Right next to me. That is a huge reason why I got through it without too many emotional scars. Yes, it was a scary thing to hear I had acute myelocytic leukemia. Yes, I was nervous about chemotherapy. I thought about dying. But it was what it was. Without my belief in God having everything under control, I would have been a mess. I didn’t have to understand what He was doing, or why He was allowing it. I just had to believe it was all happening for a reason. I’m still not entirely sure what the reason was/is- but that’s OK. It’s out of my hands. I’m generally happier when humans aren’t managing things.
I’d ended up in the emergency room before being diagnosed . I’ve got an extensive medical history, and because of having had many, many blood clots in my lungs at one time, I’d been told that I should always get any sort of funky feelings in my chest or breathing issues checked out at the ER. I’d seen my lab work and a hematologist/oncologist, who was planning to do a bone marrow biopsy the following week. The Friday night before the scheduled bone marrow biopsy (of course it was a Friday night after office hours) I started having some odd pressure and mild shortness of breath. I knew it could be because of the low hemoglobin, but figured I’d better get it checked out. That may have been the difference in surviving or not. My lab work values had fallen even more. I later found out I may have had a week or two to live had I not gotten started on chemo and transfusions of platelets and red blood cells when I did. That ‘gut’ feeling was something I’ve learned to listen to, and believe it can be a nudge from God to perk up and pay attention to something.
When I first got the diagnosis, I wasn’t that surprised. I’d seen my lab work that got me referred to the hem/onc, and knew whatever was coming wasn’t going to be good. I’d at least had that much warning. It is different to actually hear the words confirming what sort of diagnosis I had, but at least I knew enough as an RN to know that I was in trouble. I had time to have some sort of ‘back of my mind’ reaction. So, the praying started in earnest before I was actually diagnosed. My main prayers- please, God, either get me through it, or minimize the pain.
I knew where I’d end up if I died. I’ve had very strong beliefs in Heaven since I was a kid. Some say that’s illogical, blind faith. I believe that faith is sort of blind by definition- LOL. If I needed proof, it wouldn’t be faith ! I did pray often, and know others were praying for me. Several of my dad’s friends from his church came to visit me, as did a couple of the visiting clergy folks. (I’d grown up in that church, so knew the people he knew for the most part). A big blessing was the social work Master’s intern that was assigned to me was actually a friend, former neighbor, and church friend (her whole family). I was so glad to see her, and told her that it was OK to tell her family, who also visited. It was nice to see familiar people.
I believe that getting to Heaven is a choice. It’s not about being ‘good’ or living a decent life. It’s about belief. In particular, it’s about believing that Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth as a man in order to die as a sacrifice for all of our sins. Nobody who is of an age of accountability can ‘work’ their way into Heaven. It’s about believing in Jesus, His death and resurrection, and that He’s going to come back one day. So Heaven is a choice. Not believing is also a choice. And, it’s all free will. God gave us free will to decide if we believe or not. He could have designed us all to follow Him without making that decision, but what good is a relationship that is ‘programmed’? What good is the ‘love’ of a child that is pre-programmed? It’s not ‘real’. God didn’t create puppets. He created us with free will. It’s up to us to make that decision.
I’ve been told that my ‘illogical’ faith is a form of being brainwashed, or following as a puppet, but it’s actually my responsibility to continue believing what I do. I don’t believe salvation is ever lost once it’s accepted. However, to maintain an active relationship with the Lord, I have to put some effort into it. A feeble analogy is this: a plant will still grow once it has roots- but weeding, fertilizing, watering, pruning, and protecting it make for a much fuller plant with deeper roots, fuller blossoms, and a longer life. Am I perfect at it? Absolutely not ! I ask God to forgive me for various things all the time ! But He’s working in me, using what strengths I have. He can use all of us. Many of the people in the Bible who had the greatest impact were train wrecks before they let God work through them !
Christianity has been described as ‘exclusive’. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are no requirements other than belief and acceptance of what Christ did. That’s it. There are no ‘steps’ in order to be good enough. No amount of following ‘rules’ will get someone into Heaven. No trips to places around the world are required. There are no limits on the number of people who can get in. It’s just belief and faith. God loves all of us. But He can’t permit sin in Heaven. Jesus took away our sins when He died on the cross- that is the payment, and WE didn’t even have to pay it ! It was paid for us 🙂 He wants all of us in Heaven, but He won’t force it. It’s up to each of us as individuals to make that decision. But once we’re His, it’s forever. He never leaves us. Life still happens. But it’s just a fraction of a second in the grand scheme of eternity. For me, it’s what sustains me no matter what happens. I’m never alone, and Heaven will be indescribably wonderful.
I pray I will see you there 🙂