Monthly Archives: October 2009

Clowns

 

Sam has never really been afraid of anything except for people in costumes like Humphrey B. Bear, Clowns and Santa Claus. As a child she was also afraid of saying goodbye to me. Today she is afraid of the possibility of being admitted to hospital. It’s my fault that she is going in and I feel as though I have betrayed her.

Yesterday while we were waiting for her drugs to be administered through pharmacy I ran back up to see the specialist. This sudden sweep of anxiety passed over me like the rush of guilt when we have neglected to do something that is very important. I ran to the escalator and back into HOAC and asked the secretary if it was at all possible to speak again to our doctor.

In his gracious, laid back, caring manner he invited me in to his office and listened with his tired eyes. ‘I’m concerned,’ I told him, ‘what if its not her thyroid?’

He looked across his desk staring at its edge, considering my question. ‘I’m a little concerned too,’ he said when his eyes met mine. ‘We would need to bring her in, do a series of tests, more blood cultures, more scans and ultrasounds, I know she doesn’t want to come in but I think it would be useful to rule everything out.’

‘I’d like to be sure,’ I said, ‘she’s very precious to me,’ I added stating the obvious. I felt embarrassed.

‘Of course,’ he agreed covering me with grace. ‘Have you got private health insurance, it may be complicated getting a bed.’

Then we agreed to chat in the morning when he had worked things out, talked to the endocrinologist, spoken to his colleagues, checked with the ward and so on. By 10 o’clock he had not called, so I called him. His secretary wrote down the fevers and the times they had occurred and reassured me that he would call.

Sam was still sleeping when the call came. He was brief. ‘It is all organised, see you at 2.30 in HOAC.’ The silence at the end of the line when he hung up the phone caused me to feel like the great betrayer. I felt as though I had reported my daughter for a crime, ‘How will I tell her we are going back in?’ I wondered, as I looked across to her tiny curled up frame asleep on the couch under the cool of the air conditioner.

Then the picture came to my mind of my niece Kate’s 1st Birthday party, 18 years ago. I am in my sister’s bedroom with the green floral wallpaper and Sam, aged 3 is propped up on the bed laughing as I am getting ready for the guest appearance as a clown. All the time I was getting ready I was talking her through it.Kate, Aunty Clare and Grandad

‘See, now mummy is putting on the outfit, funny isn’t it? Now, I’m putting on the white face, now the big red, lipstick smile, funny lashes, look Sam, mummy is drawing on the funny lashes. Do I look like a clown? I am dressing like a clown for little Katie’s birthday.’ Sam was fine, everything was fine until I put on the nose and somehow at that moment I must have stopped looking like her mother and she began to scream.

She screamed and screamed. She would not stop screaming. The fear in her eyes was horrendous. She had no where to go because I was always the one that she ran to when there were Humphrey appearances at shopping malls, or Santa Clauses on icicle thrones. I was the one she hid behind and now she had nowhere to go.

Here I am, doing it all again. I’m betraying her and leaving her with nowhere to go.

I look at her calmly sleeping and I don’t see a 21 year old. I see a little girl that I love with all my heart. I see all of the moments of her life, I see the potential of her future and I just want to hold her and make everything okay and take away all the fear.

I wish it were as simple as taking off the makeup, or passing her to the arms of her aunty but going back to hospital because there’s a chance of a hidden infection is so much more complicated.

She didn’t scream when I told her. Instead she ate her lunch in silence. We demolished the last jar of Silvia’s sauce on macaroni as if it could be ‘The Last Supper’ or Holy Communion. A reverent silence filled the room. As she pushed the pasta around the bowl her only comment was, ‘I just don’t get it, we prayed.’

I don’t really get it either. We did pray. We’ve prayed all year about every single thing and sometimes God doesn’t answer the way we want him to.

The devil likes to whisper things like ‘God doesn’t really care about what you are going through.’ It’s tempting to buy that line. It feels like truth. But I’ve heard it said that if you invite him in to ride your thoughts long enough, pretty soon he wants to drive. He takes you down the one way streets that lead to dead ends and that’s futile.

So instead of trying to cheer her up I simply agreed with her that I don’t get it either. That we are searching for truth, not leaving anything to chance.

Maybe inside her there’s an infection hiding, masked like that clown and we are going to peel off the layers and look at it for what it really is.

That’s what I want from my relationship with God too. I don’t want bells and whistles. I don’t want hype or pantomimes or riddles. I want truth.

Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.

