Monday, July 21, 2008

What a testimony!

I received this from a friend via email the other day. I decided to share it here, rather than forward it on. I found it moving and poignant.

Subject: Tony Snow's Testimony

This is an outstanding testimony from Tony Snow, President Bush's former
Press Secretary, and his fight with cancer. Commentator and broadcaster
Tony Snow announced that he had colon cancer in 2005. Following surgery and chemotherapy, Snow joined the Bush Administration in April 2006 as press secretary. Unfortunately, on March 23, 2007, Snow, 51, a husband and father of three, announced the cancer had recurred, with tumors found in his abdomen,- leading to surgery in April, followed by more chemotherapy. Snow went back to work in the White House Briefing Room on May 30, but has resigned since, 'for economic reasons,' and to pursue 'other interests.' It needs little intro... it speaks for itself.

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'Blessings arrive in unexpected packages, - in my case, cancer. Those of

us with potentially fatal diseases - and there are millions in America
today - find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality
while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of
presumption to declare with confidence 'What It All Means,' Scripture
provides powerful hints and consolations. The first is that we
shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the 'why' questions: Why
me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't
answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more
to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is,

a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror
darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies
define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are
imperfect. Our bodies give out. But despite this, - or because of it, -
God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the
narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the
interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can

send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic
seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of
nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on
family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere. To regain footing,
remember that we were born not into death, but into life,- and that the
journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We
accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that
stirs even within many non-believing hearts - an intuition that the gift
of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken
enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might,
main, and faith to live fully, richly, exuberantly - no matter how their
days may be numbered.

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want

lives of simple, predictable ease,- smooth, even trails as far as the
eye can see, - but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists
and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance;
and comprehension - and yet don't. By His love and grace, we persevere.
The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably
strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not
experience otherwise.

'You Have Been Called'

Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to

wear away. A doctor stands at your feet, a loved one holds your hand at
the side. 'It's cancer,' the healer announces. The natural reaction is
to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. 'Dear God, make
it all go away. Make everything simpler.' But another voice whispers: 'You have been called.' Your quandary has drawn you closer to God,
closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter,- and has
dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our 'normal time.'

There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived an

inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of
calamity has swept away everything trivial and tiny, and placed before
us the challenge of important questions.
The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change.
You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious,
and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence
of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful
caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger,
shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies.

Think of Paul, traipsing through the known world and contemplating trips

to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from
his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.
There's nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue, - for it is through
selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the
most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we
ever could do.

Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with

the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He
cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he
took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for
forgiveness on our behalf.
We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us, that we
acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others.
Sickness gets us part way there. It reminds us of our limitations and
dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A
minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions
often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the
burden of two peoples' worries and fears.

'Learning How to Live'.

Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms, not

with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught
us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by
transmitting the power and authority of love. I sat by my best friend's
bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at
his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer.
A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at
least one priest. Here was an humble and very good guy, someone who
apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest
uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until
his last conscious moment. 'I'm going to try to beat [this cancer],' he
told me several months before he died. 'But if I don't, I'll see you on the other side.'

His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn't

promise us tomorrow, He does promise us eternity, - filled with life and
love we cannot comprehend, - and that one can in the throes of sickness
point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather
future storms. Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we
believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to
serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our
limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so
that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?

When our faith flags, He throws reminders in our way. Think of the
prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it. It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up, - to speak of us!

This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back

and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of
death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous
and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but
we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.

We don't know much, but we know this:

No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or
frightening our prospects, each and every one of us who believe, each
and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place, in the
hollow of God's hand.'

Tony Snow

What a wonderful man he must have been...our world is certainly a better place because he was here for 53 years. Today I lift his wife and 3 children up to the Lord in prayer and ask that He keep them enfolded in His loving arms.
"Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and noone will take your joy away from you."
John 16:22
There is a particular paragraph above that I bolded. It speaks to the prayers of others - the "prayer warriors" - who keep us lifted up. I want to thank all of you...our prayer warriors! We are awestruck when we think that there are people around the world (truly!) praying for my Sweet Hubby. How humbling. Many (most) have never met him...and never will. But we are connected through Christ. We are The Body!! We have a battle ahead of us. We are preparing ourselves to wage war! Please keep those prayers coming. We, in turn, are praying for you...we are SO grateful for each and every one of you. May our Lord bless you all.


Unknown said...

G. This testimony is beautiful, thought provoking and a gentle reminder that we are all human, have human emotions, but that when it is all said and done, our faith is what gets us through times that seem impossible to walk through, but with God, all is possible.

I admire your strength and the strength of your sweet hubby. You are an inspiration to everyone you have touched by sharing this journey. You never know what message you may have sent to someone who really needed to hear your thoughts that day, or how it could heal a heart that needed mending.

Who would have know, just a couple of weeks ago, how important this blog would become for so many people. God does work in mysterious ways and this is certainly a testament to Him.
Love, always love, J

Marlene said...

Gigi. Not long ago, Pastor Tommy preached the power of prayer in one of his sermons. Even if just two people gather together to pray for someone that prayer is magnified ten times. Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts with us during this journey. Our prayers are with you all. Much Love. M