On dying to self and other Monday lessons

RSH 1831

Kevin has his scans today.  Our calendar stops at this Wednesday.  We simply cannot plan a thing past that day, since we have no idea what will be happening next.  Maybe the scans will show progress and we will rejoice and return for the third round of IL-2 next Monday.  Maybe they will show no progress, and we will cry and then take a deep breath and discuss further treatment options.  Maybe they will show that not only has the treatment not helped things, but the cancer has continued to grow and spread.  And we will mourn.  And we will pray.  And we will try to trust God.  Maybe.

But today, I cannot live in maybe.  I can only live in today, and try not to worry about the maybe.  Kevin decided to go to work this morning because it is good for him and he is, amazingly, able to set aside his worries and fears and focus on his job.  Work is a wonderful distraction for him when he feels well enough.  I decided to go up to a coffee shop that I have recently discovered.  It rests hidden in the back of a wooded apartment complex, overlooking the Chattahoochee River, right up against national park and trails.  It is one of the most peaceful and relaxing places I have ever been, and I go there and walk among the rocks at the edge of the water and meet with God.

RSH 1788

This morning my neighbor called me up.  She has twin girls who have a birthday today.  Sweet little Ra’Niya is turning twelve.  But her sister Sa’Miya died when she was six months old from SIDS.  Maiya was calling to see if I was around for a visit, but I had already headed up to the coffee shop.  I listened to her share about how Ra’Niya woke up at 4AM this morning crying, mourning the death of a sister she had never known, but who still holds a piece of her heart.  I cannot imagine losing my own twin, or even the very idea of having one but having never known her, only having known your mother’s grief as the years’ milestones pass by… birthdays, deathdays, holidays.  Even twelve years later, the wound is still deep and painful.

RSH 1851

I invited Maiya and Ra’Niya to come up and meet me here at the coffee shop, knowing that it would be a special place where we could pray and perhaps God could meet with them the way He has been meeting with me out on the water or on the trails.  They are coming up, but first, said Maiya, she needed to pay a visit to a friend who was admitted to the hospital last night because the treatment is not working and the cancer has spread to her brain.  They are going to sit with her friend for a while, and then come and join me and we will cry and pray together.

 

In her own grief, Maiya is making time to minister to another.  She comforts her daughter while enduring the pain of her own loss.  I can not fathom the pain of the loss of a child.  Nor the painfully intertwined emotions of having a twin that survived while one did not.  Daily reminders of joy and pain, gifts and loss.

In going through this time of such and pain and loss for our family I too often forget how many others are grieving.  Kevin is still here with me.  We woke up this morning and were granted another day.  Yet there is still loss.  Life will never be the same, no matter how this whole thing turns out.  He will never be the same and neither will I or even our children for that matter.  There are wounds that will take the rest of our lifetime to heal and grief over missed opportunities and lost time.

RSH 1843

Yet this morning, I find myself drawn the thought that I must die to self.  That in dying to self, to my own grief and fears, I can minister to others who are grieving and who are hurting.  As I pondered that thought, I knew what I wanted to write about today.  I opened my computer and looked up the verse on dying to self.  I was surprised that all the translations I found did not use the word “dying.”  The word used in nearly every translation I found was to “deny” ourselves.  The command is from Jesus.

He says in Mark 8:34-35 

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

I don’t know, I’m not a theologian, and I haven’t taken the time to really study this verse in context.  But what it says to me today is that I can, in fact I must set down my own fears, my own worries in order to follow Christ.  And in doing so, Christ will be able to use me to minister to others.  And I’m not just bailing on my own needs either.  Because if things work out the way He is commanding, then someone else will deny themselves and follow Christ and be led to minister to me.  In trusting that God works things out this way, He allows all of us to minister and be ministered to.  He allows us all to be a part of His overflowing love.

