Surviving Five

Five. For cancer survivors that number is like the Mt. Everest of milestones. Statistics prove that reaching that mark without a recurrance represents so much more in terms continuing to survive and thrive after cancer. So, I’ve reached five…and that’s a good thing. Five is the number of grace; mentioned over 300 times in Scripture it symbolizes God’s grace, goodness and favor toward humans. Not many people would associate cancer with the “grace. goodness, and favor of God”…but I do. I’m grateful, indeed, and not just to have survived five years, but to have been graced. For these past five years have been nothing short of grace-filled: experiencing God’s grace, His goodness, and favor by teaching me things about Himself that no one else could have taught me. Showing me things about Himself…and about myself, that I would never have had eyes to see had cancer not removed the scales to reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Grace has shown me that…
1. God does indeed give you more than you can handle: Because if you could handle everything He gave you, then you wouldn’t need Him (think about it.) Whoever said that “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is an idiot, or has never had to trust in, rely on, depend on, and cling to God. Grace…God’s grace, makes you stronger than you think you are. You really can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13). If He calls you to it, HE will get you through it.

2. Being on the receiving end of kindness let’s you see God in the flesh: It’s not easy for a doer to be receiver, but it’s critical that we learn to become a gracious one and allow Jesus to love on us through the people who serve us and show us compassion. I’ve seen Jesus daily, in the faces of my friends, neighbors, family, and church family members; in the guys and gals who bag my groceries at Whole Foods or brew my coffee at Drip; in my step-kids and grandgirls. And I’ve seen Jesus day after day in my amazing husband, John (I heart him), who loves and serves me as Jesus does. I never thought to ask God for a husband who would love me even if I got breast cancer. But He knew exactly the man I needed… the man who would make me feel like I am more beautiful and desirable now than the day he married me. That’s grace.

3. Some of God’s greatest gifts come wrapped in some pretty ugly (and scary) paper: If you’re really tracking with God, at some point you’ll actually thank Him for that gift… and the many ways it keeps on giving. I was blessed with so much more than I ever imagined. I have met the most wonderful women along the way; some of the dearest friends I have today, all members of the same PINK club. I call them my “Bosom Buddies” and I love them dearly…too many to name, but they know who they are, and each one is “more than a conqueror” (Romans 8:37).

4. Doctors are people too, with lives, and families, and hearts and feelings: I’ve been blessed with absolutely fabulous doctors… an amazing team of physicians and their incredible, caring staff: My breast surgeon, Dr. Michael Grant (his wife, Judy); my plastic surgeon, Dr. William Carpenter (his wife, Sheri); and my oncologist, Dr. John Pippen. I will be eternally grateful for their brilliant minds and gifts, their medical knowledge and practices to help heal and reconstruct, and for their compassionate care. I’m nuts about them all. I pray for them and thank God for them all.

5. You’ll never know that Jesus is the One and Only, until He’s your only one. He knows that life is hard and that walking around on this planet can be terrifying. When it come right down to it, He’s the only one who can do anything about everything that concerns you and me. Doctors can treat you, but only Jesus can heal you…where you need healing the most. Only Jesus can carry you through it all.

When cancer comes a knockin’ you don’t have a choice. You can’t just not answer the door, hoping it will go away and move on to the next house. It doesn’t and it won’t. And now, five years later, I’m glad it didn’t. It wasn’t quite a walk in the park and it’s absolutely fine with me if this was just a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. But I would have missed so much if cancer had not come my way. I would have missed the grace, the goodness, and the favor of God…in the most extraordinarily ordinary ways.

What happens to you ultimately happens for you…for good. And that’s grace.

CONSIDER THIS:
Review the Grace Points I made above and think them through as they apply to your own life:
• Have you had an experience where you felt overwhelmed, that was too much to handle? How did God’s grace get you through?

• Are you a gracious receiver? Is it hard for you to be on the receiving end of kindness? Is it hard for you to be kind to yourself? Take a “grace check” periodically throughout your day. Ask God to show you where you need to be gracious to yourself.

• What ugly “gift” have you been graced with? Can you count the blessings from it and thank God for them?

• How has God graciously provided care for you through others? Have you thanked Him? Have you thanked them?

• Have you had a situation in your life that has caused you to realize that Jesus is all you need and that Jesus is really all you’ve got? Take some time and write about that, thanking God for His faithfulness to never leave or forsake you.

Grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace… will keep leading me, and you, until we make it safely home. Until then, there is much to do… much to make of this time, this now.

I’ll meet you back here next week with a new Making the Most of Now message. Until then…

You are greatly and dearly loved by The King!