God is truth and He made me in His image so I figure He understands this need in me. He says ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

I’m so thankful that Jesus came. So thankful He bore our sickness and disease. My life is changed by what He did on the cross for me.

I know healing is available but sometimes I wish it worked like abracadabra and happened straight away. It’s easy to believe but so hard to wait. Real life doesn’t take place under the Big Top of the circus tent.

God isn’t expecting a performance or a mask. Instead he says to me ‘Just as you are, you come.’

Jesus came so that I would find my way to God. That through unveiled face I could go directly to Him. To make my petitions known to Him. He came to be my great high priest, my mediator who is seated on Gods right hand interceding for me.

Even when I don’t understand, when I don’t get it; when i don’t see what He sees that is when I have to do what I can do and leave the rest to Him.

So, when everything was packed in the car we drove and we listened to the song she wants to walk down the aisle to and the one she sang along to last summer, driving in her car with the windows down and her hair blowing in the breeze. We remembered life before she had leukaemia and we imagined what it will be like again when life is normal.

God’s grace carries us like Aunty Kim carried Sam all those years ago when the person (me) she put all her hope in didn’t seem to understand. Just as it was my purpose to bring joy dressed in clown’s costume so Jesus brings us joy.

Sometimes we can’t see clearly, sometimes we don’t get it but He’s there right in front of us. He’s bringing us joy.

Clare Clown

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Here’s to the crazy ones!

Dedicated to our friend, who fought a tough battle against Leukaemia with a sense of humour. You made us smile. Here’s to the crazy ones, here’s to you.

Footnote: Sam and I met Michael and Sasha (his stunning fiance) in the hallways of RNSH. We laughed and dreamed together often about a world without blood cancer. Then we met again at St Vincents as Micheal prepared for a new trial. We are so sad that he lost his battle on Sunday. Cancer changes your perspective on life and what is important. Our lives were impacted by Michael and his incredible belief that anything was possible. He was always giving something to someone. I dedicate this post to his life and to Sasha’s future.

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Letters from my father

Letters from my father“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave do not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”

The words fell from Mia’s diary when she wanted to ‘do a runner’ instead of being crowned Princess of Genovia. It was kind of corny really but something struck a cord with my feminine quest to be truly great. I showed that clip from the movie “The Princess Diaries” at the High School where I used to go to speak, I showed it to the congregation at church, I showed it to my own teenage daughters as well.

I loved that the words were from her father, no longer present in her natural world. The symbolism of his words living on after his death also caught my passion for words. Words that are so great they leave a legacy and inspire others to be brave.

I’m not brave anymore.

I am completely exhausted. I feel like the apostle Paul as I write today to inform you ‘about the afflictions and oppressing distress which befell us; how we are so utterly weighed down and crushed that we despair even for life itself. Indeed, we feel within ourselves that we have received the very sentence of death, but that was to keep us from trusting in and depending on ourselves instead of on God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

Fear exists but courage reigns over it.

Courage to stay focused

Courage to rise every morning

Courage to face the day

Without the letters from my Heavenly Father, I could not go on. The pages of my Bible are worn. I hold onto His words. “For it is He, who rescued and saved us from such a perilous death and He will still rescue us; in and on Him we have set our hope (our joyful and confident expectation) that He again will deliver us from danger and destruction and draw us to Himself.” 2 Corinthians 1:10

Sam’s fevers continue to spike every 6 hours as the paracetamol wears off, the nurses continue to stab her veins to extract more blood. As yet nothing has shown up in the laboratory tests and so we wait for an answer while she tosses in her bed.

The journey of suffering separates people. Many withdraw, unsure of how to react to pain. It a world epidemic, it is often not until we see it with our own eyes that we feel responsible, it’s like Brooke Frazer sings in her song “Albertine.” So we choose not to look, we choose to get on with our own lives; we choose not to let it touch us. Until it really does touch us and then we are changed.

I am guilty. I used to pray Philippians 3 over my life. I underlined the key verses to pray that started with “that I may…” eg verse 9 “that I may actually be found and known as in Him; verse 10 “that I may know Him,” verse 10 also “that I may so share,” verse 11 That I may attain to…” I used to pray “God all I want is you”

How did I miss the part that said “That I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection and that I may share His sufferings to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death,” I want the power not the suffering. Yet it is the suffering that has brought me face to face with His glory. In seeking Him through all of this pain I have discovered a part of His nature that is transforming me and my views on life.

Suffering is the unpopular gospel isn’t it. It keeps us on the safe side of the street. We stay ignorant so it doesn’t touch us. We don’t want to get involved.

