Choose to Rejoice in the Sweetness of Christ in the Midst of the Bitterness of Life
Today began with the cinnamon roll ministry. Savory, warm, gooey, and covered with icing—Heaven on earth. Sweetness epitomized. Field day for the taste buds. Respite from reality. Ah—God is good to have created such things.
Moments later, I’m in the doctor’s office for a bone marrow biopsy. (Wait, rewind—let’s go back to the icing part!) My first thought—Dana can take this test for me—after all she’s from my rib and the Bible says she’s bone of my bone, right!? (In all seriousness, she probably would have if she could have—she’s a great lady with a tender heart. I could never ask for a better companion through all this!)
The routine goes like this—lay down on your stomach while we drill into your hip for a while, and we’ll let you know when we’re done. It was a slightly embarrassing procedure and a little painful. Doctor says, “You’re going to experience some pressure…” Code language for buckle your seatbelt! In the middle of it all, there’s this dramatic pause. Doctor has stopped wrenching my torso, nurses have stopped talking, everyone’s waiting—so I say, “I’d like to take this moment to invite you all to visit my church…” It was a serious but comical moment for sure.
A few moments later the doctor commented that he never had a patient with such hard bones—mine actually bent the drill/needle. I guess I should have warned him about my steel infrastructure. (I’m sorry for the humor, but I’ve been laughing all morning about the oddities and interesting perspective that my warped sense of humor provides in times like this. I think it’s God’s gift in helping me process it all.)
On to more serious things. Here’s the real news.
MUGA Scan (Heart function) & Pulmonary Function Results—Doctor’s words, “You have the heart and lungs of an athlete!” He probably tells everybody that, but I’m clear for chemo from a heart/lung perspective. Excellent answer to prayer.
PET Scan/MRI Results—Still waiting on the results from these tests. Hopefully we will hear something by Friday or Monday. The PET scan is the greater concern—pray that it doesn’t reveal more cancer than they have already discovered.
Bone Marrow Biopsy—should hear something by Friday. Doctor doesn’t expect this to be in my bone marrow, but it could be. If this test is positive, then I’m stage 4 and the stakes are raised considerably, so please pray that this test is negative.
The doctor believes I will have both chemo and radiation, primarily due to the size of the tumor(s) in my chest. I will meet next week in Hollywood with a radiologist. Between now and then, the cancer team from Kaiser Sunset will review my case and my doctor’s conclusions, and weigh in on the matter. The larger the knowledge base in the review process, the more confidence we can have in the treatment decisions of these good men. Of course, my hope is in the Lord and I know that He can heal me at any time, or He can guide the doctors and give them wisdom as they become His vessels in my life. Either way, I trust the Lord and His work in my body.
I’m scheduled to begin chemo on November 15th. I will most likely have four months (every fifteen days) of treatments. That’s less than the original six months that we expected, and the time table should allow me to feel good at critical times like Thanksgiving and Christmas. The chemo will be followed by radiation—not sure how many times. Halfway through chemo I will have a full set of scans to measure progress. After treatment I will have yet another set of scans—and then the same every six months for several years. Long term concerns are always a part of this—both in recurrence of cancer and the affects of treatment, so your prayers are much appreciated in these areas as well.
I was able to step into the chemo room and meet the charge nurse today. Felt like a kid walking into my new classroom for the first time. I smiled and said to her, “I’m your new student.” I’m sure the Lord will have much to teach me in that room in the coming months. And I’m sure He has people he wants me to minister to while I’m there. I definitely have a sense of mission in all of these experiences. I know God is in this—thoroughly. (And boy is He giving me a lot of new teaching/preaching illustrations!)
And now the significant stuff: A few weeks ago, the Lord Jesus (my Saviour and dear friend) walked out into my storm and said, “Come”—inviting me out of the boat and onto the water. In the process he said, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14:27). (Read that verse again—that’s awesome!)
And so I’m out on the water with Him. Can’t say I haven’t noticed the raging storm a few times, and even started to sink—the waves are certainly there, threatening me and demanding my attention, with all of the questions and risks that they bring. But I’d rather be in the storm with Jesus than in the boat or in a clear day without Him. And He certainly is enabling me to “be of good cheer.” If Jesus commanded the disciples to be of good cheer during a storm, it certainly must be possible.
And so, we choose to rejoice—to be of good cheer. We choose to laugh—in abundance and in sincerity. We choose to enjoy His presence and His strength, even though life has its bitter biopsies. In essence, we choose to have a “cinnamon roll day” when bone marrow tests are on the agenda. I hope you will make the same choice. God bless you and thank you for praying for us!
And now, my taste buds are demanding a relapse of the cinnamon roll ministry!