Thursday, November 7, 2019

Of Mountains, Rocks, and God's Glory

The last two weeks have been filled with beautiful glimpses of God—both in His majesty and His intimacy. I have been through hard, hard moments, and glorious moments of joy—some in the same day—but that is what life is—the unknown, the broken, the hard, the joy, the suffering, the hope.

Last week I had the gift of spending time in the mountains at Lake Arrowhead. I had exchanged my time share for a week up there, hoping for a respite from the heat in San Diego (and fire season) and for time to spend with a couple dear friends. My hope was to have time in nature, to relax, reflect, pray, and seek God. My dear and forever best friend from high school flew out from Iowa to spend three days with me. Kathy has flown out for every one of my big surgeries—not only is she a dear friend, but a retired nurse, and her presence at those times has been so helpful. But this time she just came to be with me, and share moments together—not at the hospital! I was still dealing with feeling sick and nauseated from my week of chemo on the day she flew in, but by the next day, when we were set to drive up to the mountains, I was feeling much better and stronger. What a difference one day makes! We talked, shared, shopped, ate great food, and did some crazy off road hiking. It was colder up there (between 30 degrees in the morning to highs of 55—I know that isn’t real cold to some of you, but to a San Diegan, it is cold!) It was so fun to put on a jacket, gloves, sweaters, scarves and hats! I am an autumn girl at heart.

Kath had to fly home on Wednesday, so we came back to Poway to get her to the airport and I spent the day catching up on emails and work stuff, so I could head back up to finish my week in the mountains. Thursday morning, my friend Kendall and I headed back up the mountain. Another two days of intimate and deep conversations with my dear friend (I am such a one on one person—these deep moments of reflection mean so much to me). We shared our prayers and our dreams and our goals and got excited about the ministries we want to pursue (me—my book writing, and Kendall—starting a non profit for education and medical clinics in Africa). Just like my time with Kathy, we ate great food, drank coffee and had long quiet times, and then adventured on some hikes that took us to beautiful heights and glorious glimpses of God’s majesty. There is nothing better than nature to bask in His creation.

Even though I was still experiencing some side effects from the chemo (nausea, sleeplessness, etc), I always love hiking and exploring. As Kendall hashtagged in a post #cancercantakeahike—I push on when I have the strength (and sometimes when I don’t) to do the things I love. Hiking in the fall colors, seeing the majestic, strong trees, and the sun streaming through the clouds—it was all deeply revealing that  God is present in my time of continued suffering. There IS beauty in the suffering even if I don’t understand it.

As I posted on FB a few days ago, while on our hike on Strawberry Peak, I saw a rock on the trail—it stood out even though the trail was strewn with pine needles and acorns and pebbles. It had rough edges, but it was clearly in the shape of a heart. I looked at it and smiled, knowing that God was showing me His presence—yes, in the form of a rock on a trail. I picked it up and I have it with me, on my bathroom counter, to remind myself of Him. That even though this year has been rough terrain, that my heart is broken and misshapen, that the King of Glory is an intimate God who knows me and is with me.

I don’t know where your suffering might be, my friends, but God does. When I returned from my peaceful week, I felt bombarded with busy-ness, catching up, things not going smoothly, people who are hurting and just a big broken world. I began to feel the weight on my shoulders and my sleeplessness kept me up at night crying out to God and praying for others. But God pointed me to His Word and His promises. I am NOT in control. I am NOT the Savior. He is. He is majestic and powerful and intimate. He is King of Glory. Whether I am in the mountains or in the routine of life, He is with me and He is in control.

When I returned, I had an appointment with my oncologist. Because I am still very beaten down and weakened by the chemo, he called off my last round and I am scheduled for a scan on November 16. After the scan results come in, he will meet with his team of surgeons to discuss my next steps. I don’t know and can’t predict what is next. This used to freak me out—the unknown. But after 6.5 years of chasing cancer, I have learned that in the mysterious unknown is when I am closest with God. I have learned that even if I don’t understand my circumstances, He does. It is a mystery. I can’t fathom it. But I truly believe in the power of God and His Spirit, because I have I seen it manifested in my life so many times. And I have a rough hewn, misshaped heart rock that I found in the mountains to remind me that He is with me always. He is King of Glory and Majesty, and He is at the same time, an intimate and personal God who knows me and knows you. Take heart in the midst of suffering. Glimpses of glory are all around you.

1 comment:

Kendall Valenzuela said...

Amen... What a wonderful & truth-filled post. I love you, my beautiful & uber talented friend. I can’t wait to buy your future book— & to have you autograph the front cover page for me! :)

~ John 16:33 ~ “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”