What remains

Elisabeth Elliot's prayer today: Lord, deliver us from smallness and self-pity. "Make us masters of ourselves that we may be the servants of others"(Sir Alexander Patterson).
I have always been a very "in the moment" sort of person. The moment is the focus: if it's good, entertaining, sweet - then I am in a good mood; if it's bad, negative, draining, tiresome - then I am in a bad mood. Living with cancer, living with a child with new disabilities, requires that I step outside the moment.

I started that process by developing a constant scale system, completely internally and inside my own head. My "inner monologue" often had to do with weighing the pros and cons - adding a pro here or a con there depending on the moment, and then evaluating the sum. A good day had more pros in it than cons. After all, that's how many decisions are made, right? It was a logical system, right?

Unfortunately, this system devolved into a very complex matrix because I soon realized that I couldn't assign the same weight to different brands of "bad" and different moments of "good". A bad seizure has to have more weight than spilled milk. A moment of unexpected silence in the house in the busy afternoon is less than getting news your cancer hasn't grown in the past two months. So I scrapped the system.

I had an epiphany moment reading I Corinthians 3 aloud to my Rosy-girl one day when she was struggling with a bad attitude. (I remember the irony of the moment - occurring, according to Murphy's Law, on one of my very worst days, a day when I was certainly laying up more wood, hay and stubble than gold, silver and precious stones.) The words are hard ones: each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Rosy looked at me and said, "Isn't God amazing, Mama? He saves our good works forever and burns the bad ones up. I am glad my bad works are gonna be burned up."

The thud deep in my soul was ground-shaking. That's right. The bad ones will be burned up and gone in a moment, forever, and the good ones will stay for eternity, a visual reminder of what was done right. Simply weighing the bad against the good doesn't capture the whole picture. It leaves Christ out of the equation. In Isaiah 43:25, it says I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. He will not remember them. They are blotted out, gone, forgotten, burned up and destroyed forever. Is it possible that He burns up the failures so that they do not detract from the brilliance of those works done for His glory? Is it possible He does so out of mercy and tenderness to us?

This may be the key to rejoicing in everything, in everything giving thanks. If I burn up the bad immediately, if it is confessed and then blotted out and forgotten, isn't every day a "good day"?

What Christ did on the cross is inexorably shift the pendulum toward the true, honorable, lovely, commendable, just, pure, excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). By destroying the sting of death, wiping out the penalty for the wrong words, the sullenness, the anger, the questioning and the fear, He has created a new paradigm for those who choose to believe in Him.

When He looked down on us yesterday, He did not see a bittersweet picture. He saw a redeemed picture. He did not see a 31-year-old woman with cancer, exhausted from the heat and afraid of fainting, riding on a horse because in that moment she still could: He saw a 31-year-old woman riding a horse, enjoying the friends He provided. Period. He has washed away cancer, exhaustion, fainting. What will remain for all eternity is only the good - because I have accepted His washing!

Yesterday, my daughter had a horrible, violent seizure that lasted over four minutes. I was afraid it would never stop, or that she would choke on her vomit. I felt completely and utterly alone. It felt like eternity. Yesterday, on the way to the clinic in Rochester where hope for these seizures is housed, our van broke down...again...at the most inopportune moment. My first reaction? "Wow, God, you're really piling it on!" We waited for a car, we drove through the heat without air conditioning - and it felt like eternity. At the clinic, we talked about the inevitable 9-1-1 calls, the rescue medications to prevent permanent brain damage or death, the spacing of medications that will require even greater responsibility as parents. Time stretched thin, the doctor's words echoing in our heads as we drove home through the crippling humidity and heat. Eternity.

The sweet moments seemed so fleeting yesterday, in the face of all the "bad" of the day. Yet this is what will last. The fleeting moments of "right". Sunset, on horseback, cool breezes, laughter lilting, sweet fecund smell of the ranch, cool wooden floor in the old farmhouse, cricket calls and frog songs, teenage hijinks full of life, and little ones tagging along after big kids. For eternity, those things - the pure, beautiful, excellent things - will live on in glorious, indelible gold.