Yet Paul also writes “you yourselves are our letter of recommendation and read by everybody. You show and make obvious that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

The world is looking. Are we any different from them? Are we white washed walls? Are we preaching the gospel of hope or have our hearts become stone?

Ezekiel 11: 19And I will give them one heart [a new heart] and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony [unnaturally hardened] heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh [sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God], 20That they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God.

Everyday, every moment it seems, in this suffering I am confronted by choice.

Hard or soft,

Ignorant or informed,

Bitter or better,

Faith or fear.

I disagree with the latter part of the Princess Diaries quote. I believe the cautious do live. I’ve seen them with my own eyes. But are they making a mark on eternity? Am I?

My own Dad is a man of few words but he writes great letters. I find them all around the house. Partly because he sends so many, partly because I am hopeless at filing.

He is leaving his legacy. Not just with his words but in how he has lived his life. The other night when we were praying, Sam prayed “God, I thank you for Grandad. Thank you for how he has lived his life, for how he has been our role model. How he never complains about his sickness.”

My dad was diagnosed with Spina Bifida when he was a child. He was told he would live until he was 40. He has been sick all of his life but no one would know. Instead he spent his life serving others, preaching, leading healing meetings. I will never fully know his sacrifice. Yet in spite of the doctors predictions he is alive at 75.

This week he wrote Sam a letter. It says “Your courage and stickability makes us very proud. We think you have done very well against great odds. Some words said to Joshua ‘Be thou strong and very courageous for I have commanded thee. Be not afraid or dismayed. You will have victory. I will be with you what e’er betide, captain and healer, friend and guide.’

My Dad’s life has impacted three generations.

What impact will the letters of my life have on others? vintage-letters

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Comfort

Terrace houses in darlinghurst

If it wasn’t for my heavy eyelids, if it wasn’t for the weight of my bags, if it wasn’t for the fact that she is waiting, weak in the foyer for my speedy return… If it wasn’t for the workmen in hard hats who whistle as I pass, if it wasn’t for the wind that whips around my ankles and causes someone’s lunch wrap to stick like a magnet to my pants, if it wasn’t for the drug addict that follows me and asks me for cash… if it wasn’t for those things I think I could say I really enjoy leaving the hospital to retrieve my car from some side street in Darlinghurst after a day in HOAC.

I love it because of the rows of terraces. I like to peek in their tiny yards, I like to compare the choice of paint colours, I like the ones that are renovated with a modern twist and a fresh theme, and I like the ones that are neat. I like the pressed detail in the wrought iron lacework, the muslin curtain in the glass door. I like the molded plaster details that make each one unique, the tessellated tiles, the arched double hung windows, the boxes of geraniums and the cast iron fences.
I love the streets that angle on an incline and the view from the top of the ascending rooftops. I love the concrete steps that lead into laneways that lead under bridges that meet in a confusion of one ways streets.

I am caught up in the moment, mesmerized by city life. Another café has opened on a corner, there’s a new table display at Bills, and the vegie patch is ready for harvest at Darlinghurst Public School. I drink it all in on my way to the car. I breathe in fresh air like a forbidden elixir that is sweetening my soul.

As I near the place where I parked hours earlier, an ugly red brick apartment block confronts me. It’s completely out of place amidst the detailed terraces but to make things worse it is built next to a magnificent stately home. The red brick apartment block is like an oversized rectangular prism with silver aluminum windows. I stop and wonder how it ever got passed through council? I feel sad that something so out of place can occupy almost a block when across the road the delightful terrace houses grace the street.

I have managed to avoid the beggar who followed me from Victoria St but he comes close as I unlock the car. I take my time. I act as if he does not bother me. I am bothered, I am bothered that he has interrupted my pleasant time, my alone time. It is all I get these days, just a walk to the car.

I consider the 1970s building that looms in front of me and wonder if the architect thought he was a genius to introduce what I consider a catastrophe to the Darlinghurst area. I am sure it took less time to build than those delightful rows of terraces did a century before. I am sure the interiors are spacious, convenient with lots of light.

It’s all about convenience and space, isn’t it? That is what we want. That is what I want and I want my life to be lighter. I am weighed down with the load off this sickness. I want it to be over but there is still so much to conquer.

