17 December 2017

God in the detail

A.W. Tozer has said, “Anything God has ever done, He can do now. Anything God has ever done anywhere, He can do here. Anything God has ever done for anyone, He can do for you.”

A few words at a hospital appointment changes so many things. The word cancer is a word that brings fear to many lives on a daily basis. In June 2009 life was busy with family and work, but that changed very quickly when the word ‘cancer’ was spoken over my life. With my parents out of the country, my husband committed at work, our middle son in the midst of exams, we really didn’t have room for cancer in our lives.

That first evening of being a cancer statistic I chose to confide in a faithful friend who spoke wisdom, prayed with me and anointed me with oil. We prayed through Isaiah 43 and I left her home with a sense of peace and God’s closeness that allowed me to sleep restfully.

The week was full of hospital appointments, tests, changed diagnosis, advanced disease and then a date for imminent surgery. I had begun the roller coaster that was the daily lived experience of cancer. As I waited one afternoon for a scan I was eagerly seeking God in the waiting room when he spoke to me through Psalm 91:14-16 in the Message – God said to me, “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life, I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” It was so simple – trust God completely and he would rescue me. That is simply what I chose to do.

I understood clearly the facts of cancer that were spoken to me, but I trusted the truth of God’s word to heal me. I really did and still do believe that anything God has ever done anywhere and for anyone He can do for me today. After much prayer and trust I was admitted to hospital on the 18th June for a mastectomy. I was completely at peace as I entered theatre when my husband took a quick picture on his phone. That one simple picture was to mean so much to me when I saw it a few days later. I recognised instantly that God was birthing something new in my life.

One simple piece of advice was spoken to me before surgery – clearly spoken – my only responsibility was to rest – complete rest in body, mind and spirit. It sounded easy, but for someone who was full of busyness it was also a rare thing. I was to be reminded again during chemotherapy to rest and a little picture was painted to me to put my head on the pillow and listen to Jesus heartbeat – my pillow became a precious resting place for quiet conversations with God.

At my first oncology appointment I heard more challenging facts as I took in the rarity of the cancer cell that had invaded my body. I left that appointment in tears but God reminded me very quickly that I had no need to fear, that He would give me the strength to cope and that He had a firm grip on the situation. Chemotherapy was unpleasant! It brought with it unpleasant tastes, fatigue beyond measure, body changes and the trauma of hair loss. Radiotherapy followed and was not comfortable either. But in the midst of this storm that was cancer I learned to worship God in every circumstance, to trust completely every detail to Him and as I did so I learned much more of how He cared for every detail in my life.

“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life, I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” Psalm 91:14-16

This was a season in my life for rest and growth and, as I was later to discover, a season necessary for what God had planned ahead. During treatment the focus is generally to get to the next session or appointment but with the last session of radiotherapy comes the question – what next? I had to allow my body to recover but there became a restlessness within my spirit that I had not walked this journey just to survive. As I gave God all the glory for His healing in my life I began to seek the way forward after breast cancer.

Having enjoyed a career in nursing for over 30 years I really couldn’t have imagined doing anything else. But as I returned to work God reminded me of the photo taken pre-op and that a new thing was happening. This was a struggle for me since I enjoyed the work and felt secure. But I had to learn to trust God in this area too. Having considered the possibility of buying a lingerie shop many years previously I found that little dream re-emerging but with a fresh focus. My experiences of shopping for a bra post-surgery gave me the determination and drive to make a difference for other girls who have walked the path of breast cancer in front of me and for those who will follow on that path. I dreamt of a special place where women would know their value and worth again, regardless of their circumstances. I only ever had one name in mind for this shop – ‘Azizi’ – it’s a hebrew girls name that means precious, beloved, mighty. ‘Azizi Lingerie’ had been conceived and was growing in my heart.

After months of planning, buying stock, recruiting special girls who caught the dream – ‘Azizi Lingerie’ opened at The House of Vic- Ryn, Moira road, Lisburn exactly two years after I had surgery. It has been the ideal location with free on site parking, Cafe Vic-Ryn to relax in and we have created a little bit of luxury for women to enjoy whilst they shop. I love being part of a place where the focus is doing business to bless others. Retail is challenging – but I am excited to see how God uses our experiences to bless others in such simple ways. We have been blessed too as others encourage us in this God given adventure.

These few words relay only a tiny particle of the journey of breast cancer. It has been a journey where fear was dispelled and peace reigned because I chose Jesus each day. By simply trusting God’s word which says, “I am the Lord that healeth” I have experienced His healing power. It has been a time of blessing, friendship and nurture and I thank God not just for what he has taught me personally but also for the fact that others have been such a blessing through their prayer and practical support.

God’s word has the power to change people’s lives and the power to heal.
Jean McCracken