Thursday, March 22, 2012

standing in the gap

"i'm standing in the gap with you."  those were the words of my friend missy.  she may not remember, but she wrote those very words to me last year when i was going through cancer.  and now, just today,  she again sent that same message to me as a few of us are trying to help another family deal with newly diagnosed cancer.  but this time for a child.  yes, a child, a ten year old girl named bailey.  a sweet 4th grader just diagnosed with bone cancer.  they went to the doctor's last week to address what they thought might be a sport's injury and came away with cancer. cancer. 

bailey's mom, tiffany, and i did bible study together for a few years.  bailey and her brother attend the same school as our children.  we see this family of six at our church every sunday and are also connected with them in our community of adoption.  they adopted their fourth child from ethiopia and are waiting for a fifth child -- a little girl from china.  the connections are many.  and now this...this cancer.  oh how my heart breaks tonight to pound out these words to those of you who read.  but i desperately do so to ask for your prayers. would you take some time and pray for bailey? i am certain our heavenly Father hears. He is listening to the begging and pleading words of many.  just as my friend, missy, wrote to me earlier that she is standing in the gap, i am asking those of you willing to intercede on behalf of bailey -- pray now.  stand with us in this gap filled with fear and grief and utter bewilderment.

tiffany and i have traded some emails back and forth since this awful news.  we've decided there is no comparison.  i'd much rather take on cancer myself than know one of my children has been diagnosed...and she responded, but the fear of leaving children motherless is almost as bad.  who knows.  there is absolutely no comparing.  it is all hard.  hard. awful. gut-wrenching, bone-breaking, heart-shattering hard.  and unfortunately, our community here in atlanta and at our church seems to know these scenarios well lately.  so many of us are walking around shaking our heads and asking, "what in the world is going on?"

just last friday, friends spent the day fasting and praying for another loved one, laura.  a mother of two boys, who after a breast cancer diagnosis in 2009, has been battling once again.  a year ago the cancer came back -- violent and with a vengeance.  it has moved through her body and is now in her central nervous system.  laura and her family are faced with the hard decisions of treatment or quality of life.  there seem to be few good medical options for her raging cancer.  she has two boys and a husband who love her.  why Lord?

and then there's our friend tom.  tom has been battling cancer for 15 years.  this man seriously defies all medical logic.  considering how sick he's been and how far gone the cancer is, he shouldn't still be here battling....but he is.  God has continued, time after time, to spare his life.  tom has had so many different types of treatment and so many surgeries, he and his wife, amy, say they've lost count.  tom's daughter is in high school and his son, nate, will graduate 8th grade with our son this may.  

another family we are close to has also been blindsided by cancer this month.  headaches and slight cognitive issues turned into a brain tumor and surgery.  surgery showed malignant cancer in the brain -- stage four.  greg is the father of david and anna.  he and his wife, jennifer, were thinking about the idea of adoption a few months ago, not brain cancer.  oh we weep with the heartache and heaviness of it all.  it seems too much.

i first saw the grand canyon at age 14. that trip created a lot of memories as my parents, siblings, and i traveled by van from ohio to arizona one winter break.  add to that my grandparents came along for the adventure.  and because our van did not have enough seats, my dad strapped down aluminum lawn chairs for grandma and grandpa. my three siblings and i were left to roll around the back of our gray van from ohio to arizona.  all 8 of us traveling out west, day after day.  (i read a lot of nancy drew that trip).  and though i don't remember everything about the vacation, i do vividly remember standing before the grand canyon (finally!) and staring out over it breathless.  when you are 14 and cool, not a lot takes your breath away, but the grand canyon hit me hard.  i wasn't prepared for how massive it was.  it seemed we'd landed on another planet.  this vastness couldn't possibly be part of the same united states which held my elementary school and softball field and favorite ice cream store.  it was completely foreign -- belonging elsewhere, not before my small and somewhat sheltered eyes.  if you've ever seen it, you know of what i write.  it is almost too much, too great, too grand.

"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall 
and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land..." ~ ezekiel 22:30 

and so my friend writes a note, pledging to stand in this gap -- this incredibly large canyon of pain.  and i think to myself, but the gap is so great.  it is so vast. so big. so beyond me.  i look at that gap and feel myself lost in its enormity.  but that is exactly what God asks of those who follow Him.  He asks us to stand in the gap for each other.  He asks us to be the bridge in times of trouble.  simon and garfunkel may have written about the bridge over troubled waters, but it wasn't their idea first,  it's actually biblical. it is what we are supposed to be doing for each other in times of need.  more so, it is what Christ does for us.  when He died on the cross, He laid down His life.  He bridged the gap. in fact, He closed the canyon.  He stood with us and for us and because of us.

standing in the gap means bringing pans of lasagna and bags of groceries. it means picking up the younger siblings and dropping off the dry cleaning.  it means cutting the lawn and carpooling the kids.  it means holding hands and giving hugs and, at times,  weeping in each other's arms.  it means praying.  praying. praying. it means going before the Father and interceding on behalf of someone unable.  i can tell you from experience, there are times in our lives when we are absolutely unable.  when cancer first gripped our family less than year ago, i was paralyzed -- almost unable to go before God on my own.  for a time i was speechless, thoughtless, frozen, numb.  i couldn't hardly line up my words to resemble anything close to a prayer.  and that was when i felt the prayers of so many going out on my behalf.  a chorus of words i couldn't recite -- not from my own lips but from those around me interceding for me. begging God's mercy on behalf of me, my husband, my children.

not one of us knows when we will need others to stand in the gap.  i was always the one eager to stand there for someone else...never thought i'd be the recipient.  never really considered i'd someday be the one in need.  we never think it will be us. i know that is what tiffany and her family are going through right now in these first weeks of diagnosis -- wondering when they will wake from this nightmare. and so i am writing tonight to share a little piece of her family's new story and ask for those of you who feel compelled, to pray for little bailey's healing.  the gap is great...but our God is much greater.

one last thing i feel compelled to share tonight...
all of these friends and families i've mentioned above, well, they share something more than the horrible "c" word.  each one of them has continuously and consistently pointed to Christ. in all of this pain and grief and horror, they have faithfully continued to glorify God and trust His sovereignty.  i wish you could read the words of their caring bridges and blogs and posts. each story is different, but they share the same thread of knowing God is in control, He is on their side, and He has not failed nor forsaken them -- not even in this thing called cancer.   

so friends, might you consider praying for bailey and laura and greg and tom tonight?  would you stand in the gap?

When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I'll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down


Simply LKJ said...

Jody, praying for all! It is our responsibility as Christians to pray, support and love one another...even in these trying times! Thanks for sharing, so that many others can pray for them!!

andrea said...

i just prayed for them.....jody, thank you for this post....your truly an amazing writer reaching so many people....God bless you and your family.


Aus said...

Morning Jody - consider prayers offered - and the prayers of my bride and our children will be joined forthwith! I'm with you on this one - no child deserves this, but no parent does may also consider this added to my "list" - I have a written list of things I intend to discuss with the Father one day...and somehow I know that He'll be happy to explain it to me when the time comes...but still...

hugs - aus and co.

jodymcnatt said...

thank you andrea -- you are such a prayer warrior! i remember your willingness to pray for bella long, long precious to me. much love.

jodymcnatt said...

thank you lauren for standing with us! miss seeing you guys on the courts!

jodymcnatt said...

i, too, have a list like that aus...thank you (and your awesome family) for your prayers friend!

Tiffany said...

Thanks for standing in the gap for us Jody and for asking others to do the same. We are certainly not the only ones suffering...seems to be plenty to go around lately. We are blessed to have so many praying for our sweet girl!