My friend endured months of treatment, subjecting herself to the slow and steady drip of poison into her bloodstream to kill the cancer eating away at her body. It made her tired; it made her sick. She walked through dark days, unsure sure she could endure another round. But she did it. She persevered and did what she needed to do in order to be made whole.
The cancer which gnaws away at my soul is a toxic combination of fear and worry, and I’ve been prescribed treatment: Rest. Dwell in God’s presence. Know that he is good.
So I turn of my cell phone and make my way to the beach, a short two hour trip. The drive lasts the length of the four Christmas CDs I listen to, because I know that the promise of rest is connected with that baby born so long ago. I arrive at my favorite little breakfast café, the one Ethel introduced me to during one of our outrageous adventures. I order an omelet filled with lobster. Lobster for breakfast, for crying out loud.
After eating my fill of good things, I drive to a quiet beach and sit with chair low in the sand. I try to do this resting thing. I close my eyes, ponder scripture, think of lyrics to familiar hymns. I’ve packed my Kindle and my journal and I keep thinking there is something I should be doing. Reading. Writing. I tense my limbs, trying to will spiritual experience out of the moment.
I really don’t know how to rest.
And it seems so selfish and indulgent and wrong, this taking time and doing nothing and surrounding myself with quiet and goodness and beauty. Above my writing desk at home sits a plaque which reads: I’m not a control freak, I just happen to know what’s best for everybody. I bought it as a joke, but it’s not a joke; not really. Because this is how I live.
I live as though the happiness and well-being of my loved ones depends on me, as though the God I profess to be powerful and good isn’t quite up to the task.
And isn’t this why generations of God’s people wandered in the wilderness? Because they didn’t take God at his word and trust in his promises—that he was big enough and good enough to do all the good things he said he would do?
We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Remember that God said, “Exasperated, I vowed,
‘They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.’ “ Hebrews 4:2, The Message
The beach is quiet, nearly empty now that summer has slipped away and vacationers have returned to school and work and duty. In the quiet, I hear gentle lapping waves singing in chorus with the Spirit:
His mercies are forever sure.
No good thing does he withhold.
Be still and know.
Taste and see.
Be at peace.
It doesn’t seem fair, my friend having to subject herself to rounds of toxins while I get to drink deeply of God and his goodness to rid myself of mine. But we don’t get to choose the ways in which we are sick nor the kinds of treatment which may bring healing. It does me no good to compare. My work–my therapy–is to let the word of Christ dwell in me richly, to sing hymns and psalms and spiritual songs, and to be thankful.
Linking with Laura, Michelle, and Jen and the sisterhood: