Day 29. Today is the day that determines our cancer future. It is the big crescendo of the first phase of Delaney’s leukemia treatment, and… it falls on Good Friday. And with that God, I’ve got to admit, you’ve still got it!
Apparently, even cancer doesn’t wait for cancer. Long before now, today was marked on our calendar as the day we would be heading back to Children’s Hospital. Once we were there, Stacey and I would put on our brave faces for Delaney so hopefully she wouldn’t realize how serious the implications of everything she was about to have done to her, really were. Ha! The joke is on you cancer because we didn’t even have to make the commute to Children’s Hospital today, we were already here! Our eyes are already bloodshot from all the fun we have had over the past three nights, so why stop now?!?!
Today they will draw more of Delaney’s blood, purposely make her unconscious, do a lumbar puncture, take bone marrow, and then give her more chemotherapy. Then later, they will also go about analyzing the blood, bone marrow, and cells and start counting how many cancer cells still exist. God willing, they won’t find ANY! But even if the doctors surprise us with the terrible news that Delaney’s condition has gotten much worse, or inform us that we won’t be able to bring her home for another 444 nights, or if the excruciating knee pain returns every night (it came back last night so we already got to go have X-rays done this morning), we know that God is still in control.
People have commented about our faith through this whole (non) adventure. “I don’t think I could do it, how are you guys holding up like you are?” they’ll ask. If you don’t mind, and yes, I know many of you actually will mind, I’ll answer that by sharing a little about my faith. More specifically, why it has not and will not waiver no matter what the results of today’s tests are and no matter what tomorrow brings. Why? You’ve heard of that guy that was blind but can now see… well that dude is me.
I was probably never really an atheist, but for most of my adult life, I just chose to live like one. Technically, I would be classified as an agnostic. I didn’t know for sure that there was no God (as the mountains, the fishies, puppies, and babies -without poopy diapers of course- seemed to necessitate some sort of Creator), but I definitely didn’t believe in God. Truth be told, I thought the Bible was a bunch of crap (to put it nicely). Some fables of the Aesop sort, to pass along to the kiddies to make sure they behave.
Because this is Delaney’s blog and not “Tom’s testimony,” I’ll cut to the chase. Living like there was no God wasn’t exactly good for my marriage. After seeing three different marriage counselors and deciding there wasn’t going to be a fourth, we moved from Northern California to Southern California to make it easier on us when the inevitable divorce took place. However, shortly after the move, my brother invited me to his church (Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA). I went with him, but I was honest with him when he asked what I thought of the service, “it was fine… but I think the whole thing is based on BS!” He gave me a book to read called, “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel (also a former agnostic). By that point I had already checked out religious science, Buddhism, and a bunch of other stuff before settling on being semi-content as an agnostic, but I agreed to read his book. Contrary to other books I had read, this one didn’t try to use the Bible to prove its own validity, it used things outside the Bible (ie. history, archeology, and science). It quickly had me thinking, “if the Bible really is true, what does that mean about how I am living my life?” That was thirteen years ago this July. Needless to say my marriage, and my life, haven’t been the same ever since.
Some of you more observant folks might be thinking, but you are not religious! You’re right. I’m not a huge fan of religion and the way it divides. Do you know that Delaney has Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, heterosexuals, and just about every race praying for her? I am even less of a fan of most “religious” people, who want to go around judging people who sin differently than they do. I am actually in pretty good company there, because guess who else wasn’t a big fan of religious people: Jesus.
Yes, that same Jesus who was crucified on the cross on that original Good Friday over 2000 years ago. By the way, the fact that he was nailed to the cross isn’t in dispute by any of those religions mentioned. What that crucifixion, and then the empty tomb, meant (and still means) is where their views differ. We may interpret differently a verse about the coming Messiah that was written 500 years before Jesus even walked the earth (Isaiah 53:5- He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.) I may just be impartial because of the “healed” part, but I believe that Jesus died for my sins and through his death and resurrection, I’ll be in Heaven someday with him (the way I am eating these days, “someday” will probably be sooner rather than later).
When I was an agnostic, I thought I was going to “I’m a good person” my way into Heaven, if such a place even existed. Sin is a funny thing. Unfortunately, it just isn’t “ha ha” funny. Let me bring this back to Delaney for a minute. When Delaney had the surgery to put the port in her chest, she literally came out of it orange. “Wow, cancer is turning our daughter into a giant carrot!” I thought before they explained they scrubbed her with a disinfectant prior to the surgery. The disinfectant killed most of the germs, but could never permanently remove all of them. Sin is just like those germs, I could try to just live a good life or cover them in other ways, but only Jesus could actually take away those sins. That’s where so many people are mistaken in their belief that they need to be “perfect” or get better before God could love them. In Delaney’s world that would be like saying, “She needs to feel better, before she can get rid of the cancer.” It is actually the other way around, after she gets rid of the cancer, she’ll feel better. Sin is the cancer and that is why it is so encouraging when the Bible says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
So no matter what happens today, it doesn’t change the truly important thing. Cancer can’t compete with my God. Only HE can take something that looks like it is the worst thing ever (for example, Jesus being crucified on a cross, or the sweetest six year old ever having leukemia) and turning it into the best possible thing (like Resurrection Sunday or ???… we’ll have to wait and see what he does for Delaney, but it’ll be great!). Have a great Good Friday. Say a prayer for Delaney, go check out The Case for Christ yourself, call your Mom, paint some eggs, bite the ears off a chocolate bunny, or do a little jig. Need a reason to dance, I’ll leave you with this, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.” It’s Friday… but Sunday is coming!!!!!