May 14, 2021
Choosing Life in the midst of a devastating diagnosis
“No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it. See I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.” Deuteronomy 30:14-16
“This day I call haven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Now choose life. So that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the LORD is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your father’s Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Sometimes what we SEE as the enemy is not our real enemy. As I was worshipping and singing these familiar lyrics, “You come back with the head of my enemy, You come back and You call it my victory”, I realized that I am once again facing an enemy, however how God sees my enemy may look different than how I do.
As Daniel 2:22 states, “He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.”
To me, it feels as if I am being assigned, once again, to a season of darkness, yet I would be lying if I said that I did not feel His Light going with me. I am surrounded by questions, so many questions, yet I hear His Voice saying, “I Am your answer, I am Your Way, and I am Enough.”
I don’t SEE enough yet to tell of anything more than Who He is and How He is writing His story over mind as we go.
As a way of both acknowledging His reality in my life during this time, as well as encouraging anyone else walking beside me through the Valley, I decided to begin writing about the ways Jesus is showing up for me during this time.
I will begin with the moment I first realized I was headed for the Valley.
I have never been too much of a bird watcher, although I do love all animals and can’t help but notice them. However, over the last few months, I have been constantly visited my red cardinals. There has even been one that peeps in on me as I sit during my quiet time each morning.
One morning, as I was in prayer, I head a loud BOOM hit our study window. As I ran to see what happened, I noticed a red cardinal, head back, body fluffed up, sitting on the cement of our porch. I knew that he must have noticed my light on in our office and tried to fly in, and hit the glass, leaving him stunned, confused and traumatized before my window. My first instinct was to try and rescue him, but I knew that might traumatize him more so I began praying over him, asking God to heal him and to cause him to wake up and be able to fly again in wholeness soon.
As the morning went on, I continued to check on him, and after an hour or so, was delighted to find that he was gone, and I knew that he had awoken from his injury and flown away.
Since that day, I have watched for him and honestly believe him to be the same bird who peeps in on me during my quiet time in the mornings as if to say, “thank-you for praying for me.”
It might sound funny, but I believe that God has sent these “cardinal moments” to remind me of His love, presence, and ever-present prayers for me.
This belief was confirmed recently as I left my doctor’s appointment. I was there to go over recent test results after having some heart issues spring back up again. Because I am a heart patient and have already experienced a few years of health complications, I approach these appointments with a little less anxiety than maybe one who might not have been on the medial merry go round as often and as long as I have. These appointments usually end with my needing an adjustment of some sort to my pacemaker or a tweak in my meds.
I was not prepared to hear the news that I received that morning.
As I think about it now, I still feel as if I am swimming in words about me that I barely understand.
Yet the words came, and they are attached to me now.
If I let them, these words can feel like a heavy anchor, pulling me down into the pit that I never thought I would enter again. They are words of death and despair, yet as I listen closer, I can hear stronger words begin to surface. Like flower blooms and buds up from rocky places, His Words over me find me, even here, and speak His Life over me, reminding me who my TRUE enemy is, and I know that I despite “these words”, there is Victory waiting for me. The head of my TRUE enemy has already been severed and I get to REST in the arms of my Victor and watch His story play out through my life.
Once again, I am invited to choose Life.
The choice is never more real until you find yourself standing in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Death stands up, like Goliath, surrounded in Bronze and towering over as he taunts, “Come here, and I will give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals.”
“…to the birds.”
Jesus had already gone before me, and how beautifully poetic it was that He used a bird to remind me of His greater Victory over my life that particular morning.
As I sat in my car, stunned, confused, and traumatized by the words I had just heard spoken over me by my doctor that morning, I couldn’t help but notice a red cardinal had landed on the hood of the car next to me, and was peeping at me. I knew that Jesus, in His soft, yet strong Voice was reminding me that His blood is my Victory, and that, just like this bird, He too was “singing over me.”
Like David, I can say, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword, or spear that the LORD saves, for the battle is the LORD’s and He will give all of you (my enemies) into our hands,” (from 1st Samuel 17:47, Emphasis mine).
Jesus grants us the power to choose Life, even in the face of death.
In my journal I recently asked Him, “Where am I? Is this my last chapter?”
And I could not help but grin as He answered, “Where I AM, I AM Your beginning and your end.”
All our “am I’s?” sink under His greater, “I AM.”
He is…He is my Life and Length of Days.
Sometimes we look at our lives and think we know who our enemy is.
We think, “this person or this sickness is my enemy.”
And we can often believe, “once ________________ is gone then my life can begin.”
Yet, our greatest enemy is actually whatever keeps us from KNOWING that He is our Life right now, right here, even in the Valley of the shadow of death.
I am so thankful for Jesus and the cardinals He sends to remind me of His Greater Victory that has already been won.
“He comes back with the head of my enemy. He comes back and He calls it my victory.”
“He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” Dan. 2:22
I see His Light, I am headed for the window of His love for me, and I choose to arise and fly away with Him towards Life, trusting that He is big enough to define what it gets to look like as we go.