by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2015
We tend to like it when things in our lives come in neat little packages where the contents and boundaries are clear. This gives us a false sense of assurance so that we think we know where we stand and can anticipate the outcome. We tend to like stability and constancy. We do not tend to like it when things are unclear or unsure because then we feel as if on shifting sand, not knowing if we will be able to remain standing or will lose our balance and fall. And oh how we don’t want to fall. We want to keep standing. We want to keep going and not be knocked down. We want to live.
Yet when we consider this perspective of being most comfortable when we think we know how things are going in light of God’s perspective, we recognize this very human point of view has no credibility. We realize once again that it in the Lord that we have our hope. It is upon His promises alone which we can rely. His promises do have manifestation in our lives now because He is Emmanuel – God with us. Yet in truth it is once we have passed from this life to the LIFE which is to come (through Jesus) that the fullness of all God has for us is realized and we never look back.
Life here does not always come in the nice neat little packages which we prefer. We often do not find ourselves in circumstances of certainty, but uncertainty. Additionally, the reality is that even when we feel comfortable because there is a façade of certainty in our current situation, that which we think is certain is not certain at all. There are no guarantees except that there will be issues and struggles in this life. Eventually there will be physical death for each of us. And if we have chosen to realize and acknowledge that we need the grace and power of God to be with Him forever (because we cannot make this happen ourselves), then through Jesus as our Savior, Lord (Boss, Leader, Master) and Guide, in His perfect timing we will find our way to this forever home for which He made us, where there are no more struggles or tears.
Given the stark reality that nothing is certain, (except eventual death on a date not known to us) what are we to do? The answer is pure sigh of relief. We have the exquisite pleasure of abandoning ourselves to the will of God. For He promises that He loves us with an everlasting love, never leaves us or forsake us, carries us through the hard times which are part and parcel of this life, gives us His strength for the journey (and His joy is our strength) and uses us in all things so that others would know Him more.
We are journeying through. Here is not our permanent home. It is not the fullness of our destiny.
At first this realization can be hard. Often early in our faith life with Him the emphasis of our prayers is on asking the Lord to save us and heal us here in our temporal bodies with our temporal concerns. These are good and right prayers!!! And…eventually these prayers will seem to go unanswered when the moment comes that He has planned to bring each of us home to Him forever when He no longer answers prayers for temporary healing.
Actually, it is not that He has not answered. It is that He is giving the greater answer, the answer of complete, total and eternal healing and the gift of fullness of destiny forever with Him, the angels and all the others who have gone before where evil has no more power and can have no more negative effect.
Thus, though it is uncomfortable until we get used to it, uncertainty is the norm and eventual death is definite. We are not in control. We can never know for certain what will happen next. There are always unlimited factors which could come from a variety of directions which could affect our today as well as our tomorrow.
So what are we to do? Does this mean God has less power than we thought or that He cares for us less than His promises seem to convey? No. It means we have had our focus on that which is lesser and temporary and He is working towards helping us now but He never loses sight of His supreme focus, which is on all things eternal. We are moving through this fallen, hard place toward eternity and He is ensuring this journey never ceases.
Where does this leave us, if we choose to grieve for the stability we thought we needed to live in peace and realize uncertainty is the norm during this life? It leaves us needing to grab hold of Him more and leaning on Him as our unmovable, unshakeable Rock. In Him and His eternal ways with the promise that death is no longer a danger to us is our hope (because He has won the victory over death). In His plan to flow through us as His instruments so that more would know Him and be able to choose Him for eternity we find our purpose. By reliance on Him to get us through this life and usher us into eternity and use all for good along the way no matter what the adversary tries, we receive His peace which surpasses all understanding in all our circumstances now. By letting go of our need for a deceptive sense of control and choosing to be at rest in whatever comes because we know who He is and what He promises we receive His joy and we are swept up into an ocean of contentment and fulfillment no matter what is going on around us.
Remember, to rely on Him does not mean we are expecting He will protect us or those we love from every evil here. Often He will do this in answer to our prayers and simply for love of us, but not always. His eye is on His gift of eternity. He is bringing us through here. He is using us here. And it is temporary. We repeat so we remember: here is not our home. Heaven is where we will dwell forever with Him and all those who have preceded us through death’s door into His promised eternal Life. To rely on Him is to trust Him to accompany us and use all things and let nothing we go through go to waste.
