Cancer, Faith, The Winds of Change, Words of Endurance

Weathering the Winds of Change

I really struggle with surrendering my plans to God. Surrender feels like weakness to me. That’s why I’ve memorized this quote by Henrietta Mears:
“The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”

After Dave’s comeback game, I figured he would continue pitching and go on to complete a satisfying Major League baseball career. I was excited about the opportunities baseball could give him to share what God had done in his life through his battle with cancer. And as far as our personal life was concerned, I thought the worst was over. I thought life would finally return to “normal,” that there would be no more major changes or surprises on the horizon.

I was wrong on both counts. My desires for Dave’s baseball career and my plans for our life as a couple and as a family weren’t selfish. In fact, they were completely normal. But they were my plans. They obviously weren’t in God’s plan.

Four days after Dave’s comeback game, the winds of change upgraded to hurricane status and stayed there long enough to sweep away any thought of rebuilding life exactly as it had been before. First, Dave’s arm broke. Then it broke again. Then the cancer returned. Then Dave needed more surgery, additional treatment, more setbacks, and finally the amputation. During that process, I not only gave up on my plans, I was beginning to seriously question God’s plans.

I eventually learned (the hard way) that drastic changes in our lives require us to identify and grieve our losses in order to maintain our emotional and spiritual health. We have to acknowledge the things that are precious to us that we have lost in the storm. Those losses may be things like our dreams for the future, our career aspirations, our innocence, and in our case, even a pitching arm.

Like other people who have come face to face with the storms of change, I had to face the reality that God might have other plans—and that I might not like them. If it comes down to a tug-of-war with God over who gets their way, God is going to win. Scripture assures me that He will: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). We have but two choices: fight God and resist His plan or surrender to God and submit to His plan. Although making that choice is easier said than done, I can truthfully say that every divine detour God gave us ended up being the very best thing that could have happened.

When Jesus faced the ultimate storm, His death on the cross, He looked God straight in the eye and spoke these all-too-human words, “My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26:39). This simple plea is what makes Him the perfect Savior. He understands our human nature, our resistance to change, our struggle to surrender our desires and plans to Him. In contemporary terminology, He’s “been there, done that.” Now He stands prepared to empower, encourage, and embrace us as we face the storms of life, the inevitable changes that are a part of our journey here on earth.

. . . Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
HEBREWS 4:14-16