Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Beauty in the Ashes

I was struck on how beautiful the sunsets were when forest fires were burning on Mt. Charleston.  The sun shone through and infused its light through the smoke.  The stark contrast between the dark smoke and the bright sunshine brought out subtle colors in both. 

While it is true that the fire burned 25,000 acres and destroyed six buildings, apparently forest fires have benefits too.  According to “How Stuff Works” websites, “Forest fires are a natural and necessary part of the ecosystem. Even healthy forests contain dead trees and decaying plant matter; when a fire turns them to ashes, nutrients return to the soil instead of remaining captive in old vegetation.”  Like the beauty of the sun piercing through the smoke, the benefits of the fires break through from the destruction.

God’s love is like that.  There are events in our lives that seem destructive.  Maybe you are living in the dark days where God’s love does not seem to reach you.  The darkness that surrounds you seems to have no end and the fire of stress seems to be wreaking havoc in your life.

But it is the darkness of life that helps to set against the beauty of God’s love.  When focused on, it can light the air around you, bringing out the subtle beauty and depth of life.  What seems like destruction can remove what we think of as important so we can cultivate what is really important.

There is no doubt that this cancer has wreaked destruction in my life and on my body.  I carry the scars with me every day.  My chest looks like they took a big chunk with an ice cream scoop which essentially they did.  I’m not the wife, the mother, the teacher I would like to be whether that is because of exhaustion or side effects of chemo.

But if I focus on what God has taught me, on his love and provision, it colors all that with a subtle brightness that pierces the darkness. The darkness provides a depth to my life that I wouldn’t have otherwise.  Every day I am learning to focus on what is important—that my husband, my kids, know that I love them, that I continue to spread the message of praising God through all of my circumstances.  

In this life there will be fire, destruction, death.  But in the ashes there is beauty.  It doesn’t happen on its own. Only God has the power to pierce the darkness with His light, to clear the death and decay to produce life.  Only God has that power.  Will you let him work His glory?

2 Corinthians 1:8-9

New International Version (NIV)

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

God's Timing

I recently got good news.  The doctor says that my tumor has shrunk by at least 50% after just two chemo treatments.  I was ecstatic.  At the same time my doctor let me know that his other patient who is on the same drug has experienced a 70% reduction.  For just a split second I thought, “now why can’t I have 70%?” I quickly caught myself, knowing that was something akin to a $100,000 lottery patient wondering why they couldn’t have won $200,000.  Still ,I find myself getting impatient with my healing.  I know that it is all in God’s timing, though, so I am trying to trust in that—trust in Him.

God’s timing is perfect and I know that, still waiting is difficult to say the least.  I am sure that Joseph felt like that.  Here he was sold into slavery and yet he had prospered in Potiphar’s service.  Yet because of his integrity in not sleeping with Potiphar’s wife, he found himself in prison.  When he successfully interpreted the bakers and the cupbearer’s dreams he may have thought that this was his way out.  He had told the cupbearer to “remember me” when he was reinstated to his position with pharaoh.

The cupbearer didn’t remember him, however.  He was in jail another three years.  How long those three years would have seemed.  I think about that because I’ve had cancer for a little over three years now.  It is all about perspective however.  Three years in watching my children seems to go too fast.  Three years in studying for my Master’s seemed just long enough.  It depends what you are doing, what you are focusing on, what you are feeling.  Joseph must have kept his eyes on God.  He focused on his job as a leader in jail. He bloomed where he was planted.

I heard a fitting analogy.  We are not supposed to do anything while we are driving, but we all have done it—put on makeup, eaten a snack, put on jewelry, written a text.  We wait for a light and furiously try to accomplish as much as possible while the light is red.  Sometimes you laugh because you don’t seem to catch any of the lights. Your trip seems to fly by and maybe you don’t get done what you need to get done.  On the other hand, we all have been late for something and seem to catch every light and each light seem to be so long!  It is simply a matter of focus and perspective.  When you have a clear focus, the waiting doesn’t seem to be a difficult.

Waiting is never easy, but we need to trust God’s timing.  If the cupbearer had mentioned Joseph right away, Pharaoh would have forgotten about it since he had no need.   But three years later, when Pharaoh needed someone to interpret his dream, he called Joseph out of prison right away.  Joseph saved his whole family—in God’s timing. 

Trust in God’s timing.  Focus on Him and on doing his will in whatever your circumstance. Waiting is never easy, but it can be purposeful.  It can accomplish your maturity and God’s plans.  Bloom while you are waiting.

Isaiah 40:31
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.