Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Workmanship

As I stand before the mirror each day, the reflection gazing back at me is one that has become all too familiar.

One I never imagined would be set before my eyes.

I had once imagined a reflection of silvery, gray hair adorning my head, deep set laugh lines (ok wrinkles) accenting my face, hopeful to one day see a body that had gracefully weathered time. A body over time reflecting age and not disease.

What I see with my eyes, the reflection that is cast back to me is one of disease. Of scars still bearing the redness as they heal. Scars across my chest and under my arms from drainage tubes and incisions, sutures as the disease was removed and my body closed back up. A bump that lies just under my skin where my left bra strap crosses my shoulder. My port. The access point of my veins for the drugs that for 8 weeks push through my body. And the disfigurement laying across my chest. That which God gave woman is now gone in its natural state. What shouldn't be foreign is.

A body that over the past 6 months has shed almost 10 pounds, pounds that 6 months ago I was wishing away, now wishing back on. Pounds not shed through diet and exercise. Pounds shed as my body fights a waging battle against this disease. The body staring back at me is thinner, wearing the battle scars from the fight.

And then my gaze is cast to my head where cancer has left its heavy imprint. The effects of chemo as the hair is now gone leaving behind a stark white scalp edging the remnants of a tanned face from the summer. Eyelashes and eyebrows still remain, but in the coming weeks, those too, may disappear as new drugs flow through my veins.

And Satan again stands as a shadow in the background of these images trying to define me. Trying to take this physical body, my flesh, and say that he is the workman. This is what disease has done to me. I am now half a woman. And my body cries cancer.

But I won't let him. As hard as Satan tries to take me down and daily bring before my eyes and those around me, the physical scars and effects of cancer. He won't have me. He won't ever define. He can mar my outside and tear down my physical condition.

But He can't have me nor can He touch the new creation I am through Jesus Christ.

I am HIS. And in me, He is creating a masterpiece. As He is with you.

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

Satan can touch the outside to His hearts content. But He can't touch who I am in Jesus Christ. I am sealed with the Holy Spirit, the moment I gave my life over to Christ. The moment I said yes to Him and No to this world. The moment I put my trust in Him alone. I am His and He is taking the life that He created, disease and all, and creating a masterpiece for His glory. As He is the master designer. He is my workman.

A friend of mine gave me a mug early on in my diagnosis that read this inscription:

Caner is so limited.....
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the Spirit

As my eyes are, and maybe yours too, are drawn to the outward manifestation of this disease. As my body bears the marks on the outside, my soul and my Spirit cannot be touched by the hand of this disease. They can only be touched by the Hand of God. And as my outside may look marred, my inside is being renewed, refined, and polished for Him. May you see Him and His handiwork and not this disease.

As I taught last Thursday morning for the ladies at our women's Bible Study, this was the message God put on my heart to share as we worked through Ephesians 2:1-10.

It was a message I needed to hear over and over again that week as I prepared to teach.

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2 that before Christ was invited into our hearts and lives, we were dead in our sins and trespasses. False steps, missing the mark, falling beside the way, violations against God Himself....We were spiritually lost and spiritually dead and meandering along the path of the world. No direction, constantly trying to fill the empty space felt deep in our soul with the things of this world....money, food, materialistic goods, love, fame, power, titles, and more. And without God we are in a desperate state.

Two small words change the whole picture.

But God.....

"But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved, and raised us up together, and made us sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His lovingkindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-7

But God who abounds in mercy because He loves us, even when we lived apart from Him. Even when we put up the barriers and shut Him out. He loves us and desires to give us life through His son, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

And through His love: He gave us new life, a new position in Christ, and a new home...a dwelling place with the Lord. The pathway for a relationship with Jesus Christ.

To show us the riches of His grace. He reaches out to save us. Undeserved.

All you have to do is receive Him. Receive His grace. Call on His name and be saved.

And it is by His grace that we have been saved. Not by our works. Not by going to church. Not through our parents. Not by trying to be a good person. Not by giving money to others...all this is good. But it won't give you salvation.

Salvation is a gift from God...through faith....through believing in Him.

And we, are His workmanship. The work of His hands. And our lives are His as He masterfully puts each piece into place creating in us the most beautiful tapestry. The most beautiful landscape. The most beautiful masterpiece.

This cancer. It is one puzzle piece in a puzzle that has yet to be completely put together. What you are going through today.....your pain or hardship....it is one puzzle piece and it will fit skillfully into the next piece and the next and the next...and when you breathe your last breathe and as a believer in Jesus Christ, when He ushers you to your eternal home....the landscape of your life will be life a magnificent sunset setting across the horizon. And on that day, it will all make sense...the pain, the trials, the disease. The day we stand face to face with the designer, our God and Father, Jesus Christ.

But God....He defines me. May this life be all about Him. May these scars be for His glory. May He create His masterpiece through the few fishes and loaves that I have.

Much love,
Stacy





14 comments:

Mom to 9 Blessings! said...

Beautifully said Stacy! I am teaching the children through Ephesians now and we had a very intense morning here - lots of tears and tons of healing! PRAISE GOD! God's mercy and grace abounds!

We got more sad news about dad - we will know what is ahead probably by Friday. Thank you for praying with us!


I love you and hope to hug you soon in person!
MUAH!
Jill

Sara said...

