We family could say we had seen the worst and best year. We celebrated two victories. We thought we were well out of the Valley. The dark ‘shadow’ had become light. But the year of the Valley was not yet over…
On November 1st I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was the dread and fear of my life, having watched my tiny, precious mother suffer for years and ultimately die of cancer when I was 14. God entered my darkest valley – fear of that horrible C-word – because He wanted that very place to be filled with His glory. (Just as in John’s story of his cut-off finger…)
Job’s friend said this type was the sin of ‘hatred for my mother.’
I was so bewildered, as I simply could not see this. I went to be searched by my Wonderful Counselor Who said, “Absolutely not.” And He promised healing with many scriptures.
I had never known such helplessness. We all felt it. We could do nothing but pray. And truthfully we couldn’t do that either. The Spirit had to solve the panic of each wee scared sheep. Yet we all had a strange and settled inner confidence that there would be healing and no death in this valley. The Holy Spirit had to pick all of us up and give the prayer inspired by Him Who came from the throne room, carrying God’s Word and Will down to the pasture of our troubled little flock.
This little flock (some far, some near) declared the many scripture promises constantly and we in Suches met often for prayer and anointing. I did have two deep repentances (for which I begged) – not about my mother. About ME. And I confessed the sins to the Body of Christ. Yet the sins seemed to be side issues, and irrelevant to the BIG C-word problem. This seemed to be a ‘sickness for the glory of God.’
I was led to accept surgery. It was not my body, nor my decision. I belong to the Great Shepherd and His was to perfectly orchestrate and control my care. My doctor’s name was Doctor Luke and the anesthesiologist was Dr. Lazarus. I smiled, I was in good hands. And though it was a frightening Valley of that shadow, the very one I always feared, it was an amazing time, as you will see…
For the whole month of tests and x-rays and procedures and consultations, on and on, my Shepherd carried me, guarded my mind, and gave me His word over and over. And at such a time, He continued to pour out revelation to me and through me. I was “out of season” but Christ was not.
One scripture out of many sort of held me. It was from Vicki Harris. “For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment” (Luke 1:37 AMP).
Early on I had a meltdown of stark blackest fear. I collapsed sobbing on my living room floor before God. And suddenly out of my deepest heart, from my mysterious spirit, rose a fierce declaration to my Lord and to my cruel enemy, who I knew had come to terrify me. From a heap of desperate sobs, I straightened up and cried aloud. And what came out of my mouth startled me: “Hear me! I don’t care if I live or die, I don’t care if I go through suffering and die! I only care that my Lord is pleased.”
And from that terrible wonderful moment, I was free of more-than-fear. I was free of me. I was HIS!
Somewhere, somehow, along my journey, the Lord had captured my heart and I saw I truly was abandoned to God. I had always wondered if I could ever go to a literal death for Him, scared rabbit that I am. I had asked the Lord many times to give me His own loyalty and love, the ability to surrender willingly to any ultimate.
I didn’t know that He had taken my fearful heart and possessed it. I didn’t know that I would give Him even that – my worst fear and biggest NO of all. This was horror I well knew, having cared for three cancer patients to their end.
Jesus was the Shepherd even of my trembling, weak-lamb heart.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” That’s our familiar version but it’s a bit off. The literal word is, “I shall not lack.” The Catholic version in song is beautiful: ‘My Shepherd is the Lord. I have everything I need.’ He supplied the trust and even the surrender He was asking of me.
I truly lacked for nothing and more than enough was the norm. Outlandish power, loving care of so many, kindness at every step, overflowing provision – that was the nature of His Shepherding. It’s one thing to believe the Shepherd, knowing the Psalm is true. It’s quite another to experience all of it, every verse, as His present, personal reality!
In the end, it was a simple outpatient procedure. And no other cancer was found in my body. I’m told I have a 90% chance to never have cancer again. That’s about the same as anybody walking down the street.
(This picture was taken by John after my surgery, and Carole said I was glowing.)
