Sunday, March 22, 2009

Real Life Lessons

We have had a fabulous Spring weekend with Daddy at home! After teeball Friday we went out for a fun dinner with one of P's classmates and her family.

Saturday morning we went to our favorite local breakfast spot, then drove about 20 minutes out of town to some friends of ours' farm. The children had a wonderful time exploring, feeding horses and trout (not simultaneously), riding a tractor, petting a burro and hiking around the property. The sunshine and fresh air, combined with a later-than-usual bedtime the night before, led to all three napping in the car within 5 minutes of our departure.

Saturday evening the Sweeneys came over to babysit while my husband and I enjoyed a little date night. We stayed gone just long enough for Cabell & Mike to put them to bed, then we returned to spend some quality time with our friends. I relish any opportunity to be with them-not just because they are fun (which they are), but because being with them is a real-life sermon with teaching points revealing themselves constantly. God is getting glory through Mike's cancer.

This morning the Sweeneys visited our Sunday School class (they attend another church) to share their testimony of what they are learning as they walk this treacherous road of stage IV metastatic melanoma. It was one of the most powerful right-in-the-thick-of-it testimonies I have ever heard. There is no way I can do their words justice, but the emphasis was on God's unchanging character--and the reminder that He is who He is, regardless of the temporal circumstances we find ourselves in.

I was so struck by Sweeney's reference to John 10:10 and his desire to live a life reflective of his belief in the 'fullness' of Christian life since his salvation experience 14 years ago. As a result, he doesn't have a Bucket List that requires anything radical to change in his life. He & Cabell desire to keep living and loving and ministering right where they are regardless of his prognosis. God has had me so squarely in similar truth lately, regarding the need to live intentionally, remembering everything matters. This part of their talk really resonated in my soul.

The other reminder, from Cabell, that I have witnessed as they have walked through this journey is the need to been firmly rooted and established in Scripture BEFORE the big crisis comes. (We are told in John 16:33 that sooner or later it will come.)That afternoon back in October when we found out that Sweeney's gall bladder removal was not completed because there was a cancerous mass, Cabell's immediate response was to pray Psalm 121 from memory. I hope I will never forget the power of that moment. She wasn't scrambling for something to hold onto in that desperate, frightening moment. She had truth hidden in her heart that rose up to the surface and burst out of her mouth. That, my friends, is faith that is the real deal. That is what I want!

There were so many incredible, challenging lessons. I am hopeful they will write more about them on their caringbridge page and I'll link.

In 'big church' this afternoon our pastor 'just happened' to be preaching on anxiety. He reminded us that worry was sinful because it indicated our distrust of God. He quoted several passages, but this familiar one from Matthew 6:34 was so fresh and timely when I read it from the Message: "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

I realized this weekend that I am growing older. It had nothing to do with my physical body, and everything to do with the inescapable reminders of how complex and layered this world really is. There is so much pain, suffering, illness and sin. Yet, somehow, rather than growing hopeless at this reminder, I feel more aware. I want to firmly grasp the lasting, true things that will bring life and hope. I think through this realistic lens we are able to better appreciate the blessings of health, friendship, peace and love--especially the saving love of our Father.

Our salvation would be meaningless without the realization of our need for it.


Hillary @ The Other Mama said...

AMEN! What an awesome devotional and reminder to live in the present (God's gift) every day. Thanks! And we will pray for your precious friends. They sound amazing!

Tee said...

Powerful post! I have been praying for you dear friend and his wife. The Lord has placed them on my heart.

Kris said...

This is beautiful, and so true. We talked in church today too about 'finding joy in the journey' and how we can find joy through being grateful, living in the moment, and accepting all of the imperfections and struggles of this life and being happy anyway.

georgiamom said...

Wasn't it amazing how well the Sweeney's awesome testimony tied in with Jeff's sermon? I love it when that happens---it was like they talked beforehand. I am still thinking about all that the Sweeney's had to say---awesome.

Andi (and sometimes Jacob) said...

Great post. I got chills when she was spouting the scripture. I too hope that His truth is rooted in my heart like that.

Felicia said...

Wow. You have no idea how much I needed to read this and be reminded of this right now. Nightly I come to your blog and SO often find a post that God just laid for me right here on your blog. I just feel it. Thank you. Enjoy your trip!