Our Unexpected Journey

This last Saturday was a special day.  I was finally able to go see Floyd after a gap of many weeks as I've recovered from surgery.  I've endured a weakness so great from all the complications from the surgery that I wondered if I would ever recover from it.  Thankfully I'm on the other side of that, and regaining strength. 

Floyd looked good.  His coloring was good, his eyes were clear, he didn't have any coughing - and he smiled from the moment I walked in his room.  What a joy it was to see that smile!  The visit was emotional for me - more than I had even anticipated, but it was so good to see him.

Even though it's very belated, I wanted to celebrate our 50th anniversary with him.  I made a little poster to hang on his photo wall.  I talked about our years together, and then I prayed and committed us afresh to the Lord.  Floyd closed his eyes when I started praying, and then he teared up.

Several times he had long blinks of his eyes in seeming agreement to things I said.  I had a couple songs I wanted to sing to him - he cried all the way through them.

It was a tender, sweet time.  There were times during the last 17 months when I wondered if we would make it to our 50th anniversary.  Thankfully we did, and I'm so glad to have finally been able to share it with him.

"The Lord's unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him."  Psalm 32:10

"My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip - He who watches over you will not slumber."  Psalm 121:2, 3

Only God knows what's ahead, but I was grateful to recount with Floyd God's wonderful faithfulness to us over our 50 years together.  God has been so good to us!

Next Tuesday I start the new chemo.  I have been dreading this - especially in light of the fact that on the original treatment I would be finishing this week......and now I have to start all over again.  It's a longer treatment.  I'll be on it for 6 months.  And because it's a new one, I don't know what to expect, or how it will impact me, and what side effects I'll have.

So, in the midst of my dreading all this, the Lord spoke to me a couple weeks ago.  In fact, He used my own words to speak to me. :)  

Some years ago I did a teaching on "Growing Through Times of Difficulty and Weakness."  During the difficult times we can grow, or we can actually go backwards in our spiritual walk - depending on our responses to the hard situations.

One of the things I've learned is that we need to "embrace" the difficulty, be it small or large.  It's a choice we can make in regard to how we respond in our hearts.  The temptation is to pretend it's not there, to ignore it, or to just hope it'll go away.  But if we do these things, if we're not honest and open about it, we miss what God intends, and we miss the love and support of people's prayers.

We can also choose to draw on our own strength and reserves - or even "fake it" - but that only takes us so far.  Pretty soon our strength is gone, and the situation is usually harder by then.

We can, alternately, choose to focus our attention on another area of our life rather than the one that is staring us in the face.  I love a quote from Floyd's book Holiness and the Spirit of the Age in regard to this option.

"Humility releases us from hiding and pretending to be something we are not.  It allows us to be known for who we really are.  A superficial world encourages us to cover our weaknesses.  Humility and godliness sets us free from this kind of thinking."

Growing through the hard times means not giving up.  Not accepting problems, difficulties, and setbacks as irreversible.  Failure and difficulties are often the back door to success.  Whatever it is, we need to pick up the pieces and begin again.  We serve a God of infinite new beginnings. There is nothing in our lives that hasn't been filtered through the protective hands of God.  Romans 8:31-39  If He has allowed something to come our way, He intends to use it for good in our lives.

So - my very teaching reminded me that my response to the new chemo was not the right one.  While "dreading" it may be a normal, human instinct - I needed to "embrace" what is coming, and look to God for His grace and strength.  I cried, thanked the Lord for reminding me of this important principle, and started all over in my heart attitude in regards to what is ahead.

Amazingly, wonderfully, the heaviness lifted when I did this.  No, I'm not looking forward to it!!  But I've "embraced" what God has allowed, and I am confident His faithfulness will continue with me as I walk through this new season.

"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."  Psalm 54:4

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you.  I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."  Isaiah 46:4

"As for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."  Micah 7:7

"The Lord gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:29-31

I feel weak and weary, but as I embrace what is ahead, I'm also calling on the promises of His Word for my help and strength.  He is good and faithful!  And He hasn't failed me yet!!