Returning for the Essential

“Stopping by the Woods,” © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2017 Lynn Abbott

One early winter morning in 2007, I eagerly answered the persistent buzz of the doorbell. The delivery driver smiled, and brought in my new chair–a beautiful, Christmas-y red, wing chair.

For weeks, I had eagerly awaited its arrival.  After all, a comfy chair becomes nearly a necessity when you are extremely ill.  And ill I was.

I thanked the driver profusely for setting the chair in place.

Before leaving, he stopped in the entry and quietly said, “You’re one of mine, aren’t you?”

I gave him a puzzled look.

He nodded, acknowledging my confusion.  Then, he removed his ski cap, and proudly displayed a head of newly grown, albeit very short, hair.

I suddenly smiled in recognition and also nodded, noting my own knit cap. Thus, launched a discussion of what one of my dear friends once labeled, “camp chemo.”

Not only did the driver and I compare hair growth, but we also shared our own brand of medical humor.

We’d brushed with death, walked the cold valleys, and sounded the depths of our souls. And yet, we’d survived.

A word, a knowing smile and a warm, compassionate touch of hand to shoulder communicated more than a year’s worth of dinner conversations. In those brief moments, a man from another city in another part of the state became my brother.

Without a doubt, chemo makes it impossible to ignore the illness.  A cancer patient stands out.

And even though some wear wigs and do their best to put a good face on things, the battle within still rages.

Perhaps, my experience with this “anything-but-invisible” illness is the reason I feel such an empathetic connection to the ten lepers described in Luke 17.

We’d brushed with death, walked the cold valleys, and sounded the depths of our souls. And yet, we’d survived.

Dr. Luke begins their story begins en medias res. We learn nothing of their previous history.  We simply recognize that they endured unimaginable suffering.

There was no hiding it. They stood out, and in fact, were quarantined, living on the outskirts of the community.

Fortunately for the ten, however, Jesus returned to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Yes, He knew what awaited him there.  As I read the Gospels, it becomes clear that He journeyed with a heavy heart.

His mission, although motivated by the deepest of love for you and me, would require everything from Him.

Yet, on this journey, somewhere between Samaria and Galilee, He stopped to give grace and healing.

Luke tells us that as Jesus entered a village, the ten leprous men called to Him from a distance.  Leprosy was the death sentence of its day…slowly, wasting away, these men were set apart and their lives irretrievably altered by their disease.

They lived outside normal.  Nevertheless, they had made the best of things: they became a community, a collection of lepers.  And that day, they buoyed one another as they made a bold request.

I can relate to that.  Cancer impacts people in a similar way.

And although cancer patients do not suffer in the same way as lepers nor are they generally isolated from the rest of the population, their symptoms certainly set them apart, signaling immune systems under attack.

Cancer, of course, results from damaged or rogue cells whereas leprosy begins as an infection.

Yet, left unchecked, both cancer and leprosy lead to death.

The ten lepers that day on the road to Jerusalem, however, were as fortunate as my delivery friend and I.  Their encounter with the Healer–Abba’s Passover Lamb–forever changed their lives.

Indeed, just before Passover—a time of national thanksgiving for Israel’s deliverance from the tenth plague of Egypt—Jesus  miraculously delivered these Jewish lepers from yet another angel of death.

They cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:13).

Jesus didn’t hesitate.  He simply said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”

On His final Passover journey, somewhere between Samaria and Galilee, Christ stopped to give grace and healing.

At first glance, that seems an odd response.  But in Jewish culture, the priests were required to judge whether or not something was clean or unclean.  The lepers had been designated as unclean and as a result, quarantined outside the city.

The priest would officially declare them “clean.”  Yes, Abba often uses people and human institutions to touch lives.

For me, my physician gave me the official release from chemo. He confirmed the miracle of my healing.

In faith, then, ten lepers made their way to the priests.  They believed that Christ had made them whole.

As they went, they were healed.  I can only imagine their tears of gratitude and relief; their shouts of joy and celebration.

I suspect a good many of them broke into a run.  They probably couldn’t wait to be declared clean and to reunite with their families and friends–to love and be loved during their season of national thanksgiving, the Passover.

But one stopped.

One leper returned to the place where he and his friends met Jesus.

One celebrated the Healer, first and foremost.

One leper recognized Abba’s Passover Lamb.  One worshiped the Healer who in mercy and grace had delivered the unclean from death.

