Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fears Come in All Shapes and Sizes Especially in a Lump

Can I share a secret with you? It's a doozy and you just may think I've lost it. But, here it goes. Each day since I was nineteen years old I have felt my neck. Just as women we are told to examine our breasts and do self exams. Well, I have given my neck a once over each and every day. Sometimes, probably more than once. I warned that you would think I've lost it. 

See, at nineteen my dad's battle with cancer ended. He fought for a year with lung cancer. His first symptoms that he ignored? A few lumps in his neck. Well, it started with one and then more came. He kept this a secret. At least I had no idea, but then again I didn't know a lot that was going on at that time. Friends had noticed these lumps in his neck and had encouraged him to go to the doctor. He finally did. By then he had a few more symptoms. He thought he just had bronchitis and needed a strong antibiotic. Nope, that wouldn't be the case. So, now do you understand this fear I have? 

About ten years back I was sitting on the couch and turned my head to look at my husband and that's when something painful caught my attention. My hand went to my neck and right there above my collarbone was a lump. My calm was hijacked by the fear that was always there waiting. After doctor visits I found myself sitting in the surgeons office. My feet tapping a hole in the floor. Sure enough it would have to be biopsied. 

Entered the surgery floor that morning with this lump about to explode from my neck. They didn't have to ask where to put the giant X in black print. You could clearly see where it was to go. My Pastor and Youth Pastor came in and prayed over me. With my husband at my side we all prayed. Well, they prayed. At that time my mind was floating off in another time and place. 

As I lay on the surgery table the doctor begins feeling my neck. This isn't just any doctor. He is head of surgery. He knows his stuff and for some reason he's now having a bit of a problem. He has me sit up. He says, "Do me a favor and show me where this lump is", so by now I'm wondering what's going on and that fear of mine is about to have me run right out of the room. I tell him, "It's where the giant X is". Only when I placed my hand exactly where I had felt for the last three months, I wasn't feeling anything. It was gone. How could that be? Don't tell me prayer doesn't work and that God doesn't do extraordinary. My Lord healed me that day. Healed me from the prep room to the short stroll into the surgery room. How about that for some Jesus news to share! My doctor says, "I've never seen anything like it". He went ahead and did a little exploring. I left there with an inch scar on my collarbone and a giant Hallelujah!

Come to find out, that lump that disappeared was a warning sign that something was wrong. I just wasn't feeling well at all. After more tests it turned out that my thyroid needed removed. I had over seventy-five nodules covering my thyroid. I too had a goiter. Only, it wasn't growing outward like most. Nope, mine was growing inward around my windpipe. Check that out for weird. If it's strange or rare, I'm your girl!! 

After all that more surgeries have come and past. Just three months ago I had surgery on my thumb/hand. It was a pretty intricate surgery and a long recovery. Recovery was expected to be a year. Especially since I am a repeat offender and this was my third surgery on my hand. But it wasn't a year. I was released from the doctor last week. Another Hallelujah! 

So, here's where my story begins to hit a big pot hole. My surgery was on March 12. My dad's anniversary date for his home-going was April 20. On that very weekend, once again I was sitting on the couch and turned my neck. Yep, right there in the same place, a lump. Really, of all times to feel a lump? This had to be a joke. But it wasn't. Talk about fear running through your mind. Mine was racing with every thought that could possibly trip me up. Any other date and maybe I wouldn't have been so anxious. Who am I kidding? We feel a lump and we know where our mind goes. The big C word. So, a call into the doctor had me sitting on a table once again. 

He shared with me that he didn't think it was anything serious. Thought it most likely to be a hematoma caused from the block I had for surgery. Since that needle goes in pretty close to the same area as my lump. His advice to me was to just keep watch and it would probably go away. If not gone in a month I needed to give him a call. 

Yes, his phone was ringing for another visit. It's still there. Hasn't moved a bit. I now have an appointment this week with the same surgeon who experienced my healing last time. Let me be super honest. I am scared too death. I've had anxiety attacks and pretty much no sleep. I have felt this fear overcome my normal everyday activities. My husband assures me, "Your just fine, Rob. Everything's gonna be okay". Really? How is he so sure? I'm not so sure. In fact, every possible thought has raced through my mind. Oh, that's the wrong word. It hasn't raced. It has camped out for the long haul. 

I don't want to go through this again. There's a stack of hospital bills and doctor bills on the counter that we have to pay. I know, I have a lump and my thoughts are going to how are we going to pay for more? That's not my first thought or even my last, but it's in the mix. 

I've cried out to God. You know that questions we all ask, "So, where are You?" Can I be honest again? I might be a little mad that I have to yet again go through whatever this is. But you know what? God understands that. He understands my fear and this huge unsettling in my gut. How do I know? He's told me. 

See, after I've cried and had my two year old tantrum, I gave up. I gave up everything I was feeling and laid it all at the feet of my Jesus. Oh, yes, He and I had ourselves a retreat right in my bedroom. Me sprawled out on the floor, face down and tears flowing. He reassured me that He was here with me. Present. Hasn't left me and never will. He encouraged me to look back and that is exactly what I did. I took a trip back in time across all the places that I never thought I'd recover from. All those surgeries, family battles, circumstances that knock you down and test you. He was there for each and every one. In fact, He was there before I ever knew He was there. In those quiet times He was present. He was working deep within my heart. I'm not the same girl I was at nineteen. With each passing year and circumstances that have brought me to question everything in life, He has grown me. Changed me. But see, without all those circumstances I thought I'd never recover from I wouldn't be where I am today. And where am I? Closer to Jesus than ever before. 