Everyday presents a fresh hurdle, an emotional, a mountain, an ache, a bleed, a fever or some other cause for concern. The enemy is almost visible sneaking past us on hands and knees trying to escape our notice. He pulls out every possible tactic. Sometimes it works and we are undone. The worst attacks come when we are tired. Or it’s the small things that have me suddenly feeling the torrent of a rage that’s about to explode from within me. The little things like forgetting to buy milk, or the car having a flat tyre or someone who can’t find a shoe. In that moment life feels completely unfair. Our house feels smaller, the windows dirtier, the piles of unfolded washing mock me from their basket, ‘Some things will never be conquered.’

My life is like that of a terrace house, in a row of terrace houses and I can’t see out except from the front or back. My perspective is limited. I am like Moses hidden in the cleft of the rock. While he hides me there he passes over me. I feel the light of His presence radiating, the transcending power of His glory but I am not allowed to know completely, all I see is His back.

Exodus 33:21-23 “And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place beside Me, and you shall stand upon the rock, And while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away My hand and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

There is nothing left for me to do except worship. It is a sacrifice of praise that I bring. It doesn’t come from a willingness of heart. I resent the journey. I would rather be the 1970s redbrick place of convenience than to have my plasterwork engraved, my tin ceiling pressed and stamped, my furnace stoked with rods of iron to try to get warmth through my life. I am frozen in time wishing that someone would come and renovate me.

I carry my bundles (and they are many) to the feet of Jesus. I take them and I stack them up on the floor beside me. One by one I offer them up.
I say thankyou.
Thankyou for this season of waiting
Thankyou for the opportunity for time spent with you
Thankyou for carrying my burdens
I lift them one by one
Like vintage books with yellowed pages
All musty and dank
I read out the table of contents
I have so much to say, so much to ask for and so much to offload.

I pray for the visits to hospital that He will give us peace in place of anxiety, that he will give us favour with the nurses, that we will see health and vitality, though we sit amongst the sick and elderly. I pray for wisdom for the doctors to determine the best treatment, I pray that some drugs can be reduced, I pray against the side effects. I pray for her liver, her skin and her kidneys. I pray her hair will begin to grow. I pray for her thoughts that fly loosely like ignited wires, disconnected from their cable, sparking a frenzy that is out of control. We hold hands together, Sam and I and we pray for peace.

Peace comes. He is not in a hurry.

We are. We are in a hurry. We want to return. We want life as it was.
I want to rise early, to dash to the gym, to jump in the shower, to eat breakfast standing up while I make lunch for the day ahead. I want to sling on kitten heels and a designer outfit (well, I can dream!), I want to jump in the car, adjust my ipod and grab a coffee. I want to go to work, to laugh with my colleagues, write the date on my white board. I want to take down chairs, wipe down tables, pass out workbooks and open my children’s Bible ready for morning devotions. I want to hear the bell ring, to open my door and be greeted by two perfectly straight lines of children seated in rows with their faces beaming.
Leukaemia is so inconvenient. It is a long dark path but peace shines its light just enough for each day. Peace comes like a heavy, winter blanket. Its weight covers me with comfort. I will be still. I will wait and know that He is God.

“For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” Ephesians 2:10
He is taking His time. He is rebuilding us.

“We possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.”2 Corinthians 4:7
He carves our lives like an alabaster box, precious and pure He sculpts our life. He is not in a hurry.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day. Habakkuk 2:3
“You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

“Woe to him who strives with his Maker!–a worthless piece of broken pottery among other pieces equally worthless [and yet presuming to strive with his Maker]! Shall the clay say to him who fashions it, what do you think you are making? Or, your work has no handles?” Isaiah 45:9

It is up to us to give him the heavy boxes that we’ve had hidden in all that extra storage thanks to modern convenience. Open the cupboards, lift the lids and unpack the boxes. ‘Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden.’ Leave it all at His feet, the extra cable, and the broken vase you were planning to ‘superglue.’ Sweep up the pieces and give them to Him.
When you have finished giving it all, He makes an exchange with you. He doesn’t leave you empty.

His peace is accompanied by joy and
“God’s joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell.
As rainwater, down into flowerbed.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
Now a cliff covered with vines,
Now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
Till one day it cracks them open.
(Rumi, Persian poet)

His ways are higher than our ways, (Isaiah 55;10-12) we see in part, he holds the big picture.
‘For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].’1 Corinthians 13:12

‘A woman came up to Him with an alabaster flask of very precious perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, For what purpose is all this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a large sum and the money given to the poor. But Jesus, fully aware of this, said to them, why do you bother the woman? She has done a noble (praiseworthy and beautiful) thing to Me. For you always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me. In pouring this perfume on My body she has done something to prepare Me for My burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news (the Gospel) is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will be told also, in memory of her.’ Matthew 26:7-15

Like the woman who carried her alabaster box filled with the finest costly perfume and poured it out over Jesus feet, I trust that what I give to Him is perfect. Yes the cost is enormous. I wonder how I will live through tomorrow. There is nothing much left, it seems.

