may never get married despite reason to believe that’ll happen (very soon). I may never have children. I may never have children of my own blood. I may never retire comfortably and be able to spend my days reading, writing and providing fellowship with people. These are things I want. They may even be things you want. Well, the truth is we’re not guaranteed anything in life. Scripturally speaking we don’t even deserve anything. However, as a saved Christian, I’m guaranteed a life in the kingdom of Heaven with God.
I’m a driven man. I want to do and have so much. I won’t lie about it. But the thing I’ve always known is I don’t want to give up that life in Heaven nor the additional blessings I could receive if I continue to do more and fellowship more with God.
When I was at my worse, I will confess my greatest temptation to reject the will of God and forsake him. The first thing that saved me was the fact that I simply knew there was a God. And, since I knew he existed, I knew that forsaking him would not only cost me everything on this Earth, but the life in Heaven I eagerly await.
How does this tie together? I’m speaking to those reading this and wondering “how it will end.” I’ve already told you what I believe, but what I can also tell you now is that whatever happens, I’ll only seek to praise and worship the Lord more. What suffering I endure now is nothing compared to my life after Jesus returns to lay claim to his throne. Yes I will be sad. Yes I will suffer. Yes I will cry. I’ll wonder, “why me?” and “Why my family?”
I have done that and will again. I’m still learning. I’m a work in progress that sadly not remotely where it should be now and nightmarishly far from where it should be in the future.
The previous weeks were reminders to me of how I can’t stop doing more. And this is the challenge to believers.
I hope, with all my heart, you’re currently doing everything you can to glorify god and server His will. At the very least, I hope you’re doing more than I am. The trick is to never get as complacent as I was. Never stop and look around thinking, “This is it!”
Serving God isn’t an item on a to-do list. And I’m a man who loves his to-do lists. It’s a way of life the way all pursuits are. It’s the most important pursuit. I lost sight of that. Though prayer and fellowship, I’ve reached a place where I feel better.
That makes me feel great. I’m more relaxed at work. I’m able to focus on what tasks I place before myself. I’m a better listener to those I love. I’m more willing to meet new friends and form new bonds.
I don’t think I’ll ever pronounce my freedom from sin, and that’s because I’m afraid the moment i make such a proclamation, temptation will waylay me again just to mock my arrogance. This has given me a new perspective, and it’s with this prospective that I’ll leave you.
Do you remember those old cartoon villains from the ’80s? I think about Mum-Ra and that guy from Inspector Gadget. Every week they came to harass our heroes, and they lost every week. But, they always came back. This is how I’m starting to see sin.
Before, I thought of sin like a more effective villain. A force that was sometimes more powerful than I am. This made me inherently more likely to succumb because I already believed I might. I have a respect for sin, but instead of thinking of it as a powerful villain that I might not be able to beat, I remember those more adorable, far less-terrifying villains. If I fall to sin, it’s because I choose to. I’m the same guy from the last segment of this story. I know hare hard it is to face a sin and overcome it. But making the sin the problem, shifts the blame from the one to whom it belongs. It’s still a fight. It’s still hard. But if I look at sin as one of those goofy 1980s cartoon villains, I’m suddenly more confident and more aware that if I lose, it’s because I didn’t fight it. I’ve always known that, but the mind-shift puts more accountability on me.
If I stumble, and I’m human, so I will, I’ll pray for forgiveness and repent as all saved Christians do, but I won’t pretend it’s because I couldn’t beat the sin. Not any more. I’ll understand there’s a weapon I refused to use, a teammate I denied receiving help from.
I’ve face the very sin I’ve been referencing the past few weeks during this one. I’ve beaten it back. Now I can’t help but hear, “You win this time, Gadget!”
The same is true of the cancer my mom fights. She’s not giving up. When I spoke to her on the phone, she wanted to know about my girlfriend and what my plans were (that marital status should change…soon). She was also concerned and wanted me to know this fight has had costs. Mom will have a lot of recovery to do. The thing is, I’m just praying I get to keep my mom. Everything else is stuff I can deal with later. Step one, pray that God removes this cancer from her. Then we, as a family under God, can work together from there.
Questions and Revelations
Where did this assurance come from?
Filling my spirit more and fellowship. I read more of the Bible than I used to. I already fellowship 100 times more than I did. (That isn’t saying much. I was, and am, severely lacking in that regard.) My and my girlfriend talk more about what the scripture says and how God wants us to handle various situations. The more I do this, the less I’m tempted, and the stronger I feel when I’m faced with temptation. The more you focus on God, the Bible, and Fellowship, the less those other things, whatever they are, will bother you. There will be suffering. Any who serve God will suffer because the world will try to pull you from Him. But if you persevere through that, your glory is guaranteed.
How much more do you read and fellowship?
Honestly I don’t track that sort of thing. I know it’s more because I pointedly worked to increase how much I talk about God and how much I read the Bible. The trick (and something I’m working on) is to make God a part of your day, not just a thing you do. Again, don’t make God an item on your to-do list. Make pleasing and serving God your ultimate goal, and let your to-do list form under that primary principle. I’m not claiming a complete 180 shift. What I try to do is walk a little closer (one of my favorite hymns) to him each day. I feel ashamed that I can’t just flip. I should. Every man should. But rather than give up because I haven’t, I just keep turning, and soon, my spiritual ship will be heading in the right direction. The proof that it’s right is how good I feel regardless of my circumstances.
When will you know if the treatment worked?
A few weeks? I’ve heard two, and I’ve heard a month. So I have a nice window with which to work. It’s with this that I ask for your prayers. I also ask for fellowship. If you’re a believer, please, post relevant aspects of scripture. I’m asking because this will give me strength in the coming weeks, and the more I can look to scripture to see how I should handle the next few weeks, the more I know I’ll be ready. These can be verses of encouragement or advice, but I ask it if you if you’d be kind enough to spend the time.
If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog. I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.
Thanks for reading