It was early in the morning and I was headed into surgery. At this point I didn't know if I had cancer for sure, but did know that a very large tumor needed to be removed from my abdomen. It was considered major surgery and as I was being prepped by the anesthesiologist, she asked if I was worried. I told her I wasn’t really worried and she said, “You must be religious.” I smiled and said, “Yes and I have a lot of people praying. That must be why I am not worried.”
I think it also had to do with a lesson God taught me several years ago.
It was in 1997, fifteen years earlier, and I was getting ready for another type of major surgery. I was twenty-seven and broke my back in a sledding accident. The break was so severe the surgeon later told me it looked like a gunshot wound. I was supposed to have surgery the following day, but I was starting to lose the feeling in my lower legs and the procedure was pushed up. I remember lying on the gurney, unable to move, and gripped by fear. There were a lot of unknowns about my condition. I knew I might not wake up again. I knew there was a very good chance that I might wake up paralyzed. I think I was alone in the room at the time, but at some point my pastor came in to pray for me. He read this verse,
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27a.
I was filled with a deep peace like I had never experienced before, and have never experienced since. I knew that I was not alone, that God was there. My focus was solely on God’s presence, everything else faded away. I knew that no matter what happened, God would be there. If I left this earth, I would enter into God’s everlasting arms. If I woke up paralyzed, God would be there with me. No matter what happened, when I next awoke, God would be there. Nothing could separate me from His love, His presence.
Being religious sometimes has negative connotations but I didn’t get that sense from the anesthesiologist. I believe she was simply asking, “Do you have faith? Because you should be scared and it does not make sense that you are not terrified.” It didn’t make sense, apart from God. My friends, church family, and people I didn’t even know were praying for me, and God’s promise still stood.
“Underneath are the everlasting arms.”
This promise is for me and for you. During the deepest sorrow, fear, anguish, and the unknown, His promise stands. He is the eternal God. His arms are everlasting, and lift us up, each time we close and open our eyes.
Excerpted from The Bald Headed, Tattooed,Motorcycle Mama’s Devotional Guide: For Women Battling Cancer & Those WhoLove Them Copyright 2013 Sara Nelson O’Brien.
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