Everyone has a story about how they first became aware that, not only is God real, but that He loves His children so much that He will not simply allow us to continue living apart from Him forever. God is always reaching out to us in the good and bad things that happen in our lives, trying to get our attention so we might decide to turn our hearts towards Him. In the good things He gives us, He hopes to stir our gratitude and, in this way, help us to realize that He is always watching over us and providing for all our needs. In the bad things that He allows to happen to us, He is calling out to us so we will turn from an empty life without Him to find and have true life or to deepen the life we already have with Him so that we will lack for nothing, here and now as well as there and forever. My Journey began with a very bad thing indeed, but God’s specialty is taking what is bad and transforming it towards His good. (Gen 50:20, Ro 8:28) Slowly God moves our hearts to find our part in His Kingdom and, what was a tragedy, begins to blossom into something so much more. I would love to share a brief summary of my own journey in Christ with you. It has been a very long and difficult road, but one equally filled with so many blessings that, if I wrote them all down, it would encompass an entire library by itself.
My Journey begins before I even knew Who this Man Jesus was, but comes to a major climax with my own Angel Pie, Rebecca. I was what I call a distant believer. Oh I knew in my heart there was a God, but He was somewhere seated upon His throne in Heaven and, so, He was not really a major part of my life. If I needed Him, I knew where to find Him, and so I did pray to Him, even believing that He would hear my pleas and answer them. But I never even imagined that He cared so much that He would want to be an integral part of my daily life. My life was very blessed; I had married the man of my dreams, had two beautiful children, a lovely home, a great career, and more than what the average person needs, that’s for sure. Still I felt discontented; I knew “something” was missing from my life, but I did not know what it was. Then the “bad thing” came into my life and I began to think about God in a whole new light. You see, at the age of five, my daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer, and for the first time in my life, I began to desperately and seriously seek Someone higher than myself. Sadly, it was not until Rebecca fell into what would be her first coma that my knees finally hit the ground and my heart surrendered to Jesus. At that fragile point, I began saying things like, “I am born again” without even knowing what I meant. I had never heard that term before, I had not yet begun to delve into the wonderful and amazing Word of God, I did not even have a full understanding of what had just happened…all I knew was that I was not the same person I was a moment ago. I describe it this way: a light switch somewhere deep inside of me that had been set to the “Off” position had instantly been flipped “On” and life seemed much different to me as a result. This was my own personal “Damascus moment”. Because my Angel Pie’s life was at stake, the conversion was deep and strong and it has been blossoming with a passion I can hardly contain ever since.
For the next seven and a half years, Rebecca went through one horrific ordeal to the next, but the Lord was clearly with us and He grew my spirit with each and every step. I have borne witness to more miracles than I can remember. Things that were “not supposed to” happen simply did and my faith grew by the leaps and bounds. I had peace and joy in situations where no one should- I knew things I was not supposed to know- I began to write about topics I had never been aware of before- I began sharing things that were new and wondrous to me- I began living my life as a true Christian, putting God’s Word into actions in my life and bearing witness to the results He promised I would experience. As I learned to cling to Him for dear life, God began to show me so much practical, life changing and life enhancing Truth that I knew I must share this Truth with everyone and anyone who would listen. He has stirred my heart to give and give generously, not only financially, but in every way. My life has become more abundant than I could ever have dreamed it would… and all this while I am going through a parent’s worse nightmare.
My Angel Pie was in the loving hands of God throughout her entire fight and I know He kept her from undue pain and extreme discomfort as was evidenced by the peaceful look on her precious little beautiful face. At one point in her journey, Rebecca broke her leg. Because she was already wheelchair bound, g-tube fed, and speechless for the remainder of her struggles, it took about a week or so for us to realize it was broken. As the orthopedic doctor prepared to reset her leg, he warned my husband and I that it would be extremely painful and that she would most definitely cry out in tremendous pain. I said a little prayer for God to protect her as we steadied our hearts to endure listening to her pain. The doctor took hold of her leg and quickly pressed down to re-break the bone and put it in its proper alignment as we all watched her face…and she did not even blink her eyes, much less cry out with any pain. The doctor looked stunned as he turned to us and awkwardly said something like, “Well, they usually cry out in pain. I can’t believe she didn’t even flinch.” You see, in God’s mercy, she exuded serenity through most of her trials as He kept her obtunded and at ease. Again I say, my Angel Pie was in the loving hands of God throughout her entire fight and, even though it was real and she did show signs of discomfort and fear, praise God they were few and far in between. Just like God’s Word promises, she was more than a conqueror, a true warrior in life’s battles. She remains forever my little hero.
