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.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

See Part 17 here.

See Part 18 here.

See Part 19 here.

 

The Appointment

My sister, mother, and I loaded ourselves into the car. We got to the hospital, and my sister took us to get some blood work for Mom first to make sure we didn’t get slowed down in case they wanted more recent results than we’d had.

It was actually a quick process. We were in and out before I could finish a game of Sudoku. We then walked around to the actual treatment area.  We got to the desk, where they informed us the copay for this treatment would be somewhere around $300.

I confess this to you all: I was standing there with my mom, who had cancer, and when they listed that price, I worried.  What a horrible thing! I worried about the money I’d already spent flying down, the money it cost to fly back up, and I even worried about this ring I had planned to buy.

I asked if the copay was required before treatment.  I asked if my father could pay it at a later time.  Here I was balking at a few hundred dollars.  It wasn’t until the woman at the counter said it wasn’t an issue that I felt the shame. How dare I? How dare I think of myself and my bank account in a situation like this.

Strangely, that shame was quickly followed by a thought.  God always provides. What am I worried about? I wondered.

Here I am, still under the belief that God can cure my mom of cancer, but he can’t make sure I have money to do things?  What a ludicrous thought.  I’m not saying people should just spend willfully without thought or sense to a budget.  But we should always give to those in need.  I say again, the Bible is quite clear on this. We should give freely to those in need.

“You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake,” Deuteronomy 15:10.

For those who want to argue the conflict between the Old and New Testament, let’s look at what the New Testament says on the matter:

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work,” Corinthians 9:6-8.

I paid the money, and I still feel ashamed for how I let my thoughts dwell on the aforementioned, selfish wants I had at a time like this. This event taught me something: I’m not a cheerful giver.  I used to be. When my circumstances were better, and I had a generous amount of money in my bank account, I gave freely without a single worry in my mind.

Since I’ve transitioned and pumped a ton of money into my dream to be a published author, I’m less secure. Now, I do and give, having to remind myself that God always provides. Here’s some more fuel to this fire. I never think about money when I go to a movie. I eat at the same restaurant every Friday. I buy caffeinated beverages whenever I struggle to stay awake.

I’ve made it my new goal to remember the man I was when I was much better off because God will always provide. I’m not rich, but I’m blessed already because I’m probably still a bit more stable than some other people I know because I’ve always tried to live far below my means. Once I climb out of the debt I’m in, I think I’ll be even more stable.

The point isn’t that I paid. The point isn’t that I did the right thing or even that I did it because I knew it was right. The point is that I wasn’t a cheerful giver. I felt the temptation to horde and cling, and that was an alarming realization.

After we paid the fee, my sister called our dad to let him know we were about to begin. Mom overheard and finally realized what had happened.

She’s hard to understand these days. What I remember about that conversation is how mad she was. “They’re liars,” she said.  “I’m done!”

That got my attention. My sister and I talked to Mom together to explain that nothing had changed.  We still intended for her to get the treatment, meet with the cancer team, and then get back to Yuma as soon as my father could finish up the work at the house.

We let her know that we weren’t worried about the money.  That calmed Mom down, and shortly after that, she was in the treatment center getting her first dose of the new treatment plan.

I met with the liaison during the treatment. It was my only chance to get a medical opinion on where things stood. She was the one who told me no matter what the problem or issue since that last visit to the emergency room, this treatment would address it.

She even did something I felt thankful for. My flight left right in the middle of everything. She told me my sister could put me on speaker phone so I could listen in on the meeting.

Therefore, after I said my goodbyes and got through airport security, I waited for my sister to call and let me listen in. It was a bit of a relief having everyone able to ask questions or make comments. Our first worry was the possible effect this treatment might have on my mom, and the team (through one person I think is the liaison), told us there weren’t any immediate concerns with this treatment. My mind shifted then to the plan.

“So we’re going to do a treatment. Then Mom can go home until it’s time for the next treatment (about two weeks apart).  We’ll do three treatments before we check on the tumor again.”

The doctors confirmed that was the plan.

I flew home, and the first thing I did when I got back was send a text. Mom seemed fine.  The next day, Mom seemed a bit more mobile and clear.

Things looked well for the next few weeks, but the trial wasn’t over, and things were about to take another turn.

 


Questions and Revelations

 

You seriously thought about not paying?

If I’m being nice to myself, what I was looking to do was verify if I was the one who had to do it. I was a coward who’d seen a wolf creeping up on the sheep. I’d be willing to fight it off, but only if there weren’t any other options. I do this far more than I feel I should. Oh, something has to be done? Can anyone else do it? Can anyone else bear this burden I don’t want to bear. I mean, sure, I’ll do it if I can’t find anyone else, but I’d really rather someone else handle it.

This is why I find myself remembering that God sent his son to die for my sins.  Jesus, willingly sacrificed himself for my sins.  They didn’t balk and look around hoping someone would come along and grant us salvation.  They didn’t even discuss it.

They did what they did out of endless, joyful love for us. So why complain or balk when any ask for something that isn’t, “Hey, would you mind dying for my sins?”

At this point, I still have to remind myself. When I feel doubt, I tell myself, “God always provides.”

Did God provide?

Yes! I’m fine! I even bought that ring I mentioned. Heck, I bout a freaking Kindle (the lowest-priced one). What the heck was I worried about? The answer was simple. I had, and I didn’t want to have less. What a selfish, sinful thought.

We all face this from time to time, and I don’t want anyone to think it wasn’t at least something to give. I’m of the opinion that those who do give, even begrudgingly, are still blessed. However, I don’t think those blessings are as great as those who give cheerfully.  I’m glad I paid the money. I just feel thankful that I’ve come to realize how miserly and selfish I have become.

