Sunday, May 22, 2011

Camp

Mr. M and I went to a woodsy mountain retreat with 200 college kids this weekend. I had been looking forward to the weekend for months. However, this previous week was a bad one for me healthwise, and made me nervous even to the point of reconsidering going. I didn't want to get sick-have tremors-in front of the kids. I guess I wanted to hide my humanity. I went anyway, I felt fine and I had a blast. I remembered my friend who, even in her last year of life when she was in almost constant pain from cancer, did not hesitate to spend time with others, even surrounding herself with her beloved college kids, and she never put on an act or pretended that it didn't hurt. She embraced her humanity and her weakness, proving that God's power is truly evident in our weakness. I will be forever grateful to have known Jen and to have seen her live in complete and courageous trust in God. These are some of her words:

Friends have been telling me how brave I have been these last twenty months. True it is that the past has had daily afflictions-the symptons of that curse we have all been dealt...but the idea of a personal valiancy makes me pause and consider those symptoms. I have not felt brave. The wasting away of my earthly home, the destruction of my outer nature, the tent constructed of chest and arms and ivory skin and brown hair is progressively being dismantled. While I haven't lost heart, it more than occasionally seemed misplaced or hiding. The Apostle Paul reminds me of the objective inner reality that "I am of good courage" and not only that, but "I am always of good courage." (2 Corinthians 5:1-10) How does the impossibility of courage become not just possible but guaranteed?

God is Himself preparing me for a change of address. I am moving out of this dirty and deteriorating temporary shelter that is me into a heavenly and lasting home, never to be relocated. This new home designed by God "eternal in the heavens" will never need a remodel. A raw look in the mirror and the insufficiency causes a sigh of shame: scars of imperfection, a pale color caused by weakness, a chair beside me to relieve the burden of standing. I still haven't removed the old calendar taped to the mirror. July reflects that last chemotherapy appointment. I should probably take down that reminder of painful moments gone by, yet the human capacity to count-down to painful days not yet marked will still be there. Taking another glance at my reflection, I know that it will be difficult to say goodbye to the eyes staring back at me. I want to live. I really do want to have this scarred body for just awhile longer. As Paul says, "not that I would be unclothed" I want God to "further clothe" me so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

So what do I do? Regardless of how many Januarys I will have to purchase new calendars it is my aim to please the Lord and I think I am biblical in saying it is courage that pleases. I am learning that I can bring delight to the heart of God by believeing something that is really hard to believe...so hard to believe because nothing here can prove it to me and there is little discoverable evidence available to convince myself of it. Such belief is so crazy, I might venture to say it requires faith? I am to live believing the claim of Philippians 1:21 that "to live is Christ and to die is gain...to depart and be with Christ...that is far better!" To take hold of that and to trust such truth is what produces the courage that pleases God. My life here is Christ and when I die, then my real life is even more Christ. I suppose that is why Paul could say, "with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death."

I've been in many worship services with music that extols the better-ness of being with Jesus. I always sing with some hesitancy. Pleasant moments talking with mom and dad...silly moments of laughter with my twin sister...peaceful moments resting in my husband's arms...will it really be better? I can't know for sure. Well, I can know by faith, but not with a knowledge gained by sight.

When my husband and I moved to the desert, time necessitated that he secure a home for us without me first ever stepping inside. Being rather selective, it took a small degree of trust on my part to believe that he was moving me to a dwelling capable of safety and beauty. He did a pretty good job. The cupboards aren't ideal and the fixtures were a bit brassy but despite these features I am content with our home. Home is where he is. Our Lord knows our deepest hope and what will ignite great joy in our soul and newly glorified body. He is moving me into that house where every expectation will be far surpassed and the ugly features replaced with divine designs. I will be home. Home because that is where He is and by faith I know it will be far better.

5 comments:

When a Picture Just Isn't Enough said...

Wow. Just...wow. Thank you for posting this!

Amanda Thompson said...

Beautifully written, Jen. Thank you for being vulnerable and giving us a glimpse into what the Lord is teaching you. Thank YOU for teaching me, too.

The White Wave said...

Amanda, serving is really teaching ME things. It's such a privilege. Thanks for introducing us to the ministry. And thanks for reading my blog.

Laurie said...

I remember this. Jennifer was such a blessing. Thank you for posting this quote and the reminder to walk by faith and not by sight.

David Cho said...

Beautiful! Not much to add.