Psalm 27:1 (NIV) The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
This day snuck up on me this year. It usually doesn’t as every other year I carefully watch for its approach not to be taken off guard but to revel in the Goodness of the Living God. This year it was shadowed by my mom’s open heart surgery and subsequent recovery with multiple days away from home. It is also trumped by new faces and laughter of a little boy who has brought sunshine into our life as our family gets to know two new people. After three weeks of carefully watching and praying for my mom, then a weekend of pumpkin patches and painting with family – when the social media notification came I couldn’t believe it was this day all over again.
“We have a diagnosis. Brenan Flint has nasopharyngeal cancer. We do not know what stage it is BUT we do know that god is not surprised. Jesus is our Healer and His Spirit is with us! We have to walk it out! Standing on His Promises!” (Facebook post on 10/24/2011) I will never forget this day nor do I think that I should. I made this declaration on social media not knowing that it would literally consume more than three years of my life. So many times it is easy to profess Christ and faith in Him but then when it is put to the test anything lasting more than a day is unthinkable. Yet in that moment on that day, there was no other choice…or so I thought. Over the next couple of years, it would go from bad to worse. I thought I was broken and emptied in that moment but I wasn’t. I am a strong person full of pride and stubbornness that kept me from truly believing without seeing. God changed that on this day. It was the beginning of the end of me. I am okay with that…now.
The Lord is my Light and My Salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? The person who wrote the post back then and the one who blogs today are very different. The change that began on that day took literal years to complete. I know that by the time the end of the journey was reached my proclamation in life was different. It became this:
Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV) One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
I was recently sucked into watching a portion of the movie, “The Shallows” with a young friend who I at first thought was watching “Cinderella”. By the time I tuned in, the heroine had been attacked by a great white shark surfing and was tuck on a rock with a seagull. I will not ruin the movie for you so feel free to continue. She was on a rock in the middle of the ocean completely along trying to survive. She could not swim to shore or the shark would attack her. She was stranded on the rock in the middle of the ocean. She cared for the wound using her past experiences. But now to live, she must rely on something new. She was in a hopeless situation. In such as state, she had to draw from experience and inner strength to devise a plan for her rescue.
While she was out there, a man wandered onto the beach. She shouted to get his attention and asked for him to call for help. Instead, in his drunken stupor, he robs the young lady. However, at some point, he wanders in the ocean and well I will leave the rest to your imagination, but it was not good. She watched from the rock. Now I wonder what might have happened if she had been on the shore…would she have been in danger of being robbed and harmed herself. See when we think that all hell is breaking loose in our life or our hope is gone – I believe it is the moment that our faith is exposed and allowed to grow a little more in who we know God is rather than what we make Him to be.
When our son’s cancer went into remission the first time, I gave God all the glory for the wonderful miracle that He had performed. He relapsed not once but a few more times before more drastic measures were clearly required. Each battle seemed harder than the first draining my time, energy and resources but what was the choice? To quit, give up, or give in. Absolutely not. So like the girl stranded on the rock, I had to cling to Him – Jesus – My Rock.
The reality of life is that it is uncertain and difficult. Jesus told us it would be like that but yet we become overwhelmed and surprised when trials and hardship come. Faith is perfected and refined in fiery times and difficult struggles so when we pray for such a thing – these things should be expected. Yet even now, in the midst of our current challenge, it caught me off guard and clearly by surprise just as this day did so many years ago.
Psalm 27:7-11 (NIV) Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
The trial of cancer and the illness of our child taught me a valuable lesson to live by. I must seek Him first in all things or risk being destroyed. I live, breath and exist in Jesus Christ. It is in the midst of our trials that all the meaningless and worthless things are stripped away to expose the Light and Glory hidden inside of us when we trust the Lord even just a little. Faith is a mustard seed it is not a mighty oak. The “mighty oak” is the righteousness that is afforded us by the smallest investment of faith. When things don’t make sense, the enemy rushes in, the boat begins to wobble, the waves rise up, the storm winds blow, and the tempest threatens my meager existence – I find that I would rather swim to the rock then risk heading for the shore. I need the Rock of my Salvation to assure me, refine me, restore me and redeem me. When my heart is challenge, it reminds me – “Seek His Face!”
Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Fast forward through this day as I relive it in my mind, the day when everything changed. The moment my heart was completely shattered on the cement floor of a hospital. The time when my faith was tested by a fiery trial burning it down to its source. Those days were hard. The challenge overwhelming. I would relive this day of an awful diagnoses not once but a total of five times. Five times that God told me our son would live but the enemy whispered that he would die. Well, that wasn’t acceptable for me when God told me personally that “He would live and not die” if I trusted Him. At the end of this day, I finally believed and remain confident today that “I will see the Goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”. So I will…”wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart” oh and yes, I will “wait for the Lord”.
Reading this you may be facing a single trial or what seems like a firing line. Faith can be found in the midst of it all when you decide rather than escaping this thing or fighting back in your own strength that you learn to lean on Jesus and trust Him. Great aspiration until someone’s life is on the line, then you wonder is it enough. His Grace is always sufficient for you and me. We just give it lip service rather than life service most of the time. Maybe you are thinking – my trial or test is nothing like the one you went through – and I hope that you never do – but if you do, it will be the teeny, tiniest bit of faith that will get you through. Trouble is that what we call faith in God most of the time is not that at all.
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
To walk by faith and not by sight as believers are instructed (2 Corinthians 5:7) means to believe when you do not see. When everything is falling apart, trusting that God is catching all the falling pieces of worth to make the masterpiece that He promised. (Ephesians 2:10) The Lord has taken note of every single tear that has fallen from your eyes. (Psalm 56:8) He is not afraid of the enemy and neither should you be. Jesus overcame the world and has given you the victory. With all this encouragement comes this expectation, faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see. Everything you see and all the things that you can do are not the product that produces faith. It is those times that you see no way out, no one is there to help you, and when it seems like there is no hope that faith is revealed in our life.
Those times when the only hope and help that we have left is Jesus Christ. It is in that moment on this day that your heart decides to seek Him and that the Lord is worth finding. Are you struggling today? Your heart is pressing you to seek Him but your head is recanting “what’s the point?” Is this the day? The one that will go down in history when you decided to put all your love, faith and trust in Jesus Christ? The moment when nothing else matters but crawling on the Rock of your salvation and waiting for the Lord to come to your rescue. The first couple of times that our son was diagnosed with cancer – the doctors were optimistic. But the third diagnosis and it severity – transitioned us all into the realm called hope. Oh Lord, let us live there and never wander out. The place where You are our Refuge and Strength. The Strong Tower where your people live, breathe and exist. I will never forget this day in history. I will relive it in my heart. This is the day that You, Jesus, became my one thing.
Psalm 118:15-21 (NIV) Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.