See that picture? *points up* That's taken from Mom's back yard, looking almost due south. The beaches of Ft. Walton Beach are faintly available past all of the boathouses on the Bay. See those nasty clouds rolling in? When that storm hit, it was hard to see anything. A very loud frog-strangler. Ugly and dangerous.
But here's the thing: the storm & those clouds did not change the breathtaking beauty of Ft. Walton Beach and of the view from Mom's back yard. It obscured the view & veiled the beauty for a season, but it didn't...it couldn't...change them.
That is what I'm thankful for this year most of all.
When a huge, nasty storm comes--like, say, stage 4 cancer--it seems that the core essence of the world and--dare I say it?--of God Himself have changed. Become malevolent. Gone away, even.
Ever feel like that? Well, I bring you good news: major life storms--like, say, stage 4 cancer--do not change God and His relationship with the world. With us. With me. Sure, His beauty and glory and grandeur and love and all may seem veiled...but they most assuredly are there.
I recently heard these words coming out of my mouth: "I'm so thankful for this year and for cancer..." In a flash, I thought I had gone nuts. In that same flash, I realized that I hadn't (well, not based on that anyway...; )...) I am grateful for this year, and even for cancer.
Look back at the photo. When storms like that come, don't they make you long for the view as you know it is? Don't they make the mental image of the view you know is there come more clearly into focus? And, oh my...don't they make you appreciate the sunny, storm-free days? That view from Mom's backyard is one of my favorite places on the planet. I'd love to have a dollar for every minute I've spent just sitting there out back and enjoying the vista and thinking. Storms like the one in the picture...or like stage 4 cancer...make me appreciate the view all the more.
I also heard these words coming out of my mouth recently: "I've never felt the presence of Jehovah Shammah--the Lord Who is Present--as I did in the room there in M.D. Anderson's ICU." So, yeah...I'm thankful for the blinding, dangerous, nasty storm of cancer. For because of it, I see the essence...the goodness...of my Lord more than ever before. (I'd have been delighted to have seen that goodness and experienced that tender presence through other means than cancer, surgery, & immunotherapy, of course...but I'm not a good enough writer to fully capture how much I treasure what the Lord taught me and showed me this past summer.)
I hope I'll never be the same again. Pray with me to that end, won't you?
Digging the storms,
p.s. - some other more tangible things I'm oh-so-grateful for this year: my wife. my children. my extended family. my friends. my absent friends & family who have experienced the ultimate healing. (J--save me a cup of coffee up there, will ya?), my church. the church (capital C...the entire Body of Christ). my job. my boss. my co-workers. my students (many of whom become my friends). the ability to read. technology that helps me reconnect with friends and make new ones. speaking opportunities that allow me to share some of the veiled goodness of my Lord...
p.p.s. - Some things & people for which I'm thankful that warrant their own list: my amazing Drs.:
Robbins (family practice...a friend & fellow church member besides being my primary care Dr.)
Bellare (oncology - H'burg...a friend for years before becoming my Dr.)
Morrow (cardiology - Mobile...my cousin & friend besides being my Dr.)
Homsi & Hwu (medical melanoma - M.D. Anderson)
Kim (medical thoracic - MDA; recommended & arranged VATS)
Mehran (thoracic surgery - MDA)
medical technology - VATS, ct scans, P.E.T. scans, needle biopsy (ok...that one's the most difficult to be thankful for...), bloodwork. IVs, immunotherapy,...
p.p.p.s. - My pilgrim name is Bartholomew Alden, which is a pretty cool name! ; ) What's yours?