I just read something that is really really interesting. I was laying in bed a few hours ago trying to fall asleep and since it’s Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter) I was trying to think about what might have been happening right now all those years ago. And as I lay there, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I came downstairs to read John and I stumbled across John 12:27-28 in which Jesus himself says, “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.” Am I crazy or does that sound like Jesus was a little nervous? And rightly so as He knew what was about to happen. But how many times have I read that and not given it a second thought? This was right after the people would have greeted Him as king on what we now celebrate as Palm Sunday and before His final teachings. I keep reading over that again and again. I can just really identify with that sentiment! It’s scary to live out God’s will because it’s so different from what we would plan for ourselves but greater things get accomplished. (I will take a second to reiterate here that no, I do not believe God gave me cancer, but I believe He wants to use it). So here I am, up again while everyone else sleeps.
At least this time I’m not up because I’m coughing (thank goodness I’m feeling so much better!) but I’m awake because I can’t stop thinking. Easter is by far my favorite holiday. Obviously, this is the day that commemorates what Jesus did for us. But on a personal note, it marks the anniversary of when I accepted Jesus into my own life- seven years ago! For this reason, I’ve come to take Easter to heart more than I probably would if my “salvation-versary” fell on another day. But come on, that’s pretty symbolic, right? I love it.
And while Easter is always special, for whatever reason, this year all of Holy Week has hit me really hard. I don’t think I quite realized how much closer I’ve drawn to the Lord through my experiences the past few months until now. The magnitude of what Jesus did and how everything played out is weighing heavily on me. Let’s just look at last Sunday, Palm Sunday. It never quite hit me before how sad it is. I always looked at it like a celebration, because Palm Sunday, for those who may not know, commemorates the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and all the people welcomed Him as a king and shouted things like “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” and they celebrated and waved palm branches. For whatever reason, it never occurred to me until this year that these same people welcoming Jesus as their king would be very same people shouting “crucify him!” just days later. Can you even imagine? I mean, I’ve heard of “mob mentality”, but this seems excessive. These are the very same people who handed Jesus over to torture. He was beaten, mocked, spit on, slapped, flogged, and ultimately accused of the most grievous sin, blasphemy. The weight of all this is just so heavy on my heart this year. I love celebrating Easter and the new life that comes with it, but we can only celebrate it because of what was done for us leading up it. I find myself getting very angry at these people. But who knows how we would have acted had we been there. Jesus was certainly not what the Jews were expecting in awaiting the messiah, so can we really blame them for this reaction? Even Jesus defends them and asks God to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing.
Jesus knew that the people were blind and literally didn’t know what they were doing. That’s exactly how I feel when I look back at my life before Christ. I had no clue what I was doing and I had no clue how blind I was. But in that moment, at that altar on that Easter morning, I decided to give up and let go. Give up on my fruitless pursuits and let go of the sin and shame that had been weighing me down. My burden before was so heavy, but it wasn’t until I dropped all that baggage at the cross that I realized how much freedom comes with surrender. Freedom from sin, freedom from the weight of this world, freedom from feeling like I had to have it all together or figure it all out. And this cancer has ignited in me a new fire and a renewed commitment to the Lord and to doing His work. It’s pretty indescribable to feel like I’m living with a purpose.
One of my favorite pastimes is reading cancer blogs (quite a hobby, huh?) and I’m amazed at how many people lament the fact that they don’t have the “inner strength” that other people battling cancer seem to have. Seriously, you’d be surprised how often I see this and it breaks my heart that these people feel so much pressure to try to figure this out on their own. That they have to work so hard to try to find strength and peace when there is a God who loves them and will give it to them freely, if only they ask. This goes well beyond cancer and into anything we may be facing. You don’t need to be strong, just come humbly before God, broken and all, and let Him heal you. We honor Easter every year to celebrate that we don’t have to do this on our own. We don’t need to be strong and pretend to have it all together! What freedom there is in resting in Christ. He already did the work for us, we just need to accept it. We can’t make people choose Jesus, but we can continue to shout the good news from the rooftops and hope people listen.
So I refuse to shut up about it! So much so that I’ll actually be giving the message at my church here the first weekend in May. At first I didn’t really want to “advertise” it because 1. I don’t want to look arrogant or anything and 2. There’s a chance I’ll do a horrible job haha. But these speaking opportunities keep popping up, so I’ll keep saying yes! John 7:18 says, “Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves” And when I read that tonight it reminded me that I am not speaking to glorify myself, so I don’t need to be embarrassed about it. So Sunday May 4th at 9am and 10:45am I’ll be speaking at my church in a message I’ve titled “Can I Find Joy in Cancer?” Wish me luck!
And there’s more good news! Not quite as good as salvation through Christ, but I sure like it! Those spots that I had biopsied came back pretty good. The one on my face is completely benign (!!!!) and the one on my lower back came back a dysplastic Nevus, so while that sounds horrible and I still have to get it dug out, it ain’t melanoma! Thanks all you prayer warriors, you guys are good 😉