Last night we drank champagne: it felt important to celebrate – to mark the moment: “We had to celebrate and be glad – this son of mine was dead and is alive again… ” Luke 15v32! Not literally dead, of course, but given up to God, metaphorically ‘gone beyond us’ with the choice to let go already made in our minds… which is how the prodigal’s father meant it too. But then when we were not expecting it – the sun broke out from behind the dark clouds!
We had prepared ourselves as best we could for bad news. Sam’s latest scan was done as an emergency because he had a minor fit over Christmas-time and yesterday we went to the hospital to hear the results. The best I was hoping for was for it to be the same as last time but Martin expected it to be worse – because our son hasn’t really been too well lately, in bed most of the time and very tired. Its easy to imagine he’s going downhill, especially with evidence of the irritation of his brain exhibiting itself in tremors and fits. Pessimism is often a defence against disappointment: my New Year poem was undoubtedly coming out of that place as well as the desire to be strong and a real willingness to undergo whatever the Lord wants… without presuming I know what that is. ‘Your will not mine be done.’ There may not seem much faith in that – but presumption is not faith.
Anyway, we were surprised – not to say amazed! While Sam was telling his consultant what’s been happening, the doctor suddenly interjected,“But it hasn’t progressed!” We had to stop him and ask, “What did you just say?” The radiology report speaks for itself:
‘There has been a mild reduction in the size/extent of T2 signal abnormality associated with the right frontal and parietal lesions, and almost complete resolution of the small foci of enhancement that became more apparent on the MRI in September 2010. There appears to be less restricted diffusion within the areas of abnormality seen on the previous MRI scans…’
No, we don’t really understand what it all means, but the words ‘less’, ‘reduction’ and ‘resolution’ written there in black and white certainly cause wonder and hope to rise. ‘How can these things be?’!
It is hard to understand why this has happened, actually! The radiologist concluded that ‘the appearances favour response to chemoradiotherapy’ but that treatment finished on 1st April last year, and there have been 2 other scans since then, which didn’t show such improvement. Sam has been making a consistent effort since with largely untested and unproven anti-cancer diet and herbal drugs, and he has certainly felt the Lord’s healing touch through laying on of hands in October. Fuelling all this the supplications, requests and declarations of many have been warring in heaven!
But it does still leave you wondering… happy and relieved, yes, but also a bit perplexed! It is simply not clear, not obvious – and so unexpected! What kind of faith did we have then? Not much – I was working too hard at submitting to Sam’s probable death without losing my trust in the Lord! So now I can more fully understand the wary attitude of many people when faced with an inexplicable sign, because the immediate response isn’t necessarily faith and praise. Maybe God knows our hearts better than we do: signs are not necessarily going to convince people of His love and truth!
Mixed in with that uncertain response was the sheer exhaustion from the strain we had all been under over the last few days and weeks: the adrenaline keeps you going, but then you crash! Its such a relief to have a proper holiday booked next week and now there is nothing to prevent that happening: I can certainly rejoice over that!
But perhaps most importantly, there remains the unavoidable fact that we may have won this battle, but we have definitely not yet won the war. The 12cm wide immovable object is still sitting in Sam’s head – not growing, not threatening at the moment, but still there… The journey continues.
It reminds me of that scene in Back to the Future, where Marty is playing guitar at the Under the Sea ball ‘where his parents meet and kiss and fall in love’. The photo of their kids is fading away because the past has been changed and there is another future unfolding where they will not marry: George walks away without kissing her… Marty starts to collapse and fade, he can’t play, the music goes out of tune. But suddenly George pushes back through the crowd and takes her in his arms – Marty springs back to life, the music plays again, life returns, the photograph of the future is restored 🙂 It feels a bit like that is what has happened for us – a suddenly, restoration of ‘a future and a hope’, death pushed aside… But if you have seen the trilogy, you know that as soon as he gets out of the door another threat to his future is waiting for him.
But yes, there is hope! There is encouragement and praise being given to God, and our faith for His intervention rises again. It is a war of attrition, it is a long slog, there are no quick fixes – but we have taken a positive forward step for the first time since all this started. We must rejoice about that! Sam himself is encouraged and re-focussed. It is time to press in again in prayer!
I am especially encouraged because (you know me and numbers/dates by now!) this all happened on 10.1.11. I had marked a 40 day period from 21.12.10, the shortest day, to 29.1.11 – which is the day Martin and I return from holiday and the anniversary of Sam’s diagnosis. We have been focussed on the Lord for this season of our journey over the turn of the year – and it has been a tough time. But I realised yesterday was the 21st day of that 40 days – 21 so often the number of breakthrough (Daniel 10v2-3,12-13) – and the midpoint. Having just prophesied about 2011: a watershed year to have this personal watershed moment – unlooked for, completely organised by the Lord – and for it to be good news and not the bad news we had feared, is especially wonderful for me.
Now our future has changed. Our next appointment is NOT going to be on the Ides of March – a portent of doom as Caesar was murdered!? – but on 17th May – a week after Sam’s 24th birthday and the day of my mother’s birthday. It will be a ‘mother’s day’ for me indeed, because the next scan will really tell us which way things are going… The stakes have just been raised and there is everything to play for… Plus interestingly, the other day I came across this word that the Lord whispered to me on 17th May 2005 – so 6 years on I guess all this is probably about that too!
“I AM working at a deep level in your land and in your hearts. I am shaking foundations. I am bringing fire. I am testing character and motives and examining hearts.
The enemy of your souls seeks to take advantage of you, to push back every advance and contest every stand you make. He comes to sift, to accuse, to rob and destroy – to discourage the saints. Don’t give him room. This is a time you need your spare oil. Press in to My love and grace. Draw on My resources – stand firm and stand together.
Let Me do My work and turn what he means for harm to good. These are the deep things of God: character formed in the fire of suffering, love that refuses to let go, grace that forgives enemies. Let the character of Christ be formed in you. Go through the submission of Gethsemene to the Cross and so enter new life.
I AM GOD! I AM SHAKING EVERYTHING THAT CAN BE SHAKEN! Hold onto the Rock. Hide under my wing. Trust Me. Be prepared for the earthquake that is coming. It is a time of warfare, but the warrior spirit forged in the fire is strong. Character is true authority.”
Sounds like unexpected good news to me!