The Bakersfield Ministry Conference hosted last weekend by Fresno Pacific University invited me to teach my seminar “The Time Crunch.” Managing your time is a misnomer; what we really do with time management is manage ourselves to make more intentional use of the time we have. There’s nothing like a near-death experience to make you re-evaluate and examine how you spend your time.
Years ago I felt victimized by a time-robber named cancer. My desire during the whole cancer experience was that God would be glorified. However, when I was shown results of the PET scan, I was in disbelief—the cancer not only was in the lymph node of my left eyelid, but it was in the bone marrow of my right arm, shoulder, and elbow, and in the femur of my left leg. I was told I had stage-four, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I had cancer in my bone marrow in several places in my body. I was told I needed to start chemotherapy immediately.
During the nine months of treatment, I studied healing, including the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17. Leprosy is a devastating and ostracizing disease; the infected typically live quarantined in a leper community outside city walls. Jesus was traveling between Samaria and Galilee. On his way to Jerusalem, ten lepers came to him. Healing from leprosy meant restored health and status. The ten lepers stood at a distance and cried out to him: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Luke 17:15 [NIV]). All ten of the lepers obeyed Jesus and showed themselves to the priests. But there was only one, when he saw he was healed, who came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’s feet and thanked Him.
If God chose to heal me, I desired to be like that one leper who thanked God.
So when God chose to He heal me from stage-four cancer, I found myself humbled, honored, and grateful He would choose to show me such favor. I wanted to thank God by surrendering my life to Him promises like, “The God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were,” (Roman 4:17 [NIV]) and, “He knows the way I take when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10 [NIV]). Psalm 91:14 (NIV) became real: “Because she loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue her. I will protect her because she acknowledges my name. She will call upon me and I will answer her, I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her. With long life will I satisfy her and show her my salvation.”
The final PET scan came about two months after the final chemo treatment. I remember my doctor’s excited voice on the other end of the phone: “Sheryl, the cancer is totally gone.” I could hardly contain my joy. It was then I chose to be that tenth leper and daily throw myself at the feet of Jesus and say, “Thank you for my life!”
For how we spend our time and our lives, I pray the prayer of Moses from Psalm 90:12, “Teach us, Lord, to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” That’s my prayer for you and me today!
All my love, Sheryl