I’m making myself pretty vulnerable in this post. I have to share the work that God is doing. His hand is in everything in my life. He is worthy to be glorified and bragged about… but I’m nervous.
To understand Friday, you have to know part of my yesterdays. I guess that is true for most things. 1.) One of my first thoughts when this all started was of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (See Daniel 2). Before being thrown into the furnace, they something to the effect, “Our God can save us, but even if he doesn’t, we will not bow down to another god.” 2.) Soon after this all started, I called my cousin who pastors Grace Center in Franklin TN. He told me it is important to surround myself with people who could believe for healing with and for me. The day before Thanksgiving a pastor from Africa called to pray over me, and he told me it was important to surround myself with people who could believe for and with me for healing, and then I was surprised and excited to receive a text from a local friend I don’t know terribly well, but I am so thankful for his obedience in telling me what he he had God saying. (See below)
We have a handful of couples that we have had the honor of studying and doing life with over the last few years who truly believe all that Jesus did and said in the Bible is for today, and that God is who he says he is and does what he says he will do. These people, along with several others in our friend and family group have surrounded us with faith and belief. It is a beautiful place to dwell!
I didn’t tell many people were going to be traveling to Texas again because I didn’t want people thinking we weren’t home with recent break ins in our town (people are at my house when we travel, btw). Yet two days before we left, texts and messages started arriving. No less than 20 friends or colleagues messaged that they were praying. I had friends tell me that they too had peace over this when they prayed, which brought confirmation to my spirit. I had a message from a friend I used to sing with that God woke him in the middle of the night to pray for me. I have continued to ask people to pray Psalm 118:17. As I mentioned in my last post, I was a bit more anxious about this trip, not for worry about bad news, but because I had to start thinking about it all again. The encouragement was strengthening. After landing in Houston, I hopped on Facebook & found myself tagged in a post from a friend at my home church saying when she was praying in the middle of the night she saw God holding me in his hand. That evening, I received a text message from my niece saying she saw me victorious. Later Thursday night, I had a vision. I woke up wide awake at 11:30. When I closed my eyes, I saw a man and a boy from Pakistan kneeling to pray at the end of my bed. The man said, “We are praying with you, come pray with us.” I tried to go back to sleep, and every time I closed my eyes I saw him, so I climbed down in the floor and knelt down beside the bed. I don’t remember what we prayed. I know I prayed for people being persecuted for their faith around the world. I know I prayed specifically for God to move in the nations of the Middle East. I know I made sure I gave God permission to heal me (because my husband asked if I had earlier in the day, and I couldn’t remember for sure). I woke up from that prayer time praising God (and with numb legs).
Ok, so now the day! I started Friday morning with a PET Scan at 6:30. When doing a scan like this, you arrive & assure the nurses and technicians that you are neither diabetic nor pregnant, nor have you had any food, gum, candy or mints or anything besides water since midnight. They shoot you full of radio active glucose, turn out the lights and let you rest for an hour in a recliner. I am never still for an hour without disruption, and if I am I fall asleep. I tried to fall asleep & couldn’t, so I decided to pray. I know I let go of any worry because I was so encouraged by the picture of me reclining in God’s hand. I cannot remember the full prayer. I tend to pray in pictures, so I will tell you what I saw with the Lord. One of my favorite scriptures is Hebrews 12:22-24 22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. 23You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. 24You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel. I love the imagery of this scripture, the idea of angels gathered in a city dancing and singing. It’s quite an event, don’t you think? Usually, I don’t make it up the street as I enter the city because I am intranced and join the singing. This time, while singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might. The heavens and earth are full of your glory, Hosanna in the highest,” I saw the angels part in from of me & someone ushers me through up into the throne room of God. I was excited about seeing the Father and recalled previous encounters I’ve had with God – sitting in his lap and visiting with him. He pulled me up in his arms and I thanked him for all the encouragement through other people. Then I asked what he wanted me to do, was there someone to forgive, something to repent, some lie to renounce, etc. “I don’t want you to DO anything. I want you to be. When your children were little, did you want them to DO anything? No, you just wanted them to be safe and warm and with you. Quit trying to DO. This is for me to DO. This is for you to be, to receive.” Then, I saw a baby carrier, the cloth kind that African women wear that keep their babies close to their chest, the kind I made to carry Deacon in. Then I saw Him open his robe and felt the warmth of of his skin as he strapped me to him. He said, “I am going to carry you. You just rest in me.”
Fast forward to the Oncologist’s office. Doctor’s visits start with the usual vital check, then you’re escorted into an office and quizzed by a PA or nurse practitioner about your medical history and make the appropriate corrections, he/she examines you and then confers with the doctor. Then the doctor visits. They have all been great, but this doctor was delightful! She looks just like my brother-in-laws sister, who is adorable. She clarified the cells are most similar to an adenoid cystic carcinoma, they think. Turns out I’m a rare (I prefer unique) case (shocker right…). She (or someone) wants to do a DNA analysis and study the mutation of the cells so they can potentially treat people in the future. That basically consists of them taking a couple extra vials of blood. They are so good at taking blood at MD Anderson that getting stuck isn’t a big deal.
