Uncharted waters, this pretty much sums up my journey with God at the moment! I have no idea what is happening or coming next, but I am trusting that it will ultimately be good.
So, up to date with the last two months and The Lovely Mr B finished his cancer treatment just before Christmas 15th December to be exact! Yay-we were so excited about this, the most horrible experience of our lives is over and the date we had been counting down to was here!!!
So, what now? I guess we hadn’t even considered the what now as we had been focused on getting to the date they gave us for the end. And that is where the problem lay, the end. Surely this is now over we thought, but in a word-wrong!!
Christmas was probably the climax of all the effects of the radiotherapy combined with chemo and left Mr B completely floored, in terms of how he was feeling physically and emotionally.
Two of our lovely kids came home for Christmas, Ethan, and Noah (also the lovely Charlotte, Ethan’s girlfriend) and as much as I wanted to see them and hang out I felt nervous that it wouldn’t be a Christmas like the ones they had experienced before and wouldn’t be any fun! (just being honest). When you think of Christmas you don’t picture a member of your family being seriously ill and in bed for it. As the buildup went on I got increasingly anxious that Christmas would be ruined for my boys, so I spoke to them about it to explain (that was hard). They both said that they were fine about Christmas looking however it looked, which was a great relief. To be honest I don’t think they had fully thought through the implication of me cooking a Christmas dinner!!!!! (Mr B is the cook in the house).
At the end of the day they all chipped in to make dinner (two vegan and one veggie Christmas dinner), and we sat together and pulled crackers and played silly games. All the time though poor Mr B was upstairs in bed and unable to eat, so it just wasn’t the same. The reality of the situation left Mr B becoming increasingly low in his spirits, so we all piled up to the bedroom and watched a movie together, which was a turning point for Mr B as yet again he had to take captive the thoughts he was having and change his thinking.
I suppose we were all experiencing disappointment at this stage because we honestly thought he would have picked up by now. But, together we managed to pull him up by his so-called bootstraps and he came downstairs and listened to his beloved vinyl, whilst the kids organised it all for him, alphabetically (yes!!!!).
So, a new year began and we spent New Year’s Eve prophetically speaking over 2018 and declaring what we wanted to see happen and spent some time thanking God for all his amazing mercies in 2017.
Back to work, at least for me, and post Ofsted (yes, I kid you not, the week before the end of the Christmas term-timing!!). We were learning about Sir Ernest Shackleton and his famous expedition to Antarctica, using a book called Ice Trap to retell this true story, and I felt God speak to me through the book and his journey across Antarctica.
How you might be wondering?
Let me explain briefly (history lesson coming up)…Shackleton advertised in the local paper of the day, for a crew (as you do). The crew signed up and set out on this expedition, knowing that it was going to be risky and they wouldn’t know when they were coming back, but they trusted Shackleton with their lives. The ship they were travelling in was called ‘The Endurance’ and it set off only to become trapped in pack-ice in the Weddell Sea. The crew ended up having to get off the ship after it became trapped i ice and live on the ice floe for 5 months, as The Endurance’ got crushed by the ice and sank. The crew of 28 had to get into the three small boats they had and travel to the nearest island, Elephant Island (bizarrely as there were no elephants on it). Once there they discovered it was uninhabited, so 5 of them, including Shackleton set off to find help in South Georgia.
Shackleton and the other 4 men had a perilous journey in the ‘James Caird’, to South Georgia, where the boat nearly capsized. Polar historians regard the voyage as one of the greatest small-boat journeys ever undertaken. On arrival at South Georgia they found they were on the wrong side of the island and ended up having to traverse a mountain range with barely any supplies! (could this trip get much worse).
The rest of the crew waited on Elephant Island living in the two upturned boats that were left and every day they would roll up their wet sleeping bags to look to see if today would be the day Shackleton would return, which he eventually did three months later.
So, how does this relate to us…
Well we embarked on our current journey, unwittingly, but out of necessity. We had no real idea what lay ahead but we trusted our captain (God), who we knew would not leave us behind and would fight for us and come back and save us. We were tethered to Him as we crossed the stormiest of seas, with all that went with being tossed around in a storm (sickness, fatigue, weariness, and uncertainty about when it would be over , never IF it would be over). Just like Shackleton’s crew we read and sang songs to keep our spirits up, except this wasn’t a cookery book (that’s all the crew had on board) it was scripture, full of God’s promises, and they weren’t just any songs either, these were songs of worship.
We have felt like we have lived on those ice-floes, where everything is a bit unsteady and you could go under at any moment with any bad news, or illness that flares up along the way.
But, just like Shackleton who went to get help, we knew God had sent people our way, just at the right time, in the last seven months and we know that the end is in sight.
But, until then we are in uncharted waters, which means;
‘A situation or circumstance that is foreign, unclear, or unfamiliar and which may be dangerous or difficult as a result’,
We don’t know what day that day will be when all of this cancer stuff stops, and the Lovely Mr B gets his mojo back and is his fun loving, gregarious self. I do miss hanging out with him, he really is my best friend and it’s been lonely without his physical presence beside me. Yes I can chat to him while he lies in bed but I want to get out there together and do life again, in all its fullness.
But, there are glimmers of his cheeky self appearing and I have a sense of expectation and excitement about what God is going to do next!
We have had lots of prophetic words over us about how God is going to use us in the next season and what He has been doing in us through this journey. The thing is with a difficult season God is able to do stuff in you that can only be done through hardship. I love this quote below that I read recently by Derek Prince,
“You can’t bypass endurance”
The ability to endure an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.
This is just so true, you can’t shortcut when it comes to endurance otherwise there is no endurance being built in you. Now there is no way we could have done this journey without a captain that we fully believed in and that we trusted with our very lives. Through the endurance, God has been developing our characters and putting things into us that we have yet to discover, but they are treasures that we will need in the next season He has planned for us.
James 1:2-4 MSG Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
I have always wondered about this verse,
How could a test or a challenge be a gift? Do you know what I mean?
Now I know, God has helped us through it and you soon realise that it’s no good just having Jesus as a life jacket to put on when you hit a stormy sea, but you need to be tethered to Him, even when the sea looks as still as the proverbial mill pond!!
Quite simply, we have put ALL our trust in Him, and He has not let us down and He won’t let us down. We are up every morning, even when it looks rough and we are there waiting and looking for the captain (God) to say, ‘roll up your sleeping bags Brown’s, today’s the day”.
It can’t come a moment too soon!
So, back to Shackleton’s expedition (I’m coming in to land, I promise).
It went down in history as a miraculous journey! The crew encountered so many unbelievable, seemingly insurmountable obstacles on the way but, here is the utterly amazing thing…
Out of the crew of 28, not one life was lost!!!!! Now that’s a miracle!!
We like Shackleton have encountered so many seemingly insurmountable obstacles along the way but, God has done the miraculous time after time to see us through to this point, right here, right now.
It will be our greatest honour to share the testimony of ALL that He has done in our lives.
If you are in a stormy sea right now, take heart;
Psa 42:4-5 MSG Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.
If you too feel that you are living in uncharted waters, I urge you to keep your spirits up and sing, sing, sing also take hold of God’s word like never before, it is full of His promises. I have personally found worship particularly helpful and such an effective tool in the fight!!
This is How I fight My Battles-Upper Room Music.
The Continuing Journey
Living in Uncharted Waters