Don’t mistake God’s patience for His absence. His timing is perfect, and His presence is constant. He is always with you! ~Deuteronomy 31:6
In the beginning of my journey with cancer three months ago, it did not occur to me to question God, nor not to trust His purpose in it. A child who doesn’t know how to swim will hesitate to jump into deep water without a parent. They may, however, trust themselves to venture out into the shallows, only to find trouble, as I’m sure many public pool lifeguards can attest. In the same way, when life starts to level out to normal again, I begin to focus inward and rely on my own intuition to handle situations – sounds like I could use a re-read of my own words! Recently, I allowed myself to handle stress and difficulty, and found that returned nothing but more of the same. If I remember to turn to Him, however, I can re-center and not only be more fully equipped to handle life’s challenges, but He can use me as an ambassador to Christianity.
Last week, after eighty-three years on earth and sixty-one as a devoted wife, my Grandmother went home. The first close family death I’ve experienced since before I was too young to understand, her death left me empty with sadness, yet let me rest on the knowledge she was so much better for it. The day before I was supposed to finish radiation, my grandfather called us: my sweet grandmother wasn’t long for the world. We drove down that night and sat at her bedside, reminiscing over the life she’d enjoyed for over eighty years. I was exhausted, and still trying to realize she was leaving us when my dad drove me the two hour drive back home at ten-thirty that night. I sat in bed for an hour, head in my hands, praying to God, asking Him how he could do this to my mother, who’d struggled to watch her own mother battle illness and dementia. She’d remained faithful through that, through my diagnosis, and treatment. We were so close to a break in treatment, a minuscule break in her stress. How could he do this? Then, as usual, God answered my prayers, and I realized I’d been wrong. His decision to call her home wasn’t about me, or my mother, or what we thought we could handle; it was about my grandmother. Strokes and Dementia left her fighting to stay with us, and He was calling her home so she could rest and watch over us. So, at 11:45 at night, I sent my mother what would be my final words to my Grandmomma:
“Grandmomma, in the past few months I have come to view death drastically different than I did before. Going into my eight-hour brain surgery, I didn’t fear not waking up. I knew if God wanted me, he would take me, and I would be overjoyed for it. For that reason, I am not sad for you. My heart is broken that we’re losing you, but I’m so endlessly happy for you. Your leaving is so painful for us because we have no ability to fathom the joy and love God is about to welcome you home with. You’ll get to see your parents again, you’ll be just as able-bodied and beautiful as you are in that photograph you sent Granddad while he was stationed overseas, where your skirt is splayed across the end of the bed like an old Hollywood glamour shot. You’ve fought so long to stay with your family and see your newest great-grandson come into the world. Remember God’s promise to us in Matthew 11:28: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.’ Grandmommy, I cry at losing you here, but I also cry in happiness that you are headed somewhere more beautiful than we could ever understand, free of pain, struggle, and stress under the eyes of God. Your prosperity is not tied to your Earthly body, but to the kingdom of God, and that is the truest act of love He could ever show us. I love you so much, Grandmom. Remember to be an angel in Heaven for Momma and me when you get there; we need you right now. And say hello to John and Ruth Frier from my family. You’re all our angels now.”
God’s timing is perfect, though it’s hard for us to recognize that sometimes, when his timing is related to losing a loved one, or a life-altering diagnosis. As with most things, time allows you to look back and realize part of why God chose when He did for this chapter of your life. If I were not still living at home, or on my parents’ insurance, I would be handling bills and trying to take care of myself, instead of focusing on healing and spreading His word. His timing in this, however, is easy to understand, and to praise Him for: after weeks of blood testing and treatment, I get a month off. Free from radiation, chemo pills, lab tests. It comes right at my family’s Spring Break, where we plan on spending every minute enjoying life together with an appreciation we didn’t have enough of last year. In the positive, it is easy to find God’s reasoning for his timing. In harder times is when we must go to Him and open ourselves to understanding why He chose this timing.