Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Don't Forget the Things Your Eyes Have Seen

I was in a foreign land thirty-eight years ago when doctors discovered a sarcoma in me the size of a grapefruit. That is a big tumour for a slip of a girl about to celebrate her third birthday. My dad and grandfather rushed me to the emergency room because I had popped a penny in my mouth and swallowed it and it lodged in my esophagus.

When they scanned for the penny on the x-ray, they found more than they ever imagined. They left me in the hospital that night and carried the bad news back to my mom.

I don’t remember swallowing the penny or spending the night alone in the hospital in England. I don’t remember flying home to Canada or meeting all the doctors that poked and prodded. I don’t remember being admitted to the Hospital for SickKids on that day in September.

I don’t remember the surgery that couldn’t get all the cancer.

I do remember lying very still on a hard, cold table while the doctors blasted me with radiation. I remember months and months of chemotherapy.

No one could say if all the treatment would even kill the cancer; a type of cancer that was so rare to even be found in a child. They drew up a plan for a three year old that was as aggressive as if they were treating an adult with a sarcoma.

My mom, she refused to take me down for my first day of radiation, just weeks after my surgery. I can’t blame her. I’m not sure if I could have subjected any of my three year olds to everything my body has had to endure.

My doctor called her on the phone and told her, if she did not bring me down to Toronto, I would not live. But, she had already been warned of the horrors of all the side effects. How do parents make a heart-wrenching choice like that?

Doomed if you do, but dead if you don’t.

That first appointment was rescheduled. And every weekday for the next five weeks they put me on that cold table in a large room with a big machine killing things I knew nothing about.

I still tremble when I think about that table.

For two years, my fight with cancer continued.

For the next thirty-six years, I have pressed on and I look back lest I forget what my eyes have seen.

No one knew back in 1979 that the radiotherapy they blasted at me as a 3 year old child would send me into advanced heart failure as a 37 year old mom of three young children.

It had already destroyed a lung and so the open-heart surgery I needed was risky business.

How can a body with 30% lung capacity manage on a heart-lung machine for over six hours? No one knew if it could.

Stepping up on to that operating table was a step of faith.

Faith perseveres by seeing “Him who is invisible” we are told in Hebrews 11:27.

My eyes have never seen God. I have never stood before a burning bush or stood at the foot of a mountain and see it burn with fire or heard the voice of God. But, I have seen His wonders; I have seen His glory displayed in my life. I have known the truth He has revealed in His Word.

I will give thanks to God for the great things He has done.

In Deuteronomy, Moses exhorts the children of Israel to not forget what the Lord God has done for them. They are once again on the eastern border of the Promised Land. Moses was forbidden to enter the land and he would die in the land of Moab before God would tell Joshua to cross over the Jordan and take possession of the land He was giving the children of Israel.

They have wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. And now, before Moses dies, he urges the people, with a series of sermons and prophecies, to obey the Lord God who is faithful, unchanging, and full of grace and mercy. God had demonstrated His power and love over and over and yet, it keeps slipping from their mind that He alone is God.

What slips from our mind can never lead to gratitude in our hearts. You forget his wonders, and next you will be forgetting God.

In Deuteronomy 4:9, Moses tells this generation of Israelites:
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.”
Don’t forget! Don’t forget what you have seen God do. Don’t let it slip from your memory. Tell it over and over to your children. Don’t give any room for any idols in your heart. God is good and faithful. God is just and holy. He alone is God. Do you know it?

John Calvin, in his commentary on Deuteronomy, wrote:
“the people must beware of shutting their eyes against the clear revelation of God's power, and therefore urges them to keep it in memory, because man's ingratitude is but too prone to forgetfulness."
We don’t know what we may have to face tomorrow.

We don’t know what the road will look like. It may look like the impossible. It may look like cancer or some other sickness, or a costly sacrifice, or persecution, or reproach.

It may look like the Red Sea, or the wilderness, or the Jordan River. It may part and you will step out in faith on the dry ground able to endure because you are relying on God’s promises.

Thirty-eight years ago the doctors found a sarcoma right beside my heart. Three years ago doctors rebuilt my heart, but they didn’t think I would wake up that night after the surgery.

For three years now my heart ticks loud like a clock in my chest. I can hear it keep time with a steady beat as if to remind me every moment of the day.

Before God had created the world, He knew my every heartbeat. He knows my days. By grace, He has brought me back to Himself and with His steadfast love will lead me all the days of my life.

I have seen God do great things. He alone is God. I will not forget.

I will tell them to my children and if it is God’s will, to their children.

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