This blog is quite personal, but I am posting it for the benefit of my 3 older daughters, who were not able to be with us in church yesterday.
When Pastor Bob asked me to share my testimony with you this morning, I hesitated and almost said no, because I knew how far this is out of my comfort zone. I then recalled the many, many times I have encouraged our daughters to participate and to take advantage of opportunities.
I Peter 3:15 says - But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you, to give the reason for the hope that you have.
I grew up in a large family, with Christian parents and attended church every Sunday. At a young age, I made a personal decision at a Christian camp to accept Jesus as my Saviour. The truth of what the Bible claimed became clear to me and I knew then that I wasn't just following and accepting what my parents believed but this decision was mine. The years have passed very quickly since I made that decision and I would like to stand here and tell you that my Christian walk since then has been exemplary, but I can't. So far, it has been a journey with a lot of highs and naturally some lows.
In 1980, I married Andrew, the best guy on the planet, and we began our life together. In that same year, Andrew's Dad lost his battle with cancer. Six years into our marriage, Andrew was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a potentially deadly skin cancer. Through this time my faith was challenged like it had never been before. I could not understand how a loving God would disrupt my life plans and have me face the possibility of losing my husband, leaving me with 2 small girls to raise. Where I couldn't see beyond each day, God was seeing the larger picture. With a very gifted doctor, the amazing support of this church and a small group that cared deeply about us, we stumbled through that valley. That was 23 years ago and as we have journeyed together, we realize that if we did not have God to bring us through the tough times and sustain us with the hope only He can provide, I would probably not be standing here today.
Andrew's Dad and Mom - summer of 1980, Toronto, Ontario
Twelve years ago my mom went ahead of us to meet her Saviour with a clear mind after her struggle with Alzheimers and seven years ago Andrew's mom greeted Jesus after her painful battle with bone cancer. I believe that somehow through all of this God was preparing me for what was yet to come and consistently revealing to me that His arms were always open for me to fall into.
My mom with baby Anna - she was a wonderful mom to 9 children and Grammie to 26.
Dad and Mom at Wendy's graduation from Acadia University.
Four years ago, my baby sister Wendy, was diagnosed with bone cancer. I am sure that many of you here this morning know the pain and distress of cancer - maybe not personally but certainly with loved ones. Wendy was a healthy 35 year old woman, she had a great career in teaching, she was newly married for 6 months and as a family we were shocked and completely unprepared for the heartache and pain that we experienced for her remaining 40 days on earth. It just seemed that at this time my life was good, my oldest daughter was married that same summer and everyone was happy and healthy. I certainly blamed God for this interruption and confusion in our lives and I was very angry. In fact, I came to a crossroads during that time where I was tempted to abandon everything I had been taught, everything I believed in, but God would not let me go. I really struggled to understand why Wendy, why now, why cancer? I still do not have all the answers to those questions, but what I do have is the confidence of knowing the One who does have the answers, and loves me and allows me to rest in Him and let Him carry the load when it is too much to carry on my own.
My beautiful sister, Wendy.
It was an extremely difficult time as I very inadequately tried to explain what was happening to each of our daughters. All I knew was that I had to trust that God was in control and that He would not leave us alone. On the day Wendy left us to be welcomed into her eternal home and her Saviour's presence, our pastors and small group gathered with us. We are very blessed to know the level of care and support we have here at this church and I realize how important it is to build and maintain our relationships.
So, thank you God for not letting me go, thank you church, thank you pastors and thank you to the many small groups that we have been a part of over the years. Your love continues to impress me and gives me the courage to carry on.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.