Friday, June 12, 2015

What's Love's Got To Do With It?

Well, quite a lot, actually. If you ask my friend, Gail, she will tell you that love is the key to a joyful life.

We've known Gail and her family for many years. We met her and her husband, Larry, when we moved to Thousand Oaks, California, as newlyweds in the 70's. Gail was one busy mom during those years with three active grade school children.

When their children were in their teens, they moved to Roseburg, Oregon for a job change for Larry. In the meantime we moved a couple times too. So it was especially nice to hear from Larry and Gail a few months ago as they were passing through our area and to share a meal together. Beyond the parenting years, Larry and Gail have been blessed with five granddaughters and two great grandchildren.

As we caught up on the last twenty-plus years, Gail turned to us at one point and said "I need to tell you I have Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer."


We are never prepared to hear words like that, are we, especially from someone who is healthy, vibrant and probably the youngest great grandmother I know. She went on to tell us she'd had a routine scan last fall in preparation for some other surgery she was about to have and there it was...a spot no one wants to see on a scan. This was not what she was expecting either!

She explained that her doctor said she probably had about a year, at the most, to live and her only real treatment option was chemo which would likely make her sick for months diminishing her quality of life. This course of treatment would extend her life by about three months. Gail said, "I have perfect peace about all this. I made the decision to skip the chemo and enjoy this next year of my life."And she has. She had no symptoms for months and enjoyed many activities and trips to reconnect with friends she hadn't seen in awhile.

Gail's life has been one of loving others and serving her Savior. Her family will be the first to tell you she has lived out her faith in Christ so beautifully in the small things and now in the big things. From the day of the diagnosis she said she felt an incredible peace. She has welcomed the prayers for her healing and is willing to continue life here or in Heaven. Her attitude has been encouraging to those of us who have heard her story. She even manages to have a sense of humor relaying how one day when standing in line at the drug store waiting to purchase toothpaste a thought came to her. "Hmmm, I wonder if this will be the last tube of toothpaste I'll need to buy."

There was no sense of panic in trace of entitlement to more years of life. There was just a beautiful surrender consistent with her relationship with God. There was even joy on her face. I have to say the joy thing left me amazed.

A couple weeks after our visit, Gail sent me a note telling me she had just heard a teaching by John Piper on the scripture verse, Romans 8:28. He focused on two words in this verse, "good" and "love." She summed it up in this way:  We need to love God more than the good things we want from Him, more than the pleasures these sufferings take away from us. We can trust Him to bring about "good" through the difficult things we endure. His grace will get us through whatever trials we experience. Gail knows she can completely trust God with His purpose for her life.

This has left me wondering if my reaction to a trial like this would be as reflective of total trust in God as hers is. Do I love God more than the good things I want in my life?

What about you?

"God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him."  John Piper

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1 comment:

Toni said...

Beautiful post Sheryl. Rom 8:28 has been the focus of my prayer group this entire year, we have studied it inside and out through a book called The Promise By Robert J. Morgan. I highly recommend it. My co-leader in this group is facing terminal thyroid cancer and has 1-2 years to live. WOW....these are hard things but I feel like God has clearly prepared us for the "all things" through this study. God bless your dear friend.....aren't we fortunate to have people like her and my friend, who not only teach us how to live in grace but to die in grace as well? Toni