Monday, October 14, 2013

When The Journey Is Hard

It was a small, round, unusually smooth stone. The spot it rested was out of place. Scooping it into the palm of my hand I felt it's grainy weight against my skin. Cupping it for a moment, the uniqueness of it intrigued me, and made it worthy of adding to my personal little pile of stones. It was never my intention to have a pile of rocks, that could be mistaken for a small altar, on the ledge in my office. Each of the collected stones had come to me in different ways. Every stone had a story to go with it.  I considered them my stones of remembrance I guess. Visual reminders of mile-markers in my life.

The reminders are everywhere this month, that part of my journey and story is breast cancer. Burly football players are clad in pink accents, shelves in stores are lined with items and there is media overload in the month of October about breast cancer awareness. Indeed, it is a fact, that breast cancer is the second biggest cancer killer of women, with lung cancer being the biggest by far. Still, too many women belong to the breast cancer club, that no one wants to receive the announcement that they are a member.

My voyage into the sea of pink, that set my soul assail with cancer, began in February of 2010. Like so many women before me, the words numbed my mind and rocked my world. For me, it was like being handed a my death certificate. Perhaps not this week, or this year, but at some point this would be the battlefield I would die on or because of.

I'd seen it happen too many times.

Breast cancer often attacks women at the core of our identity. This cancer threatens life, femininity and the only physical body we are offered to walk this earth in.

What I could not have known, is that the thing that threatened to destroy me, would be the thing that God would use to refine me, not define me.

My cancer served to accelerated the process of my spiritual growth. Each step of pain and faith redefining what how I saw life and the Author of Life.

It's a different kind of knowing. A deeper knowing the Lover of my soul. A leaning in, trusting, releasing. A loosening the cords of pride and prayerlessness.

Trust me, I would not have chosen this, for me or for anyone, but our earthly reality is that we are all taking another step today, toward the end of our lives.

The reality is that no matter how good your genes are, your diet and exercise plan, or your doctors, the fact is that no one lives forever on earth as we know it.

I am frequently contacted by woman, who have received some sort of heartbreaking news. They stop me in the store, find me on facebook, e-mail me, send notes in the mail, text and call. It's not that I know so much about the subject, but the Lord brings to me, women wanting to share their stories, fears and heartache, so I can share the Hope I have in Jesus. It's all about Him and if they see anything in me they are attracted to, it is His Spirit that draws them.

They often want to know this: "so how do you live when they tell you that there is cancer?" They want to hear a voice that has walked a piece of the path that they are facing. They are searching for hope in what feels like a hopeless situation.

The thing that I often wonder, is how do I explain... how do I describe... that the cancer which they found eating my flesh, revealed a deeper decay in my life. This death sentence of sorts, made me aware of some spiritual cancer that lay more insidiously than the physical condition.

It's not a popular message that all suffering has meaning in the Kingdom of God. 

Fighting through the shadows of cancer, bring most of us who walk this valley, face to face with how fragile, finite, and fallen we really are. Reality springs forth, how we desperately  need to be sustained by the God who made the universe. That all the positive thoughts in the world will not bind up a broken heart, bring freedom to those held captive to sin or shine light in the darkest places of a soul.

We need the salve that only Jesus came to offer this world.

My cancer served to accelerate my walk with Jesus. It provided clarity to my calling on this side of heaven.

God used what could have been a stumbling block, to remove from my life path, things that were in the way of my serving Him more fully.

Sitting in the waiting rooms and walking the halls of the cancer centers, I had the privilege of meeting so many brave, beautiful souls in the battle of their lives. People being guided by professionals in difficult decisions and procedures. So many are gone now, only three years later.

We can't run from pain or hide from problems that are bigger than we are. But these times can be used to become closer to the One who knows the number of our days.

Deeply rooted growth, rarely come in seasons of abundance and ease. The trust-bonds of our heart are stretched and strengthened in seasons of the unknown and unwelcome change.

These beautiful golden strands of faith, bind us to The Great Physician.

One beautiful woman in my on-line world, who has two young children and one precious husband, just got her second diagnoses of an aggressive cancer. For anyone familiar with the issues of cancer, you may know that the first diagnoses rocks your world, but the second is almost a certain death sentence to your door.

She says this: "I just want to rest in and allow Jesus to write my story, even though it isn't the story I was hoping for."

Her beautiful faith cuts me to the core.

She knows in Whom she has believed and she is trusting Jesus even though everything in the world screams for her not to.

This beautiful young woman knows the real Secret of life and living. She knows that there is a deep intimacy that comes from traversing the valley of one-thousand, shadows-of-death and learning reliance on the One who is calling our name and counting the hairs on our head as each new day dawns.

In the insanely unexplained, there is a deep blessedness that comes from waiting on the Lord and watching Him be faithful in the hard, suffering process.

I am ill-equipped to tread on the soil, of the subject of suffering, but I encourage you today to press into the One who understands our suffering, because He came to earth and suffered to the point of death that we may have life.

One day it came to mind, that the round stone I had gathered was the size of my cancer. The size of the flesh they removed. God had whispered the reminder that He gave me the rock before the trial. It increases my faith and trust and causes me to stand amazed at how the Living God speaks to us and loves us so individually and personally.

It stirs something deep in my soul.

It awakens this desire to reach out to women hungry for Jesus.

Women who long for healing, freedom and purpose. I don't have all their answers, but I know the One who does.

Do you know Him friend?

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Counting 1000 Gifts Here

#1238 - Field trip with the grand-kids.
68 miles, an old church, on a windy hill, and children singing...

#1239 - 30 plus women who are showing up to Breaking Free study. Praying blessings on you all.

#1240 - Family time, annual pictures, laughs, pulled pork and camo.

#1241 Stepping out in faith with Cherri Putz. Yes we are crazy.
We have a plane ticket to the If Conference, but no tickets to the event.

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© Rhonda Quaney