There is a story in the Bible that I have loved ever since I was little. I am not sure why I am so attracted to it, maybe for a number of reasons. It's the story of the anonymous woman who had been hemorrhaging for years. She spent all of her money on doctors, but nothing worked. Finally she pushed her way through the crowds, into the middle of someone else's crisis, because she thought that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus' garment, that might help her. She did so, and immediately she was completely and utterly healed.
A few months ago, I was reading an article about that very story--how the author (Beth Moore) had used it in a eulogy for a dear friend of hers who had died from breast cancer. Her friend had gotten the cancer years before but had refused to die. She was miraculously healed and lived many years, enough to see her children grown and to do many things she had wanted to do. The cancer came back eventually though, and this time she did not win the fight against it. Beth said, "It was time for her to trade the hem for Him."
My mom got a call from her doctor last week. He's going to stop her therapy because it's not working. The cancer in her lungs is spreading, and her lungs are filling with fluid. She has a hard time breathing. Oftentimes she feels like she can't get enough air.
My cousin's husband is a bio-chemist who has done a lot of cancer research. He sent her information on vitamin therapy, which she has also been doing. It's supposed to give her more energy and maybe help to slow her cancer too. It's not working either.
People have written to me and taken me aside to talk to me about my mom. I have to be careful here, because I know that everyone loves her so much and wants to help. People are praying for healing; they're praying for a miracle. They want her to fight this diagnosis, to do more treatment, to rally, to not give up, to stay here and be with us. Don't go.
There is no one on Earth who wants my mom to stay more than I do. Every day the knowledge is heavy on me that we are one day closer to separating. It is a great, cosmic, violent ripping apart that is physically painful to me too. I want her to stay here. I want to be able to pick up the phone any time I want and tell her all my stuff like I always do. I'm taking Lucy over to her tomorrow so she can see her all dressed for her first day of first grade this week. I don't want milestones to pass, and she's not here to see them.
But beside all the things I want, there is a solid rock of truth underneath that I know. Another story I love is from Acts 12, after King Herod has killed James and then imprisoned Peter. The whole church is praying for Peter to get out of prison. But I think my favorite part is in verse 6: "Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison." So even though any moment, the key was going to turn in the door for Peter to be brought out and put to death just like his friend James had been, he was sleeping. Sleeping! And that is because he knew this truth: God held his life. All his days had been numbered from the beginning of time. He could rest easy in that knowledge. He could go to sleep and not worry about what lay ahead.
Ten years ago when my mom first got breast cancer, she didn't think it was time for her to go. There was too much unfinished business. She fought back and took all the treatment that was offered her--surgery, radiation, two courses of chemo, oral therapy--the works. And God granted her miraculous healing: cancer free for ten years.
Now the cancer is back, and her body is worn out. She is exhausted. She really doesn't have much fight left in her. And I think she is hearing that still, small voice telling her that pretty soon it's time to head for home. God holds her life. She is not going to leave this world one minute early. She will not leave this world one second late. I tell my girls--there is absolutely no question that soon Manga is going to be healed--healed completely. No more cancer. No more pain. A miracle is coming for her! The only thing we don't know is the location where it will take place.
Am I going to push her into a battle that is not hers, but the Lord's? Am I going to hang onto her, to try and pull her back from Heaven, from closing her eyes only to open then and see Jesus, finally, face to face? Am I going to encourage her to keep grabbing onto His hem when she's ready to trade it for Him?
No, for "If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far." (Phil. 1:22-23)