It’s 1976. I’m competing in the Jr. High School District Track Meet at Northwest High school in Indianapolis. The event is the 660 yard dash, my strength. I’m crossing the finish line in First place as second place is just coming off the last turn. It’s just what I did.
It’s now 1977 and I’m on the Varsity Track and Field team, as a Freshman, setting school records for Freshman in both running events and field events. The distance I was throwing the discus that year would have won the City Championship, had my coach not lost my entry. I went on to get the first of several Varsity Letters as just a Freshman. It’s just what I did.
I have always been the Athletic one, the healthy one. I never smoked cigarettes, I never drank alcohol until well into my adult years, I ate right and with sons in athletics, always had an excuse to get out on the basketball court and remain active and fit. I was going to live to be 100! When I found out I had inherited kidney disease and would require a transplant, I accepted the changes I would need to make and the drug therapy required for the balance of my life, a temporary set back, no biggie, just inconvenient.
Then came last Friday, one week ago today. I knew as I grew older, my prostate was enlarged-normal for men in their 50s. When the physical exam revealed hardness and the subsequent PSA test came back twice acceptable levels, requiring a biopsy, I suspected that may be a biggie. Still I prayed that everything would come back negative and that I would go on with my healthy life-It’s just what I did. That was not to be the case.
I’ve spent the week processing the fact that I have cancer, words that don’t sound right in my mouth, words I never ever expected to hear or own-it wasn’t supposed to happen to me. Suddenly I have a keen awareness of the horror of those who have battled this disease, some victoriously on earth and others victorious through death and promotion. It’s a reality that few desire, one that even fewer anticipate. I think even as a believer in Christ, a person of faith, these are words that simply knock you off your game until such time as you can regain your balance and head straight into the battle. As I left the Urologist’s office last Friday, still somewhat in shock, I could almost hear God’s voice asking me, “Okay Son, let’s see if you have learned anything in your 50 plus years of following me”. As I sat in the parking lot, contemplating my next moves, there seemed to be a slight calming assurance as I uttered the words, “Okay God, we got this”.
I’ve been a blogger now for several years with hundreds of blogs being read in dozens of countries, and the theme for most of them, so many that my first book is a compilation of them, is that life knocks us down, sometimes knocking the wind out of us, but that in the end, God always rescues us just in time. It’s a lesson David knew well as he penned many of the Psalms. David was honest in venting his frustrations and doubts to God. As you read through them you will hear him asking, “where are you God” or “why have you abandoned me” or “why don’t you answer when I call or rescue me from my enemies”. I believe David was like many of us today, having full knowledge and confidence in God’s ability to do the impossible, but not seeing it happen in his darkest hours. Even our Savior experienced this as he hung on the cross but could not sense the presence of his own Father, who could not be with him as he carried so much sin in his sacrifice. For many, it seems like God is the farthest from us when we need him the most and cry out the loudest. But I have heard it said and found it to be true, that the teacher is always silent during a test.
What I love and have tried to learn from David is that in his honest expressions to God, he always came back to what he knew to be true, even if he didn’t feel them or see the evidence right away. Life’s toughest challenges often result in a disconnect between our heart or emotions, and our mind or intellect. When we don’t see something or feel something, we tend to believe it no longer exists. We pray urgently for answers but “feel” God has abandoned us. Since we feel some sort of way, we completely disregard every promise recorded in scripture for our benefit, because our emotions pervert the reality of the truth. It’s a normal human response. Consider the Apostles who did life with Jesus, who sat under intimate instruction from the Master, who witnessed miracle after miracle and were even sent out with His authority to perpetrate miracles in His name, and even witnessed just a few days before, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. But when life got difficult and they watched Jesus die, they all hid in sorrow and fear, forgetting what they knew, because they couldn’t get past what they saw. We are much the same.
God graciously and generously equips us with all we need to fight these battles. Sometimes it’s just a word from a good friend, some sign or scriptural passage, the right song at the right time. For me, He provided an amazing and beautiful angel, who feels somehow I rescued her when all along she was sent to rescue me. God sees the road we don’t, knows our weaknesses and compensates ahead of time if we only trust him. As I endure these life altering challenges, I’m reminded of the passage from 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, which reads:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in ALL our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”.
I often gest that when things come my way, that it’s just more blogging material. But the truth is that experiencing and surviving the pain of disasters like fire or the hopelessness of unemployment or the ruin of financial security or the sting of divorce, and now the horror of cancer, gives me a very empathetic view of others who have or will suffer the same. It’s is through a David-like transparency that I write about these things, partially as it’s therapeutic. but more so because I want to offer others hope, to help them refocus on the truth, to repair the disconnect between what they may be feeling at the time and what they still know to be true, that God loves us, that he’s on our side, not against us, that he has our back in times of distress and that he sees what we don’t, so that we are left with nothing but total trust and reliance on him to face the storms. I hope to give out comfort as I receive it so that in all things Christ receives glory and we receive life in abundance. No, I don’t want to be the one chosen as the poster child for survival, but if that’s the plan, let me do it well!
So through much personal prayer, the prayers of countless others around the country and the love and support of my family and a just-in-time heaven-sent angel whose love is more precious than a writer can describe, I have resolved to make cancer my biatch in a very public way so others can go on this journey with me and rejoice with me when I kick its ass! It may not be contextually accurate, but I really can do all things through Christ, just watch me! I’m already amending my life’s resume to add “cancer survivor” to it and to pay forward the comfort I receive in the process. He’s a good, good Father!
And a very Happy and blessed Mother’s Day to all moms. What priceless gems you are!