Preface: What a gift when important aspects of life overlap! I have been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society Relay For Life for nearly a decade. At the local event a sunrise service is held Sunday morning for those of faith. This year we didn’t have music, nor anyone to lead the service, although there were enthusiastic women not quite confident enough at first that they could do it themselves. That feeling didn’t last long as within in a couple of days I had this overwhelming feeling this was a gift for me, whatever it was that was about to happen. Soon I knew in my heart I was to give the message that morning and am sharing it with you. The audience was made up of team members, committee members and Boy Scouts who had been there for 24 hours doing what they do best- fundraise and raise awareness to fight cancer. My commitment to Relay and my personal spiritual growth intersected that Sunday morning in a beautiful way.
Every day is the day the Lord has made! I remember singing this last year while sitting here in the dank, raw cold of the morning. Today we sit here in the warmth and light of a new day. Whether it is the day everything goes your way or a day it just doesn’t, each and every day is the Lord’s creation. Life has ups and downs. There may seem to be darkness, and there is light. We choose the days we like and label them good and others bad. So the natural way of life, the ebbs and flows, becomes good or bad for us.
The difference between the days is in our minds. We choose to be grateful for some and annoyed about others. You know people who are grateful most of the time and others that always have something to complain about it. It is a choice. When I was a kid I heard a story about 2 children who were invited to a farm. One couldn’t stand the smell. She grumbled and made faces and held her nose, whining to leave immediately. Another child noticed all the manure and the smell and began running around excitedly looking in all the stalls. When asked what she was doing she called back gleefully, “ With all this poop, there HAS to be a pony in here somewhere!” 2 Perceptions of 1 situation.
Last year when my cancer journey began, I had a hard time remembering all of this. I spent a lot of time asking, “Why me? What did I do wrong?” “Why am I being punished?” I did get past it and regained the sense that I was in God’s hands and every day was the best day it could be. I was able to bring light into what I perceived as darkness. I even embraced being bald!
The second time, less than a month after finishing my treatment for breast cancer, when I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I didn’t go down that rabbit hole. I was gratefully in the Grace of God. I didn’t do anything different except that I was open to His abundant gifts every day. Through the biopsies and surgeries, I felt little pain, and worry was not an option. Whatever the outcome, I knew I was in God’s hands. What happened for me was glorious spiritual growth. I let hope blossom into belief.
Hope signifies the possibility of good news, good reports and a good life. We see messages of hope all over especially about cancer. Hope gives us purpose and a reason to continue with efforts to eliminate cancer through preventative messages and treatment. It has become a keyword for Relay. Hope elicits a response of “Thank, God!” too often spoken as a surprise, because there was an inkling of doubt.
Hope grows into belief through faith. With belief and faith there is no doubt. There is a knowing that what is for the highest good will be attained. God told his disciples, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move; Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:14–20).
Like many parables Jesus told, there was some exaggeration to make his point. They were not to be taken literally but for us to understand the magnitude of our capabilities with our faith in God. Mankind experiences miracles equal to the uprooting of a tree or the moving of a mountain, yet do not recognize it for what it is. Rather than belief in the power of God and prayer it is diminished to luck. Moving of mountains happens all the times when we are open to it. And it has nothing to do with luck.
Faith backed by hope, builds belief and extinguishes fear, anger and doubt brought on by adversity. Be grateful for it. Acknowledge the goodness in your life, even if in the beginning you honestly believe that the good you receive is the size of a mustard seed. I used to think I had to work harder at faith and trust like it was one more thing that would get stronger if I could just try hard enough! But you can’t force it, you have to let go and be still, especially in your mind. Clear your mind so that His words can become your thoughts. I have never heard voices, but I think thoughts of goodness, and peace, and caring and love when it ordinarily would be difficult for me, or come up with solutions that blow my mind, and realize I didn’t come up with them all on my own. I first realized that when I was writing a book and would go back later and reread it. I would read and check what I wrote, wondering who wrote this? It couldn’t have been me. Then it dawned on me that God or one of His angels wrote through me. This connection is possible for all of us. You just need to let God in. It is a choice.
Pray with trust and faith. Asking for something you do not believe you will get, or deserve is not asking in faith. Prayer with hope is a start, prayer with faith, even the faith the size of a mustard seed is the answer. Prayer, knowing, believing that whatever is for the highest good- God’s will takes place. What we want is not always in our best interest or the best interest of the world around us. Only He knows. Have faith in that too.
We can see things in our lives as being dark. God brings the light. Our challenge is to allow the light to shine in our life at all times and to trust that God has it all under control. Belief built on hope knows miracles are coming, and responds with a knowing grateful smile and a silent thank you from the heart. His will be done. Every day is a day that the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it and watch your darkness disappear.
May 21, 2017 Relay For Life of the Greater Lake Region