Fifteen Easters Ago

Fifteen years ago on Easter Sunday morning, my family and I sat on the far side of the balcony in our crowded church. I had purposely chosen this unfamiliar hideaway, steering clear of our routine place downstairs with the usual mob of friends and acquaintances.

The praise team began singing, and the congregation quieted. I remember noticing how my daughters, 9 and 13, were amused at our new location. They had no idea. My husband threw his arm around the back of my shoulders, but his touch felt strangely awkward that morning. I don’t know why. Maybe because we’d never sat in church together so sick with worry.

I went from bad to worse as the service progressed. Instead of bursting with joy for our risen Savior, I silently endured the singing and ambivalently checked out during the message. (Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?)

Fear of the future gripped me. I’d learned a few days earlier that an ugly “something” was growing inside me, with more tests scheduled the coming week. As I sat in church, I became keenly aware in my heart that life was about to change. I felt terrible, and no wonder. Unknown to me at that time, my tumor was growing at the rate of a centimeter a day.

Church ended, and I had barely heard a word. I’d been thinking about the Easter baskets hidden at home, waiting to be found. And I’d been praying that whatever was coming my way, God would intervene so my girls wouldn’t have to grow up without a mommy. (Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?)

God is never taken by surprise, and at that moment He already knew the number of my days. Of course I didn’t, and I came up with vivid scenarios of the worst. Actually, those imaginations came true almost immediately with surgeries, chemotherapy, weight gain, and a wig that never seemed to stayed in place. But alongside my “imaginations-turned-true” also came something unexpected. Over those hard days and weeks and months and years which followed, I slowly began to know God and trust Him in a way I’d never dared to dream was possible.

Then somehow, in the blink of an eye it seemed, my doctor was jubilantly noting on my charts the 10-year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. Driving back to work that spring morning, I realized God had answered the prayers I had started pleading of Him during the Easter service so long ago. My girls had grown beautifully despite, or perhaps through, the trials our family had faced. Jenna was no longer my little 9-year-old, but 19 and in her first year of college. Melissa, no longer a junior higher, was now 23, a college graduate planning her wedding. (I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again, my Savior and my God!)

Today, as I write this, another five years have gone by. Five more years of ups and downs and highlights and valleys. Five more years of birthdays and Easters and answered prayers. Yet as I launch this blog titled Beyond, I’m not writing to just dwell on the past. I’m not writing to merely look back at where I’ve been.

This Easter season, I’m thinking about what’s yet to come and how much I still have to learn about God’s love and grace. I’m here to talk about Jesus, my risen Savior, and the hope I find today in Christ alone.

I invite you to join me on a journey of looking forward, of learning to live beyond the confusion of the moment and instead in the grace and exuberant living Jesus Christ offers.

Beyond, my friends, beyond.

Happy Easter!

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?
I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again, my Savior and my God!
Psalm 42