He's been doing a masterful work in my heart. After all, isn't that what He's after, my heart? My heart is most important to Him. There isn't anything that touches my life that He doesn't know about. Sure, I may be asking, why, but just maybe I should be asking, why not. I know so many in my community right now that are facing battles. What's so different about me? Why should my life be so easy and without trial? The misconception we have is that we think it tells us in the Bible that Jesus will never give us more than we can handle. Friends, I hate to be the one to share this news, but it simply isn't true. That's found no where in scripture. Friends, if we could handle our own affairs would we really need Jesus? Would we look to Him? Would we cry out to Him and ask Him to move? We'd push Him aside and try to do everything in our own power. I gotta tell ya, I don't wanna work it out myself. I want the King of kings, Lord of lords on my side. I want His will and way for my life. I wanna say, yes, to all He has for me. Good and scary. If I can accept the good, how can I not accept the scary? 

Scary indeed, but what I'm learning, what I know, is this. Jesus wants nothing but the best for me. Plain and simple. If the best means walking through the scary and crawling up on a surgery table, well then, I'm ready. My knees might be shaking and my toes curling, but I wanna follow Him.

This lump could be nothing. It could be something. I know it's not suppose to be there. I could ignore it. But is that smart to ignore warning signs? No, it isn't. I've learned that from the past. But my fears have taken this nothing and turned it into something. Something that's unwanted. As a woman, I know my body. I know when something is not right. This is often where we go terribly wrong. We let things go and ignore what we don't want to see.

See, what I have found is His sweet peace. Oh, I've felt His comforting hand and that peace that is quiet like a stream flowing. But friends, His peace doesn't always come in the form. Sometimes His peace is just knowing He's there. It's a peace that gives you strength to get up in the morning and try again. It's a peace that gives encouragement to fight the battle. It's a mighty gift to know that Jesus in on your side. I feel that peace. I feel His hand upon me. He's already at my doctor's appointment Friday morning at 8:30. He already knows everything that will be said and explored. There aren't any details that's going to surprise Him. Isn't that peace? I say, yes! 

So, I'm not sure what's up ahead for me. Next week may bring new unexpected fears. But one thing I do know and that I'm sure of 100% without a doubt. I will not travel this road alone. I might be kicking and screaming a bit. My anxiety attacks may still hit me in the night. But Satan isn't having this victory. He isn't taking any strongholds. He has no power over me and that's exactly what he's been trying to do. In faith I will follow my Jesus. I will read His Word and be empowered by His promises. 

Over the last few days He has brought me to some verses that have opened my eyes in a new way. Verses I've read tons of times before, but now I am experiencing something totally different. I'm understanding more and more the power of the Holy Spirit. He is within me. That is mind boggling isn't it? So, if He's with me there is nothing for me to fear. Fear is real. If we aren't careful it can overtake our every thought. This is why it's so important to get in the Word. Uncover the scripture that holds the promises of God and know without a doubt that He is present and He will take that fear and replace it with a peace that will overcome. It will settle your gut and clear your mind. 

Here's a few of the verses that I have been reading over this past week. 

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask of think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" Psalm 27:14

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

"The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

"Thought the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Through the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls-Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. There Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like a deer's feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills." Habakkuk 3:17-19

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." Romans 8:28-30

"For in it the righteous of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."" Romans 1:17

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into His grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:1-5

Those are some pretty mighty power verses, aren't they? For me, this week they have lifted me up above the circumstances I am facing. Oh, those fears come, but I'm now quick to go to Jesus and it is that quickness, that moment of obedience that I truly find His sweet grace and mighty peace. 

I have no idea what is to come. Jesus doesn't always answer the way we would like. I'd love for Him to just remove this lump and heal me today. If that isn't His will who I am to argue? He has a greater plan that exceeds far beyond my sight and imagination. But what I know is that if God is in He's going to do something mighty big. And in my life may He forever gain the glory.

I've been hit with powerful and ugly cluster migraines that have knocked me for a loop. I just haven't felt good at all. When your stuck in bed, well...it stinks. Add worry on top of that and you have a whole mess of stress. That's not good. That's not what Jesus wants for us. We can actually have abundant life in the midst of our trials. It's moments like this that give room for our faith to grow. 

See, our journey will always have pot holes. Roller coasters that take us high and low. We may feel as though we've been steamrolled. That Mack truck doesn't seem to slow down before it hits us. Friends, we may get knocked down, but we don't have to remain there in the fear and anxiety. We can laugh and find a new joy even when our circumstances haven't changed. Through these circumstances God is doing a heart change within me. He isn't finished with me yet. His goal is to bring me closer to Him and that's exactly where I want to be. Wherever He goes is right where I want to be. Without a doubt there isn't anywhere I wanna go that He isn't already there. 

Jesus is my Jehovah Shalom. The Lord is peace. 



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