I will not lie. I did not sleep much on Tuesday night. The nurses had been great, I had plenty of pain medication…I was “feeling no (or little) pain” as they say. Yet my emotions were all over the place…it was almost like the longer and darker the night got the more my emotions danced and further afield they roamed. I awoke with fits and starts all night long.
If you know much about me you know I am a planner, a dreamer, a visionary, always thinking about what could be and how God invites us to participate in transformation of this world into the Kingdom of God which Jesus so eloquently describes as “life to the full”. Thursday night had been transformational for me. It had been one of those times God reached down and redeemed tragedy for the greater good…I was excited about where we were headed. I had a plan, a vision, a picture of the future…and it certainly did not include Colon Cancer! My plan A was now shifted to God’s plan [I will call it plan B – but truthfully it will ultimately be the plan that works so much better than anything I could ever have dreamed up]. So there I lay…plan A lay in shreds…trying to figure out what in the world God was doing with plan B.
A while ago I had, actually still have, a friend who would ask this very annoying question of me…he asked it just about every time we got together. “Dan, where do you see God at work in your life?” Lying there in the dark, upset that plan A was now gone…trying to figure out plan B…that question came roaring to the front of my mind. Dan, where do you see God in the midst of all this? In the midst of Colon Cancer! This was not my plan. Yet that was/is not the question. Where in the midst of this journey have you seen God at work? Slowly, very slowly, and sometimes better than others I have begun to ask that question.
Over the past few days Nancy and I have been marking our God sightings. I share just a few of them with you now. Not in any special order, just as they come to mind.
- One of my college friends, someone who I have not talked to since graduation turns out to be an oncology nurse who lives in our community (who knew). She offered to talk with Nancy and was extremely helpful in preparing ourselves for our first oncology visit. Setting expectations, getting the right questions and helping understand a whole new vocabulary.
- I met Carol.
- Rayann is a very independent girl. As a young girl she would come hug me every night before bed. Then one night when she was in elementary school she came, stood before me and told me, “I am too old to hug you anymore” and marched off to bed. She hugged me the other night when she left my hospital room. Now, I have always said, “I am not too old to hug you (her)”…but there is something different there.
- When we moved to PA so I could serve as the pastor of FBC it was not an easy transition. Nancy’s search for work was frustrated at every turn, it was demoralizing. Eventually the church needed a daycare director and Nancy moved into that position because it seemed that was where God was leading her. It meant we worked together every day…she was concerned that there can be “too much of a good thing” and it might not be good for our relationship if we worked so closely together. As it turns out it has been one of our greatest joys. Now, when I go back to work she will be right there in the same building to help watch over me! Only God can work these things so far in advance!
- Two weeks ago Nancy’s computer at work died…I mean it just up and died those kind of technology deaths for which there is no return. I had been encouraging her to use daycare funds to buy a laptop so she could work from home but money was tight and she was “being responsible”. Now she had no choice. This week someone went and got her the laptop and set it up so if she needs to work from home she can watch over me and still get her work done.
- These past few days have been nothing short of amazing as I have heard from friends from high school, college, seminary, Malden, Cortland, Springfield, Locust and right here in Kennett Square! Your words of encouragement…the stories of victory over Colon Cancer…sharing how our lives have intertwined have been so helpful and uplifting.
- I confess, confess it freely, that I am drawn to and attracted by strength. As a leader I have always worked hard to be able to enter into any situation…quickly figure out what is going on…and then charting a path forward to somewhere better and more life giving. Working for transformation is not easy and yet it brings and gives me life. Yet time and time again I have been reminded that in my weakness God’s strength and power is lifted up and God receives all the glory for the work the Spirit is doing (which is as it should be). A friend had to come and clean out my gutters today…in my weakness someone else had an opportunity to serve. I cannot drive myself around town these days…I sit passively as Nancy takes me from appointment to appointment. As we sat with the oncologist, I who am normally in control sat quietly by as Nancy “took control” of the meeting. I have always known Nancy to be a woman of strength and power yet in my weakness I see her more clearly. I cannot lift my right arm above my shoulder…I need help getting dressed and undressed…in my weakness Nancy’s servant heart shows through so graciously. I believe a big part of “Plan B” is going to involve learning how to move from a position of weakness so that the strength and power of God can show and shine past and through any of my thoughts and plans.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
Thursday May 5th: I underwent outpatient surgery and the doctor installed my port for chemotherapy treatment.
Friday may 6th: I met with my oncologist and the nursing team that will care for me. It was a good meeting. They are very competent and efficient. Nancy and I feel comfortable with their plans. I will start chemotherapy on Monday morning. After four treatments (8 weeks) there will be some scans to see if the treatment is having the kind of effects we are hoping for.