I walk in the front door, shaking the to-do list of my day from my feet. I step casually down our passage. I am blissfully unaware that my forever was about to be changed. That day my walk changed. My steps were no longer marked by a skip and a step over the terrain of the simple niggles and pleasures of life. My legs buckled underneath and in the blink of an eye a sheer cliff lorded itself over me with the verdict that my 15-month-old son has an inoperable brain tumour.
The climbing brings fatigue, despondency, sweat, blood and tears. But now place that mountain in the midst of a war. Weapons marked by vomiting, body ache, tonsillitis, rashes, eye infections, drowsiness, loss of appetite, hair loss, blood transfusions, endless hospital hours, doctors and the gut-wrenching pain of watching his tears stream down his face as I pin him down one more time for the next needle.
I am in the biggest fight of my life, but I begin to start asking myself, for what? A fight to live? To survive? This tumour will be an ever-present enemy in our lives.
But I begin to see the stakes are actually my heart.
I know my bones are broken; there is nothing about our life that makes me question that truth.
I am left drawing my white flag of surrender. Not to cancer, but to the one who holds life and death. I find myself handing him my heart.
The blow of my son’s diagnosis began to ravish our lives, and every time I offered up my cries, the Lord revived my soul.
WHEN MY DESIRES COLLIDE WITH THE LORD’S
I desire not to be that story: that one you hear about; but it’s never you. The Lord reminded me that this is his story, not mine.
I desire a simple life and writhe at the idea of being made the example, but the Lord said to me: “I will prepare your heart”.
I desire a full life with my child, and I lament at the utter devastation of a life without him, but he soothes my cries and Jesus answered,
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
I desire a full mop of hair, and so ache at the prospect of him losing it, a constant reminder of who he is, but the word of God eases my pain:
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
I desire a certainty that he will be with Jesus and so I yearn for the comfort of knowing that he will be with the Lord. And the covenant of God becomes the greatest gift imaginable.
The promise is for you and your children
I desire not to have to manage all the extra demands. How will I do it all? And so I panic at the prospect of living with all of life’s basic demands and yet God has supplied so many of my needs. One snapshot was the supernatural conviction of friends to gift me with my salary for a year to spend time with my kids; without any knowledge of his condition. He prepares the way before me.
I desire for him to it take it away…and so, I am broken. I plead, I writhe, I lament, I toss and turn, I throb and yearn and panic and I feel defeated through every fibre of my being. I am riddled with pain, and the tears will never elude me. But God has never promised to strip me of either, nor he has ever promised to exempt me. But what he has promised is that he will sustain me:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I desire a successful child and so I throb through the envy of all the families around me, for their casual existence, and that on paper my son doesn’t tick all the boxes. He will never be your quintessential successful child. I desire so many hopes and dreams and so I toss and turn through the loss of all our hopes and dreams; simple dreams of my little boys kicking balls on the rugby field. Lost dreams, and a life that seems to be more about surviving than living.
And the Spirit convinces me that the success and joy of my child’s life is not measured against the things of this world, but on who he is and what he has in Christ. From the viewpoint of God, I am swept up in Philippians 3:8:
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
That life as it stands, no matter what life you lead, is a loss. We will lose all our dreams and so they are ultimately worthless. Only a life with Christ is triumphant. Life is only victorious if we have the greatest dream come true – life with Christ.
And so, the greatest dream I could hope for my child is the dream of being with God himself. As Vaneetha Risner says,
“It is not about getting what I want; it is about him giving me what I desperately need: himself”
And John Piper says,
“Cancer does not win when his body is down or even if he dies. It only wins if I fail to cherish Christ in amidst it all and lose God all together”.
One day changed my forever, but this forever is better than any day elsewhere.