Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"I Will Never Leave Thee"

I believe it was about my senior year of high school when I began to close letters, notes, and emails with "Humbled."  It was around this time that my eyes began to creep open to the RIDICULOUS amount of blessings in my life.  Everything from a warm place to sleep at night to the unbelievable people that have poured into and invested in me.  It's a pretty overwhelming and humble thing to try to process in one sitting.  All too often, I find myself quick to complain about all kinds of little nonsense, but in the big picture, I would willingly contend that I am the most blessed person I know.  Thus, the new tag was born.

Opening up this new chapter of my life, I found myself at the crossroads of how to pray.  I have read and heard so many accounts of healing in the Bible and in my own life; I even had many people lay hands on me with the full expectancy that our prayers would be answered.  But as time progressed and the doctor's laid out the official diagnosis, it appeared that God didn't hear, didn't care, or He had something so much greater in store by allowing this to happen.  I'm running with the third option.  Through lots of repetition, searching, and re-working, my prayer finally became a simple one:  

"Abba, I trust that You've got this.  I believe with all my heart that You are 100% capable of healing me, but appears that You have chosen not to for now.  Nowhere in Your word did You ever promise good health for following You.  But You did say that You will never leave me, so I am calling You on that one.  Take hold of my hand and don't ever let go.  My frail hands will drain very quickly of their strength and my knuckles will turn white from squeezing so hard. But I beg you, please don't relinquish Your grip.  Not once.  Not ever."   

Well He certainly has been true to His promise and hasn't let go yet.  The ways that He has given me such tangible affirmations of His presence is nothing less than the most astounding and humbling experience that I have ever had.  This is His nearness...

The Inner Circle:  Every time I go to the Cleveland Clinic, I see patients every step of the way.  Sometimes it's an elderly man inching his way down the hallway, supporting his frail and stricken life's partner of no less than 50 years.  Sometimes, it's a soccer mom escorting her aging father, breathing apparatus and all, down to the lobby via wheelchair.  And other times it is an exhausted father hold his softly sleeping, but very sick 4 month old baby girl.  Nobody goes to this place for a leisurely afternoon visit.  It is not vacation.  As many would agree with me, I don't know how we would be able to get through life's most difficult circumstances without family, without the inner circle.  People that will chauffeur you back and forth for appointment after appointment and sit there patiently the whole time.  People that do everything within their power to make your burden lighter both physically and emotionally.  People that you can wake up in the middle of the night to cry with or spill your guts to.

In my life right now, there are three such people.  My parents, Jim and Nancy, have been the unwavering lighthouses in the night.  My dad has been that quiet pillar of strength, never ceasing to give encouragement and support.  My mom has been the epitome of selfless love.  She put her life on hold for 3 weeks while I was home and has continued to show the care that I have experienced all my life.  And then there is Lindsay.  The longer we date, the more I become overwhelmed at the blessing that she is.  All she has to do is speak with her calm voice or slip her hand into mine and things seem to slow down for a second.  I can't fathom walking this road without this triangle of people.  He is near.

The Body of Christ:  The body of believers is an amazing, amazing thing.  Its true colors shine through when one of its parts faces adversity.  This is an extreme statement, but I feel quite comfortable making it:  I have NEVER, EVER felt more cared about or loved on in my entire life than I have felt the past 3 weeks.  It was overwhelming.  Cards, letters, notes, messages, voice mails, texts, packages, comments, coffee, chocolate, devotionals, pictures, meals, prayer...  they came far and near from friends, family, teammates, peers, professors, colleagues, and people that I had never even met!  Being on campus once again for my last week, I have been met with a barrage of hugs, pats on the back, smiles, and good-to-see-you's.  One can only hope that they are cared about that much, and now I know.  Wow.  So if you took part in that or even if you are just reading this for the first time, thank you.  Thank you for caring about what is going on in my life and for looking like Jesus to me and my family.  He is near.         

The One That Left Me Speechless:  The timing of this last month was quite unique.  I am a senior at Messiah College who is planning to walk across a stage in less than a week, shake President Phipps' hand, and receive concrete recognition for years of hard work.  But there was a point when I thought that wouldn't be happening.  Let's back it up.

After the blur of decisions that led me to leave school, I had been in contact with my professors about my work for the remainder of the semester.  They insisted on me not worrying about it and taking it one day at a time; the plan was to deal with it when I got back to school.  Well one week led to the next and I realized that my stay at home was not going to be a short one, so my professors showed some amazing grace and canceled all of my work for the remainder of the semester, thus removing another layer of stress from my life.  This was so helpful, yet I still had one last thing hanging over my head.  In order to receive my final three credits for my language requirement, my plan was to spend time in May and June in Philadelphia taking a class.  When it became apparent that I would be starting treatment right after school was over, that class was no longer a possibility.  It was most awful feeling to think that I was two inches from the finish line, but might not finish the race.  But He was near.  I got a voice mail from my academic advisor about the course.  Although his tone didn't sound too promising, I called back and was informed that the school had decided to completely waive that requirement due to my circumstance.  Through electives I have completed enough course work to be able to graduate on Saturday with nothing hanging over my head afterward.  I will have nothing to think about except getting better.  Literally, I was speechless.  He is near.

I will repeat it until I am blue in the face:  my God is faithful.  He is faithful and He is going to be holding my hand through this whole thing (and I imagine He will even have to carry me at times).  Of this I am confident: He is near.

Oh.  And treatment hasn't even started yet.       




  1. Can't wait to see you walk forward on Saturday! Congrats on graduating and being faithful in adversity. Your constant admirerer...PR

  2. Michael Amen! Congratulations for Saturday. I am very proud of you and thrilled you will be able to do this. I have known you since you were a baby and I have enjoyed being a part of watching you grow into a very fine young man. The girls and I love you so much and are cheering you on. Trust me Michael God will continue to carry you. He has never left me or the girls in over 10 years. Tons of hugs Auntie Donna

  3. Michael,
    Be confident that God will hold you in the hallow of His hands as you begin your initial steps of the treatment journey! God bless you for your faithfulness and generous spirit. You will be uppermost in my thoughts and prayers tomorrow. Lots of hugs and love, Denise (Buck)

  4. I sit in awe as I read your posts. Your faith and love for the Lord are a blessing to me. Your family, teachers and those who have invested in your life have no greater joy than to know you walk in truth. I know the journey will not be easy, but rest assured you are loved and there are many who are praying daily for you.

  5. Hi Michael,
    Our family received a request to pray for you through HEARTS. Our oldest son had a fight with cancer when he was small, so we know a little about the fight you are facing. Want you to know that you will be in our prayers and if there is something we can do, please do not hesistate to call on us. We spent a great deal of time at the Clinic - they were so good to us. You can reach us at cori.anderson@dchurch.tv. ~Soldiering on with you, Cori Anderson