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Glory of God

"Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.

And He said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see.' 

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, 'See how He loved him!' And some of them said, 'Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?' 

Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.' 

Martha, the sister of him who was dead said to Him, 'Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.' 

Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?"


Days are such interesting things. You can have thirty pass without even realizing it, and then there are times in life where a few days strung together seem to literally drive your life out of one season and distinctly into a new one. I love those days. I've been blessed to have so many of them. Going to college, meeting Chad, getting engaged, getting married, each and every birth of my children. We start a day with this certain capacity and end with a new one. Hours might as well be years, as you're charted away into new waters. 

The past seven days represent a marker in our lives forever. We will not come out on the other side the same. Even the first few hours in, somehow, my mind was processing that fact. This will change us. This will change me. 

At the close of 24 hours, together alone in the surgery waiting room of a children's hospital, Chad and I sat hand in hand, processing together in hushed voices. "If I could tell anyone anything," Chad said, "it would be to start spending time with Jesus every day." It sounds so simple. But cultivating a friendship with Jesus, really knowing Him, has changed everything. The veil between earth and heaven in those hours was so thin. I don't know how our feet carried us from one point to another. It is blurred in my mind, those details seeming to run together and bleed like water spilled on a painting. But there are other images, other details from these past seven days, especially that first 24 hours that I will treasure all of my life. I have felt the richness of God's love and the presence of Jesus more in these days than ever before. 

I used to hear stories like this, friends finding themselves standing in a sudden and terrible storm, and feel that kicked in the gut, breathless, sobbing, horror. The kind where I didn't know what to say, I fearfully hugged my children, rocked them and cried and thanked God I wasn't going through the trial. To be on this side of it, to have stared down the barrel of my darkest fear, I am so relieved to know it was nothing like I imagined it to be. 

I will not dishonor the gift of God's love by iterating any traumatic moments, taking you through every detail. Those details, laid out on paper, or internet paper, do not convey the grace we felt and the love that covered our every move. I will not magnify the fear. I will not give attention to it. 

I will boast that right away, as I stepped out of the doctors office and heard words that would have made me shudder and vomit all at once from the outside, I felt the strings of fear tied to my heart suddenly be clipped by the Holy Spirit. I felt a holy roar echoing in my chest, an utter confidence that God is good. God is life. The fingerprints of God are life and resurrection and healing and hope. As I scanned the concerned faces of the office staff and nurses, I turned to Dee and said, "Dee, do you know Jesus?" She said she did. "Good," I said, "because He loves Cade." 

And sitting in the ER, clutching Lily to me while Chad and a surgeon had taken Cade back for initial scans, while tears streamed down my cheeks, I knew I had to use every opportunity I could to speak about the triumph of God's nearness any chance I had in this unknown journey. 

It makes me sick to think anyone would hear of our story and use it as evidence against trusting God. That anyone would hear it and be afraid of Him, as if He is the author of disease or illness or delights in hurting His own. How dare anyone take my story and twist it. Because my story, Cade's story, Chad's story, is fully and inseparably bound up in the goodness of God. 

I slept that first night and woke up realizing we had found this just at the right time. It was like a holy gasp, a precious gift of a realization. The first of many convictions that God was and is orchestrating Cade's healing. As my friend Heather and I sat by Cade's bed processing the events while he slept peacefully, we realized that years ago, while I was in junior high or even earlier, our surgeon was spending hours studying and sleeplessly fulfilling rotations so that he could be ready to labor over my son's body in his hour of need. A surgeon who we prayed with, who we later learned loved Jesus, and was only on call that night at the ER but told his fellow that he could NOT let our case pass to anyone else's hands because there was something about us that compelled him to take care of it. Years ago, God began the work of deliverance for my son.

As I have processed with different people, sharing the promises, the verses, the text encouragements, the prophetic words over my sons life, I have literally felt angels hovering close. They're amazed at the mysery of the love of God. I have felt a hospital room, beeping with lifelines and pulsing with IV fluids and pain meds, become infused with hope and peace and an inexplicable joy. I have found that down in the depths, there is joy. My God illumines my darkness. As Psalm 139 says, the darkness is not dark to Him. To Him, it shines like the day. 