There would be time to find the priests.  There would be time for the important celebration with family and friends.

But Jesus was there.  Right then.

And the one leper returned to express his deep gratitude to his Savior.  The healed stopped to thank the Healer.

First. Foremost.

In January, I complete a total of 11 years of cancer treatment.  I survived both the disease and chemo. Soon, I no longer will be required to take a daily dose of preventative medication. You can well-imagine that I look forward to 2018 and my return to “normalcy.”

Yet, as I began preparing for Christmas last weekend, I listened to a favorite Christmas song and meditated upon the grace, mercy and forgiveness I have found in Christ.

You betcha my heart filled with gratitude.

You see, I am not only a cancer survivor… I am also a sin survivor.

Without a doubt, the human soul is damaged.  Our hearts have gone rogue.

“All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way…” writes Isaiah (Isaiah 53:6a).

It’s true. We all suffer from spiritual leprosy, spiritual cancer.  Some are just better than others at putting a good face on it. Even so, the unchecked disease promises the same outcome.

Yet, on the road to Calvary, the Savior thought of you and me.

You see, I am not only a cancer survivor… I am also a sin survivor.

And you and I are healed when we place our faith and dependence in Him.

We cry, “Master, have mercy!”

Without hesitation, the Passover Lamb suffered to grant us a clean bill of spiritual health.

“You are one of mine,” Christ says.

And that is why as I decorated last Saturday, I thought, “There will be time later for gifting. First, I must return to thank Him.”

In the midst of this season’s busy-ness, in my hurry to enjoy life’s blessings, I don’t want to miss Him.

I don’t want to miss His light in the midst of life’s trees, in my hurry to respond to all that clamors for my time and attention.

Rather, I wish to pause. Stopping in the woods, I will choose to rest in His presence.

My heart will whisper gratitude for Abba’s mercy and grace.

I will remember His Passover.  I will thank the Lamb of God and celebrate both my clean bill of physical and spiritual health.

Most importantly, I return once more to exalt the Healer, the One about whom it is written, “by His stripes, we are healed,” (Isaiah 53:5).

Yes, this season, I pause to worship Him. First and foremost.

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried…As a result of the anguish of His soul… By His knowledge, the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities,” ~Isaiah 53:4, 11

90 Replies to “Returning for the Essential”

    1. Oh, Julie, of course, you didn’t know about this. Most of my blogging friends hadn’t heard my recent testimony until this post. Being a survivor isn’t something I camp out on… 😉 But I’ve been thinking about it this past week because obviously, I’m going to complete all of the remaining treatment in January. And I’m so happy about it! And truly grateful. By the way, I owe you an email. Have just been painting this weekend and so haven’t kept up with my emails or blog stuff. Hard to use the computer when my hands are covered in oil paint. Ha! But will write soon! Love you! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I’m so glad that that is a memorable statement because it is truly how I feel about all of us in Christ! And yes, you are so right. We’re in this together…each of us has wounds, but because of the Great Physician, we have survived and someday, we’ll be made whole. I love your blog, and I feel you are a true friend even though we have never met outside of the blogosphere. 🙂 Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Wow, Lynn!!! Thank you for sharing this touching story, and your battle God healed you from. You seriously impart such beautiful lessons of strength and encouragement in Christ through your paintings and your stories. Thank you, and thank you for being a blessing in my life. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Aww… thank you seems so little to express so much. T.R., you are a great encourager, and I’m extremely grateful to know you! You have so many gifts, and God is using you to touch many hearts, including mine. Thank you for being such an awesome friend. Love and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you with all my heart, Denise! Your kind words mean the world! I have been wanting to visit your post about Christmas decorating for several days, but have been on the road and limited to my cell phone… so I knew the images wouldn’t look as spectacular. I’m home now and plan to visit your blog tonight. I can’t wait! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynn, So glad for your testimony and for your healing. Praise God! Thank you for sharing this, and thank you, too, for relating it to our spiritual condition outside of Christ, and for sharing how we can be spiritually healed, too. Blessings to you! Sue

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, yes, dear Sue! Obviously, not everyone is healed. My mother was not. She died in early 2008. And so, I thank God with all my heart and soul for His giving life to me, and wish to use my life to tell about the most important thing of all: the spiritual healing that only Christ can accomplish in our lives. God bless you you greatly, my wonderful friend. And thank you for your thoughtful comment here. You are a blessing!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My mother died of cancer, too, in 2000, but she was 86. She had been in pain for a long time. She also had had a hard life, in many ways, and so now Jesus was taking her home to be with him. So, that was a blessing for her, to no longer suffer, but to be with Jesus!

