Saturday, September 28, 2013

What Is Your Sword of Damocles?

Do you ever feel like you have some fear or burden constantly hanging over your head? Maybe it steals your sleep, or serves as a constant nagging companion in your mind. We all seem to struggle with something. As I sat in my surgeon, Dr. Vaporciyan aka Rock Star's, office at MD Anderson last week, I received the great news that I was still clear of the nuisance (aka cancer)! As fabulous as that news was, my mind immediately thought, "Well, what about next time?" How sad is that?! I slid from celebrating and clapping my hands, to fretting about my next appointment. My doctor must have seen it in my eyes because he asked me a question that I want to ask you now. "Have you heard of the sword of Damocles?"

Damocles served in the court of Dionysius. Dionysius was a tyrant who lived a very extravagant life. By all appearances, he had it all. Luxury, feasts, fame and flatterers.  Damocles was one of these flatterers. To Damocles, the life of Dionysius was to be envied. He had no worries, no troubles, just the life of luxury. Damocles so frequently commented on how lucky Dionysius was, that Dionysius grew weary of hearing him say it. To give Damocles a little perspective of his "luck", he invited Damocles to experience life in his shoes. Damocles quickly accepted the offer.

Dionysius had a grand feast prepared. Damocles donned fine garments and reclined at the table enjoying the fine festivities. No doubt he felt he had found the good life. The meal was fantastic. The service delightful. Life could not be better. As he leaned back in his fine chair, something above his head captured his eye. It was a sword, hanging from the ceiling by the hair of a horse. The looming danger suddenly overshadowed the food, clothes and finery. He sat upright  in his chair and looked to Dionysius for an explanation. Dionysius quickly explained that this was what the life of a ruler was like. Damocles expediently excused himself from the table, leaving behind that which he thought he had truly desired.

There are many conclusions one could draw from that story, but the lesson for me was that I have a choice to make each day. I can focus on the feast or focus on the sword. If I focus on the feast, then I choose to pull up to the table of blessing and partake of the festival of life. But if I am not careful, my eyes may shift above my head to the sword. Although I may still be present at the feast, I cannot enjoy it, because I am in constant fear of the sword dropping. It is a conscious decision. Focus on the feast? Focus on the sword?

What is your sword of Damocles? Is it your health? Your finances? Your relationship? Your kids? Is it your list of regrets or failures? Your future? Whatever it is, it is keeping you from the feast! It is robbing you of your blessings! Life can't be spent worrying about what if the sword falls! Matthew says it this way: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:25-27

I have a sword over my head. You have one, too. But I have a feast to attend! Wanna go with me? I will save you a seat!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Angel Named Ida

Do you believe in angels? Not the little cherubs with the round tummies, chubby cheeks and little wings. I am talking about the ones who wear normal clothes, have average faces, and appear in the regular places. They may not be heavenly beings (or maybe they are), but they bring messages all the same!

Yesterday Rodney and I were at MD Anderson Cancer Center for my three month follow up. I will have these appointments for the rest of my life to make sure that the nuisance isn't trying to sneak back up on me. Thymoma can do that. As much as I try to maintain my focus, I have to admit that the thought of these appointments shakes me up a little.

We had completed blood work and a CT scan and were on our way to my final appointment to get news that would either elate or try to crush me. I ducked into the bathroom to get my game face on and there she was, emptying the trash. She had short tight curls, dark skin, and a blue cleaning uniform. With rubber gloves, she busied herself cleaning the restroom. Not exactly how you expect to find an angel. As I stepped out of the stall I was prompted to thank her for the work she was doing, but before I could speak, she spoke to me. As I stood washing my hands, she asked if I was a Christian. I told her that I had been saved since I was six and that honestly I didn't know how I would have gotten through the past year without God. She asked how my faith has been affected by all I have been through. I told her that I had learned amazing lessons about God in the darkness. I shared with her that I was on my way up to get reports to see if my scans were still clean. She stopped wiping the counter, looked at me and said, "They will be, for by His stripes you are healed."

Now a little background knowledge for you, in case those words are not familiar. That phrase is mentioned twice in the bible. You can find it in Isaiah 53:5 and again in 1 Peter 2:24. I have read it and heard it a million times in my life, I have even claimed it during my battle, but I had never noticed what she told me next. She said to me, "In 1 Peter the verse says, "by his stripes YOU are healed" in Isaiah it says, "by his stripes WE are healed". Isaiah was a prophesy of things to come. 1 Peter 2:24 is for you, for by his stripes YOU are healed. You will be okay, for by his stripes you are healed." About that time some other women entered the restroom. She returned to wiping the counter; I returned to washing my hands. As I dried my hands I asked her name. It was Ida. I told her how happy I was to have met her.  She smiled and wished me a blessed day. Somehow I knew it already was.

I walked out of the restroom, my heart lifted. Her words were reminders of the wonders God has done in my life, the healing he has brought to my body and soul. Moments later, I sat in the doctors office. He smiled as he told me my scans were stable and all looked good. Ida's words played in my my mind, "For by his stripes you are healed." I am grateful for healing. I am grateful for answered prayers. I am grateful for earthly and heavenly angels that show up in unexpected places to bring encouragement. God is good---ALL THE TIME!! (and He is not above showing up in a bathroom to remind you!)