We ended the day visiting with a dentist. Turns out after you have radiation (at least near your mouth) you can’t have any teeth pulled because the blood supply to your jaw is decreased, and you don’t produce as much saliva. Thankfully, my wisdom teeth all came in years ago & my teeth are healthy. I will need to use fluoride every night to keep my teeth protected from the decrease in saliva. I suppose I should greatly reduce my sugar intake. I’ve gone off of sugar before. It sucks…😖. Good news is, I won’t lose my teeth and they won’t discolor. This visit again shows my vanity in all its embarrassing glory.
The blessing of the day. I cannot do this story justice. We were encouraged by the day as a whole, but a visit from one particular person took us from a place of being carried by God into an even higher place. We found ourselves sitting in one office for a particularly long time. A beautiful, petit Indian woman with a brilliant smile walked in, not really making eye contact, but with confidence. She walked and talked with purpose and very matter of fact. She walked in and I paraphrase, “These are difficult times, but as people of god, we must go through these things (and I’m wondering to which god she is referring… 😔 this is my shame face). Our Lord will be glorified and you will be fine.(Oh, that God! Good grief I get so frustrated with myself sometimes.)” (I was also thinking, this isn’t difficult, this is a blessing, but something told me to keep my mouth shut.) She continued, “Think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Why did they have to be thrown in the furnace? Why did Daniel have to be thrown in the lion’s den? Why did Lazarus have to go to the grave? Was it not for the glory of God, to see God at work! When the enemies of God looked into the furnace, they saw 4 people walking around, God himself was with them. They looked into the den and Daniel was cuddled up warm with the lion. He was not eaten. Lazarus got to be called forth from the grave by Jesus. These are not easy things, but they were glorious things. And me, I was in a place with many Muslims when I was called.”
Because I can’t let things go, I had to ask questions! I asked her to share her story of coming to know Christ. She is so humble I had to ask for several details. (Again I am paraphrasing.) She was raised in a lush, beautiful, mountainous part of India on a tea plantation. There weren’t many people around to play with, but there were European tourists. She said the only thing she knew of God was that when she was young, “people who looked like you would come as tourists and take pictures. I asked my mother why they looked different, caucasions with blue eyes and muddy hair and little clothes. My mother told me that is how God made them.” So fast forward several years, when she graduates near the top of her class, but cannot get a visa to go work anywhere, but no doors opened.
One day, She was in a train station. A Nigerian girl, very educated & bright, studying for her master’s program initiated a conversation about Jesus. “I thought people who looked like her should be talking about politics and things. I thought she was crazy, so I excused myself to the bathroom. She came and stood beside me afterward and told me that in six months this God would open a door for me. And six months later I got a visa to a Muslim country. It was the only door that opened. When I got there I was surrounded by believers. They told me stories of what God had done. There was a woman’s felopian tubes were closed off with disease. She had been told she could never have children, but God healed her and she had a baby. There was a man who was an alcoholic who was delivered from alcoholism. These things were impossible! How the hell did that happen?” (She used other examples as well.) “I didn’t hear about Jesus, I wasn’t brainwashed, I experienced him! I had to believe. There in that Muslim nation, I was called to the Lord.”
She said she had to come through her own rough time, but that she never would have dreamed when she was a young girl in India that she would be here, working in such a place, sharing the Lord with the blue eyed, muddy haired people! To them I glorify the name of God. God will take you to places you cannot imagine!”
She also said everyone who works at MD Anderson has been though something. This isn’t just a job, it’s a higher calling. “We don’t work with patients, we work with people.” Even the volunteers who help are survivors or family of survivors, some of them are very prominent people who want to give back. Then, in her matter of fact manner, she said, “let us pray” and she PRAYED every scripture I know, I think, including Psalm 118:17!
At the end of our time, I told her that I was blogging my journey, and I asked if I could share her story. She was very hesitant. “I work behind the scenes. I don’t want any attention, I only want to glorify God. He is the one who does great things. I also keep my people’s information private. I don’t tell it to anyone, but I guess you would be telling your own story. You pray about it, and if the Holy Spirit tells you to share this, then share it, but please do not mention my name. I do not want any attention, I prefer to stay private.”
One thing she said as we talked that has stuck with me, and both scares and excites me. “You ask God for 50 or 60 more years and tell him that you will do whatever he tells you and that you will glorify him with your life.” These aren’t just words. This is the cry of my heart, but I also realize that is a risky deal, because my illusion of control goes away and reality of life completely submitted to God becomes true. My pride, my vanity, my will, must bow down to his higher calling. I want it so badly, yet something in me is excitedly scared because of the vast greatness of that union and his Power to Do Anything! Anything, more than I can conceive & I’m a dreamer!Whew, Jesus! Anything through you, right!?!