Sunday, October 25, 2015

Take A Deep Breath

I recently read some information regarding free diving.  This is a sport where divers hold their breaths and descend several hundred feet without the use of oxygen tanks.  They can wear traditional scuba gear if needed but no oxygen devices.  One man even descended a record of over 550 feet.  Unfortunately, several of these thrill seekers have died in this most unusual activity.

Yet, it's amazing how these divers descend to the depths after taking a few deep breaths before submersion.  In other words, they physically prepare their bodies for the challenge ahead.

It's always important to prepare in life for difficult tasks which are on the horizon.  Before descending, these divers take some deep breaths as if their lives depend on it....and it does.  So, a few good deep breaths prepare them for their aquatic journey ahead.

This reminds me about the prophet Elijah in the Bible. After a great victory at Mount Carmel against the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18, he went out into the wilderness and was completely exhausted.  Yet, his ministry was not over.  As a result, God miraculously provided some food for him.   I Kings 19:8 says, "So he arose and ate and drank and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God."   Hence, the food prepared him for the coming days of difficulty.

So, in preparing for cancer treatment, it's important to be ready.  Eat well since you may lose some weight during the treatment (I lost twenty five pounds during chemotherapy).  Maybe clean your house because some tasks may be difficult when chemotherapy induced fatigue sets in.  Maybe take a vacation or spend precious time with family.  

You  never know how hard cancer treatment may hit.  However, being well prepared, both physically and mentally, can prepare you for the depths below.   

Monday, October 5, 2015

Badge Of Honor

My Sunday School Class just finished a couple of lessons on Noah.  I had the privilege of teaching one of the lessons.  As I prepared the lesson last week, I became acutely aware of several things I had not seen before.

First of all, when you hear the name "Noah", what is the first thing that comes to mind?  Probably "ark" or "flood".  In other words, even though Noah was a great guy, he is forever associated with the great flood which engulfed the earth.  He probably never could escape this association.  As a matter of fact, it was perhaps a badge of honor.  Obviously those who weren't in the ark drowned in the massive waters.  Hence, it was a special blessing for Noah and his family to have survived.   As he and his family ventured out into the new world, he must have solemnly worshipped God in response to the divine grace extended to him and his descendants.   As he surveyed the water swept landscape, surely he reflected how he could have easily drowned except for divine intervention.  In response, the Bible states his first action upon exiting the ark was to offer a sacrifice.  Perhaps a simple "thank you" was not enough to express his gratitude for overcoming the cataclysm.

In like manner, as a cancer survivor, I am also acutely aware of God's grace which was extended to me.  As of today, I have survived and thrived, even though I could have easily become another cancer death statistic.  May I worship God with humble reverence in regards to what He has done for me.   Yet, the cancer label continues to stay with me.  As a matter of fact, I cannot imagine life without cancer.  It is an indelible part of my life.  Just as Noah's life went from routine before the flood to extraordinary afterwards, my life without cancer was rather boring and uneventful.  Now a new world has been opened up to me.  In many ways I detest what cancer has done to me, but yet, in a strange way, it has become a badge of honor.

In addition, I noticed something interesting regarding the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds.  With  this symbol, God promised to never again destroy the earth by flooding.  In relation to this, for special emphasis, God states this on four separate occasions (see Genesis 8:21, 9:11 and 9:15).  Yet, it is fascinating to me where the rainbow appeared, that is, in the clouds.  Whereas during the flood, the clouds or the atmosphere may have looked threatening or ominous (think of the worst storm you have ever witnessed), the sky now was peaceful with the appearance of the rainbow, a wonderful reminder of  how the fury of  the flood had been transformed to a symbol of the faithfulness of God.  It is a badge of honor for the world to see.

Cancer, like the great flood, caused great pain and suffering. Yet, after the flood waters receded, there is great joy and happiness.  Like my friend Noah,  I am overwhelming grateful to God for bringing me through to the other side.