See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.
See Part 3 here.
See Part 4 here.
See Part 5 here.
Know The Enemy
Around the time my mom’s treatment plan was getting finalized, I got a hold of my sister and learned the specific type of cancer with which my mother was diagnosed.
It’s called Glioblastoma Astrocytoma. The following information was obtained from the American Brain Tumor Association’s website. I’ve chosen them to receive any royalties earned after I release the complete story you’re reading at this moment.
GBMs are tumors usually located in the cerebral hemispheres of the brain but not uncommon anywhere in the brain or spinal cord. The good news is they don’t typically spread anywhere else in the body.
As I looked at the symptoms, I found a few that were common back when I called my mom just a few days before this all started. The primary ones I remember were speech difficulties, headaches and drowsiness.
One thing that was encouraging to me as I spoke to my father about mom’s treatment is the fact that the treatment has been in development for an amount of time I can’t pin down. But as I looked at ABTA’s website, it seemed right in step with what they were doing with my mom, except for one notable exception.
For all the bad news I’d gotten regarding my mom, her diagnosis, and how long it could take, my mom qualified for a newer treatment (amino treatment). I don’t know much about this treatment as I type this, but it essentially is something doctors have found is effective in treating cancer. Everything I’m told reflects that being able to use this helps my mom a lot. I know my father was hopeful this treatment option would be available, so I kept that in mind during my prayers, and those prayers were answered thanks to the mercy of God’s will.
The doctors opted to do this treatment along with the other standard treatments. I spoke to my mom and father about this. I think it’s a positive. I’m an all-in kind of guy. I think if there are three things to do that help increase a the odds of accomplishing the goal, one should do all three things.
As I read The Bible, I find myself working hard to understand the concept of free will. My current theory is that one should do all in his power to achieve a goal, but that individual must always understand that nothing happens without God’s will. I think we show God our faith and intent by taking action to follow his laws and demonstrate our worship. It’s all fine and good to pray, but if all you do is talk, God, who already knows your heart, might not be very moved. (That analogy might rub some the wrong way, but please note this is an analogy and not intended as a direct statement of fact.)
When one combines prayer, faith, and action, I feel that individual is doing everything they can do to demonstrate commitment and loyalty to God and his will. My mom’s courage and effort is an example of this. The woman’s a freight train of effort in everything. Even days after that first surgery, I’m told the doctors and nurses were amazed at her desire to get right back on her feet.
As I type this, one of her biggest frustrations is that (to her) she’s not bouncing back quickly enough. Leave it to my mom to be frustrated she’s not at 100% two days after surgery despite the fact that the doctors (at that time) didn’t even have a full diagnosis. So as my family rallied around my mom, I prayed. Action + Prayer + Faith in God = blessings. I may have to add Loyalty, the following of God’s laws to that equation, but I currently place that in the same area as faith. I mean, how can one say they have faith in God and then follow it up by doing those things which God finds detestable? Furthermore, how can one do these things and honestly expect God to put that aside and grant him anything? Despite the temptation and fear I felt, I did everything I could to keep God’s laws and pray as best as I know how. The moment I heard my mom qualified for this additional treatment, I once more dropped to my knees to immediately praised Him for his mercy and continued blessings.
We knew what my mom was facing, and we had a plan for how to fight it. But we still needed someone to step up to help coordinate the effort. When that moment came, I learned I had no idea how heroic some of the members of my family could be.
Questions and Revelations
How often has that formula worked for you?
Well that formula has more variables than I can account for. The largest factor in the formula is my own sin. I talk to my friends a lot about this concept. Humanity sins so much every day. We tend to put those sins aside as if God will forgive them simply because everyone else does them. These are the white lies we tell. It is our pride as we judge those around us. It’s the thoughts we entertain but tell ourselves are fine because, “we’re not acting on those thoughts.” Actions matter, but we still sin with our thoughts.
That’s the variable I focus on when I live my life these days. I have things I want. Those things must be secondary to pleasing God. In 1 Kings, God asks Solomon to ask for a blessing. Solomon could have prayed for wealth and heirs. Instead, Solomon asked only for wisdom. He prayed for the wisdom to serve God and his people. In turn, God granted not only that prayer, but also those others mentioned above. For me, the action and prayer portions of that clever little formula of mine are easy. That last one is one that takes true commitment. I want to fill my heart with God. I want to know I’m serving him in what I do. I’m not going to pretend I don’t have wants or ambitions. But I do try to put those aside and focus most on service to God. I really don’t know how good I am at it. I can only say with complete honesty that I’m making an effort.
I wouldn’t advise people to take this formula and try to directly apply it to whatever mortal desire they have. I don’t have the mathematical acumen necessary to present the formula in a manner I feel is most accurate, but the fact is that faith in God must be at the highest value for those other two to matter. I can toil forever and never accomplish my goal if it’s not in God’s will. I can pray till I’m blue in the face, but that prayer won’t be answered if I willfully sin and stubbornly refuse to do those things my heart tells me God wants me to do.
Honestly, I find myself wishing for the occasional burning bush or booming voice. I want to believe I’d jump to whatever command God gave me if he’d deliver one of those, but he works in more subtle ways in today’s day and age. I’ll talk about that a bit in the next segment.
I realize I didn’t answer the above question. The answer I’ll go with is I’m blessed far more often than I’m not. Please note I’m not claiming God’s favor. I think we’re all blessed more often than we realize. The thing is I’m currently, actively looking at my life and recognizing the blessings I have. I also observe these blessings from a perspective that reminds me I don’t deserve anything but God’s sovereignty. I woke up today, and God didn’t have to let me. Each time I’m happy about something, I call that a blessing. I honestly think if we did something like that more often, we’d see God’s mercy much more than we see his sovereignty. I think if we did this, we’d know that while terrible things happen, and they are indeed sad, terrible events, as a species, we’re blessed far more often than we’re not.
If any who are more trained and understanding of scripture care to chime in here I’m happy to listen.
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