Don’t just give when you have so much more to give. Don’t be generous at just those times in which you have so much to give you honestly don’t  know what to do with the rest. If I have $2, and someone needs one, I’ll give it.  Currently, I’ll have to remind myself not to worry. I’ll have to remind myself not to be selfish.  I aspire to simply give without any thought or worry at all. This is what I ask others to pray for at this point. Pray that I have a cheerfully generous heart. I give because I know it’s right, but I want to be happy when I do it. I want to do it without “hoping” or “wondering” if “God’s going to take care of me.”

That leaves me to what I want to conclude with.  I think a lot of people know this verse: “The lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Until quite recently, I had been reading that to mean. “The Lord is my leader, but I don’t really want to be led.”  I thought it was a statement on the hardened hearts of people and how they resist. I thought it was a reminder that we should want to be led.

Well, that’s true.  We should want to be led.  But I’ve seen a few other translations, and I want to share that with you all.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I will never be in need.” That’s from the Contemporary English Version.

But you said the Bible is accurate!

What I said was the Bible was accurately transcribed. From Greek text to Greek text, through the generations, the Bible is remarkably accurate. Translation is a different matter.  This is why reading other translations of the Bible. (New International version, King James Version, New American Standard Bible (which I plan to buy when I read the Bible again) are those I think should be compared from time to time.) I’d love to learn Greek one day so that I can read the New Testament in it’s Greek.  For now, I tend to listen to John MacArthur audiobooks, where he explains some of the Greek words and their connotations.

Back to my point. For the longest time I had a negative view on the lesson from Psalm 23:1.  The message isn’t that we should trust in God even if we don’t want to. It’s that we should trust in God because if we do, we will have all we need.

I’m seeing it in my life now. I’ve seen it before. I’m not over this hump. I’m of the option that there are two major sins I want to sanctify from my life at this point: the sin of pride, and the sin of worry.

Yes, worry is a sin. Jesus tells us in a plain, direct command not to worry.

These two sins of mine, these thorns in my flesh, cause me to grumble at work when I think I’m doing more than others. They cause me to lament giving money (I didn’t say loan). They cause me to be selfish with my time.

I’ve come to the belief that these bad habits are rooted in my sins of pride and worry. My current plan? Humble myself, and give. My intent is to start looking for tasks to do. I’m not worried about which of my coworkers is doing what. Ok, I am, but my efforts are in the spirt that if I keep doing this, I’ll improve.

To be clear, my actions are correct, but only God can cleanse these sins from me, and I ask that those reading this pray for him to do so. Free me from my pride and worry so that I might do the work of my hands and give cheerfully.  The actions I’m taking are to give me the opportunity, so that when God calls, I find myself answering by doing that which I know I’m supposed to do and find joy in doing so.

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

Matt

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14 thoughts on “Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 20

  1. Another great post! Another passage/principle of generosity to keep in mind is from Jesus’ teaching in Mark 12:41-44 where Jesus declares that the widow who gave next to nothing gave far more than all the rich people because she gave everything she had rather than out of her excess wealth. The Keith & Kristyn Getty song “A Rich Young Man (Simple Living)” is well worth listening to (best line: “not what you give, but what you keep is what the King is counting”).

    Regarding Bible translation: I strongly recommend comparing the New International Version (NIV) and English Standard Version (ESV) for good, clear understanding for those who can’t read the original languages. Both are translated into readable, modern English by scholars with deep respect for God’s Word. They have slightly different translation philosophies: the NIV is a bit more “functional” (more thought-for-thought, making sure the original thoughts come through into clear English though this may mean a little more paraphrasing) and the ESV a bit more “formal” (more word-for-word even if that somewhat obscures the meaning in idioms or other phrasing where English expresses itself very differently from the original languages). The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is VERY “formal” and can be a good translation too, especially if you want to really trace the grammatical flow of thought, but it can be so word-for-word that it sounds like Yoda English and actually ends up obscuring the original meaning through being woodenly literal. I’ve studied quite a bit on Bible translation and would love to answer any questions you have in that area.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m always interested in your thoughts. My primary question is, I’m reading NIV this time through, and I want to buy another Bible. Which translation do you feel would be best for one who wants a bit more of the context (what the Greek root word is and what it implies). If I’m going to buy one Bible, which would it be. I already intend to buy a study Bible as well; I’m just looking for a translation that bets overlaps formality with denotation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For what you’re looking for, I’d probably recommend the ESV as your next read after the NIV. The NASB is definitely more formal, but is not great at capturing nuances of meaning. To be honest, the NASB tends to sound like a first year, second semester Greek student who is enamored with being “literal” at the expense of communicating accurately in the receptor language (i.e. English). If you are wanting to do something grammar-intensive like sentence diagramming, I’d go with the NASB, but otherwise the ESV communicates better while remaining relatively formal (the whole formal-functional thing is more of a spectrum than a hard-and-fast categorization).

        The only major issue I’ve ever had with the ESV was I noticed some strong Reformed theological bias (of the “ethnic/national Israel has no prophetic future” variety) in how one difficult passage in Daniel was translated, but I haven’t noticed it as a systemic problem.

        You really can’t go far wrong by comparing the NIV and ESV in tricky passages with the NASB as a possible third option for looking at the grammatical structure. Obviously, this is largely a matter of individual preference, and there are other good translations out there…these are the three (besides the KJV & NKJV which I can talk about if you want) that I have studied and used the most and believe to be trustworthy and accurate.

        Liked by 1 person

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