        God wasn’t finished with you yet. He had a wonderful ministry for you here yet on this earth. You bless many lives with your paintings and with your writings. God knew what he was doing in healing you. I, for one, am very glad you are still here.

        You bless my life , too.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Lynn,
        I read this intently and plan to read it again. We are going through cancer treatments with my brother’s wife. It has been a rough go lately. Her hair is gone and she is having side effects that make baldness seem not so bad. Your post brought me courage and faith and I am thankful for that today.

        Like

      2. Oh, Mike. I’m so sorry to hear about your SIL. And you are so right: the hair falling out part is easy compared to all the rest. It’s just the visible sign of the illness and its radical treatment. I was a stage 3 cancer patient, if that gives you any further encouragement (ie the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, but hadn’t fully metastacized throughout my body). Anyway, it was a fairly serious case albeit not as serious as my mother’s. My oncologist called me his poster-child for survival. I will pray with all my heart for your SIL. And periodically, please let me know how she is doing and if there is anything I can do. All the best to you, my wonderful friend.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Lynn, all your blog posts reflect such a deep, sweet relationship with the Lord. Your words are an immense blessing to me!
    Also wanted to comment about your featured image: when I saw it, without seeing the caption, I thought how much it reminded me of the Robert Frost poem of the same name–and how wonderful to find that “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” indeed seems to have been your inspiration. I’m from New Hampshire originally, and I just love Frost’s masterful poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Meredith! Your encouragement means so much to me. Your posts reflect your beauty, inside and out! Yes! I love Robert Frost’s poetry! How wonderful that you immediately recognized the connection. And you are from New Hampshire? It’s such a beautiful place. I’m delighted to discover this about you. ❤ and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Very glad you are around to share your creativity through your posts Lynn. I tell ya, whenever I read your posts I feel joy jumping out of the screen. A mix of your awesome painting and the heart you put into your words. I am certain I am not the only one who feels it. So thank ya and here’s to a fantastic 2018 for ya! God is good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you with all my heart, Evad! I’m so delighted that you sense my joy through my writing and paintings, too! Thank you for telling me that because I truly strive to communicate hope and joy through my paintings. Thus, your encouragement means more to me than you can possibly imagine. Thank you, thank you! And yes, God is extremely good. I have so much to be thankful for!! God bless you, my wonderful and talented brother in the Lord!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries Lynn, I was telling my wife about you and your writing after I read your last post. Keep doing what you are doing, you may never know the kind of impact you will have on people but don’t let that stop ya. I look forward to more of your story and your sharing

        Like

      2. Evad, my new friend,

        I would love to “meet” your wife (Brandie, I think you said) here online… Does she blog as well? I’m sure she is a lovely lady! By the way, my husband and I nearly moved to Melbourne back in the late 1980s. I was really disappointed when he decided to turn down the position that he’d been offered. 😦 Melbourne is beautiful and I loved the open air market. Is it still up and running all these years later? And thank you again for your encouragement. You are right in thinking that sometimes I wonder if my work makes a difference. So thank you again for your kind words. God bless you greatly!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. G’day Lynn, thanks for your comment. I think you are awesome. She doesn’t blog but I appreciate her feed back 100% and wont post until she has a read and gives me feedback. I told her about your comment. Add me on the facebook and you can find her there. I am originally from Sydney and lived on and off in Tasmania for a number of years and then moved to Melbourne 7 years ago. Your from Virginia right? Some of Brandies family lives there. Catch up soon!

        Like

      4. Hi, there! Do you wish for me to call you Evad here? I love what you’ve done… my dad used to do that with names and words all the time. 😉 I’ve answered the rest of your comment in a message to you on Facebook. God bless you big time!!

        Like

  5. What a testimony!!! I am so glad for your healing and how Jesus is using you to speak to others. My father died of cancer at Christmas – three years ago this Christmas. But this blogpost brings me comfort. He wasn’t healed here, but in heaven. Love the painting with the illuminated trees. Beautiful!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so sorry that your father died from cancer. It is a terrible disease. I feel so fortunate to have survived. So many that I know and love have not survived cancer. But as you say, your father is fully healed now and enjoys all the blessings of heaven! My mom and dad are there, too. And what a reunion it will be when one day, you and I see them again. Thank you for your kind words about the post and my painting. You are truly an encourager! God bless you beyond all that you can imagine.