How could that woman have known that she was anointing Jesus feet for His burial that her name would be written in history? We can not know the value of our sacrifice but as I pour it out at His feet. I say ‘Thank you’ and I choose to trust in His provision tomorrow knowing His mercies are new every morning.

‘It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is your stability and faithfulness. The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.’ Lamentations 3:22-24

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Word

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“In the cool of the evening, when shadows darkened the Fair Grounds, Templeton crept from the crate and looked around. Wilbur lay asleep in the straw. Charlotte was building a web. Templeton’s keen nose detected many fine smells in the air. The rat was hungry and thirsty. He decided to go exploring. Without saying anything to anybody, he started off.
‘Bring me back a word!’ Charlotte called after him. ‘I shall be writing for the last time.'” (Charlotte’s Web, Chapter 18. E.B.White)
For once in my life I have no words. My mum says that I strung words into sentences before I turned one and have not stopped talking ever since. All through my life I’ve loved words. My Kindy report says that I ‘enjoy class discussions.’ My high school reports say I did not work to my potential because I was talking too much. I love to talk, publicly, privately, on the phone, through text message, any medium will do. I just love words. But in the last three weeks I have no words. I can’t write them or speak them. The few I do say come out all wrong. Perhaps that is just how it feels.
The turmoil of the past year has thrown me into a spin. I have been to places in my mind and in my experience where I never imagined I would go. I’m searching for the right words as I drive silently to appointments. I’m trying to be sensitive, encouraging and full of vision. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be Sam. I have done every step of this journey with her. I’ve been there almost every waking hour of this year by her side but I haven’t ever ventured into the corners and crevices of her mind. I don’t know what she feels or thinks. I tell her how relieved I am, that I am so glad she didn’t die because it had been so close. She nods. She has no words either. And then I remember the car accident of 1996, how I too, had almost died.
So many people said to me, “You are so lucky, you could have died.” And all I could do then was nod too. I did not know back then if it was so good to be alive. All I could see was my busted up face in the mirror, my leg in a cast, elevated for 3 months while my 2 year old son was farmed out to friends and Reid left work early to pick up the girls from school. Life didn’t feel so exciting then for me either. We had just lost our house and the little lakeside rental only really had the lake going for it.
I think a lot in the silence and I pray for a word and the word that comes to mind is ‘resilience.’ It isn’t in the Bible. Not in any of the translations I have searched but in spite of that it resonates with me.
As I whisper the word to myself I remember the paper run I used to do with Jack. He so desperately wanted to work when he was 12 but he was too young. I suggested he deliver papers and foolishly offered to help. Thus began our morning trek around Warriewood Headland with back packs filled with Manly Daily’s. The word ‘resilience’ hung in my mind by a thread, attached to a memory of a certain spider’s web I had encountered every single morning in Hunter St. Each day it caught me unawares that spider’s web. It wrapped around my face and my hair as I tripped in the dewy grass of morning, trying to peel it from me. I am not a ‘morning person’ and in my tired state I would always forget about the web nor could I see it because it was not quite light as we delivered papers.
As I thought of that web I considered the spider and its determination to build. Everyday she rebuilt the web I destroyed. Silky strands to house and catch food for her family. Maybe like me, she was discouraged, frustrated, weary and annoyed but every night she went to work for the thing she was created to do.
Psalm 127
‘Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; except the Lord keeps the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil–for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.
Happy, blessed, and fortunate is the man whose quiver is filled with them! They will not be put to shame when they speak with their adversaries [in gatherings] at the [city’s] gate.’
My children are the greatest blessing of my life. I became a mum when I was only 22 years old. From the moment of her birth, Sam was my greatest delight. I embraced motherhood completely and have devoted my life to it. It’s been a full life, a grand adventure but this year, like Emma’s blog is titled it’s ‘just a fork in the road.’ What do you do when you come to such a junction? Which path do you take? How do you avoid looking over your shoulder to the way life used to be?
Throughout the days that led up to the bone marrow transplant and the grueling weeks that followed I hung onto God’s coat tails like those Israelites must have hung onto Moses. I was afraid but eager to leave my Egypt where famine and plague had robbed me. Fueled with adrenaline and the hope of freedom I barely gave a thought for the days before cancer came, uninvited, through my door. My eyes were on the future, on the Promised Land where there is life without sickness and disease; suffering and hardship. I guess that is the vision that got those Israelites through as well. “One day,” they say, “one day my ship will come in,” “one day we will win the lottery and life will be sweet,” “One day…”