Miracle after miracle is what God showed me throughout her fight. Allow me to share some more with you. During one of her hundreds of hospital admissions, Rebecca was in another coma, intubated and on a ventilator to be able to breathe. After several days, the doctor on call wanted to see if she would be able to breathe on her own and, so, he decided to remove the machine and tube. As some nurses and myself gathered around her bed, the doctor seeming a little unsure of himself said, “Maybe I will wait until she opens her eyes before I attempt to do this…” He had not even finished the sentence when Rebecca opened her eyes, looked him straight in the face, and then closed them again. We all jumped back not expecting what we just saw and the doctor continued, “Okay, maybe I’ll go ahead and take it out after all.” He removed the tube and she breathed on her own, but as he was leaving the room, he turned to me and added, “I’ll probably have to put her back on the ventilator later in the day because I don’t think she’s strong enough.” To which I responded with a confidence from deep in my heart, “No, I think she’s done with that machine for now.” He looked at me with an expression that clearly said, “Lady, you’re nuts” then he left the room. A couple of days later we were safe at home and Rebecca never did need that machine again during that stay.
Then there was a time when Rebecca was yet again in the hospital and in dire straits. This time on a different type of breathing machine, the doctors could not pinpoint what the real problem was but, all they could say was that her lungs were getting worse and worse by the day. After about a week of daily chest x-rays, the doctor in charge (the same one from the story above, mind you) came to me and warned me that things did not look good. In essence, he was asking me to prepare for the worst, but again from somewhere deep in my heart I felt differently. These words came up and out of me before I could even control them, “Don’t worry doctor. You’ll see, tomorrow, she’ll be almost back to normal” to which he, of course, looked at me with that same “she’s out of touch with reality” expression and walked away. The next day came and the next chest x-ray was taken, but no one came to speak to me about the results. Rebecca’s oncologist came to check up on her, as he always did, and I told him I did not know what the results of the test were as of yet. He said he would go talk to the doctors and let me know. A while later he came into our room and said that she was a little better, but he seemed uneasy with what he was told and said to me that he would look at the x-rays himself and walked out. My quick prayer was, “Okay Lord, I thought You told me she’d be almost back to normal, but I’ll take better. Thank You, Lord.” But not even a minute later the oncologist came back into the room and said, “She is not a little better, she’s almost back to normal!” I’ll never forget his words and the smile that came over my lips and heart as I thanked God again for being so true and faithful and good and loving and… and a few days later Rebecca was back home, no worse for the wear.
Another quick miracle came to us one Christmas Day. Please recall that Rebecca had been speechless for several years, but for months before this day, I had been praying that God would open up her voice and let me hear her call out to me. At this point, we had gone through so much together that she and I were able to have entire conversations with just one look, but as you can imagine, I longed to hear her sweet little voice again. So with family gathered around her this holy day, I began to encourage her to say a simple, “Mama”. To the great joy of everyone, a moment later she squeezed out an unmistakable “Ma….ma”! I am so very thankful that God had other witnesses with me because sometimes I still cannot believe what happened. God is so very good, my Friends, so very good indeed. It was the last word she would ever utter, but for me, what a miraculous Christmas gift it was.
