Lesson # 3-Life is never as bad as it appears.
Proverbs 18:21-The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
I comfortably sat in my seat on our bus ride to Baltimore from Norfolk. This was a familiar ride as it usually saves us over $1,000 to the Dominican Republic when we travel this way.
I love simple things. Potted flowers, walks down my path on HOPE Mountain, unannounced visits from friends, a text from a loved one, coffee and tea pots with accompanying filled drinking vessels, hand me downs, scented candles and sweet smelling body wash, body lotion or perfume and long drives are all at the top of my “Life is good” list.
If you’d ask my husband, he would tell you that I’d prefer a drive in the country for a Mother’s Day gift over any present ever! I never tried to figure out why I’m wired this way, I’ve simply accepted myself and taught those who love me how to speak my love language.
Long drives help me to process life. I usually end a long drive with new resolve and a clearer view of life.
This drive was no different.
As the dark bus advanced to our destination, a corner to corner smile covered my face while scrolling through the pictures on my phone. Photos of those who are in my corner filled my albums. I laughed at videos of my daughter’s rendition of “The Greatest Showman”.
Then I stopped at the funny videos my friend sent me while she was at work. She speaks my love language fluently! When we returned to Virginia from the Dominican Republic, she quickly jumped in to help me fill my home with her hand me downs. Each room in my house was adorned with something of hers. My closet too! She kept me dressed nicely and smelling good! She chose to be a good friend to me despite an ugly falling out between us some years ago. That’s true love.
Photos of my dear auntie, the one who watches out for me, caught my attention. She personifies strength, dignity, family unity and provision. My heart feels full of warm, fuzzy love as I think of her. She has no problem reprimanding me for digging a ditch, all while pulling me out. She never let her disapproval of my actions keep her from standing for me, defending me and assisting me in reaching my goals. That’s true commitment.
I stopped at the photo of my eldest son’s wedding. The man of God that held him up before God as child was now holding him up before God at his wedding. I cried. I sat in the quiet for a moment and allowed my mind to grasp the immensity of the occasion. Though I left, this precious servant of God opened his arms to me. He was an oasis in the desert for Ruben and me during a very long drought. His pastoral staff, leaders and parishioners made me feel as if I had never left. They embraced me as if I had been there all along. That’s true fatherhood.
Love, commitment and my Father have brought me this far. God embodied those in my photos. It was truly Him who has been there for me all along and these pictures were proof. I began to realize once again that life really wasn’t as bad as it felt.
The long bus ride to the airport was just what I needed to get my mind thinking in the right direction. Now at the gate, my body reminded me that I wasn’t well as painful cramps made me wish I had a shot of Demerol or Nubain. In the midst of the cramping, I thought of Lazarus. He apparently had a close connection with Jesus. Perhaps Jesus was his friend or a confidant. It seems he was definitely more than an acquaintance. I imagine that if his death came on slowly, he was sure his friend would show up. He knew Him as a healer. He knew that He was omniscient, Christ was aware of the situation.
So there he lay on his bed of death. More than likely grasping for air, yet assured in whom he believed. I wonder if he took his last breath holding on to the hope of his salvation. Whatever the case, Lazarus was now gone. Onlookers probably gossiped, “His friend was there for everyone but him.” His sisters were heartbroken, not only had they lost their brother, but their all powerful friend didn’t show up.
As the cramping increased, I wondered if God could hear my prayers. By now I was back on HOPE Mountain in the Dominican Republic. Ruben lined the front of our house with potted flowers that brought color to my dark soul. It felt good to be home. I’ve grown accustomed to the rooster’s crow well before dawn. The hammocks provided the rest my aching body required and the daily sun nourished me.
I spent several hours a day in prayer, but the cramping only became worse. Teams were visiting that month providing the help our ministry needed. They also spent a great deal of time praying for me. Family and friends around the globe petitioned the Father as well, but I kept getting worse.
I was so weak, it took almost all of my energy to walk downstairs. Some days, I could only stay in my bed. The back labor like pains were intense! Yet, I believed.
I chose to cling on to what I knew to be truth. By His stripes I am healed, though it doesn’t feel like it.
