This is the eighth post in Anna and Wendy’s joined blog project, Breaking Light. It has been an amazing month of overwhelming light shining from the vessels of God’s lovely people.
Today’s post is a bit different. Unusual in that I am sharing the light of someone who is in heaven… my husband Chris. He has been much on my mind these days and I miss his stories and his light. It occurred to me that his light is still very much a part of our home and that sharing it would only make it brighter.
Of all the characters in the Bible, I believe Chris would say he most related to David. Chris always saw himself as a sinner, but learned he was redeemed by the grace of God. And if David was a beloved son and man after God’s heart, with his wild life, then Chris always said there was hope for him too. He led a couple of studies with men in the church on the life of David. And was often found reading the Psalms. Chris’s greatest desire was to be a man after God’s own heart. But after he was diagnosed with a rare internal cancer, I would have to say I saw him as more of a Paul. God met him on the road of his life, a place where he’d have said, he was so filled with complacency and just getting by. I saw the change on this road. All his life, Chris was being transformed. But when, like Paul, Chris discovered this thorn, his life became a powerful testimony. At first he asked for it to be removed. He saw Cancer eating away at who he was and the changes were daily and overwhelming. He fought this place passionately. But at some point he surrendered and allowed God to work in and through him.
This is a quote from his journal a couple of months before he went to heaven… He quotes Job 1:21 “Naked, I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart, the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised forever.” Then he goes on to say… “Lord God, your ways are higher than my ways. And you are sovereign. I do not understand why you are seemingly detatching me from this life. On one hand I see your goodness and your hand of providence over and over again. You send people to encourage and pray with me. On the other hand, my health continues to deteriorate. The good news has not been forthcoming. Yet I will praise you and trust in you. This circumstance is not what I want. I long to be healed and restored. PLEASE DO THIS! But your will not mine. Help me to accept. Grant a close walk with you, that in every circumstance I can reflect you to those around me. May I know your peace in the midst of all the fears.”
I see him like Paul because, in the prison of his cancer his light shown. I saw him encourage others with God’s word. While Chris was in the hospital, just a week before he went to heaven, he was awaiting a brain scan. We’d been anxiously awaiting the tech to come in and take him for it. Chris was reading his Bible and we had a guest. She asked him a question and he proceeded to read to her from God’s word. It comforted me to see this and her too. In the middle of his reading the tech came to get him. He wasn’t willing to leave this question unanswered, so asked, well actually told, the tech to wait while he finished reading to her. I know it is still a beautiful memory to her, and to me. His reflection of God, changed lives that day I just know it.
Paul’s letters were some of Chris’s favorite books to read. One verse that comes to mind from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is this, “Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:16-18) This makes me think most of Chris’s life and the life we shared, before and during his cancer battle. As he was battling cancer, Chris was being transformed into Christ’s likeness and he did reflect it to those around him.
What was his favorite verse and why? I was looking through Chris journal, and his Bible to find his favorite verses. I discovered Psalm 43:5, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. For I will yet praise him, My savior and my God.” And next to it in his journal he says this… “Lord have mercy! Lift me from this deep pit and restore my feet to solid ground. Give me hope. Give me your peace. Renew the joy of my salvation and of life itself. I pray for a closer walk with you.” This could have been written by David himself. I watched him live this prayer over and over. He leaned in hard on this verse and because of that we as a family were strengthened. I believe this verse gave him hope and peace and reminded him who loved him and would hold him up.
I was thinking of what Chris’s greatest valley was…
Having been diagnosed with cancer comes to mind, but I believe his greatest valley was self worth and being worthy of the most high King. He said, “I have always seen myself as such a sinful wretch.” He knew God’s love, but struggled and desired to see himself the way God did. Chris was a very confident man, he knew what needed done and did it. He’d never hesitate to jump in and get dirty in any project that needed doing. He was also doubtful and sensitive to who he was in God. Rarely saw himself the way God did as son and heir.
I believe he experienced God’s nearness most in this valley, when cancer came into our lives. It was in the midst of this battle with cancer, that he began to see himself as an heir of God. He cried out in raw anguish and deep pain. His journal, though short, is powerful with this desire to know God in an intimate way. About halfway through this battle I saw heaven enter his countenance. He became an evangelist of sorts. And who God had been making him to be, was finally there in front of us. With one foot in heaven he was shining a light and those around him caught a glimpse of heaven in this powerful love and radiance that was indescribable.
A real sense of community rallied around us when Chris was sick. Two churches joined hands and cradled us in their arms. Our every need was met. Financially, Chris hadn’t been working for several months and I had to quit my job to take care of him. We had no income for 9 months and never missed a bill, hospital payment or meal. God created a community around us and poured out love generously. God showed us that we would never need doubt his love, through this community. Both believer and unbelievers alike stood beside us, held us up and provided all we could ever need. I believe many who do not know the Lord saw Him in that 6 months. Chris’s testimony and desire to reflect God in all he did and said, touched my life and the lives of those around us.
I think that the greatest piece of advice he’d share would be to live…. Live fully like it might be your last day on earth. Don’t be complacent, just exist or wait to share Christ with anyone. Lean into the prompting of the Lord every time. And I’d like to add… “I believe I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13 Our life verse for this journey through and after cancer.
Chris was a beloved husband, papa of 4 daughters, son, brother, friend and is now an experienced heir of heaven. His battle with internal melanoma was 6 long and short months. He left us for heaven November 2014. He never stopped living, he never gave up and got up every morning ready to share the goodness of the lord in the land of the living. I am so proud to share his light and his testimony here this week.
Comment on today’s post and go into the draw to win a copy of Debbie’s beautiful book But the Greatest of these is Love. You can read a description of the book below:
On a March evening in 2000, an unexpected and unsettling thought came out of nowhere, disrupting Debbie Michael’s comfortable life—adoption! It was neither her idea nor her desire to adopt; she was already the mother of three. Instinctively, she knew God was speaking to her, but she did not want to listen if His message required action as life-changing as adopting an orphan. Dread lingered in the aftermath of the disturbing suggestion, and a debilitating fog of uncertainty settled over her life. A journey of a thousand miles (or five thousand, in this case) might begin with a single step, but Debbie was not eager to take that first step. Though God was relentless, she remained adamant. She was determined to ignore the nudging. But God would not be ignored! God pried Debbie out of her comfortable existence and opened a door to a life she didn’t know existed. But the Greatest of These is Love is about much more than adoption. It is a story about the powerful and astonishing ways God uses ordinary people to accomplish His divine intention that we love one another.