RSH 1830

I spoke with a friend and mentor yesterday about my current struggles not with why did Kevin get cancer, why did God allow it, etc.  But my struggles are currently a little bigger, more like, why God, in Your perfect design and wisdom, would you have even created a world that had the possibility of evil to begin with?  It all seems a little absurd that if You could design ANYthing in ANY way you wanted, you would really create it all this way.  Sometimes it seems like everything after the fall is just like this great crazy compromise.

I am blessed to know I am not alone in my doubts and questions.  This issue is one that has been studied and debated throughout all of the history of Christianity.

RSH 1846

John shared with me one idea that God was so overflowing with His own love and goodness that He wanted to create man to share it with and to add to His own expression of His love.  And even before the fall, God created man to be in relationship with other humans, again as an expression of His goodness.  He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.”  And then He created woman.

So anyway, as I meditated this morning on this denying self and ministering to others who were grieving and hurting, I came back to what John shared.  In His love and goodness and wisdom, God created it this way.  From the beginning to the end of the Bible, God tells us that He created us to reflect and pour out HIS love through ourselves and into others.  And to receive HIS love into ourselves from others.

And so today, instead of borrowing worries from tomorrow, I choose to die to self, to deny myself, and to allow God to use me instead to comfort another.  And in so doing, I am myself comforted.  Thank you God for your wisdom in this mysterious design.

7 thoughts on “On dying to self and other Monday lessons

  1. Thanks for these words, Rachel they are a great reminder for all of us to avoid getting caught up in worrying only about our own struggles and needs. We love you guys and are praying with all our might for a declaration of God’s miracle today!

  2. Rachel, once again your words are making my teary, but your words are so comforting. Andrew & i will be praying for some good “Maybe” news. God is good as you know. And in all things we need to trust & have faith in God the most. Yes i know you know all this already & that you & Kevin are trusting in him. Proverbs3:5-6 says Trust in him with all your heart & lean onto your own understanding but in all your ways knowledge him and he will make your paths straight. That is God’s promise to us all. Rachel you & kevin are strong. We may never understand to why Kevin has this Cancer. But what i do know is as long as Kevin as the energy to keep on fighting he can & will beat this. He loves you so very much. And when Kevin does not have energy to fight then you fight for him as you have been doing all long. Don’t either of you give up. I’am not giving up on you both. Your kids needs you both. Sorry to post so much when i know in my heart you already know all this but sometimes a reminder helps. I’am here for you. I posted a picture of Jude that I hope you & kevin saw yesterday. I did it for you both. He is a great kid & so is Eveie. Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight. And when you both seem you can’t anymore I will carry the load for you & Fight for you both. I love you so very much. And with prayer warriors like myself i will be praying today & everyday as i do for Good News. Let us know. Will just know you are loved by us both. God bless youboth. And remember in Jeremiah 30:17. For i will restore you to health and your wounds I will heal declares the Lord.

    Love,
    Danielle

  3. Great words to meditate on. I too question God’s plan but only because of my ego!! When I remind myself that He is in control of all things and loves me in spite of my failings then the bad things and questions don’t matter so much! All for His glory! He never said it would be easy but only that we would be in paradise with him one day. So I have to remember to deny myself and pick up the cross everyday and follow Him! Praying for you, Kevin and the kids! May His peace blanket you today!
    { Margo

  4. Dear Rachel: Your photos and your words are so peaceful yet I can only imagine
    the pain you and Kevin live with everyday. I am reminded of the old “negro spiritual”: He has the whole world in His hands…
    My prayers are with you daily.
    Love, Irene

  5. Wow. Rachel.
    Wow.
    I need to meditate on these words.
    Thank you for sharing Christ in you.
    It is so true that if we were all doing this, we would be ministering to, but also ministered to.
    Beautiful reflection.
    Thank you Lord for your truth.

  6. We’ve intensified our prayers. I came away from my lunch with Kevin encouraged by the God who holds K’s faith steady. Kev looks at today AND tomorrow with open eyes and hand held steady by God. Please call for any need.

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