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What a week. I'm sorry to sound like a priest sometimes in these posts... I really am a regular guy who loves family, work, and spending time with the guys (big paintball party next weekend). It is just that as I go through the normal paces of life (especially this week) I catch glimpses of things very hard to describe - that stir my heart and remind me of all the reasons for my life. When they are closely connected to Jaymun's experience - I feel like they are an extension of his story in a way.
Jaymun is doing so very well and we feel so blessed. He is a normal rambunctious toddler, jabbering and trying out words for everything, climbing like a little gymnast, fiercely vocal as he carves out his piece of turf among his four siblings.
Our lives are becoming predictable - starting at 5:45 in the morning as Jaymun makes his presence known and spends the first 15 minutes of the day drinking his bottle while snuggling in bed with his mom and dad. But, unfortunately, that only lasts so long - and then he is off to the races.
However, this little miracle is set against a larger stage - the transient nature of life... and the inevitable outcome facing us all. Already two of the people linked on our July 25 post as cancer patients, have passed on, and several others we know have relapsed - including children with the same type of cancer and treatment that Jaymun had.
One of the stories that affected me most deeply, is that of a mother whose journey closely intersects with Jaymun's. Merely ten days before Jaymun was born she was diagnosed with AML. Her life is an indelible flourish in the composition of God, as it touched thousands around the world, not to mention forever transforming the lives of her husband, little boy, and extended family.
I have never met her, but from reading her website I discovered we have much in common, sharing the joys of family, a love of the same old songs and authors, a common appreciation for grand themes of theology, but most importantly an acute understanding that our entire source of "self-worth" comes from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Following her story (a year worth of journal entries) brings back oh so many memories of our own painful struggles and lessons learned. Posts she wrote as she struggled with
Mortality and disease...
Our own family went through the valley of shadow of death four times with Jaymun - we are familiar with that emotional and spiritual roller-coaster so painfully confusing as it saps your life energy and lurches you from one horribly unfamiliar condition to the next. The difference between Jaymun and Amy was, we had good news, we enjoyed progress, whereas Amy faced the constant drumbeat of failure and relapse.
Observing Amy spiritually through her trial you could see her drawing ever closer to her Saviour. You do not know how good it is to hold His hand through troubles, until you are in the thick of it and cry out for His help. I myself, prayed so fiercely and urgently for our son, and got such an overwhelming appreciation of my Saviour's power and willingness to rescue us, that I found myself constantly over the past months bringing Amy's case to Jesus in much the same way.
Watching her physically however, was a different story. I kept asking Jesus why He was taking so long to heal her. I believe we should expect Him to answer our prayers. But in Amy's case just looking at her pictures from September to August, you could see her body giving out. And then one day, I noticed the verse on the left side of her web site. As I read it chills of awe went up and down my spine. I realized Amy had framed her struggle using the inspired words of 2 Corinthians 4:5-18.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us...
The powerful message in those verses was being amplified through the megaphone of Amy's life - thundering home the triumphant rally-cry of the beleagured Christian:
...afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies...
Failed rounds of chemotherapy, and disappointing test results took their toll on her body, but the flame in her spirit shone clearer for our benefit.
...For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Amy was gifted with a unique vantage point from which to address us all.
...Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, 'I believed, and so I spoke,' we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Jesus was, after all, nourishing and strengthening her in ways we couldn't see.
...So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature
is being renewed day by day.
What a perspective she enjoyed. In a way I am very jealous.
...For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison...
You know - this message ought to frame ALL our lives, our mistake is that we think we are going to live forever. Many do not understand this final perspective until their own bodies are wearing out. We spend seventy or eighty years, the candle of our life sputtering throughout with imperfections before we pass on. In Amy's case, her entire life's testimony was compressed into one short year - her flame burned brightly and then was taken out of our sight.
You might think that the cancer relapses and medical failures might cause me to worry about my own son's health (he is still in remission). On the contrary however, I now see more clearly than ever that Jaymun's momentary victory over cancer is not the final chapter in his story, nor the most important stop in his journey. Although temporary health is a blessing, our vital hope never was, and should not rest in physical health or earthly healing. We will enjoy the life of the boy the Lord has given us as long as we have him, and the Lord willing he will live longer than his parents.
As for Amy, her victorious declaration is now fully realized, while we live on with
the hope that Jaymun and Amy's journey will intersect again...
...as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.