While we wait for that day to come however we grumble and complain. We do not stop to consider the moment or the miracle of this day. How quickly we forget that the horses and riders drowned in the same Red Sea we walked through. How quickly we lay the timbrels down and abandon the dance. When Moses led them through “the Red Sea and they went into the Wilderness of Shur, they went three days into the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its waters for they were bitter…The people murmured against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”
There is always something, isn’t there? There is always something to complain about. Something we do not have. I want the Promised Land not the Wilderness of Shur. I want it to be over. I want her to be completely well. I don’t want to administer the drugs every morning only to discover that a new problem has been discovered in the blood tests. Drugs are stopped, new ones introduced, more tests, infusions, more side effects. The doctor calls. He says “she can drink less so that she won’t be up all night going to the bathroom but unfortunately the side effect of the drug that treats her bladder will most likely make her extremely thirsty.” It is easy to get bitter in Marah. There seems to be no way out.
Moses is my role model and like him I cry out to God.
“And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree which he cast into the waters, and the waters were made sweet.” Exodus 15:25
As I cry out to God he reminds me of that tree
That He sent His son to hang on for me.
The price He paid was complete
To make my bitter waters sweet.
“There [the Lord] made for them a statute and an ordinance and there He proved them. Saying, if you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God and will do what is right in His sight, and will listen to and obey His commandments and keep all His statutes , I will put none of these diseases upon you which I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord Who heals you. Exodus 15:25-27
Through His cross we find deliverance and healing from all our diseases. Through His cross we find hope and redemption. Through His cross we have forgiveness for our sins. The price has been paid. He leads us to camp by the waters.
“And they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees.” Exodus 15:27
We can rest in His presence, refreshed by the springs in the shade of the trees even in the wilderness, long before we enter the Promised Land.
In Charlotte’s Web, the children’s story by E.B. White there was a promise of a prize for a pig called Wilbur. Throughout the story, Charlotte a spider weaves words in her web so that people will see Wilbur to be special. Her goal is to save his life. Wilbur is just an ordinary pig but the words of Charlotte cause him to be seen in a different light. Wilbur rises to the word spoken over him and does in fact receive a prize in the end.
My affinity with children’s literature draws another parallel for me as I journey through Leukaemia and now the after effects of a bone marrow transplant. I lift my eyes again to see the hope in the word written over our lives. I hear the call to the nations that they may know God through His word. As hard as this year has been, as much as I would have never have chosen this journey, one thing I know is this: God is faithful to His word to perform it. (Hebrews 10:23)
In John 11:1 we read “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ) and the Word was with God and the Word was God himself.”
This year I have delved deeper into God’s word than ever before. I have known God for most of my life and His word which I had hidden in my heart has become alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow. Hebrews 4:12
His Word is always effective therefore the enemy seeks to steal it from us before we can experience its power. Just as Jesus taught in the parable
‘The sower sows the Word. Satan comes at once and [by force] takes away the message which is sown in them.’ Mark 4:13-15
In a similar way, Templeton, the rat came to Wilbur to announce, “As I came past that pig next door – the one that calls himself Uncle – I noticed a blue tag on the front of his pen. That means he has won first prize. I guess you are licked Wilbur. You might as well relax – nobody is going to pin a medal on you.”
The enemy wants us to focus on what we do not have, the unfulfilled dreams, the endless waiting, our yearning to have what others have, but God has already written over our lives. If we fix our minds on Jesus and the cross that made our bitter waters sweet we will live a blessed life and His glory will shine upon us.
Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant]. James 4:10
I have no words but I have His. It is His light that will shine through my life. Though deep darkness covers the earth, His light will shine forth. He tells me “Because you have guarded and kept my word of patient endurance [have held fast the lesson of My patience with expectant endurance that I give you], I will also keep you safe.” Revelation 3:10
He is teaching me resilience as I drive to endless appointments through the long monotonous days. I wait to hear that it is over, I pray for the day when Sam is completely healed. I look forward to frivolous days filled with laughter but in this desert I walk with Him. His word is more than enough. His grace is sufficient for me.
I know that I can not live this life without Him. Why would I try? The same power that conquered the grave lives in me. His power is available to all. He comforts the weary. He restores our joy.

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