Well, so much for the best-laid plans. I had wanted to write a post at least twice a month. But my last post was back in January! Even I was surprised. I can’t help but wonder, where did the time go? What have I been so busy doing? I won’t say things have been easy, but it seems like all that has happened has helped to have a deeper appreciation for Jesus – the ressurrected bread of life – for you and for me.

But back to where I left off, what have I been doing?

A bit of this and that

From my perspective, I really haven’t done that much. I’ve been working full-time now since October. I continue to help out at the Chinese Church, though I did drop out of the worship team in my own congregation. I really miss that (but the meds are affecting my voice, which is not very dependable these days). Not sure what I miss more – the fellowship during our rehearsals, or being immersed in the music and words of corporate worship – like a small taste of heaven. I’m almost done with a book project for a friend, and every now and then squeeze in a private job for some of my clients who really have no one else to turn to for their editing.

Oh, and then there are the doctor visits, treatments, and just plain everyday life – shopping and pretending to cook and clean. So thankful for a lady in my congregation who added me to her long list of clients. I don’t know what I’d do without her help cleaning.

And a lot of doing nothing… a game here and there, journaling, reading a few books, and sometimes just sitting and doing nothing, thinking about everything I have to do but don’t have the energy to focus on. It’s taken me a while to realize…

The Cancer Took Me By Surprise

A year ago this month I had the left upper lobe of my lung removed for cancer. The surgery went so well. They said that the tumor was contained, and by removing that part of my lung and a few lymph nodes, they were certain they got it all. I just needed a biopsy to know what type of follow-up I needed. However, the general feeling was that it would be no big deal. My surgeon thought it likely that I wouldn’t need chemotherapy. In fact, he was quite positive until the biopsy returned.

The look on his face said it all. As he explained the type of cancer they’d found, he expressed his surprise, though he looked more shocked than I felt. I was still thinking, hey, they got it all. What’s the problem?

He explained that it was a type of cancer they didn’t expect to find in a non-smoker, but that it also was a mixed type of cancer. A mix that, well, he couldn’t say. Let’s wait and see what the oncologist says. That was in April. My appointment with the oncologist was supposed to be soon, but then I was told it would be rescheduled.

However, I knew something was up when, at the beginning of May on a Thursday, Erev Shavuot (the eve before celebrating Pentecost), I was asked to come into the doctor’s office.

It turned out I needed to start on chemo right away. You can read more about that adventure in my posts from June 4 and August 12 of last year. Long story short: I am now on a biological drug in a clinical trial, aimed at knocking out the gene that caused my cancer, which has a 50% chance of returning. All that to say is that deep down inside, while I had to get over thinking it would be easy, I had no idea how much being diagnosed with cancer would affect me.

Getting Used to My New Reality

I still remember, many years ago, while Rich was alive, his doctor insisted that he was depressed and needed a psychiatric evaluation. Rich went in for his appointment, asking me to wait for him in our van. After his appointment, I remember him getting into the driver’s seat and just sitting there in silence for a while. I finally asked, “How was it?”

Rich said, “It was. We talked.”

“And?” I asked. “What did he say.”

Rich finally turned and looked at me. “He said, ‘If I were you, I’d be depressed too.”

“Ouch,” I responded.

Rich sighed. “He said to me that I need to accept my new reality. He’s right, but it’s not easy.”

If I could go back in time, I’d have given him a big hug and prayed, right then and there, and asked God to give him grace for the battle ahead. We did pray together later, but the truth is, while I knew it was hard for him, I realize now that I truly didn’t understand.

Accepting my new reality is not easy. And I am certain it wasn’t for Rich, too – especially after his stroke and discovering he had ‘locked-in syndrome.’

How Did Jesus Do It?

My personal Bible Study has led me to ponder Jesus and all He went through for us. I’ve been particularly gripped by His words at the last supper in Luke 22:19 when He passed the bread, “broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body, given for you.’” As I pondered His breaking of the bread, I remembered a book I’d read years ago when I was in college, “As Bread That is Broken.”

