Surrender was a significant word in Christina's life. Surrender can have negative connotations. It can sound like giving up--giving in. But in God's economy surrender to Him brings life. Abundant life. Because He is good.
From Christina's journal, August 27, 2012. She was pregnant, facing another brain tumor recurrence and pondering her journey.
Five years ago--normal healthy life, exciting 20's, then headaches, financial struggles, and no more boyfriend. God asks me questions. "What if these circumstances never change? Can you live with JOY?"
Fast forward 5 years. Lived through my worst fear...scary body stuff...still in the thick of it. Still have cancer, had one recurrence, now another. How will I be a good mom and also deal with cancer and all its limitations. Brain surgery and child birth at the same time? Now the questions are, "Do you trust Me with your child? With Doug? Can you joyfully hand them over to Me? Will you stop comparing yourself to friends and look to Me?"
Throughout her 11 weeks of hospice care, Christina continually surrendered different parts of her life. Seven weeks into the final journey, (May 17th) she told me she was done trying to figure out details that don't make sense. (Who is here? What time is it? What day is it?) It was all too hard for her brain. Really it was enough that she knew all of us and knew Jesus. Thinking about Jesus always made sense to her. So she moved to prayer-- "Jesus, I surrender all. Teach me how to surrender all." She prayed much more than that but I was stuck on her surrender. I've never seen anyone more surrendered and I wondered what else she could possibly have left to give to Jesus.
I could see that she gave up understanding all that was happening around her. She had also given over the welfare of Doug and Isaiah and all her family to the care of Jesus. She knew that He would care for us just as He had cared for her.
|May 13, 2013|
Now, it seemed likely that she was finally giving up her fear of being cared for as she died. She hated the idea of being a burden to anyone. From that moment on, she would mostly just smile and thank us for our care--for every little thing. She didn't wallow in self-pity or shame because she needed help. Occasionally, she apologized for the fatigue she was causing but it did not grip her heart. And there were times she actually enjoyed the process. When she needed help walking down the hall, she often entertained us with some try at a dance step or an extra intense "hold" on Doug.
These surrendered days contained much comfort from the God of all comfort. She often commented on how great her bed was. She said it had "comfort built right in." Now, she felt she was being cradled and carried in the most beautiful way. From her surrendered heart she told me one evening as I knelt by her bed, "We didn't know it would be this easy." It did not seem easy to me but God was making good on His promise--"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest...For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28, 30.
Those around her had much to surrender also. Our sense of timing, our needs, our hopes, our trust. Christina led the way, giving much direction to those who had ears to hear. She directed me spiritually several times--issues of timing, forgiveness, and joy. One day (May 14th), she cryptically said to me, "I hope you enjoy every second of this. If you get robbed of it, acknowledge it and say something." She seemed to be very concerned about joy being a part of this journey. She loved the joy that God had provided through these day--joy that was flowing in spite of our circumstances. This joy flows out of the heart of God at all times. She did not want my heart robbed of this treasure. It was a difficult thing to ponder. Joy in everything. Joy that was hard to fight for. Joy that defies explanation. Joy found in surrender.
Why do we resist such a gift?
Surrender to life.
Surrender to joy.
Surrender to Jesus.