I have an amazing friend Erin who is such an engaging thinker and writer. On her facebook group, she wrote this profound and funny entry about her cancer treatment (She had breast cancer). I asked her permission to share it with you, and she said YES! You’re in for a treat. And if you know anyone currently who is walking through cancer treatment, bless them by sending them this link.
Lately I have been percolating on the push-pull of cancer treatment. You’ve probably heard me say a million times that cancer treatment is brutal– full on, kick-you-in-the-booty, brutal. But it is also somewhat like a vacation. The obligations and expectations placed upon regular folk vaporize to nothingness when you’ve been pronounced as cancerous. People sing praises when you just show up. They’re happy just to see that you’re still breathing and holding yourself steady. (Granted, at times that really is about all you’re capable of managing.) So you get this glorious sense of freedom from expectations, freedom from obligations; but it’s paired with a whole lot of garbage you have to carry around with you.
As I mull this over in my mind, I remember the times in my life when I have sensed God wanting to do something big with me and I refused. Like a baby in a high chair, my mouth was clamped tight, my eyes wide and watchful. No way, no how, is THAT going in my mouth, God! I will not be a willing participant in whatever-it-is you’re trying to do here because I can tell beyond the shadow of a doubt that it is highly unpleasant. I’ll smear it in my hair, I’ll fling it across the room, I’ll scream and drool, I’ll pound on the high chair tray, but I will not open my mouth to what you’ve got on that spoon.
For me, cancer has been the biggest episode of Erin-refusing-to-eat-her-dinner.
First of all, people like me just don’t get cancer. We’re strong. We’re young. We’re healthy. We are really quite busy with many other altruistic adventures. And frankly, we’re just occupied with other important business. Thanks anyhow.
Secondly, cancer could not possibly be something lovingly prepared for me by my heavenly Father that He intended for me to eat, fed to me by His own strong hand. That’s ridiculous. God wants me to continue feeling good and moving forward for His kingdom– while He is serving me up nothing but yummy delicacies and spiritual rapture on a daily basis. (Let me interject here to remind the me from 2 years ago- “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7: 9-11)
In the grand scheme of things, 2 years later I’m slightly embarrassed over my infantile attitude toward what God wanted to give me. More than embarrassed, I am grateful that He stuck with me, continuing to re-fill that spoon with the food I was thrashing around to avoid. Patiently wiping up the mess I made with my duck-and-weave maneuvers, He persisted to not only feed me what He had for me, but to stay right with me while I tested it on my tongue. He was always before me, watching my responses to this foreign taste and texture, encouraging me to swallow and take another spoonful until I emptied the bowl.
So when I read passages of Scripture like the one below, I am at turns blown out of the water with it’s implications and then giddy with delight over the way God cares for and orchestrates my life. I wonder what other times I thought I was being oh-so mature and self-actualized, when really I was acting like a bratty baby in a high chair.
And yet He loves. He loves.
Ezekiel 2:8- 3:3 ” ‘But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.’ Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. And he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.’ So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.’ So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.”
Funny how God doesn’t hide the fact that the scroll has lament, mourning and woe written on it. Front and back– there is no alternate story line here. He’s not sneaking it in the mashed potatoes, hoping to pull one over on me. He is straight-forward and true, “This is not going to look pleasant to the eyes. This probably isn’t even going to feel good.”
And yet, to the heart that submits to His care, these woes, laments and mourning have a supernatural way of tasting like honey. I am a witness.
I still mourned with cancer. I’ve definitely uttered my share of woes! And there’s been lament piled upon lament. Several, I’ve shared. But cancer’s maturing of my spiritual palate has made these things taste differently than when I took that first tentative nibble. I’m not gobbling it up, by any means– it’s lament, mourning and woe, for goodness sake. But it tastes more and more like honey the more that I obey and yield to Him.
This close-lipped, arm-crossed, rebellion of mine needs to go. It’s just making a sloppy mess.