In the pressing…
I was undone… The depth and magnitude of these words, piercing my soul, mind and body, with everything within me trembling before the goodness of God.
In the last few months, this song has been messing me up. I remember singing it with my friend at the church encounter service, and I could not stop weeping. Every word was so real to me. All I ever want is to lay it all down at His feet, so that all that remains is Him.
In the crushing, in the pressing
You are making new wine
In the soil I now surrender
You are breaking new ground…
Make me a vessel, make me an offering
Make me whatever you want me to be
I came here with nothing, and all you have given me
Jesus, bring new wine out of me…
The first week of the new year, 2019, I went back for testing, and the reports came back not as good as I hoped, again. The liver has been under attack again. The lesions seemed to have invaded large portions of liver just in the past two months. That explained the pain I’ve been having for about a month or two, that kept pressing and increasing, in my right side. When the doctor walked into the office to read scan results, her first words were, “Well, what we are doing is no longer working”.
Not that they’ve ever had any hope that it would. This was experimental treatment, grasping at straws. The very fact that I have been living, moving, and had two amazing scans both in April and August, were all MIRACLES! It wasn’t supposed to happen, according to science. But according to God, it did!! According to God, after my liver was nearly shutting down last February (2018), with praying and fasting friends and faith in His word, He gave a divine turnaround in one weekend. Jesus gave me the past nine months of continuous improvement, continuous miracles, as tests kept improving, and I lived life, free of pain.
The latter by itself was mind-boggling. In August my liver looked so good, with disease being almost eradicated, except for a tiny nodule, and for the first time in a long time the doctor was stunned in amazement, seeing healthy liver tissue being majority of my report. She was stunned to such degree, that she was ready to record this in the medical journal as it was in the realm of the impossible! The medical treatment could not do that. It was all Jesus!
Only in the past month, or so, after more actively taking on life and stepping out in ministry, this “thing” began to attack again, retaliate almost. As this new report (1.03.19) shows, what the disease is doing is adapting, and it became resistant to whatever the mechanism of treatment was used. So it relapsed and progressed at a rather fast pace. Even though the bones are stable as of now, our fight is for the liver.
Yet we’ve learned to hold hands and hold on to Jesus in these moments. To rise up from the heap of tears, and fix our gaze intently upon Jesus and His word. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
Even so, it is well with my soul! I do not believe that God is causing pain and destruction, according to His word. It is contrary to His very nature, and would despise the high sacrifice of Christ’s suffering. But we realise that we live in the broken world, and we have an enemy, who accuses us day and night. Do we really think that even as we run our race and walk by faith, we wouldn’t get resistance? Ever tried swimming upstream? Ever tried slaying the Goliath?
Nevertheless, the journey is worth it! Living by faith in, through, and in spite of our circumstances, is worth it! Bringing the deepest, radical and ridiculous sacrifice of praise, in whatever state I am, is worth it. Because He is worth it all!
He can take what the enemy has meant for evil, and turn it for the good.
Everything within me wants to yell, “So what?”, right into the eye of the storm.
And everything within me will BLESS the LORD!
“With my whole heart, with my whole life,
and with my innermost being,
I bow in wonder and love before you, the holy God!
Yahweh, you are my soul’s celebration.
How could I ever forget the miracles of kindness
you’ve done for me?
You kissed my heart with forgiveness, in spite of all I’ve done.
You’ve healed me inside and out from every disease.
You’ve rescued me from hell and saved my life.” (Psalm 103:1-5)
Randy Clarke likes to say, “I would rather die believing, then live doubting”. I want to add, that His Word says, “the just will LIVE by faith” (Romans 1:17). Even more so, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life, which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20) .
As hard as it is to fathom, and it certainly doesn’t feel this way in the throes of the battle, there is still a place for joy and being content with Him. Lately we found ourselves rejoicing even in the midst of this, with joy that is unexplainable and makes no sense, that only He can give.
So allow me to give God the glory for all His done in the past year after the diagnosis, and this barely touches the tip of the iceberg:
-From spring of 2017 up until February 2018, I was in extreme pain and mostly bed ridden. The pain decreased somewhat over time as we prayed and decreed God’s word continually.
-My worst scans came in January last year, when lesions were covering my bones everywhere in the spine, skull, ribs and liver. This is when my liver was in worst condition. Doctors were trying their best, but made no promises. But God!! We cried out to God, and He gave us a miraculous turnaround. Over that one weekend my liver stabilized and pain has left.
-Over next many months from February to early Fall 2018, all results kept improving. Bones were nearly clean.
Liver was getting close to clean.
And I lived without pain!
I played with my kids.
With a few restrictions, I was able to function and enjoy life.
Those were all a series of many miracles! How could I be silent? How could I not praise the God of the breakthrough? He alone deserves all of the glory! When there was no hope, He has given me all this precious time of life, faith, family, joy and laughter!
“I have to be frank, we have not, and are not trying to cure it”, the doctor said once again, at our meeting this week. “All we are attempting to do is buy some time”. As she explained it, every time there is a report like this, we have a fork in the road. There is hospice – doing nothing and managing what is left. There is a clinical trial, that we are waiting to find out about. There is possible immunotherapy, if the genetic lab testing determine that I qualify. There is some kind of chemo drug that will be more severe in it’s side effects that we can “try”. All that is to manage or contain it. But friends, we’ve already seen so much more of His goodness through this time! And I am so thankful! It wasn’t a medical breakthrough that did the work of healing and sustaining in my body over the past many months, but it was God’s hand! And it is His right hand that holds me now. Besides, last time I checked, His word says, He has already overcome!
We are faced with decisions in a crisis many times. Sometimes we have to make a decision every day, or every hour… What I know is that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrew 11:6). And I want to please Him.
I so want to please Him! To adore Him in my sacrifice of worship, even when I am surrounded with my enemies.
To simply be with Him, as He prepares a table before me.
To praise Him whether I am on the mountain top, or when I am in the valley.
In that valley of the shadow, I will lean on His Word and His Spirit to comfort me, and rest in His promises (Psalm 23).
But most of all, I just want more of Him, all of Him.
More than a healing, even though I believe for healing.
More than anything He can give.
I just want Jesus.
“For me to live is Christ…” (Philippians 1:21).
So, make me a vessel, make me an offering
Make me whatever you want me to be
I came here with nothing, and I all you have given me.
Jesus, bring new wine out of me…
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-3