Clay and Water
I’m tired, again. Really tired.
Physically, very slow. Mentally, dull and listless.
I just had my 29th chemo infusion and while the Erbitux is easy to cope with when compared to my original FOLFIRI/FOLFOX/Avastin regime, it’s still a hard slog. The Oxaliplatin from the FOLFOX infusions has left me with considerable nerve damage in my feet and toes. A drop in temperature of even only a few degrees is often enough to make standing or walking unbearable, and that’s assuming it wasn’t a cold day to start with. But I love a cold day because the cooler air is soothing on my head and torso. The rash from the Erbitux is subdued by cooler temperatures. The burning somehow bearable.
There’s no such thing as in-between when it comes to cancer. It’s cards down and guns drawn…. all in or you’re dead.
Rock, meet hard place.
And in all of this I am still trying to understand the why’s and the why not’s. So many things I just don’t understand.
Before cancer I was pretty ambitious… to a fault. I was driven but I was driving myself towards things that held no eternal value, no lasting satisfaction. I tolerated certain situations that took me away from my family and allowed my boundaries to be compromised. I tolerated certain people in the foolish belief that they might ‘open doors’ for my future, all the while knowing they were the kind of people I didn’t want to be like. All in the name of ‘success’. But cancer has stripped away the things inside me that sought to benefit only myself and my immediate family. These things I thought I could not do without…. now… cast aside on the road through the valley.
I see a lot of discarded things on this road. Things thrown away by people who have walked the road before me and have come to the same revelatory realisation. Our understanding of eternal things accelerated by our own imminent demise. The deepest cry for mercy bringing with it the deepest understanding.
To the human eye we become ‘victims’…. ‘sufferers’.
We become nothing.
Our brokenness repulsive to those who have apparently got it all together. And yet… the more broken we become, the more cracks that appear, the more light that gets in.
I am nothing. I have always said this. This journey is not about me. It’s not to show you how strong I am, for my strength comes from God. It’s not to show you how great my faith is, for my faith is a gift from God. And it’s not to show you how courageous I am, for my courage comes from God… exactly at the time I need it. Anything you see in me that is good is not of my doing… it’s from Heaven. I’m not the well respected religious leader. I’m not the upstanding citizen. I’m not the guy that’s got it all together. I’m the tax collector in Luke 18 verse 9:
“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
13“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.'”
14Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
You will become more than yourself….
Maybe I’m Superman…. or maybe I’m just on the receiving end of a mercy-full God’s gift.
I am constantly reminded of how broken I really am. My body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. It’s doing things it shouldn’t and is being subjected to ongoing brutality as we attempt to correct its behaviour. My mortality has never been more obvious and I am daily reminded that if God does not intervene in my situation I’m a dead man. And that’s just the physical brokenness. I could write page after page on my own frail humanity. But it’s what Christ offers me…. to fix it once and for all… that turns the liability into an asset. To replace my weakness with his strength. To offer himself in my place.
This journey from who I was to who I was born to be, this becoming, is not a path I would have willingly chosen for myself or for those who love me. Believe me, it’s painful. My body aches almost as much as my heart… and whether or not it has been chosen for me is open to much debate. But it doesn’t matter. I’m being shaped, regardless. Thrown down onto the potter’s wheel as he digs his hands in and squeezes out the imperfections…. placed into the fire to seal the skilled handiwork. All the while having no idea what I’m supposed to be, what I’m becoming. Trusting in the one leading me…. trusting him for my very life.
“Nothing ever stays the same
The wheel will always turn
I feel the fire in the change
But somehow it doesn’t burn
Like a beggar blessed I stumble in the grace
Reaching out my hand for what awaits
I am clay and I am water
Falling forward in this order
While the world spins ’round so fast
Slowly I’m becoming who I am
I will live from my heart
And I will catch the lines of love as they come
Back to You I know they’ll lead
And into You I know I’ll lean”