Our final day in the hopsital we walked Cade up and down the post-op unit, and heard him pray for every baby he saw. Just a simple prayer. I laid in bed with him every night, and one precious night we talked about Jesus loving Cade, and Cade's salvation was illuminated to me in new ways. What a gift. My son is 4. He knows God. 

We have a list of things we are thankful for from this past week that is ABSURDLY long. It's not embellished. It's truth. We are overwhelmed with thankfulness. We have asked friends to contribute to it. Hearing our community thankful for this with us has TRANSFORMED the darkest moments. 

Some people have texted and remarked about my strength- which makes me laugh. Guys, I'm about as strong as an infant most days. I feel shaky at best on my own. For about two hours I thought I was strong, then the Lord reminded me that I'm just a mom. I'm scared of everything. Helmetless drives in convertibles, words like disease, unknown futures. He is strong. He is in me. He makes my way perfect and enables me to stand on the heights. HE LIVES ON THE HEIGHTS. Ground level living is terrifying- and I know I've reverted there by the nausea I start to feel and the trembling. But if I let Him give me hind's feet on high places, I can stand with Him on the heights. THE GOD OF PEACE WILL SOON CRUSH SATAN UNDER YOUR FEET. When I stand with Him, I have perfect peace. 

Chad and I have collected some of our favorite moments over the past few days. Life is a gift. Trials are a gift. I would not choose them. But God is good to His word- He is a man acquainted with grief and unafraid of coming close. He sustains us when we fix our gaze on Him. 

Don't get me wrong. Cancer is from hell. It's a result of sin. It's not God's assignment. The Son of Man came to destroy the works of the enemy, and He spent most of His ministry healing. He wasn't healing what God had inflicted. He was healing what sin and death had sown into the earth. I am convinced Cade will be healed- and between us, I'm convinced it will be THIS side of Heaven- "I would have lost heart had I not believed that I would see the goodness of God in the LAND OF THE LIVING." 

My whole life I have loved the Word of God. In enneagram testing, I am a seven. Sevens HATE pain and hate deprivation. Sevens like a party. Sevens realized at a young age that they were too sad. In my mind, I was pensive as a kid and absorbed everything and the only thing that got me out of myself was reading the Bible. Y'all, God SET ME UP. I have been eating up promises people are texting, pouring over my minds memory of verses, hovering near the Bible. It's like a treasure hunt every day. So, were you to ask me for advice I'd say- READ YOUR BIBLE. 

Second, I'd say get into a community of crazy people. I have crazy friends all over. Crazy friends who had a prayer hour during my son's surgery. Crazy friends who hosted a prayer and worship night Sunday night in honor of Cade. Crazy friends who text us, show up at the hopsital bearing Lara bars and starbucks, refuse to let us give up, and weep with us WITH hope. I saw a stunning quote this week from my girl Havilah Cunnington that said, "Courage does not happen in isolation. It happens in community." TRUTH. Courage has welled up in our hearts every day a new because people are praying. THANK YOU. Do not give up on friends, do not give up on churches, or small groups, or sharing even if its uncomfortable or seems routine or silly. And find crazy people. People who believe bigger than you, fight longer than you, and love you way more than your deserve. Truly, our hearts are being held by friends. 

When I found out at 40 weeks pregnant that Cade had a cleft lip, and we waited a hard week to see whether or not it would involve his palette and many surgeries, we labored in prayer. We both came away with promises, but one that Chad shared with me that felt especially poignant was this verse out of John 11:40 "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?"

We marveled over that verse then, little knowing that only a few years down the road, that verse would take on new flesh for a promise we need. Over the past seven days we have revisited the promises we got when we were pregnant with Cade, including his name: Cademen "wise warrior" and Joseph, who said to his brothers, "what you meant for evil, God meant for good". We are finding that God was initiating with us even then for this moment. Years before we knew. And thank you Lord we didn't know.

