I want to sit down tonight and attempt to describe what a comfort church worship services are to me these days, as well as my love from and for my church family. However, as I do so I feel perhaps less able to describe these emotions that any others I have thus far.
I was unable to attend services this morning because I have been waking in significant pain the last few mornings and also occasionally getting sick from my morning dose of anti-biotic. I was able to attend this evening’s services, and consider this the greatest blessing of my day today. My heavenly Father knows how much I need this time, these interactions, and He continues to graciously make it possible just when I am feeling my lowest.
As I sit in that auditorium, literally surrounded by hundreds of brothers and sisters, I feel you as a shield, as a literal army surrounding me. I feel an extra level of protection from all darkness and evil in that place. As we join our voices in song, I just can’t adequately describe the peace of God that almost tangibly settles over my entire being, like a warm, soft blanket basking me in warmth and comfort. My spirit soars and I am reminded of the astounding promises of God, His astounding faithfulness in the past, His steadfastness in remaining right by my side every moment of every day, in shielding me under His wing. I believe the Holy Spirit of God moves during our times of worship and He renews me, refreshing the deepest part of my soul. It’s cliche I suppose, but it is EVEN BETTER than a shot in the arm. It’s even better than the “happy buzz” of a dose of 2 whole percocet! 🙂
And my church family… sigh, now I am really at a loss. I shared with some of you the other night that one of my biggest fears in having a prolonged illness is that I would be forgotten. That I would slowly but surely creep down the church prayer list, as new, very worthy, more emergent needs arose. I felt sure that it would be, “Oh, Sara Walker… she’s still alive… she hasn’t asked us for anything lately so she must be doing ok. It’s cancer. Hundreds and thousands of people we know have cancer. We can’t just keep praying for it consistently. But we’ll keep her “on the list” and that will be good enough.
OH MY, I ask your forgiveness. I supposed your faithfulness in prayer for others to be like mine. I can pray for someone for a few weeks maybe, but then my attention is divided, my focus wanes. Not so with you. You are teaching me the meaning of Jesus’s instructions to his disciples to “always pray, never giving up.” My church family, you are as repeatedly, steadfastly, BOLDLY praying for me as much as you did even before my official diagnosis, even in the first few weeks of treatment. As I have failed to make “measurable” progress in my fight against these rogue cells, my faith has wavered. I have become less confident in God’s desire to heal me. But you, you have told me over and over that He is just as able to heal me completely today as He was 10 months ago. You continue to ask for a miracle, when I feel I have gone hoarse from asking. You DO stand in the gap for me. You DO hold up my arms as they did for Moses, for my arms are now so tired from the battle. There has been NO LET UP in the private prayers, the special collective prayer sessions, the meals, the hugs, the cards, the endless offers to help and support in any way possible. Tonight, as I was enveloped in hug after hug and as people looked me deep in the eye to ask me how I was really doing, I felt not one minute of self-consciousness about my skin. What a blessing! To come to a place looking very different, very scarred and have my family look right past that into my heart…I just have no words.
I am so richly, richly blessed by my church family. The deep and abiding love of the body of Christ is a precious, most beautiful thing to behold. I have been convinced that is unlike any other love this world could ever offer. How do you possibly go through trials in this life without it? I couldn’t do it.
Know that I love you all so very, very much. You are holding me together, keeping my head above water, through the Spirit of God that flows from within you. It is as if you each have a rope tied to my rollercoaster, refuse to let go, and are working together to drag it up whenever it sinks to the lowest points. How can I possibly thank you for that?
And I thank all of you who read this. For you continue on this journey with me as well. You continue to fight, to listen, to comfort, and most of all to pray. You are teaching me how to pray continually.
God is at work. I believe that. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand at all how this story has spread and continued to grow. But my view is that it is because of the tremendous way that you have responded. The way the vast body of Christ has united in love and service.
Jesus said the way the world will know that we are His disciples is by our love for each other. My brothers and sisters, know that you are loving this little pinky toe (You know it was the little piggy that went wee, wee wee all the way home… hee hee) of the body of Christ and honoring it and caring for it as a most precious, more valuable member. You have profoundly changed my life. And you are giving the world quite a teaching.
God continues to provide for us Walkers one day at a time. He faithfully gives me enough strength and pain-free moments each day. And He continues to bring me moments of joy in each day, moments to savor.
Praying you have a blessed day tomorrow and can slow down enough to recognize the tremendous blessings all around you.
All my love –