What does the faithfulness of God look like?
Warning: It might not be the picture you had in mind.
by: Julie Sparkman
Sparkman Family Rule No. 4: Never tell Mom when you have any health test until you also have the results. Pretty simple, right? Not for my family. Last year my son, Brent, was diagnosed and treated for an aggressive form of lymphoma. His eight rounds of chemo ended this past March, and he received a clean PET scan — no signs of cancer anywhere in his body. . .for now. Those scans, however, will be part of his life for the rest of his life, and of the lives of those who love him.
Last week I was headed to Atlanta for my annual girls’ weekend with friends when I got a call from Brent saying that he’d just left the doctor’s office after his six-month PET scan. “And?” I said. Surely he remembered Family Rule No. 4. Nope. No results for at least FOUR days. I want to say I spent all of my time in prayer, the Word, and fasting, but I did not. I got busy. Really busy trying to do anything but think. Next week we would fly to California to celebrate his marriage to the amazing woman who stayed by his side through the most harrowing ride two people can ever embark on (well. . .at least before marriage). Last month he landed a great job. This is the “picture” that seemed so far away less than a year ago. All we needed was that one last part of the picture — the clean PET scan — and we could all breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate the faithfulness of God.
Four days of waiting. We finalized the rehearsal dinner menu (forget college — save for the wedding), I bought yet another mother-of-the-groom dress (Nutrisystem will not be using me as their spokesperson after all.), and the question wouldn’t go away. . . .What does the faithfulness of God look like? Does it match my picture? If I’m trusting Him, does it mean that I’m okay if Brent checks back into the hospital instead of leave for his honeymoon? Does my nervous energy (Who knew you could spray paint the entire exterior of your house using those 99-cent cans from Walmart?) mean I don’t have enough faith?
The insane drama of all of this is almost embarrassing, except it’s the reality of my life right now. And yet it’s the reality of all of our lives. . . .We all have “pictures” — snapshots of the life we long for. We spend much of our time gazing at those pictures and asking God to show Himself faithful by granting us desire fulfilled as we understand it. We ask Him to join us in our picture. There is nothing wrong with most of our pictures. What mother wouldn’t want a good life for her son? But faith is not the assurance He will grant me my picture. Faith is my willingness to neither gaze intently at nor deny my picture of desire fulfilled. It is to remember that my picture, though beautiful to me, is transient at best. It is temporary. It is ever-changing. . . .and so is the peace that I experience even as I enjoy it. Faith is allowing Jesus to draw me into His picture, which surpasses what my mind can comprehen
For this momentary light affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all
comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen.
For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(II Corinthians 4:17, 18)
Tonight as I was on the phone rescheduling my counseling clients (who will not brave the ice and snow to see me), a text (!) came through from Brent: “PET scan is fine.” Lord willing, next week we will have our mother-son dance at his wedding. He is faithful, both within and outside of my picture. My heart can rest, not in my picture, but in the One whose glory cannot be contained by it.
To read Brent Sparkman’s blog go here.