Monday, 29 June 2015

Why you don't need to be defined by your past

A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10:10 (MSG)

It’s strange to think that two years ago, Xylon was ending a month of isolation in hospital after his stem cell transplant. 

I remember how throughout that time I felt so helpless. 

Every day I would leave him alone in the hospital. Lately, as Xylon and I went through the scare of possible recurrence (that turned out to be nothing) I’ve been thinking of those times. 

And I’ve been thinking of this verse I memorized in my childhood:
“Cancer comes only to steal and destroy but I have come to so that you can have life, real and eternal life, more and better life then you have ever dreamed of.”

Okay, the bible doesn’t say cancer, it says thief, but cancer sure feels a lot like a cat burglar who takes what it wants and leaves destruction.

What I like about this verse is that it doesn’t end with the thief. 

The words that come immediately after promise that Jesus has come so that we may life, and a better life than we ever dreamed of.

Every time I read these words hope shines through.

In this world, our troubles and sufferings might win but in God’s realm our story always ends with life.

Jesus wants you to know life as he imagined it. (tweet this)

I don’t know what that life looks like but I know that it is more joy, freedom, love and grace then I have ever experienced. 

I love that Jesus spoke about life right after death because so often in the midst of suffering and grief I forget that the “thief” doesn’t have the last word. 

The other night Xylon and I sat with a friend who recently went through a divorce. She related how for so long she felt that “divorced” defined her but she’s learning that isn’t who she is. 

Xylon told me later how he sometimes feel defined as “cancer survivor” but that’s now who he is. 

more lifeI don’t think that is how God sees our friend or Xylon as "divorced" or "cancer survivor" either. 
I think God calls them:
Daughter
Son
Beloved
Redeemed
Captivating
Alive to live for God

I don't know what your "cancer" is, or what the thief has stolen from you, or what label you have begun to think defines you, but I do know that this is not how the story ends. 

What you have lost is not the final word on your life, God has more for you. (tweet this)

I know because I’m realising that no matter how our stories begin, when Jesus is involved they always end with life, life and more life. 

Ponder: What has happened in your life that has been a thief and stolen something from you? Do you have hope that God can restore what has been stolen with life, life and more life?

Prayer: Lord, I believe that you can give me hope where the thief has stolen from me. I thank you for life, life and more life that will spring out of places that I thought were dead. Amen

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

When you're confused about why and who God heals, do this instead

Taking a good look at [the ten lepers], Jesus said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:14-16 (MSG)

Xylon fingered some bumps on his right hand side, "I think I've got shingles."

I slid across the bed and stood next to him fingering the raised bumps, "It looks like shingles. You better get to a doctor tomorrow before we are away for a week."

I said it casually but fear had already made its way into my voice.

You see almost four years earlier Xylon had shingles, and a few months later he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the immune system.

We knew until Xylon's next scan over a month away from then that we would be fighting the enemy of our souls and the shadow of death that cancer opened the door too.

We prayed right there that night that the devil would not steal our rest or our joy from the next 10 days of holiday. 

We were headed to the exact place where a year earlier Xylon had stood and experienced God healing him. The place where Xylon tells people he knew he no longer had cancer – not because of medicine – but because God heals.

Then we returned from our holiday and Xylon went for his biannual PET scan.

This is where the part about God healing my husband gets messy. 

The next day the Oncologist phoned. "It looks like there has been a recurrence. You need to see a Haematologist about treatment options."

'Not this, not again,’ we thought.

The Haematologist gave us hope. Told us a biopsy would confirm whether or not it was cancer, that there was a 35% chance of a false positive on the PET scan.

We fought for joy. We tried to remember that we believed God had healed Xylon. We spoke about how all those weeks before we’d felt that the enemy of our souls was out to steal our joy, to take credit from God. 

A week ago, we got the results of the biopsy and they showed, “No cancer”. 

It would be easy for me to say, “I knew all along that it would be clear because I know God healed Xylon.” 
It would be easy to say but it’s not true. 


I let fear win many times while we waited for the results.

I know healing is complex.  

I know God doesn’t heal everyone and I don’t understand why. 

I love how Abby Norman puts it that her feelings about healing are more jumbled and complicated then she ever expected. I get that.

And I still doubt. I still wonder if what Xylon felt as God healing him truly was his creator reconfiguring cancerous cells. I guess it shows that maybe I don’t really trust God with our lives as much as I think I do. 

But I’m not beating myself up about it. I don’t think God would want that. I think he would want me to like the one leper out of ten who realised they were healed and ran back to thank Jesus. 

One leper out of the ten who didn’t wonder if this healing was forever. 

One leper out of the ten who just saw healing in the moment and couldn’t wait to say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

One of the ten who says, “I don’t understand it but my heart is full of gratitude.”

One out of the ten who kneels at Jesus’ feet and can’t thank him enough for his gift of healing.

And there is the part of me who asks what if Xylon’s scan wasn’t clear? What would I be writing then? How would I fight back with joy then? 

I hope like Margaret Feinberg I’d be able to say that "Praise wins the battle. Every. Single. Time." (tweet this)

Ponder: What are your feelings about healing? Have you experienced healing from God before? Are you still waiting for him to heal?

Prayer: Thank you, thank you, thank you, God.


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Monday, 22 June 2015

How to laugh in the face of the fear

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future. 

“She laughs.”

This has long been one of my favourite bible verses.

She laughs without fear of the future.

Recently, as it seemed that Xylon's cancer had recurred, (please read this post from last Thursday for an update on Xylon's health and #prayforzero), I struggled with this verse as I spoke to God about what the future might look like. 

I asked God, "How? How can I laugh without fear at the days ahead?"

How can I laugh in the face of cancer?
How can I be fearless in a world where people are shot because of the colour of their skin?
How can I have courage to [fill in the blank with a plethora of terrifying things]?

My husband and I have been speaking about fear a lot in our house lately: a possible 4th diagnosis of cancer tends to do that.

Xylon told me how he lay awake in bed one night talking to God and how he felt all his fear disappear: his fear of dying, his fear of the cancer coming back, his fear of not being there for me.

And then Xylon said he realized that fear is not from God.

The enemy of our souls is fear. 

It reminded me of something I once read about how we become subject to our fears. How the fear we had finds a way to rule our lives. 

It shook me when I read it years ago, it shakes me now.

I don't want my future subject to fear.
I want my future to be subject to God.

Which brings me back to walking the dog in the field below our house and asking God, "How? How do I laugh without fear of the future?"

I didn't get an answer that day but I'm working on it. I'm massaging the message into my soul. 

I'm praying that when fear creeps in that God will help me fight back with joy

I'm reminding myself that my master is love, not fear. And that there is no fear in love.

To be honest, I'm not yet laughing without fear but I am learning to look it in the face and say, "Fear, you're not wanted here." (tweet this)

And I think that is a start.

Ponder: Where are you on the journey of living without fear of the future? Please share your stories and tools in the comments.

Prayer: Fear, you are not wanted here. In Jesus name I'm telling you to leave. God, in the place of fear I ask you would flood my soul with love and help me fight fear back with joy. Teach me how to laugh without fear at the days ahead. Amen.

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In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Thursday.

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