Trust in God; Trust also in me – especially with cancer

Trust in God; Trust also in me.  Question – who is “me”?  Is it me, the person writing this?  Is it the preacher you listen to Sunday morning, or whatever day you listen?  No.  And no.  Maybe this helps.  Trust in God; Trust also in me.  Depending on how you’re reading this, you may or may not be able to see – this time the words are in red letters.  Yes – “me” is Jesus.

Trust in God; Trust also in me - especially with cancer is article #1 in the series: Don't waste your cancer. Click button to view titles for entire series

Trust in God; Trust also in meUnless…  Unless we’re talking about the relationship between a dog and his person.  Something I’ve often viewed as a chance to learn about how our relationship should be with God.  Yes, we really should be able to “get it” from reading the Bible.  But as I’ve written before, if your relationships with your family, especially parents, aren’t or weren’t good at all, it can be hard.  Very hard.

As much as we might want a relationship with God, reading about Him as Father can be difficult.  Please check Why God is a curvy, black woman in ‘The Shack’ out  for more on that thought.  One of the things it brings up is that, like the guy in the movie, the father figure brings a lot of baggage.  True enough, it’s baggage God doesn’t deserve.  But I’m a fallen person, and so it comes with me.  So why can’t I learn from a dog?  Who’s to say God hasn’t brought my dogs into my life to help me do exactly that?

The dog in the picture is Hachiko.  He was definitely part Chow.  We think he was also part German Shepherd.  I wrote about him before.  Three times.  Little Replicas of God (Part 1)Little Replicas of God (Part 2), and Another sad day. And yet, …  As you can guess, I learned a lot from him.  And, unfortunately, he’s no longer with us.

Trust in God; Trust also in me – Hachiko style

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve felt like there’s something special about dogs for a long time.  Hachiko was abused before we got him.  Judging by his reactions to a lot of things, badly abused.  But he learned that “Trust in me” meant that he could trust me.  Me – the person writing this.  When he got scared, he ran to me.  I know, it seems backwards for a Chow or for a German Shepherd.  But that’s what he did.  Unless he thought he needed to protect me.  Then his inner protective Chow came out.

If you read the earlier things I wrote about Hachiko, you see I learned trust from him as well.  How I should trust God.  No matter what.

His trust in me, although he never did gain full trust outside of the house, was amazing.  Like the time I accidentally spilled a can of paint on his head.  I was painting a hallway.  I had a doggie-gate up so he wouldn’t get in the wet paint.  But he laid down right next to that gate.  And he looked up at what I was doing.  The gate was in a doorway.  Me in the hall.  Him in the next room.  Just staring up.

And then I bumped the can.  Of course, it flipped over and dumped more than half a can of paint right on his head.  He shook paint all over the place.  Good thing it’s water-based.  But he stood right there and patiently waited while I tried to clean as much as possible off him.  Then I called up the groomer.  He adored her.  The only other person he really trusted.  It was like love at first sight for him.  Anyway, I called and said I had an emergency, could she give him a bath right away.  Knowing his story and having mutual feelings about him, she said bring him right over.  He hopped in the car and off we went.

An hour later he was good as new.  And when I resumed painting the hallway, guess where he was.  Right there, in the exact same place as when the paint can fell on him.  That’s trust!

Trust in God; Trust also in me – from my point of view

So what’s all that got to do with anything?  Actually, a lot.

In The problem of saying that God’s in control (even when you have cancer) I wrote about finding out I have cancer.  Then, when I was waiting for results from genomic testing, I wrote  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  That last one took it back into the Learning from a dog series.  Obviously, this is also part of that series.

My biggest concern while waiting for the results was that what was happening wouldn’t screw up my relationship with God.  If you’ve read or learned anything about me from reading stuff here, you know I used to be so mad at God for what He was “doing” to me.  I no longer feel that way.  Far from it.  Between the two articles just mentioned and something I just did for a class at church – Blessed are the pure in heart – my concern wasn’t what He was doing “to” me, but that I not mess up what He was doing “for” me.

Yes – for me.  The difference between “to” and “for” is huge.  And too long to go into here.  Please read the references to find out what it is.

Learning, really learning, that was incredibly life changing.

It’s somewhat like Hachiko returning to his spot right under the ladder after having a can of paint fall on his head.  Of course, that wasn’t something I did to him or for him.  It happened because I bumped the can.

The thing is, once I learned to trust God, now I don’t have to return to the “scene of the crime”, so to speak.  I never left it after that.  God never leaves us.  It’s us that leave Him.  And then hopefully we return.  But it’s so much better when we don’t leave in the first place.

It seems to easy to say that now.  But it’s even harder to imagine that it took me so long to learn.  Especially when you realize one of my favorite passages in the Bible, even as a kid in grade school, was this one:

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

Jn 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Trust in God; Trust also in me – but how and why?

