Monday. November 7. 2016
Throughout the entirety of the week, I began learning quickly how to let people in on the pain and how to find rest that comes with peace. After hanging up the phone, my only expression was a “crap” yelled at my cat and then at the wall. It felt like I had learn how to stand again. A brief few moments where my physical legs worked, but my spiritual foundations were seriously tempted to waver.
As I shared the news of a “Stage 4” diagnosis that was hard pressed upon my mother, though hard pressed, a portion deep down within me had to find where beauty could come from in the midst of these new indentions of ashes. I had to know that there would be a remnant, if only a mere remnant, of His goodness, and I had to know that He would help bear all of what was just offered. I had to know all of this because there were a few moments where I doubted. Where I felt extremely alone and helpless… Knowing nothing I could work together, in the might of my own hands, could remedy my mother and produce ultimate goodness. And there is certainly no way my heart could bear it apart from Him and His church.
I had to know AND FIRMLY BELIEVE that beauty from ashes encompasses a grace that saves, a yoke that is easy, and a robe of righteousness as He calls us His bride. We hope, in all depths, that He is the beauty we yearn to see, but that He is even more in the way He makes beautiful things out of us – that stretches the eternal promise over our hearts. I had to know how to rest amid this new chaos.
When my mama cries, I cry. I don’t care if it is because she had to give her children heart shaking news, or if it is because a mouse ran across the kitchen floor. When she cries, I cry. Part of me knows this occurs because she is my mama, but another part knows it is because she has chosen to walk a spiritual journey with her children. And when connected by the threads of grace, burden bearing, over cancer or a mouse, becomes a central theme. But so does resting together.
A year ago, as I was searching for biblical community, for a short season I found that with mama. We began walking through some of the Old Testament together. It paints a beautiful picture for me. A picture where I got to see my mother not as just a parental figure, but I got to see her as someone whom I would share a glorious kingdom with. And for her, she got to continue a holy calling as a mother. To lead and nurture her children in the faith.
As we studied together, we rested together. If only for preparation for such a time as this. Rest in this cancer season will be vital. Physically but more so for our hearts. A rest of grace and comfort and holiness – in the gospel state, some would add. A more excellent rest remains for us even more so than the rest offered to Joshua as he led the Lord’s chosen. And a rest of grace and comfort and holiness… I want them as roots I yearn to obtain in and through whatever journey, cancer or no cancer.
I want grace. I want comfort. I want to be made holy, and I should want them all rooted in the gospel by which I have heard and believed. And I should want them even if I don’t feel grace and I don’t feel comforted and my screaming mind doesn’t see the sanctification to holy – however. And that is a big however. There is a remaining notion far beyond myself… He. Is. A. Shepherd.
This week consisted of so many phone calls. So many repetitive explanations. So many moments where the middle of the woods looked like that most nurturing place on the planet. Do you ever just want to go there and shake a tree?! But this week also looked like a girl who had settled in laboring. As if in a field trying to bountifully reap a harvest, the girl just sat in the middle of the unworked row and wept. And waited for someone stronger to come along.
Have you ever just had to speak truth into your own heart? No one else, no preacher, no friend, no parent, no spouse, no one could do it for you. You had to take the truth given to you and speak it into yourself. That was me.
Speak it deep into myself and believe it far beyond my capabilities. And I spoke this… He bathes richly into His title of Shepherd. As Shepherd, the rest He offers in the depths of chaos and confusion and roads looking like they could be marked with uncertainty – He can awaken weary souls and breathe gently into the depths of our core to rest – and that is fully refreshing.
So could it possibly be that He calls us to labor so that we may enter into rest? A laboring in tribulation now to make the “be still and know” movement that much sweeter. A labor for having our time spent in the service of God as we serve one another. As I serve mama and my family. All of this labor and knowing His sovereignty whereby we will know God to be our rest.
Whereby we will know God to be our rest.
For when rest is at home in the Spirit, it convinces powerfully and comforts the deepest.
Stage one, two, three, or four… None of those numbers present a welcoming mat for our internal. No one wants to hear them. But they are a part of us. And like I said in an earlier post – I must crave to see all of this as a kind invitation to the mercy seat where grace reigns and the grandest pillow of rest resides. I want to lay there and desire His provision, even if He is giving me full permission to wrestle with Him. That its okay to further work out my faith through journeying my questions through my mother’s journey. To search Him and know He can be found.
I know, however, if I wrestle – He will pin me. I know that. So may it be now. And as He pins me, may I never mistake God for something small or wavering, fickle or finite. That I will trust His strength and walk upright even when I want to crawl and grieve a diagnosis… To know it is the faith in the hearer that is life in the Word. And rest is His completion.
Mama clearly told me after “stage 4 and had spread to” rolled off her tongue that cancer won’t define her. She can’t roll over and be wrapped in such a label when nothing defines us more than what she believes about the King on His throne – nothing defines the believer more than what we believe about the King on His throne.
So resting just may be this – surrendering life. Our own personal lives and even more so the lives you love most on this earth. Surrendering into reassuring hands even in the uncertain of days to come. And following surrender with a watchful eye. Watching Him work – according to His plan. Resting here in surrender is when I allow God to come alive at whatever cost or feeling.
Even as cancer becomes an outside woe, it is where God calls us to rest in His best shepherd qualities. It is when God call us to rest in Him that He addresses the inner parts of us. And the inner parts, He delights in most.