09 Oct Part 1 – For Everything There Is a Season
It’s October. The first full month of autumn. The month that brings us cooler weather, a beautiful change of color in the trees, the World Series, pumpkin everything… and lots and lots of PINK, reminding us that October is also “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” I am deeply grateful for the global impact that this campaign has made in promoting knowledge and raising awareness and funds for research in order to find a cure for this disease because I happen to be one of the millions of women who have personally benefitted from all of this…pinkness. No one who has battled this disease needs a month of pink reminders to be aware of breast cancer. But it is a good thing to look back, to remember, and to reflect on the life lessons from that “pink” season. For me it was five years ago that I heard these words…
“You have breast cancer.”
Those are the four words that dramatically changed the trajectory of my life over the past 5 years. Never in my wildest nightmares had I ever imagined that I would be the recipient of such a phone call. And though I would have much preferred a call from Publishers Clearing House, that was not to be the case that spring morning in 2009. To say that my life has not been the same since is understandable. But to say that I am most humbly and deeply grateful to my God for having dealt me this hand may be quite difficult to understand, unless you’ve been where I’ve been.
It started off as a simple sonogram to get a clear read on a small lump I’d discovered in my right breast, which at the time I was not the least concerned about. I’d had lumps before and besides, breast cancer doesn’t run in my family. I thought it was probably just another cyst. But when the radiologist explained to me that what I could see on the monitor was not normal I had to ask, “So what do you think it is?” It was a “duh” moment as she looked me square in the eye and replied, “I think it’s a small breast cancer.” At that point you don’t even hear the words think and small because the word CANCER is screaming through your head. “You’re kidding me!” I almost laughingly replied. She wasn’t kidding. Not one bit. You should have seen her face. Not a crack of a smile. I suppose that’s not the kind of information that one delivers with a smile. Cancer is nothing to smile about. She quickly got down to business and scheduled me for a biopsy 2 days later, and the day after that called me to confirm the diagnosis. My personal crisis had officially begun.
Breast cancer happened to me, but what also happened in that intensive time with the Lord is more worth writing about. It was a stunning moment when I received the diagnosis, but I knew it was not about breast cancer. This was about my heart. A year prior to this diagnosis, shortly before my 50th birthday, I was teaching through the book of Exodus. After teaching a lesson on grace, I received a call from the co-leader of the study. With love and gentleness she mentioned I had come across a little harsh when teaching about grace. I presented grace as something good that we get but we don’t deserve. My co-leader said, “I just wonder if you haven’t really received God’s grace for yourself. If you picture grace – the grace of God and what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross, as water flowing from a faucet then you know we can teach about water, we can know water exists there in the pipeline, and we can even receive some of that water without ever turning the faucet on full blast.” Then it hit me. Instead of openly receiving the full, refreshing overflow of grace that God has for me, I lived (and taught) having settled for accepting only tiny droplets of grace instead of receiving the intense, gushing waterfall of grace that God purposed for me. I remember getting on my knees and saying, “Ok Lord, if there is any truth at all to what she said, then come on! I can handle it!” That started the preparation work a year in advance for what I was about to go through. God began His work, hammering away on the hard callus around my heart with the tender, loving kindness that only a Savior can do.
God did not strike me with cancer in order to work on my heart, but He allowed cancer to touch my life, using it as an instrument in the process of changing me for the better, and helping me to become every bit the woman of God He’d always planned for me to be. He allowed cancer to become part of my journey; part of my story, knowing that He’d already decided before the foundation of the earth that there would be profound purpose in it… and that He would redeem this time for His glory.
Consider a recent trial in your life… maybe it was a medical diagnosis that rocked your world, or the loss of a job, or a loved one.
• What have you learned about God in process?
• What has God shown you about Himself, about yourself?
• How has your trial changed you for the better?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
You are greatly and dearly loved by The King!
…Punky continues her breast cancer story next Thursday!