Reasons to stress surrounded me, but I made a deliberate choice to not stress on a daily basis.
I took time to breathe.
I took time to write.
I took time to worship.
I was intentional. I had a responsibility in all of this. I was determined to do my part well.
I wanted to believe God for something extremely big, for something I could never do myself. I was willing to go through the process of watching my faith unfold into a beautiful expression of His perfect will for my life.
I wasn’t “naming and claiming” I was simply choosing to believe what He told me to believe. I was simply asking Him to do what He told me He would do.
As I lived with pain each day, I chose to see myself seated in heavenly places with Christ. The more I chose to see myself this way, the more I began to believe that life wasn’t as horrible as it seemed and the more I began to feel better.
We had a long drive back to Virginia as we flew into Fort Lauderdale. Another long drive to help me process. I remembered God’s word. It was hard to focus because my back hurt more and more each day. I wanted to focus on the back pain, but I fought hard to think about God’s love expressed to me through the photos on my phone. I battled my mind to believe His promises.
Little by little I began to feel better.
“Honey, I don’t have any pain at all! Maybe the cyst is gone and it was nothing. Let’s believe God for that. Will you pray with me?” We’ve prayed and believed before to no avail. I trusted God before and it didn’t work out. Yet, I wasn’t swayed. I would keep trusting Him. My sweetie was worn out. He had recently recovered from his own ordeal and he has a huge workload in the Dominican Republic that he put on hold for my health. Plus, he had just driven all the way from Fort Lauderdale to Virginia. He wasn’t sure about the future, but he managed to smile for me and held out his hand. He closed his eyes and bowed his head, “Father, your word is true. Please come through. Please heal Vicki Lord. In Jesus’ name.”
He slipped on his sweater, opened the door and led me to the car for my appointment. I could see the concern on his face, but he was good at trying to hide it. I didn’t want him to think about it too much, so I talked about everything other than my health on the drive to the Gynecologist’s office.
I fell back slowly on the exam table. The ultrasound technician declared, “Your left ovary looks great!” She proceeded to check the right ovary. She pushed and squeezed enough to bring tears to my eyes, but she remained silent.
The doctor spoke with Ruben this time, “The good news is that the complex cyst on the left ovary is gone,” then she turned to me, “but there is a new cyst growing on your right ovary. It’s not complex, but it can change like last time. More than likely you will keep developing complex cysts. Since your cancer screening came back normal, surgery is up to you. However, I am going to set you up for more tests.”
I wasn’t thrilled about a probe fishing inside me, “Is that necessary? It’s just a cyst.”
“It’s up to you. I just want to make sure we see everything. Surgery is also an option for peace of mind sake.”
I was at peace. I refused the probe and the surgery.
I went to another GYN two days later for a second opinion, mostly to set my mind completely at ease and to make my family happy. I’ve always developed cysts on my ovaries, I couldn’t understand why this time it was such a big deal.
Another ultrasound, more pain!
“I don’t see anything. Your ovaries look perfect,” the tech exclaimed, “look for yourself,” she pointed to the large screen on the wall, “there is nothing there.”
I was shocked.
No cysts at all.
The doctor helped me to understand the difference between complex cyst and follicles on the ovaries. She told me not to worry, but to come back in three months to check again.
I feel better each day.
I still have lower back pain that is equivalent to early back labor and my breasts still hurt a little. Most days migraines invade my head as they make an entrance over my right eye.
I’m still praying. I’m still declaring. I’m still believing.
I’ll have to get my kidneys checked now and take more tests for my cardiologist, but no matter how they come back, I’ll cling to what I believe. My Savior will save me.
I walk out of my tomb as my Savior calls my name, like Lazarus. I come out all wrapped up. Just. Like. I. Am. I have to inch along all wrapped up like this, but the cloths are coming off.
I choose to see life from a heavenly perspective.
I see myself as my God sees me.
He reassures me. He has awakened me. He is my HOPE. He draws me closer to Himself as I face myself.
Life is way better than what is displayed before my natural eyes. I see life beyond my five senses and I grasp on to the powerful love of my forever, faithful, consistent friend Jesus!