“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.
‘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.