On my 35th birthday, two months before I heard “It’s Cancer”,  I sat on a bed in a Midtown NYC hotel room, bible and journal spread open in front of me.  My husband decided to go workout, and I decided to use that sliver of down time for some quiet time.

Just me and the Lord.

I wrote “Father this is the first day of my new year with You.  Every year of life with You is sweeter than the one before.  Each year is an opportunity to KNOW You more fully and therefore LOVE You more completely.  Father God, I give you this upcoming year of my life, and the days that are ahead of me.  What is ahead for this coming year?”

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Snowed in for my 35th bday

Yesterday I drove once more to Lexington Medical Center. This day as I drove, a cold icy rain was falling from the grey clouds, which reflected my mood.

My heart was heavy. The weariness of this journey is beginning to set in.

It truly does feel like a marathon.

As I made my way down I-77, to I-277, to I-20, to I-26 (yes, four interstates!)  my mind began to wander towards the similarities of the cancer journey and a marathon race.  As I’m nearing the final stretch, discouragement and weariness can easily set in.  In the running world, it’s called “hitting the wall”.

My final stretch of radiation is upcoming, and instead of looking back at the many ways God has proved faithful, I’m tempted to look ahead at this final stretch and just want to quit.  I guess this is called hitting the “cancer wall”

Really, I’m just over it.

My appointment yesterday was a “radiation planning” appointment, where they took pictures, made measurements, and made some lovely blue X markings on me).  As I scurried to my car after the appointment was over, hot tears finally escaped and mixed with the icy rain.

As I drove home, grieving all that cancer has taken from me, I had a little chat with the Lord.

“Abba Daddy, I’m just tired. I’m ready for this race to be over.  I want to stop running. And Lord, how do I know that the race really will be over soon? What if it extends beyond what I’m expecting? God this feels like a marathon I didn’t sign up for! At least marathoners get a chance to train for their long race! No one would sign up for a marathon without training for it.  I feel like you dropped me on the starting line of this cancer race, and the explosion of the gun rang in my ears as I stumbled across the starting line; looking around in this unfamiliar race.”

The fact is, no one signs up for this difficult race.  The fact is, no one would choose to run this course.

As I turned up the worship music, the Lord spoke to me in the most gentle way.

“my daughter, I did prepare you.  You’re right, you didn’t train for this marathon.  I TRAINED YOU.”

In my minds eye, I could picture myself at my dining room table early in the morning over His Word…coffee and journal nearby.  I saw the people He has put in my life to speak words of truth and sharpen me, encourage and correct me.  I saw the bible studies, and conferences, and Sunday services I attended…soaking in His truth and promises.   I could almost see my soul being strengthened as HE did the hard work of training this weak soul for the race that was to come.

I think about that with a smile…that GOD KNEW.  I look back on my journals and it’s so clear He was preparing me for the race.  Only I didn’t know that He has already signed me up for this marathon.

“What is ahead for this coming year?” I wrote as I looked ahead to my 36th year. 

I’m so thankful I didn’t know, because I would have run the other direction, like Jonah did when confronted with his difficult task (and we know how that turned out!).

As I’ve reflected on how far God has brought me, and how He has always been faithful, my sorrow cannot help but turn to joy.  I’m thankful today that He has drawn me up, once more, out of the pit of destruction (the pit that looks more at my CIRCUMSTANCES than at my GOD).  I’m thankful that His Grace Abounds – to me….as I run this race SO imperfectly.  His Grace Abounds as I stumble, and look to the left and right and envy others’ races.  His Grace Abounds as He reminds me that MY RACE MATTERS.  Its so that many would “see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:3)

In these weary moments, He woos me once more to where it all began – His Word – His precious promises – His steadfast love and faithfulness.  And He puts a new song in my mouth.  He removes the song of weariness, and self-pity, and discouragement, and puts a new song that only He can write.

This is a new song for the last leg of the race.

It’s a song of praise to our God!

These last few miles, it’s this song that will keep me going, though my legs grow weary.

From Psalm 40

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the {WOMAN} who makes
    the Lord {HER} trust…
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

I have told the glad news of deliverance
    in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
    as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
    I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    from the great congregation.

11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
    your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
    ever preserve me!
12 For evils have encompassed me
    beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
    and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
    my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
    Lord, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
    who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
    who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
    who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”