When Jack was only 2, he came out from his bedroom fully dressed in his favourite clothes. He had pulled on his elastic waisted red shorts and his powder blue stripy top all by himself. This was an achievement he was immensely proud of, announced to us by him running from his room into the lounge room, landing in a star jump and saying, “They’re all going to say, there goes Flacky!”
It was a hilarious moment. Totally unexpected, it caught us all by surprise. We laughed and cheered, encouraging him for being such a clever boy to get dressed all by himself. Reid, Sam, Emma and myself were there and it has gone down in our memorable family moments as one of our most treasured recollections. To this day I have no idea who ‘they’ were or why he thought “Flacky’ was what ‘they’ would call him but I know that day marked the day of a new season.
I think about this moment now, as we start back at what seems like the beginning with Sam. It feels at times as though we have regressed and I am mothering a young child. This is not her fault. Her body is fragile and weak, her pulse rate fast and the effort it takes to do simple things is incredibly draining. On the days that she makes it to the kitchen fully dressed for the day ahead I feel the same sense of pride that I felt for Jack all those years ago.
Yesterday the fire returned with the heat of summer. She woke with a temperature of 38.4 degrees. The day of testing has not passed though I desperately want it to be. The thyroid is trying to steal our hope of full recovery; trying to get us to curse our God. There are moments when I wonder if this will ever pass. I catch myself feeling overwhelmed. I want to hide in a cave. I want to feel sorry for myself. Sometimes I indulge a little, letting the pity creep over me, so many reasons for sadness.
Spending a year in hospital I’ve seen all kinds of clothes. Many people arrive for chemotherapy in tracksuits, many come without makeup, and others come dressed to the nines. So often what we wear reflects the way we feel. It’s hard for Sam now to feel good in anything, Most of her clothes are baggy and loose from the weight she has lost, its frustrating finding things to put on.
Being sick strips you of everything. It has taken her hair, it has scarred her chest and it has changed the tone of her skin. It takes a massive effort to be strong when you’ve encountered a battle but it is not impossible.
So I decide that in the day of battle I will press on to understand the goodness of God. Everyday we discover that He is faithful. All power is in Him, We find it again and again through His word, which is the book of life. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego it seems she’s been thrown in the fire. The heat is consuming her, the fevers and the temperature of the day but God is there in the midst of the fire. He watches over her life. He watches over His word to perform great and mighty deeds.
“Then the guiding angel showed me Joshua, the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord and Satan standing at Joshua’s right hand to be his adversary and to accuse him.”
As followers of Christ we are in a battle. The enemy constantly seeks to bring us down. We must recognise his schemes. He brings sickness, financial ruin; he tempts our children to rebel. He wants to wear us out by the incessant nature of the battles of life. Sometimes it is not a lack of hope, or a fear of failure, or an attitude of defeat, it’s the sheer exhaustion of getting up time and time again. Our defences are down and we are weak but thankfully His power is perfected in weakness.
“And the Lord said to Satan – ‘The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! Even the Lord who [now and habitually] chooses Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this [returned and captured] Joshua, a brand plucked from the fire?”
Like Joshua, Sam has already been delivered. She conquered death on September 11 in the fire that came that day. Yes, she has been plucked out and I remind Satan of this when I pray.
When we walk with God we must choose carefully what we will wear. We are representing Him. When He delivers His people He brings them new clothes.
“Take away his filthy garments from him. And he said to Joshua, ‘Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you and I will clothe you with rich apparel. And I said ‘Let them put a clean turban upon his head and clothed him with rich garments.”
God has all our clothes laid out ready on the edge of our bed, just as a mother does for her child. He knows what’s ahead. He’s preparing us. We are never alone – not in fire, not in hardship, not in sickness, nor in despair. He stands by, He watches. He waits until we are fully His.
When the prodigal returned in Luke 15 the father said “Bring quickly the best robe and put it on him and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet.”
So much of our victory is in the clothes that we wear. God gave Sam garments of gold raiment and a crown long before she entered the day of battle. These may not be literal clothes but the visual is powerful. They are the promise of her future.
It’s a choice to live in victory. The torments of the enemy, the symptoms of sickness compete for our attention. The natural circumstances opposed to the spiritual realm. In obedience we get up another day deciding that we will be strong in the Lord, draw our strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]
We “put on the full armor of God so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore we put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, we may be able to stand our ground, and after we have done everything, to stand. We stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around our waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, we take up the shield of faith, with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, we stay alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:10 – 18
Somehow that day when Jack arrived in the lounge room, Tom Cruise style, He wasn’t wearing the same red shorts and blue t-shirt he’d worn as a toddler. It wasn’t really about the clothes at all. It was about how they were being worn. He was Flacky now, confident and capable, ready for anything.