Monday, October 1, 2007

Love and Cancer

"The disease of self runs through my blood
Its a cancer fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control."

- Charlie Peacock's (and DC Talk) In The Light

This early October Saturday was emotionally conflicting for me. This morning Ryan and I left pretty early to meet some guys at our church, and then we all drove to a small village about 30 minutes north for a landscaping and cleaning project at Rob and Melanie's home. Rob and Melanie and their little girls are moving from Germany in two weeks. Rob just learned he has inoperable cancer wracking his body. There is nothing the medical professionals can do. The doctors say he may have 2-3 months to live. Rob is only 30 years old. Five years younger than me. As we entered their home and began weeding the yard, cleaning gutters, and taking out trash, I just witnessed an amazing calmness. The daughters were happily playing in the living room. Melanie was focused at her tasks at hand. Rob helped us work. He loves Jesus and he isn't afraid of dying. He is sad that his kids may not grow up with him around. But he learned that he has had this cancer for about five years, so he praises God that his kids were even born into this world, and he got to spend at least five years with them. This completely shreds my already broken heart. The Air Force is going to medically retire him and will ensure his family is well taken care of. The family will return to New York, where they can prepare for this inevitable future. Our church and countless others around the world are praying for God's miracle in this seemingly tragic circumstance. I enjoyed being able to help them for a few hours, before I hit the trails for an exhilarating ride with my mountain bike club on this very crisp fall day in western Germany. But, it was difficult to enjoy the beauty of this world, when my mind raced so furiously in response to the many broken relationships that I see and experience in this vast world. Some relationships are broken by our selfishness and purposeful decisions. I know this from very personal and painful experience. Some relationships are torn apart by unexpected tragedies that emerge from black holes in our peripheral vision. I praise God for the many beautiful things we do get to enjoy in this world, but I am struck by the contrast of this family's ordeal. Rob shared that he and Melanie have been more in love in the past two weeks than in five years of marriage. I am envious of that, but my heart and soul cry out that they would have more. More of the good things of life. I suppose we would all live life with more purpose. We would become serious about our responsibilities. That we would become selfless in our relationships, if we fully realized that our lives will come to an end in this world. May we see that reality today. If you have not ever admitted your mortality and the wrong things you have done, if you have never engaged in a personal relationship with our creator, I hope that you do it soon. God certainly allows tragedy. That has been evident and inherent in man since original sin. But God loves us so much that, according to His written word, sent his only son, to become a mediator between us. He took the burden of our deserved punishment for selfishness and disobedience, so that we could have eternal life. I hope you will realize there is much more to this than some man-made religion to appease the masses and make us feel good about an unknown future. I know that Rob has accepted this as truth, and not as a drug to make him or his wife feel better. May you experience truth before tragedy. I love you.