Stacy... It is so inspiring to read your solid faith right before my eyes... as you face this disease head on with the Lord determining your steps and your worth through His eyes. In those weary moments when you feel Satan more strongly prowling around looking for someone to devour... remember you have an army of believers surrounding you in prayer and lifting you up before our great God... Praying for you in earnest. I love seeing the beauty you have inside just pouring out through your words... what an encouragement you are to me:)
Much Love!
Sara

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Beautiful and again, I am speechless! To God be the Glory!

I have watched my relatives go through these stages and recently my pastor. As he stood on the stage to speak, his head shaved and the scares from the surgery on his brain. I was humbled.

We missed him when he wasn't able to teach and we rejoiced when he could! His hair is starting to grow back...different from what it was before.

His heart's cry is that his children will not be bitter toward God for seeing his suffering.

I know his walk of suffering has strengthen my walk and understanding of scripture.

Your testimony has done the same.

Blessings and you are in my prayers
May I hold your arms up in prayer as Aaron did for Moses while in the battle...may God station many around you to do the same...as I know He has

Runner Mom said...

Stacy, this is such a beautiful post! All of yours touch me to the depths of my heart! The scriptures that you've shared---some of my favorites. I will reread them tonight and pray for you as well. Sending you hugs!
Love ya,
Susan

Diana said...

Stacy,
Thank you for reminding me of what is truly important in life. It is so not about us... and so about Him. You are daily in my thoughts and prayers sweet friend I have never met!
Diana

Debbie said...

Oh Stacy what a BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL post. Such amazing truth stated here so heartfelt and inspiring. I of course have done the same thing. Stood before the mirror and seen the scars that now cover my chest and the drainage scars as well and have felt like much of what defined me as a woman has been removed. And yet, I too have come to the same conclusions (I am quite certain as we love the same God and He is soo faithful and good to us). He gently reminded me that although my earthly body may be different and the battle scars are quite evident, I am thankfully NOT defined by what shows on the outside. It is His work in my heart and spirit that defines who I am. You have inspired me in more ways than you can imagine, and how I thank you for that. I do thank you for your comment on my blog post today. It just soo summed up my feelings on what being Christian means to me that I am tempted to just say read Stacy's comment if you want to know, haha...but truthfully I am soo glad you commented. I soo want others to read your words and get just a glimpse of what being a Christian can be. I will continue to pray for you Stacy as you fight this battle! HUGS to you, Debbie

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

When I look in your mirror, I see myself. I also see courage, strength, conviction, confidence, and hope.

You're right... we are not our flesh; we reside there, but we are Spirit. And where the Spirit is, there is freedom.

Traveling to the overlook with you, sister, and believing God for far more than we both can imagine. What a privilege to walk together.

peace~elaine

LisaShaw said...

Stacy,

Can I just say, Amen my sister in CHRIST. Amen!

You poured your heart and at various moments I had to stop and cry, then pray for you and then praise GOD for what He's doing in and through you.

Your words drip with the heart of GOD. Praying hard for you!!!

adrianne said...

Stacy, What a priviledge to serve alongside you through this journey as just one set of your "hands" and "feet". I am truly blessed to call you "friend". God has gifted you with the ability to teach to women's hearts through your transparency. To GOD be the Glory!
Love, A

Susan said...

Stacy,

Thanks so much for stopping by the other day.

I'm so blessed the Lord allowed our paths to cross.

You are an amazing woman of God!

Your words, and your walk bring such glory and honor to God.

I am now praying for you Stacy, and it's such an honor.

You inspire me and challenge me with each post. I'm so grateful you are sharing your journey with us all.

Keep holding on to Jesus, and we will keep holding you up before Him.

A multi-dimensional life said...

Amen Stacy! Praise God! Even though we have to fight...and we are at war...God is victorious!
We are victorious in Him! Blessings to you always!

Stacy...I want you to know that because you inspire so many and because you bring sunshine into my life daily as I read your posts, I want to present you with the "Sunshine Award"! Simply visit my blog,read my new post, feel the love, copy and paste the url from the sunshine award onto your side bar also, so that the beautiuful sunshine award will appear on your blog! I can't think of anyone who deserves it more! May sunshine and gladness be yours, always! With much love, Lorraine xo

http://typecast2000.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-sunshine-award.html

Kelly said...

Precious Stacy,

I am truly at a loss for words. I have actually been at a 'loss for words' for quite some time ( which is why I haven't blogged in so long). I feel as though God is telling constantly telling me "shh..just listen". I felt no different while reading your post tonight. It's in these dark times where God can make himself so present - even reading through your friends comments has reminded me of this! We will continue to pray for your strength and healing my sweet friend!! Love and many hugs.

He & Me + 3 said...

It is so good to know that once we are HIS we are not defined by anything in this world or of this world but we are HIS. A child of the most high.
In our weakness...His strength is made perfect. REst in HIM.
Your words are so honest.
Much love,
Mimi

Woman With Windows said...

Stacy,

I am bringing you before The Throne tonight and will continue to pray tomorrow (as well as the days to follow) as often as He leads. I was reading in Isaiah 40 tonight. Verse 11 reads, "...He will carry the lambs in His Arms, holding them close to His Heart. ..." I'm praying you feel His Arms and continue to hear His Heart as He holds you close.

Stay in His Arms.
~Jodie~