Another fact of this life is grief. We grieve because we love and miss those who have gone ahead of us into His presence. This is normal. He created us to love. Grief means we have loved and cared and this is good! (And hurts beyond what can be put into human words.) We grieve because we wanted Him to answer every prayer here the way we wanted and to usher in the fullness of His eternal kingdom now so that pain, suffering and injustice would fully disappear now, not just in little bits when the seemingly few of us work towards it in seemingly minute ways in His name. We wonder why it can’t be the way we want and think would be best (after all He is all powerful) and grieve when it is not.
Yet in that moment when we finally embrace how His way really is, in it we find that freedom, peace (from Him), joy, contentment and fulfillment we have always sought. This remains with us in good times and bad. It does not make what is hard easy, but it gives it meaning, purpose and we understand it is temporary and we are confident in and clear about the eventual, ultimate good which is to come.
You may wonder why all this rambling writing now, today. Many of you have accompanied me on the cancer journey of the past year and know that there were scans and tests galore this past week, which had the objective of establishing whether or not the cancer was gone. Thyroid cancer is one where it is very possible that via the treatments I have undergone they can say—“cured”. That would be a nice, neat little box, wouldn’t it? Unlike remission where it’s okay for the moment but we know it the cancer may return, cured is done, over and never to return in that form. Nice. Neat. Preferred? Hmmm….in light of God’s perspective discussed above actually that is not necessary.
In fact, a report of “cured” is not quite what I received when my endocrinologist called with the report this afternoon and all I have written is to help you understand why in spite of this all remains extraordinarily well with my soul.
The report was a good report, but it was not the definitive “cured” report. The doctor shared (praise be to God) that the very thorough ultrasound of my neck where the goal was to find and evaluate every lymph node came back clear. It looked great. However, in the whole body scan there was one slight, tiny, faded “perhaps-something” around the center front of the neck. It is not a lump. It has no substance or form. Scans don’t show that, ultrasounds do and the ultrasound showed clear. The scan measures where radioactive iodine was absorbed into the body (as it is always absorbed more by thyroid tissue and thyroid cancer tissue.) Normally any areas which would indicate remaining thyroid tissue or thyroid cancer tissue would glow brightly! In this case there was nothing which lit up that strongly, but there was a little something faded which was oh-so-slightly illuminated. What does this mean? It did not match the ultrasound, so it is probably nothing….or she said it could be something. At present we simply don’t know. Even if it is a remnant of tissue reacting with the radioactive iodine, we don’t know if it is thyroid cancer or just remaining thyroid tissue. What to do? We wait. In three months we go through procedures again and see if there is increased glow or if it is definitely no more….or something else.
Yes, it would have been nice to be able to write “cancer-free” in this blog entry today. But I feel no anxiety at the report. First on a completely practical level, I have been told since the beginning that any remaining cancer following surgery would grow so slowly (because by its nature thyroid cancer is slow growing), that I would likely die of something else before that cancer would ever truly become a threat. On the greater spiritual level, there have never been any guarantees about this life and how long it would be—only the one to come.
Thus, first, thank you for walking with me this far. Next, please do continue to pray for complete temporal physical healing. (I do love my life and working for Him here.) His answers to your prayers have sustained me! However, please pray more that I would hear His will moment- by-moment and be able to keep eyes off self and always have the courage to walk into whatever places He can use me. My greatest desire for a long time simply has been to be used by Him in the way He wants for His eternal purposes to reveal Himself to others the way He knows is best for however long He ordains for me to live this temporary life. Period. This has not changed. We have today. Actually, we have this moment. It is all we have. Pray that I would be a vessel He can consistently use His way no matter what. And I will pray for you as well. There is nothing better than being in the will of the One True God. There is nothing better than having let go of all we thought we wanted and letting Him have His way with us. This is the way of awestruck wonder, where the supernatural supreme God shows up in our every-day. It is the way we become authentic followers of Christ. It is the way of His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as in heaven….for His glory, for His glory alone. Can I get an, “amen”?!
NUGGETS OF GOD’s WISDOMGod’s Wisdom is more precious than gold. This blog by Elizabeth Fulgaro helps readers discover God’s way versus the world’s one “nugget” at a time. http://www.ascendinworship.wordpress.com www.eaglesnestfoundation.org
Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist. She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way.
For books, worship albums, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org Music can be purchased and audio clips heard at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro and on itunes.
Elizabeth is the Founder of Eagles Nest Foundation which provides spiritual support & encouragement to military and military families as well as those in physical and emotional battles (such as cancer, long-term illness) as well as those grieving a loss. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org