Interesting, isn’t it? The why part is actually relatively easy to see.  If we trust God, then our hearts won’t be troubled.  That’s the goal, isn’t it?

But the how part.  Even though I want the goal of not worrying, not being troubled, trust is so hard to come by.

The thing is, from watching the dogs I’ve had, I can see that trust is possible between them and me.  Even Hachiko, the most scared dog of all, came to trust me.  Even though things happened, like the can of paint.

So if I take the relationship between Hachiko and me – use it to see what a relationship could be like between me and God – it helps.  Helps me, anyway.

With Hachiko, like I said, stuff happened.  He escaped from his collar and harness twice – once with each of them.  But even though he got his feet all messed up from the first one, he did come back to the last place he knew I’d been.  The second time, we were at the other end of the block from the house, and he ran straight home, waiting at the front porch.  Both times, I went after him.  The second time I knew right where he’d be.  The first time, no clue.

Between me and God though, it’s different, but the same.  I’ve run from God a lot.  I’ve always gone back too.  Eventually.  But He doesn’t lose track of where I am.  And if I don’t return on my own, something always seemed to happen to get me to return.  After a while, returning was just the natural thing to do.

There is a difference too though.  Starting with my experience in the hospital with the staph infection, I haven’t run away again.  There’s a level of trust in God that no matter what, my heart isn’t troubled.  You can read God – is it time for me to go home? for more on what happened in the hospital.

Trust in God; Trust also in me – even with cancer

Fast forward to last week when I wrote The problem of saying that God’s in control (even when you have cancer).  Like I said, my main thing, the thing I prayed for the most, was to not mess up the relationship I had after my time in the hospital.  I didn’t want to lose the trust.  The knowledge that whatever happened, I’m OK with it.  Everything’s going to be OK.

And that’s what happened.  I went in to get the genomic testing results, knowing that however it came out, it was going to be OK.  If the cancer was aggressive, that would make surgery the “best” option.  If not, there’s a possibility of what they called active surveillance.  That would mean blood tests and an MRI in six months.  If still not aggressive after six months, then another biopsy.  If nothing changed after a year, then just keep repeating the process until something does change.

And there’s the need for trust.  No matter what, trust in God is required before and after getting the results.  Trust for different things, but still trust.  Before getting the results, it was about not worrying over something that hadn’t happened yet – Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Now I have a result.  The cancer isn’t aggressive.  Not too aggressive anyway.  It’s on the higher end of the not aggressive scale.  So it’s active surveillance.  The thing is, that comes with the knowledge that, barring a miraculous healing, treatment is coming.  Don’t know when, but it’s going to happen.  And so now a whole new kind of trust is needed.

Well, maybe not a whole new kind.  It’s still along the lines of each day has enough trouble of its own.  But now instead of a couple weeks, we’re talking at least six months and possibly years.  All the while, I know there’s a cancer in me.  And I need to trust God that He’s got me set up with a good doctor.  One that knows how to do this active surveillance thing.  It’s all about risk.  The risk of surgery, which I already know from experience can be very high, even life threatening.  And that gets weighed against the risk of the cancer spreading before the next surveillance.

I could worry about that every day.  Fact is, a few years ago, I would have.  I really feel that five years ago, I would have opted for treatment right away.  That much trust just wasn’t there.  But now, I read Jn 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me – and I know I can do that.  I do trust God.  Enough that I’m not troubled over making the decision to go into active surveillance.

Trust in God; Trust also in me – conclusion

At some level, I look at Hachiko and me, and I reach some conclusions.  Not Biblical, but real life experiences.  And I think, if Hachiko can trust me, a fallen person who messes up from time to time – how can I not trust God, who always does the right thing, or makes even bad things come out right?

Shining as Stars (also Do Everything Without Grumbling)

Phil 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Phil 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too be glad and rejoice with me.

Did you happen to notice that there seems to be a disconnect in verse 14?  Look at it again.

Phil 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe …

Not complaining and not arguing seems like a long way off from shining like stars in the universe.  Shining like stars sounds more like what James wrote:

Trials and Temptations

Jas 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Jas 1:9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.

Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Jas 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Jas 1:16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

In that light, as weird as it might sound, even having cancer should be more along the lines of joy than not grumbling.  Non-Christians won’t get this.  Even many Christians won’t get it.

Logically, it follows.  Emotionally, well, maybe not.  Except that it does.  At long last, it does.  Things like this can drive us away from God – like it used to do to me.  Or, it can drive us ever closer to God – which it’s finally doing for me.

The simple truth is, there’s nothing better than moving closer to God.  And if all goes well, then I can continue what I’m doing now – the writing and the teaching.  If not, then I can “go home”.  I can go to the place that Jesus has prepared for me.  It’s a no lose situation.  But only when we finally figure that out.

Then we can actually live out Trust in God; Trust also in me.

image by me.

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