Praising Him

So here’s the thing.  God wants relationship with us and we are to praise and worship Him always.  Something about this praise thing that really gets you on the right track.  Let me explain…

Late May of 2007, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  I had to wait for six long weeks for surgery where the doctor would go in and freeze the tumor.  When I first heard I’d have to wait for six weeks I almost lost it.  “Come on God, six weeks?  How am I going to survive six weeks of anxiety/fear?  Little did I know what God had up His sleeve.

I had about three days of panic, feeling sorry for myself, and wads of fear.  But I started asking for prayer from my co-workers, my friends at church, my family.  An amazing thing started happening as I opened my mouth and admitted that I had a need.  I started feeling strength building in my spirit.  The knot in my stomach let up.  I turned on worship music and started singing.  I started writing emails, telling people how uplifted I felt by their concerns, their prayers, and their love.  And, most importantly, I started praising God.

Those six weeks ended up being perhaps the strongest days of my life!  Literally!  I walked in such a state of wellness that it shocked me.  I’ve been a pretty negative person most of my life, but this.  Unbelievable.  After moving to Central Oregon a couple of years earlier, I started growing.  I mean I was purposing to follow God.  My husband and I were joining every class that came up and going to home groups.  We were blossoming.  I realize now that what happened was that our foundation got Rock solid.  And that change literally changed my life forever.

I made a lot of stupid choices as a younger person, getting involved in behaviors that certainly didn’t enhance my life.  One of my biggest regrets was that I started smoking cigarettes at about 18.  I wanted to quit for years but couldn’t muster it until approximately 1993 or 94.  That’s a lot of years of smoking.  That’s a lot of years of regret.  One of my biggest fears while being a smoker was that I was so afraid of getting cancer yet I couldn’t stop.  When I was diagnosed with cancer, I couldn’t help but wonder if my smoking was the culprit.

The crazy, wild part of this story is this…I had spent so many years afraid of this diagnosis and then when it happened,  I became rock solid strong in my Lord.  There were a few hours, literally hours (after the initial couple of days of panic), that I wavered in my faith.  But I would call someone or get out this one particular book I have filled with scriptures, and my faith would soar and I was solid again.  It was truly amazing.  Praise was on my lips most days and nights.  And He got me through.  Six weeks after it started, the tumor was frozen.  Three months later my CT scan showed the tumor was deader than a doornail.  I was one happy, praising woman, loving my God for answering my prayers and showing up in my life.

So, this summer I started having a few stomach issues.  About three weeks ago, my left side started aching just enough to let me know something was up.  There have been some other stressors in my life lately, so it was hard to determine whether I was feeling the effects of too much stress or was there something there to worry about.  Your mind does funny things under these circumstances.  Two weeks ago, I let my guard down, and in came the enemy of my soul with all his tormenting thoughts.  By the end of that week, I was convinced the cancer had returned after 2 1/2 years of clean CT scans.  I finally (oh what on earth was the matter with me that I waited so long to ask for prayer?) got a couple of friends together and asked them to pray for me.  One of them made me promise to call the doctor the following week and get this figured out.

Do you know the torment you can go through in one short week?  Of course you do, you’ve probably been through it yourself.  I was convinced, in my weaker moments, that this was the end of my life.  I allowed the enemy to grab my ankles and slam me from side to side with all his lies.  I felt like I had been through a war.  I was inconsolable, as hard as my husband tried to tell me it was not cancer.  I cried a lot that week.

I went to my doctor this past week on Wednesday.  After asking me many questions about how I felt, had I changed my diet, etc. she decided I needed a CT scan to make sure nothing was going on with the affected kidney from three years ago.  I felt slightly relieved by her exam.  CT was scheduled for Thursday and she told me to call on Friday at noon if I hadn’t heard from her prior to that.  Friday I waited nervously all morning but no call came.  Finally I called her office and got one of the nurses.  She pulled up my records and reported, “no evidence of any recurring malignancy in the kidney nor in any surrounding area!”  I couldn’t get off the phone fast enough before the tears started falling.

I had to confess to my Lord how ashamed I was of myself for doubting and allowing fear to run rampant for a week.  As I sobbed and sobbed at the great news I’d just received, I couldn’t help the praises that began coming out of my mouth.  I had my life back!  Not that it had actually been taken away from me, but the enemy wanted me to think it had.  Another great lesson concerning:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Cor 10:3-5 (NIV)

The enemy comes in through the mind.  If we let him, and boy can I attest to this, he will slam you relentlessly, to the point you think you’re going to die.  I had let my guard down and the resultant behavior I exhibited was testament to the power of his weapon.  One redeeming thing I can share with you.  Over the weekend prior, when I had asked a couple of friends to pray for me, I could feel the strength begin to come up.  I went home and I dug out my much used book with all the scriptures in it along with a binder called “My Journey through Cancer”.  I started reading notes and cards and emails that had been sent to me in 2007 leading up to my surgery, along with scriptures about healing, health, and Jesus’ unending love for each one of us.  My strength soared.  I wasn’t out of the woods yet, but I was certainly better, the tears dried up, and now I was expecting Jesus to show up in my life.  One of my life scriptures is:

“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalms 5:3 (NIV)

Expect God.  Praise God.  I am alive and well in Him.  Praise God!

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