I know I promised you a story next, but I got to thinking that first I should include a blog about my faith so that all the stories that follow will make sense!
First and foremost before anything else in my life, I am a Christian. I was raised in a Christian home and put my faith in Christ at a young age. When I was little, I remember wondering how to know for certain whether I would go to heaven. My mother stressed the importance of attending Sunday School every week, so I figured that must be God's criteria. I felt fairly certain I had enough check marks on God's attendance sheet!
Then, when I was about 12, my family started attending a different church where God's plan of salvation was more clearly explained. I learned that it wasn't a matter of good attendance. It also wasn't a matter of my good deeds outweighing my bad when I stand before God. Jesus took the punishment I deserve and bought my salvation, but it only applies if we accept it. I gratefully and joyfully accepted His great gift and I gave my life to Him.
About 12 years ago, I had reached the point where I thought I was a "mature Christian" -- I guess just by virtue of having been a believer for so many years. How naive and arrogant I was! Then I heard a message given by a missionary at our church that served as a wake-up call and turning point for me. I realized that my relationship with Christ and my growth as a child of God was an ongoing process that would continue for the rest of my life. What an adventure my life became when I opened my eyes to all God wants to teach me, allowing Him to grow me and use me every day!
Many people have told me that they think it's a great thing that I haven't LOST my faith in Christ as a result of my battle with cancer. That surprises me. Perhaps some might be angry with God and turn away from Him, or think that He has failed them. But I can't imagine going through a difficult trial like this WITHOUT Christ! I have often said that this is where the rubber meets the road -- if you TRULY believe God's promises are true, then they are true both in bad times and good. I'm not going to stop believing just because God has directed my life down a path that I wouldn't have chosen. Who am I to think that I should always understand and approve of God's plan? He is omnipotent God, creator of the universe, yet He knows every hair on my head (or lack thereof) and every cell in my body, and He LOVES me more that I could ever understand, so I KNOW that I can absolutely trust Him.
I'm also a firm believer in Romans 8:28:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Over and over I have found that when I look back on the unpleasant happenings in my life I can see how God used them for good -- sometimes in the most unusual and unexpected ways (serendipities!). I love it when I get to see Him at work -- when something amazing happens that you KNOW could only be a "God thing!" I have a friend who calls it "riding on God's shoulders!" I also believe that often He uses all things to work together for good to people we don't know and in ways we may not see this side of heaven.
My point is, no matter what -- God is in control, He loves me, and He is going to use this trial for our good and His glory! It may be an "E-ticket" ride, but I have nothing to fear -- and it's going to have a great ending!