I’m so glad you trust me. Otherwise, you should be wondering about now if I am running some sort of a cancer scam. My sister reminded me today this will be my third annual last Christmas (she’s snarky like that). Hey, I can only go with what the doctors tell me. Apparently, they aren’t getting the memos I’m receiving. Either that, or God has been very gracious to me.
There’s been a shift in my thinking of late. At the outset of this diagnosis I was in shock that my life was ending so much sooner than I had anticipated. Today, I am stunned that I have lived as long as I have. Perspective, I think they call it.
But living I am! Given a prescription for morphine and months to live almost three years ago, I am now chasing after as much life as I can gobble up. What a gift from God I have been given. It is a gift we have all been given. Life. Days. Time.
How many days will we have? Only God knows. We are only informed that our time on this earth will be brief in the overall scheme of things:
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.
What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
– James 4:14
In light of this humbling truth, Anne Lamott challenges us:
“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life
you have been issued.
Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good
and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances,
or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”
What a gift it is to “find out the truth about who you are.” These past few years with cancer have given me this gift. May I share with you some of what I’ve learned?
- I am a needy man – my help must come from outside myself.
- I am a tenacious man – I will fight for you come hell or high water.
- I am a courageous man – I will offer you sacrificial, costly love.
- I am a man who needs rescuing every day, before my feet hit the floor.
- I am a man who is always in danger of collapsing in upon myself. This is my shame.
- I am a man who is fiercely loyal – you can count on me. I promise.
- I am a man full of grief – it seems like it will never stop flowing.
- I am a man clinging to hope – sometimes I let go, though, and feel like I am drowning.
- I am a hungry man – I want to eat all that is good in this world.
- I am a man who feels deeply – I often hide these feelings because they scare the crap out of me.
- I am a man who has a calling to serve others well – I feel God’s pleasure when I do so.
- I am a man who serves as a signpost – I’m here to point you to Christ and Christ alone.
- I am a man who is often angry – it generally is about me feeling out of control.
- I am a man who is tender and compassionate – except when I’m angry.
- I am a man whose heart has been pried opened by God to receive love.
- I am a man who stumbles often in his attempts to show you love.
- I am a man who is fierce and good – I want you to be blessed by me. I really do.
- I am slowly becoming a man who loves and laughs deeply.
- I am a deeply wounded man – it doesn’t take much to scare me off.
- I am a glorious ruin of a man – who is being remade.
After marveling at Michelangelo’s statue of David, the Pope asked the sculptor, “How do you know what to cut away?”
Michelangelo replied, “It’s simple. I just remove everything that doesn’t look like David.”
This is what God has been doing in my life these last few years. He’s been removing everything that doesn’t look like Christ. The process continues, but with every tap of the chisel, my heart feels more free and alive.
Here’s how C.S. Lewis describes it:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.
But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Here’s the thing about Christmas: the good news it proclaims is we are not abandoned. Someone has come for us. He comes with fierce and loving intent. He won’t stop coming until He makes us glorious again.
Blessed Christmas to you all,
P.S. An update: my facial hair stubble is becoming more scruffy and my face is returning to it’s pre-Lupron chiseled look. Here is a pic from yesterday:
Let’s just call it a Christmas miracle!