This past weekend I did two things for the first time, ever.
I was invited to share my testimony along with my mom and sister at a lovely women’s retreat. The theme was “Meet Me in the Meadow” and Psalm 23. My mom has shared many times at retreats and this was the first time my sister and I had the privilege of sharing with mom in the same ministry weekend. God kindly wove our thoughts together as we prayed about what He wanted each of us to share with the women.
I also watched my sister get knocked over by a flock of sheep. Verna showed an awesome home video from over 35 years ago showing her in the middle of a flock and they were all eager for their share of food. She kinda got carried away by a tide of sheep fighting for the food bucket and it was hilarious. Her topic was on the importance of memorizing scripture and the armor that God has provided for us sheep to wear in battle so we don’t lose our footing on the daily path of life.
Do you ever think you’re lost?
November 14, 2010 was the day I tumbled down into a long deep dark valley. It was also the day I began to relearn how to live.
Which is not what I expected since that day almost ended me. I walked in the hospital at 6 AM for surgery to remove a “benign appearing cyst or mass” and woke up with tubes and a colostomy bag and a stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis confirmed in the days following.
It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You
In the weeks before that surgery a woman in our circle of acquaintances came up to me, put her hand on my shoulder, looked in my eyes compassionately and said, “You are about to embark on an incredible journey with God.”
Lady, you and I had no idea. Who ever has any idea?
Today a squirrel frantically runs underneath branches on the hill outside our home gathering food. The wind calms and snowflakes are settling and falling gently. I sit peacefully and my body is, for the most part, whole. The heavy suffering of cancer is past at present.
Cancer dis-ease and the pursuit of healing started out, for me, as a frantic search for help. Today the healing journey continues clear and quiet and soft. Sometimes my eyes leak now and then remembering. They leaked a lot this past weekend sharing about how I felt lost for the life of me and how God shepherded me and our family through hard days and months and a few years. Those thoughts boil hard and then simmer down into gratitude and relief and whispered words of thanks to God.
Certain songs grab my heart for periods of time. Lately the song is “Fight My Battles” by Michael W. Smith. The words of the song resonate in my heart and mind.
The Word says “For the spirit of heaviness put on the garment of praise”; that’s how we fight our battles.
Cancer or dis-ease in the body forces us to stop everything frantic and become purposeful. We are dared to discover who God really is in our suffering. I must rely on him to show me who he is Every. Single. Day.
Cancer (or any dis-ease) in the body forces us to rebuild our way of living and navigate the “new normal” going forward. We get an invitation to build life on the firm foundation of God’s love for us at a time we may question everything we know about God’s wisdom and love and care.
Have you ever been literally “cast down” like a sheep? It’s a deadly place to stay. The healing-from-cancer journey teaches me over and over every day that I must put my trust in God alone.
This is how I fight my battles…
Cancer is usually viewed as a challenge to be battled. Something that was on my heart to share this past weekend is that when we’re fighting battles we need to learn to do the opposite. I shared some “Lamb’s Lessons from the Battle”. Trust. Rest. Listen. Learn. Cling to God. Praise God. Stay in scripture. Deal with negative emotions. Pursue personal well-being according to God’s will for my life.
So when you’re lost….
It may look like you’re surrounded. If you know Christ, you are in fact surrounded by Him. He’s teaching you how to fight your battles for his glory and your good. I promise.
If you don’t know Christ, he is everything. EVERYTHING. You simply can NOT fight your battles without him as your savior. In the end, the only battle you must win is the one against sin. You will lose that battle on your own, or, you can choose to surround yourself with the One who defeated sin and won that battle for you. Jesus.
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Do you know the Good Shepherd? Think about the “garment of praise” while you watch this video and listen to the lyrics. What’s one thing you can praise God for no matter what battle you’re facing?
“Fight My Battles” by Michael W. Smith:
Sharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor who has been NED (“no evidence of disease”) since 2013. She loves coffee, writing, and taking walks with her husband, Tom, and their adopted Pug-Maltese mix, Ace. Sharon is grateful for wellness support strategies that work and also for the Savior who rescues sheep and teaches them how to “battle”.