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  • Writer's pictureHolly Tomlin

You make me brave.

"You make me brave You make me brave You call me out beyond the shore into the waves You make me brave You make me brave No fear can hinder now the love that made a way"

Life after cancer. I have to say, even one year later, I am still trying to find my way. There’s not one day that goes by that I don’t: Think of cancer. Forget the fear that once consumed my mind. Remember how terrible the chemo made me feel. The look on my family’s face when I was diagnosed. Look into the mirror and see a complete stranger with poufy, curly hair. If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me, “I don’t know how you did it. I could never..”. Well I said the same thing. I don’t know what I would do if I had cancer. There’s no way! It really all still seems so surreal. I am actually finally to the point where people wouldn’t know by just looking at me. All the staring has finally ended.  Over the last year, since I started making the Team Holly care bags, I have had the honor of meeting several women who have been recipients of a bag. I have yet to meet any in person but I have corresponded with several. There is no greater joy that sharing my experiences with them. I can give them insight into their own journeys that isn’t shared by many. That’s why the bags are more than just “stuff” to give the ladies. While any girl loves to get new and pretty things, it’s so much more. It’s a bag of hope, encouragement and love. It’s a promise to be praying for each woman who receives a bag. It’s a commitment to encourage my new teal sister in her own journey. It’s being a living example of someone who survived the horrendous battle. I just think back over the last year and this journey could have looked very differently. What if I hadn’t stepped out in obedience to what the Lord asked of me? I mean let’s be honest, my hand was forced. I didn’t choose to have cancer. But then again, who does? I am certain none of us would choose anything that causes pain and suffering. The parents who bury their children did not choose for their child to die. The woman crying in her closet floor didn’t choose for her husband to have an affair. The man didn’t choose to lose his job and worry about how he will support his family. Sadly, all of these and more happen every day. People get cancer. I have seen countless parents bury their children. I have had several friends who have broken marriages that seem unrepairable. Jobs have been lost. We live in a very broken world. Thankfully the Lord tells us “when troubles come your way; take heart, I have overcome the world.” So how do we take heart? How can we possible even stand up when our feet are knocked out from beneath us? So many situations that seem we could never dig our way out. Just take a step. At church, we have been studying the book of Exodus. This past Sunday the sermon was titled “Our God is Able”. One point was made. The omnipotent power of God almost always flows through obedience in faith. (Matt Chandler) Moses was chosen by God to change the world. He was chosen to be the one that would lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He would be the one to carry out God’s plan for their ultimate freedom from slavery. The beginning of Exodus 4 is full of Moses making excuses as to why God could never use him to carry out his plans. He lists out all his shortcomings, all his failures. He calls them one by one. Seems all too familiar. I can think of plenty of times when the Lord has laid something out before me and all I could think of is how I am the worst person to do that or how impossible the situation may seem. When the Lord asks us to do something or lays out an opportunity before us, he isn’t asking our opinion. He isn’t asking us what our thoughts are and if we agree with his plans. We aren’t God. In fact, even at our best, we are terrible gods. We tend to justify our actions when we choose to not obey God. Disobedience doesn’t always mean you are actively doing something against him, but it can mean the lack of doing anything. Many of us have delayed obedience to what God is asking of us because we worry about our ability to carry out his plans. We focus on our inadequacies and incompetence and then choose to do nothing. “What pleases God is desire to be obedient to Him, no perfect obedience.” (Matt Chandler) Perfection is something I have struggled with my entire life. Honestly, I think I will always struggle with it. It’s my reminder that I need God. It keeps me humble. There are many instances in my past where I had delayed obedience because of my excuses and lack of trust in the Lord to equip me. I go back to that morning of July 9th. The phone call that changed everything. From the moment I found the tumor until the moment I awoke from surgery, I prayed that it would not be cancer. That I would not have cancer. To me cancer was the end. I could not defeat cancer. So, in that moment when I awoke from surgery to find out it was not cancer, I was so relieved. The week to follow I continually thanked God for saving my life. For it not being cancer. But then it all changed. To me, the initial reports that it was not cancer meant the Lord was good. He kept His promise to care for me. But the problem lied in the fact I considered myself to be my own God. I relied on my own strength and in my own strength I could never beat cancer. Plus, the plans I had made for my life were far better than anything that the Lord could’ve made. What good can come from cancer anyways?  In the week after my cancer diagnosis, I did a lot of wrestling with the Lord. I don’t think I was ever angry, but I was extremely sad. I was already planning my funeral. My days were consumed with fear; so much that I couldn’t eat for almost a week. I am so thankful the Lord continually gives us (ME) grace. He is so very patient and knows how we will respond to situations before they ever arise. He knew I would be wrestling and would need time away in my Jesus place (the beach) to come to the end of myself. Instead of focusing on how we can’t do something, all the Lord asks is that we just take a step. Take that step of obedience to Him. A friend reminded me tonight that we want God to release his power to us, but we don’t want to be obedient in order for it to be shown. #truth Just as Jesus said in the garden on the night he would be arrested, “Take this cup of suffering from me, but your will not mine.” So many times we ask for the Lord to take away our pain. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but sometimes there is a greater purpose in the pain. Most of us leave out the latter part. It takes total and complete surrender to believe the latter. Honestly, it’s when we come to that place of total surrender that true joy and peace come. I know most of you will think I have completely lost my mind when I say that, but for those of you who’ve experienced these God-given moments, it all makes perfect sense. It’s not understanding completely why the Lord allowed our particular circumstances because that may never happen this side of heaven. It’s trusting the Lord knows what is best for us. It’s coming to the place of acceptance that God is in complete control and he knows what is best for us. It is discovering God’s ultimate goodness in any season of suffering, instead of believing that God is not good when trouble comes our way. Just take a step. It’s when you take that step that His power is displayed. All for His glory. Only God can do the unimaginable. Only God can kill cancer. Only God can restore marriages. Only God can provide our daily needs. Only God can comfort the pain of losing a loved one. What is God asking of you? I think back and am so thankful for cancer. I could’ve made a number of different choices along this journey but I wouldn’t be where I am today. Of course I still struggle every day with moments of fear or feelings of inadequacy to be running a nonprofit. But then I am reminded that it is God who made me. He is the one who put the world into motion. If God is for me, why do I need to waste a single second worrying about my ability to carry out his plans. Neither should you. It’s his power in us that displays his glory. We don’t need any credit or praise. It all belongs to him. What is it the Lord is asking you to surrender to him? What lie are you believing that’s keeping you from saying “yes” to Him? I pray the Holy Spirit will use these words to speak to you. My prayer is that we would all lay our excuses to the wayside and lay our “yes” down. I love the words to this song. You make me brave. You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore into the waves. Just take a step. You won’t be sorry. Just on the other side is the Lord waiting to fulfill all his promises through your life. It may very well be someone’s salvation that is dependent on your obedience. So, just take a step. It will be worth it. I promise you that. I will not promise you that it will be easy. But I will promise you it will be worth it. He is worth it. Jesus, it’s all for you.

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