Last week I was told that I had to go back to have a second mamogram. A small density in my right breast needed to be re-evaluated.
When I heard these words, my mind instantly jumped from mamogram to biopsy to malignancy. I know that even if these are the next steps in my life, the end result is not necessarily early death. But I go there in my head. I visit the thought of telling the kids, of missing major life events in their lives, of suffering. From an early age I recall thinking a lot about death – usually the death of one of my parents. I remember wondering what would happen to me. Where would I live? How would I feel? I don’t remember having strong emotions linked to these ‘what ifs’. The scenarios were quite detached from my emotions. Last week was a bit like that for me. I heard the messages on my answering machine and began the process of thinking through the implications those words.
I am in a bit of a fog. I feel like I am on an airplane and we are in the initial descent and there is no visual – a blind landing. I am a passenger waiting to feel the wheels hit the ground and hear the flight attendant say that I have landed at the desired destination. But I haven’t landed yet. The ground is below, perhaps so close that I will soon feel the initial jolt. But right now, I am in the fog waiting. I recall the words, ‘I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.’ (Psalm 130:5)
I realize that I am not alone. This knowledge brings comfort. There is a pilot. This Pilot knows the airplane, He understands the conditions, He has perfect vision, and He even knows my heart. His words are true and trustworthy. They give me hope in the most distressing conditions. He whispers to my heart, ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look around you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Isaiah 41:10)
Not only is there a Pilot, but there are fellow passengers. I am surrounded. Words of understanding, shared common fears, acts of compassion, and truth-telling distinguish those who share the cabin with me. They are like-minded women of all ages and races. The only requirement of acceptance into this community is the recognition that we are not in control and that we need the Pilot for our salvation. How grateful I am to be surrounded by this sisterhood.
This week I was embraced, encouraged, needed, appreciated, prayed for, and supported by my sisters. I can face whatever lies ahead because my path is sure, whatever the obstacles. The fog is clearing and the path before me becoming apparent. The truth I am spoken gives me the courage to go on, ‘Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Romans 12:1-2) I am no longer on the plane, I’m on the runway and it’s time to run.
There is unalterable joy set before us. That joy abides, encourages, and strengthens.
My second test was clear.
‘Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul.’ (Psalm 66:16)
Praise the Pilot – Praise God!