As you may have gathered, the Lord has brought Rebecca Home to be with Him, but not until He saw that I was ready to release her. Although I truly believed the Lord would restore my Angel Pie to me here in this world- in the land of the living- I knew in my heart that even if He brought her Home, I could continue to live. When asked what would happen to my hope if she passed away, I confidently answered, “Nothing will happen to my hope, hope never ends, and my hope is not for this world but for the next. My hope is in the never changing, loving God, not in this ever-changing, corrupt world. My hope will not end if she goes Home, it will grow that much more deeply.” I had come to understand that she would be truly free and that I would still be able to fully function in this new Abundant Life the Lord had given me. I began to tell others that it was without Jesus that I could no longer live; apart from my daughter, life would be a challenge for sure because I would miss her greatly, but apart from Christ my life was no longer possible. Of course I did not want her to physically leave me- my love for her still grows deeper even today- but I know beyond a doubt she is still with me and now in a more intimate, spiritual, and eternal way. Rebecca remains with me wherever I go and my hope to see her again encourages me to live out the rest of my life with the same passion her trails evoked in me.
Rebecca’s life was a living parable in so many ways. Her life was filled with such spiritual symbolism, so many practical life lessons, that I could not ignore them. The cancer she was originally diagnosed with was not what led to her passing; apparently the radiation and other treatments she endured cleaned her from the aggressively growing cancer right from the start of her battle and she never had any cancer ever again. But sadly, she had too many side effects from where the cancer was that went undiagnosed for too long; when I finally discovered the rare illness the cancer caused, it was too late, the damage had been done. But my Friends, is this not our spiritual problem too? The cancer we have is called sin and the radiant Love that Jesus offers us is the only cure to this disease. When we receive His forgiveness, we too are instantly cleaned of any sin- past, present, and future- now and forever…but there are “side effects” to this cancer that we cannot let go undiagnosed. While our spirits are cleansed, our soul is still corrupted and must be transformed daily. (Ro 12:2) We must allow God to change our thoughts, help us control our emotions, and grow our desires to align with His Own. When we work with God to change our souls, our bodies will follow. When our bodies display this new growing life within us, we begin to truly experience the Christian Abundant Life God has promised us. (Jn 10:10) This requires that we delve into His Word and discover for ourselves the areas in our soul that must mature, the thoughts that must be renewed, the emotions that cause us the most harm, the desires that are only self-fulfilling. We must learn to spend time in prayer, simply speaking to the God Who created us and recreates us daily. We must make the effort to put His Word to the test in our lives by obediently practicing what He says and seeing the real results that come from our obedience. We must be diligent to search for the medicine that will keep those nasty side effects under control and not cause further, debilitating damage in our lives. Let Rebecca’s life and My Journey be used to enhance your own walk with God. Learn from her as I did to seek the Lord our God with all your heart and notice all the object lessons God desires to bring into your life to help you be the person He originally designed you to be.
Life is filled with object lessons and God desires us to use them to grow and mature spiritually so that we will lack for nothing. (Jas 1: 2-4) If you are looking for them, you will see them all around you. For instance, Rebecca passed over on December 21, 2007- I knew there had to be a reason God picked that day and so I looked for the spiritual significance. As I found out, December 21st is the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year…and it was certainly the darkest day of my life. But every day past that one is supposed to get brighter and brighter and this was God’s promise to me. Even though I was confused and angry and filled with deep agony over my own loss, God would use this event to bring light and hope and love into my life and the lives of those I reached out towards. It was a dark day for me indeed, but I still knew that God was with me, that His love had not failed me, and that in Him, I still had hope for my future. God desires to use every part of our lives as a blessing- He wastes nothing- and when we trust Him, He makes sense and gives purpose to the “senseless” things that come our way. In Him, life may still present heart wrenching challenges, but hope never dies and love continues to grow and deepen forever.
These years since my daughter went Home have been a struggle to say the least. As the clouds of sorrow over my heart begin to depart, I see only purpose in God’s hand in my life; I know He plans to use me now to honor my Angel Pie’s short and miraculous life, as well as to bring Him all the glory. This is my heart’s desire- it is my life’s purpose now. It is my prayer that our journey be a positive influence to a lost world- a beacon of light bringing others to the Lord to receive His forgiveness, mercy, and comfort. Our God is always so very good even when life seems far from it. He is a solid and steady Rock upon which we can build a secure home, here and forever. I have been living in Christ for many years now and this is the unmistakable Truth I have found in my own journey… won’t you join me?