Your blood work looks great; mammogram is normal; chest X-ray is clear. Is there anything else we need to look at?" Dr. Decker had just completed a thorough annual physical exam and I was tempted to leave well enough alone. However, I had shared at a recent birthday breakfast with my dear friend, Dr. Pam Schlembach, that I had noticed a lump on the lower right side of my abdomen after Philippe and I returned from a ministry trip to India a few weeks previously. "You need to get that checked out," she admonished. "Let me know what he says."
"Well," I ventured a bit hesitantly to Dr. Decker, "I've noticed a bulge in my lower abdomen that I think you should take a look at." Asking me to lie down and tense my abdominal muscles, he said, "It's probably a hernia. Cough for me." Watching his face, I detected an unmistakeable look of concern. "It's not a hernia. When was the last time we did a CT scan of your tummy?"
Having arranged to schedule the test, I left his office...scared. Twenty-six years earlier, I had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer during pregnancy, an event that rocked our world as Philippe and I dealt with losing twins, the removal of my entire reproductive system, instant surgical menopause, and the formidable diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Yet the Lord had been so good to us, keeping his promise to work all things together for good.
It was during that tempestuous time that the Holy Spirit quickened my spirit with the words of the psalmist David: "And I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:13-14) I appropriated this as my life verse.
Now I sensed that I was at a crossroads between fear and faith. Which path would I choose? Would my present circumstances dictate another run around Fear Circle, or would my knowledge of Jesus and his faithfulness lead me to Faith Way?
As Philippe had just left that same morning on a six-day trip to Japan and Singapore, I pondered whether or not to share this information with him over the phone. Sensing that it would be an unnecessary burden, given the fact that I knew nothing other than that I needed a diagnostic test, I chose to keep it to myself.
Going about my daily routine of ministry, I immersed myself in the concerns of others, leaving little time to fret over myself. Yet nights were a challenge, the prince of darkness seizing every opportunity to magnify the what-ifs like giant taunting shadows on the walls. Determined to not succumb to fear, I meditated on and proclaimed truth from the psalms: "Lord, you are a shield for me, my glory and the lifter of my head! You have ordained praise because of your enemies to silence the foe and the avenger! You inhabit the praises of your people!"
Tuning in to KHCB radio, the call letters of which stand for "Keeping Him Close By," I turned the volume low and prepared for bed late that Wednesday evening. Tucked under the covers with our itty-bitty Italian greyhound, Ali, to keep me company and warm my heart as well as my feet, I eventually fell into a deep slumber.
At precisely 3:33 a.m., with no provocation, I awakened abruptly with a start. "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." With the words of Isaiah 53:5 being proclaimed over the airwaves, my entire being leapt as if catapulted from a cannon. God had sent forth his Word to heal me!
Simultaneously laughing and weeping, I praised God for his promise of healing, knowing that he would fulfill it because he had already finished the work on the cross. As I lay in bed pondering this experience, I realized that the hour had coincided with Jeremiah 33:3, "Call on me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." God's phone number, 3-3-3. Ring-a-ling-a-ling...
"Papa, what are these things you want me to know?"
"My beloved daughter, I am going to take you through this, not around it. I am with you - always, in everything. Nothing can overtake you, for I go before you, behind you, and live so comfortably within you. You see my eye on you and know it is there at all times, guiding and guarding you, leading you in the paths by which you should go. I have called you as a pioneer - to go in the front as I do a new thing. You are a leader of leaders because you love my children as I want them to be loved - and they feel my love expressed through you. Don't question this - just go where I send you, trusting that I go before you. Lean on my everlasting arms and not on your own understanding.
"As I said to you earlier, this is only a test - and you have passed the test with flying colors! Let me finish my work in you so that you will be whole and complete, lacking nothing. I trust you - and I trust your beloved Philippe, my steadfast knight in shining armor and armor-bearer.
"I am secure in my chosen plans for you because I know that you are faithful to me and your faith does not waver. I want the world to see such faith and to know that it isn't contingent on circumstance. I want my children around the world to thank and praise me in all things, without question - because this is my will for them in Christ Jesus. I refine more deeply the ones I know can withstand the fires and emerge as pure gold.
"Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord, wrapped in my safe, secure, everlasting arms. I will not let go and I will bring great good and glory to my kingdom on earth through this. You will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! I have promised and I will keep this promise and every promise I have spoken over you and Philippe. I will right the boat and it will be clear-sailing, after you have suffered a little while. I myself will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast - plantings of the Lord for the display of my splendor.
"Watch and wait and pray, with every expectation of my glory being revealed as I overturn the attempts of Satan and lift you up to display the glory of my splendor. Eye has not seen nor has ear heard the wonders I have prepared for you - not just for eternity, but in the land of the living. Hold on, hold tight, keep your eyes on me on this roller-coaster ride, and I will show you why I'm taking you through this. It's all good - I promise.
"Be encouraged and not dismayed. I will strengthen you and help you, upholding you with my righteous right hand. Nothing will be lost - except by the Accuser. He has already lost this battle - because he knows that it - and you - belong to me. Prepare to see my glory pass by as I hide you in the cleft of my Rock. I've got you covered - on every side. You and Philippe and Paul are all mine.
"I will show you my love in ways beyond your ability to fathom. Ephesians 3 will come to life as you grasp how wide and long and high and deep my love is for you, for you will truly know this love that surpasses all knowledge and be filled to the measure of all of my fullness. This is how the world will know who I am - for you will hand-deliver me to them, and I will deliver them by my hand, the one that is guiding, guarding, directing and protecting you!
"Now rest in me as I renew your strength like the eagle's - for you will run and not grow weary; you will walk and not faint. I am increasing your vision, giving you an eagle-eye view like Philippe has from the cockpit. The two of you will look into the hearts of my children and see what I need you to do for them. I will work quickly, like an X-ray, for I am giving you through this trial supernatural kingdom vision. You will see as I see and hear as I hear. I will guide you with my eye and you will hear with the ears of my understanding.
"I will supply every need and continually replenish you. You will not grow weary, for I am giving you my strength as your joy! Walk in it - enjoy it - delight in it! You have waited a long time to see the fulfillment of my plans for you - and right now, it is not what it seems. For my ways are not your ways - they are infinitely higher.
"I have raised the bar and you and Philippe are jumping higher - but I am like a trampoline under you, enjoying watching you leap to ever-increasing heights of glory - because I know I can trust you with it. Are you up to this? Of course you are! Hold tight, buckle my belt of truth around you, and let's go and save the world!"
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
He delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
Their faces are never covered with shame.