Sunday, November 20, 2016

God's grace

(this entry was originally posted June 18, 2014, at another blog site.)

Life took an unexpected turn … I’m now the lady with cancer.  

I’m still sister/daughter/niece/aunt/friend/colleague.  And now it’s different.

I started chemo. Therefore, I receive attention I didn’t get before.  

I accept I have to slow down. A week ago I would take a book to Starbucks on a whim, and sip iced coffee for hours. I would spend time shopping for shoes, going from store to store, and end up not finding what I want. This week, I do my shopping in bed, online, with a bottle of water at my side. Getting out of bed means, well, getting out of bed. As much as I want my “last week” life, the vise grip pain in my legs, feet, tips of my toes, convinces me the Starbucks and mall shopping is so-last-week.

I find myself dependent on others for tasks that only a week ago I was able to do on my own. It’s humbling in ways, and in other ways, well, I can get kind of used to someone else taking out the garbage and carting the laundry up and down the stairs.

People don’t want to see me suffer, and rallying behind me is what they do in their helplessness because they can’t take away the disease. 

“People want to help. Let them.”

Do I “deserve” their help? No, to “deserve” something implies there was a scorecard of some sort being kept. As far as I can tell, the offers are gestures to help me to do what I can’t do on my own. These offers are called “grace” – a gift I do not deserve. 

In the process of wrapping my mind around the words “We found cancer cells” I had this feeling that because my body was damaged, I had somehow failed. Sure, there were risk factors I could have handled differently, but I knew the cancer was not “caused” by me. I find it far-fetched that anyone would place blame on me for having this disease. It’s not as though it was a lung disease caused by chronic heavy exposure to carcinogens.  The type of cancer I have could happen to any woman who breathes air, drinks water, and eats food. But I decided to pursue the thought.  What IF someone were to place blame on me for something I did or failed to do? Immediately my mind went to the scriptures:

As (Jesus) passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:1-3 ESV)

Come again? My disease that is not my fault has a purpose? And it’s for God’s work to be displayed? 

My world had been upended in recent days, so I decided to accept this in faith. Cancer, so the works of God might be displayed. OK, let’s see what happens when God shows up …

There is an often used saying, “By the grace of God.” When you take the time to ponder, I mean really ponder this saying, it can be a bit mind-blowing. God is God – all-knowing, all-powerful, almighty. He has a high standard for His people to live up to. It’s laid out in the Ten Commandments. There’s not anyone who hasn’t broken at least one of them. I’d be the first to admit I’ve broken more than one in the same act. If grace is “an undeserved gift” why would a God who demands perfection offer it to people who are expected to live up to that standard but miserably fail? We can’t make the mark of perfection on our own. Why would a holy and perfect God bother to help us?

The word “sin” means “to miss the mark.” Love covers a multitude of sin, bridges the gap between our missed targets and God’s mark of perfection. There is no way we can cover that divide on our own. Grace is unmerited favor; an undeserved gift.  Among God’s greatest works is the gift of grace. God is love. God showed His love for us in that while we were sinners – are sinners – Christ died on the cross to bridge that gap for us. If that isn’t grace, I don’t know what is.


“People want to help. Let them help.” Friends do that. It’s their gift of grace, to bridge the gap between what I can do on my own, and the mark that is expected of me. They cannot extend the same grace that God offers, but they can in their own way allow God to show works of grace through them. And I cannot thank them enough.

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