In my mind the image is so vivid. Jesus, of His own free will, breaking the bread, and giving it for us. Jesus, who became the bread of life for you and for me.

If anyone had to accept a new reality, it was the eternal Son, the Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us. Pondering all that Jesus went through so that He could become my bread of life has been so encouraging.

I thought about the whole process of bread-making – from planting the seed for wheat, its growth, the harvest, the threshing, crushing of seed into flour, and then mixing the dough with the right ingredients, beating it, baking it in the oven, and coming forth as bread to feed others. I realized, from the womb to being raised up from the dead (the oven as it were) as our living Savior, every step along the way was a new earthly reality that Jesus had to experience.

It can’t have been easy. What was it like, the creator limited in the womb, growing up with all too human brothers and sisters, submitting to His earthy parents, learning to work and live a simple life, probably as a carpenter, and then – having to let it all go when His heavenly Father made it clear? Did life sometimes take the human side of Jesus by surprise? No wonder he frequently sought out time to be alone to pray.

And putting up with the crowds and His disciples? It must have been so frustrating at times. If anything, being able to fall asleep in a boat on a stormy sea as much reveals His exhaustion as it does His peace – for when I am not at peace, as exhausted as I am, sleep is not very restful.

He faced the reality of dying, of bearing the sins of the whole world in His body, experiencing the rejection of the Father, and then – hell.

“For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame,” we are told in Hebrews 12:2. That was how He bore the new reality of the shame of the cross and bearing the guilt of our sin.

But what a wonderful picture when I think about the resurrection. The devil and his minions must have been shocked when Jesus left our sins in hell and, having paid the price for our sin, He ascended. He arose! O Hallelujah, Christ arose!

Our new reality

All that to say, I am realizing anew the key to victory in my own new reality. It is by putting my trust and faith in the truth of all that Jesus said and did. He never promised me an easy life, but He promised to be with me. He never promised me a perfect, pain-free, life with answers that I’d understand for every situation of life. As I consider my own struggles and what is happening in Israel right now, I certainly don’t have any answers. But I am finding that my quiet times with Jesus are becoming the most important part of my day.

He has given me His peace, and assurance. From His perspective, all is well, even if from my perspective, all will be well. Maybe I, we, need to grasp ahold of the joy set before us.

The joy set before Jesus was to bring about our redemption.

The joy set before us is to enjoy that redemption – for eternity. And He does give us little tastes of eternity along the way. After all, He has placed eternity in our hearts!

From Good Friday to Easter

Many of you have finished celebrating Lent and tonight is Good Friday. Worldwide, people remember the pain and grief of Jesus’s death on the cross. We remember Him, as bread being pounded into shape – the ingredients of the bread, His blood, His body, and our sin cast upon Him. We remember Him buried in the oven of the grave, and just like real bread is transformed in the oven, something wonderful happened. Sin may have been an ingredient, but in the fires of Hades, Jesus paid the price and rose from the grave, leaving our sins behind.

He isn’t going to go back and pick it up again, and so, neither should we. We are forgiven and cleansed and have the privilege of eating of the Bread of Life, our wonderful Lord and Savior, who is coming back soon to take us home.

On Sunday, whether we go to a special service or not, whether it is the actual right Sunday or not (does it really matter?), the church worldwide will be celebrating the Resurrection.

Rejoice! Christ is Risen! Messiah is Risen!

He is Risen indeed!

To encourage you

I think this season is a wonderful time to remember what God has promised and to rejoice in the resurrection. I hope you enjoy the videos below.

A lovely version of the above hymn – in Chinese!

And I have to close with this Easter hymn. It’s interesting, a friend of mine, a Jewish believer in Yeshua, recently said that if she dies, she’d like this song sung at her funeral. I remembered, when my father died, he too asked for this song to be sung at his funeral. And we did!

[Note if you are reading this post via an email notification, you will have to visit this blog post on my website to access any music or images I post.]