At my last oncologist appointment we talked about the future. Dr Saroha and I talked about what he calls “maintenance chemo”. Nancy and I had the impression that maintenance chemo was going to look very different. Maybe treatment once a month instead of every two weeks. I was thinking we would get rid of most of the chemo drugs and use only one or two to keep the Cancer at bay. Turns out I was wrong. Maintenance chemo means we will drop one drug and keep my usual once a week treatment schedule.
This past week was probably the hardest week for me emotionally. I had my heart set on something big changing in early October when I completed my first round of chemo. It does not sound like that will be reality. In fact the more I listen and the more this new new reality sinks in it sounds as if some form of chemo will forever be a part of my life. I will not lie…this was hard for me to deal with.
ST PATRICK CHURCH
One day as I was driving to church I passed the turn to First Baptist and kept going until I came to St. Patrick Church in Kennett Square. St. Patrick is a wonderful community who leaves their sanctuary open for people to come in and pray during the day. You may be thinking, “pastor, why don’t you go pray in your own sanctuary?” Well, the truth is I get distracted. I see things that need to be fixed. My mind takes me to events or services that have taken place and I begin to critique them instead of being still and quiet. In short it is good for me to get somewhere else, somewhere that is not all that familiar to sit and be still.
I entered the sanctuary of St. Patrick Church and nobody was there. I went about halfway up the aisle and sat down. I began to share with Abba Father my struggles with this new reality and how I was not accepting it well. Abba and I had a conversation. Abba listened as I shared my struggles, concern, heartache and worry. Then I simply sat in silence.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS
A few minutes later my attention was drawn to some of the imagery that wraps its way around the sanctuary. Starting in the front and working its way to the front on the other side are statue type artwork of the Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross tell the story of Jesus journey toward Calvary. They begin with Jesus being condemned to die and it ends with Jesus being laid in the tomb. There are fourteen events along that journey that are highlighted. Times when Jesus encounters people, when harm is done to him until ultimately his life is taken and finally his lifeless body is lain in a tomb. I walked around the sanctuary stopping at each station. As I looked at the image I was reminded on Jesus journey and what it meant for me.
It took a while to make my way around the sanctuary. Standing in front of the final station, Jesus is laid in the tomb, there was something wrong. I could not shake it. The story did not end there! They did lay Jesus in a tomb, but the tomb was vacated three days later as Jesus rose victorious over sin and death. EASTER IS COMING!
Standing there in St. Patrick sanctuary that reality became new and fresh once again. Abba spoke through statues on a wall. “Dan, see the whole story…it may be dark today…it may feel as if you have been defeated…but EASTER is coming!” I stood there for quite a while as this truth that I have known and believed for much of my life washed over me anew and afresh. EASTER is COMING!
I do not know what the future holds, none of us do…but EASTER is COMING!
For the next few days my mind was continually drawn back to that experience. I kept thinking about how I was allowing the darkness and hardship of my doctors words to color how I was living and experiencing life. I was living as if the story ended with Jesus being laid in the tomb when in fact EASTER is COMING!
PEOPLE OF THE EMPTY TOMB
Life can be hard. It can be challenging. There can be seasons of darkness and struggle. It is so easy for us to begin living as if the story ends with Jesus being laid in the tomb. We begin to see the bad in everything. It becomes harder and harder to see hope, life, transformation, renewal, anything of joy in the world around us. Slowly we begin to live as if the story ends when Jesus is laid in the tomb. We (read I) need to begin living as people who believe in the empty tomb!
As people of faith. As men and women who call upon Jesus as Savior and Lord our calling is to live each moment of each day as if EASTER is COMING! In the midst of the darkest moments, when all hope seems to be lost…we have hope. When we feel alone, abandoned…there is one who promises to never leave us nor forsake us. When death’s darkness finds its way to our door…we must remember the words of the Psalmist, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” In short…EASTER is COMING!
Imagine how our lives would change, how the world would change if people of faith lived each moment of each day as if EASTER is COMING! There is hope for renewal, for transformation, for rebirth, for forgiveness, for new life. As I write this morning it occurs to me that living this way would lead to the fulfillment of the prayer many of us pray on a regular basis…”Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done…On Earth as it is in Heaven.”
Enter this day. Live every moment as if EASTER is COMING!
I left St. Patrick church and life was somehow different. I cannot explain it except I met Abba and Abba met me.