There was pain, there was some misery, but I was carried and it passed. A few days after it all ended, I was “car”-lifted out once again. A trip had been planned for months to take me to the South Carolina coast. Perfect timing in advance! Another ‘still waters,’ another ‘green pasture,’ and yet another ‘restoring of my soul.’
It was in this place, beside the great Atlantic Ocean that I experienced:
“You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.”
Here is what happened. One morning I was thinking back over the event, which had passed so quickly. Suddenly I was astonished because I could see the great sweep of God over this experience, coming down in power, carrying me above it all. And the Sovereignty of God, for which I have loved Him so deeply and declared for so long, gave way to a new revelation.
I saw above His absolute ruling of the world and universe, that God had surpassed and exceeded everything; He had soared through and above every problem and obstacle, every enemy and curse! He had swept us all up into His reigning power.
I said to John and Carole, “Transcendence is above Sovereignty!” And I saw the power of the Spirit strike them by those words. I fumbled to describe His amazing transcendence. Words were inadequate.**
Just as my daughter, Julia, had said in her experience…
Now thanks be to God for His Gift,
[precious] beyond telling
[His indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift]!
2 Cor. 9:15 AMP
God is unstoppable, unaffected by anything. NO power can endure in the face of His transcendence. I kept repeating, “Transcendence is above Sovereignty!”
The Holy Spirit had ‘anointed my head (mind) with oil’ so that I could see and comprehend God’s transcendence, like a great powerful wind of the Spirit coming down from heaven to gather up His children and carry them to victory. No dark enemy could survive in the wake of His way. Nothing could thwart THIS Wind. It swooped down and carried everything in its wake into His will. Everything served Him even as it opposed Him.
Such power I had never seen and I understood that this was the Power He unleashed for me and for all those who loved and stood with me. I could only see it in hindsight. During the four brief weeks, others were more aware of God’s amazing movement than I was.
This wind was not ethereal, it was imminently practical – down into every facet of my valley – but as I came to actually understand it, the power of it was frightening. I would never want to stand in the way of such a force.
I believe that taking hold of God’s specific promises and declaring them aloud released somehow the authority and power of the Spirit. We learned this proclaiming from Derek Prince’s sermon, “The Power of Proclamation.” Thank you, God, for Your servant!
There was warfare in intensity. We were standing against THE enemy. We faced grave offenses with forgiveness of enemies, and blessed those who cursed and persecuted us. There was so much seeking of God’s will and there were many acts of pure obedience. Repentance was deep and ripe for all of us.
Maybe this and other issues of surrender brought the mighty wave of the Spirit into our very earthy lives and carried us into His purpose, much of which we have yet to discover. Perhaps the tsunami of God’s power depends on us. I will ask Him about this in 2015. Has God established a roadmap for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, promised in the end of time? The promise of Joel 2:28-29, which I have prayed for years?
I am changed. More than ever, I know my Shepherd. What I know is this: He knows me with the unfathomable insight of a Good (oh, so entirely good) Shepherd. I rest in His intimate knowledge of me, and it’s not that I know myself more. I simply know this about me – I am merely a helpless lamb…always. Whether I remember it or not, that is who I am, and all I am. Jesus is everything.
The year began as one long trek through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The year ended as God’s glory rose like the sun, over every day, every crisis. His glory swept through that Valley of Baca (tears) and made it a spring. His mighty power created order and changed situations. His glory carried people and sheep and obstacles and enemies and lifted all of that year to a new mountain. Prayers I have prayed, for 10, 20, 45 years, were answered in 2014.
The beginning of the year was crisis – seemingly “The Year of the Valley.” But the end of the year was glory. Actually, it was not a Valley; it was “the Year of the Shepherd.” The manifestation of His transcendent reigning, His inexplicable glory.
The end of everything will be HIS glory. Not mine. Not Yours.
This final verse of Psalm 23 is my settled lamb-faith for 2015, however that year goes, and for all who are willing to live as helpless sheep, I make this proclamation of the Lamb Shepherd on the throne that…
“Surely or only goodness, mercy and unfailing love will follow us all the days of our life and we will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”