I want to write this, even though right now I feel tired and mentally and physically ready to sleep, only because I think the audience of people praying for and carrying us HAVE to know that on the other side of your deepest fear stands Jesus. Always. Only Jesus. I am seeing Him in a whole new way. 

My Bible reading plan had me begin Revelation this week, and I was struck with the comparison to when John, one of Jesus' closest friends, the one who reclined on His chest and was the beloved disciple, saw Jesus in His glory, he fell on his face. The familiar Jesus, who he'd seen work countless miracles and watched wake up from sleep and broke bread with and wandered countrysides with, had suddenly taken on such a new and glorious shape, John literally couldn't stand up in His presence. I feel that. I feel like this has taken the Friend I've always known, the one who sat with me in every childhood transition and calmed my fears and stilled my insecurities and navigated high school with me, has suddenly transformed before my eyes. All authority on Heaven and earth belong to Him, He holds the keys to death and hell, and He is living to make intercession for me, living to make intercession for my son. As Psalm 34:4-5 says, 

"I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed." 

Y'all, for me right now I'm learning that the same rules apply in trials as do in good times. Right when we walked into the ER I just knew resounding in my heart was a gut desire to do this well. Whatever this may look like. Why? Because on the other side of every pain is reward. Chad's uncle prayed over Cade that the Lord would exact a penalty for Cade from the enemy for every day we dealt with this. The enemy is the accuser of the brethren, and he would love nothing more than to tell God what a whiner I am, how mad I am at God, how disappointed I am. But Jesus LIVES TO MAKE INTERCESSION for me. I have screamed into the air in my car this week, " I AM NOT MAD AT GOD. HE IS FOR ME. HE IS WITH ME. I LOVE HIM. I TRUST HIM." I am so grateful Chad initiated us walking in thankfulness- so I do not complain like a little bratt. As Bill Johnson said in that awesome sermon I linked to instagram, when we said YES to God, we lost the right to call the terms of what trials we would walk through. Heck, even if you don't say yes to God, NO ONE controls their own life. So this is my goal: the enemy will not get one single victory here. I will cry out to God- and that means crying, screaming, talking, whispering, whatever else- but it does not include muttering, grumbling or complaining. I will, by the accountability of friends and family and the Holy Spirit, choose to see what God has done, look to what He has promised, and cling to Him in hope. 

I want to infuse you with courage as you read this. I want you to hear about this journey and stand up where you are and scream with joy. Even in the tension of waiting, in the cloud of unknown, you can thrive. You can find God. His nearness is our good. It truly is. He is closer than a brother in times of trouble, and my siblings and I are pretty close. I used to hate reading Job. Remember, I am a seven. We hate pain. But I've had to read it the past few years in my Bible reading plans, sometimes even twice a year (WHY). I see it differently now. James 5:11 says, "As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is FULL of compassion and mercy."  

In about five minutes emotionally I could be bankrupt again, but I am so glad my circumstances and my emotions do not determine God's character. If there is anything to take away from this story, it's that God is good- and as people of God, as psalm 84 says, we go from STRENGTH TO STRENGTH, each of them appears before God in Zion. Y'all, just hold your breath for the glory that is going to come from this. As Jesus said to Martha and Mary right after he wept (because he fully partakes in our pain with us), "DID I NOT TELL YOU THAT IF YOU BELIEVE, YOU WILL SEE THE GLORY OF GOD?" Let's believe together. 

Comments

  1. Wow. That’s all I can say. Thank you for sharing and reminding us that God is good and every small detail is worked out and it will always be to his Glory. We are continually praying for you guys. Love you
    All . Samer

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  2. This is Beth. Such truth! Such beauty! Such a brace reminder of how our choices affect everything! May God give you the strength to keep choosing Jesus minute by minute. Our family stands with yours!!!! We miss his sweet face at church! (I needed this encouragement, Charis)

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