“Faith don’t come in a bushel basket, Missy. It come one step at a time. Decide to trust Him for one little thing today, and before you know it, you find out He’s so trustworthy you be putting your whole life in His hands.” Lynn Austin, Candle in the Darkness
The day before our son received a cancer diagnosis in late February, he wrote a rare post on Facebook, “New job, new city, and bringing a new life into our family … 2017 is shaping up to be a great year!”
He’d texted me earlier that month to say the year was off to a great start because Clemson University, his alma mater, brought home the 2016 National Championship.
At the end of last year, I overheard him telling his dad about 2017 being great since he and his wife had several promising things in the works.
My stomach tightened each time I heard “great,” and not because I didn’t think 2017 held a lot of possibility, but because sometimes we don’t perceive great in the same way God perceives it.
Almost a decade later, I still remember my “great” year that brought me to my knees. I wrote about it here, “The year was 2008 …”
Great typically requires footwork, and a lot of it. It means change and not always the kind we want. Coming into greatness often means walking through trials and feeling emotions we hadn’t factored in when we did our planning.
Great means being in relationship with God, in relationship with others, and living our purpose.
I had doubts about whether our family had worked out matters of the heart enough to usher in greatness. Like in Romans 2:29, the verse says “heart matters” are the heart of the matter for God. Since I didn’t think we’d gotten that far yet, I questioned what it’d take to make it happen.
What would “great” cost us?
I was bothered enough to mention my son’s text in February’s blog post, “It’s Always Something.” Even though I trusted what I wrote, I still felt uneasy about the messiness I mentioned, “My son’s right, 2017 will be great even with its messy moments because it is always something, and sometimes it’s something beautiful.”
For one minute, I wished I had not prayed long and hard for us, asking for realness and restoration and godly relationships minus the things that sometimes come alongside like devastation and humiliation. I’ve held my breath while we have skirted those last two.
Just before our son’s biopsy confirmed stage 1 cancer, not the result we hoped for, he and his wife, who is pregnant with their first child, had a baby scare. Thankfully those test results turned out well.
Less than a week after my husband John and I returned home following our son’s surgery, John’s 87-year-old dad took a fall, hit his head on a brick stair, and was rushed into surgery. Doctors did all they could over the next fourteen days, but last week we said goodbye to Pop Pop. He died the day before Easter.
In light of reassuring calls and messages, friendship, and signs that life was happening as intended, my stomach calmed down and so did my spirit.
I didn’t have to wonder anymore. I was witnessing the price of greatness.
While John listened to his dad’s surgeon talk to the family in the Neuro-ICU waiting room, he leaned close and whispered, “Is this what great looks like?”
I believe it is, and we notice it most during times like these.
Great is recognizing our dependence on God.
Great is cherishing others’ demonstration of God’s love.
Great is acknowledging God’s goodness when we have to let go of things we want to control and keep.
Finally, great is learning the lessons God teaches by way of suffering, grief, and letting go because He calls us to the emotional journey before He allows us to take the action journey.
In other words, He prepares us for the great things (great according to Him) that He’s put in front of us to do.
How great is your year? It’s not so much about our surroundings as it is about coming around to Him.
In This Together,
Thanks, Pixabay, for photos of the Great Wall of China and the historic Great Cross in St. Augustine, Florida.