Thursday, November 03, 2005

 

Rachelle's Thoughts

Many of you have asked that I post the short talk I shared at church last Sunday. I have edited it and am posting it below. I have wanted to post to the blog…and I am sure many of you (our friends and family) have been wondering how Scott’s diagnosis and treatment have been affecting me. Here are some thoughts from October.

Over the last month I moved from sensing a deep abiding peace to facing some of the fears that have surfaced as a result of Scott’s diagnosis. One thing I said in July was that the time between Scott’s diagnosis and his prognosis were dark days that we will never have to face again. It was the surprise of it that literally knocked the breath out of me and after a few weeks and getting a good prognosis, I regained my equilibrium. Looking back I remember saying, “we will never be surprised by Scott’s cancer again…we will set a course for treatment, we will pray for remission, and he will have regular check-ups. No matter what happens with his lymphoma, we will never again feel the shock of it the way we did that first week.”

I think it was the surprise & the shock more than the disease that took my breath away. It was the first time I was faced with the thought that Scott will not live forever and that the safety I feel because of him is an illusion…He is not invincible and neither am I. I’d like to say that facing his mortality has caused me to live differently, but I am not sure that where I am yet. I still feel as if I am facing what it means to live with the vulnerability of being a pregnant wife with a husband who has a cancer diagnosis. Scott would not say his cancer has been “his cup” to bear…he would say so far it has been OURS. His body is bearing it and my heart is bearing it. I guess this is part of what it means that we are “one flesh.”

God seems to be asking me to grieve the illusion I have become comfortable with…that I can control the big things in life. In reality I can control the little things in life…the things that don’t really matter much. But it is the really big things…the things that really matter that I have very little control over: our health and our protection. God is the one who preserves us and sustains us…I really have very little to do with it. This is where being Presbyterian should be comforting I suppose.

I guess with all that has gone on in the last few months in my life, I have recalled my years of leading students in Scripture and I have felt drawn back to the Scriptures…to find comfort and to face what is true about myself & God.

The word of God…sharper than any two-edged sword: Meaning it slices through you …it cuts to the heart of matters. When I live in and through the Scriptures I am opening myself to a type of transformation that only the Holy Spirit can engineer. It re-orients me.

Passages that talk about pruning and suffering are all over the place in the gospels & in Paul. Jesus’ path to glory took him via the cross, and when he asked that the “cup pass from him” it was not taken away…he had to go through it. My only comfort is that because his path took him via the cross, he knows what it is like to have your breath taken away and to feel vulnerable and to cry out and much, much more.

Paul writes in Philippians 3…

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.


I spoke on this passage when I was on InterVarsity staff several years ago. This is a passage that haunts and comforts me at the same time. It haunts me because of the language in red. It gives me tremendous hope because of language in blue. These two, the haunting and the hope, live together inseparably in this passage.

Paul begins by talking about not putting confidence in his flesh…which boils down to being justified by the law. If I am self-honest I am not even that concerned about something as noble as my justification, I am usually concerned with my preservation. Still the application is the same. In the end there isn’t anything behind the curtain but God. There is no way to get there that circumnavigates a soul-searching faith. No path is devoid of suffering in this life. And in the end no prize is greater. Mysteriously we get in the end what we have already attained by faith- the Holy Spirit.

Without the well of Scripture to draw from, where would I be during the uncertainty life has dealt us? Because of my years of studying Scripture, God is able to call back to my mind passages from the Bible that are relevant to my situation. I am deeply thankful for God’s nearness through his word.

I guess my stint of the journey right now seems to be facing the haunting of knowing I am vulnerable and finite…letting go of what I can not control
whatever was to my profit I now consider loss
and the hope of knowing Christ as Immanuel…I am never alone
Only let us live up to what we have already attained.


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