      Like

    1. Oh, Pat! I’m so honored that you would visit my blog! I found your blog through a wonderful friend, and had begun following it. I had no expectation that you would visit here since I can tell you are a very busy lady with many blog fans. You can imagine my delight when I found your comment here. Thank you for your kindness, for your beautiful and encouraging words! It means the world to me coming from a talented lady like yourself! God bless you big time! Huge hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing such a personal testimony. I’m so glad God has healed you, spiritually and physically! And I’m grateful to be “getting to know you” through your blog and your comments. You are a beautiful lady.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This deeply touches my heart, Lynn. Before I even read the message, I had to ponder your painting. This stopping to soak in the beauty God gives. That light coming from a distance reminding me of how our Sun of Righteousness has arisen with healing in His wings to bring us hope and salvation. Then I read your post, and I am deeply touched. 11 years of Chemo. That’s awful. It must have been a rough, roller coaster ride. It’s no wonder your writings are so deep and encouraging. You know what pain is, and it makes your deliverance all the more beautiful. I rejoice that you are a survivor! Also a sin survivor! I am always amazed how the one leper remembered to celebrate His Healer, first and foremost. Thank you so much for sharing and passing on the same comfort God has given you! Blessings and hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, dear Trudy. Yes, you have perfectly described my thoughts as I painted this. Thank you! You don’t know how much it encourages me that the painting communicated what I’d hoped it would. Actually, I only did about 1 year of intravenous chemo treatment which is what most people think of when they hear the word “chemo.” I’ve taking a daily pill for the 10 years after that. It has had its own set of unpleasant side-effects and risks, but at least, my hair could grow back 😉 The cancer experience has certainly changed my life outlook. So much of what used to “worry” me seems unimportant to me now. Thank you for your more than kind words and encouragement. You are truly a wonderful friend. Love and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My mother died of cancer. The treatment (chemo) killed her. She was to old to be put through it, I think. But sometimes we only learn these things in hindsight.

    Survival requires the ability to struggle. With age our ability to struggle fades. We can teach, perhaps, but struggle saps what is left of our strength too quickly. Therefore, as we start withdrawing from life. Yet we are here to struggle, to learn from our battles, and to share the lessons of our struggles with each other.

    Thank you for sharing one of the lessons you learned.

    Like

    1. Oh, Tom… I’m so sorry about your mom. My heart hurts on her behalf. My mom died of cancer as well. And the chemo was horrific for her, too. So heartbreaking to watch those we love suffer. Thank you for sharing your story here. It means a lot to me. I truly appreciate you and your blog. God bless you, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Robert! Yeah, the driver actually has wood logs on the back of his sleigh. But I remember the old delivery drivers. We had a milkman when I grew up, and then when I lived in England. I sometimes wish for that slower pace. So much joy in the quiet day to day! Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Robert! I appreciate you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is absolutely beautiful, Lynn! I have had several friends deal with cancer, and it is much like leprosy in some ways. That’s a great comparison! Our friend and neighbor actually had several work associates avoid him during chemo… truly sad. Thank you for sharing this, and I agree – I want my Christmas (and every day I am granted, really) to begin with Him – thanking Him, worshipping Him, praising Him. Have a wonderful Christmas!

    Like

      1. Well, I’m almost done with all the cancer treatment, Wally, and so I have much to be thankful for!! No need to see me as inspiring, then. 😉 You’re meeting me at the end of the journey when the worst is behind me. 😉 But I will say this: all suffering gives us an opportunity to connect with new people and to comfort others with the comfort that Christ gives. And isn’t that what life is all about–reaching others for Jesus? So, when my physician told me I had cancer, I vowed to make the best of it and encourage everyone I met along the way. (I’ll probably write a post about this sometime in the next several months). After all, God had placed me in a new environment where I would meet new people who potentially needed His love. I’m not sayin’ the cancer journey has been or was easy. Far from it. But I found joy in encouraging others. Thanks for your kindness and friendship. You’re an awesome friend, and your blog inspires and makes me smile every day.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great analogy, Lynn
    I am so sorry to hear of your trial with cancer, but I thank the Lord you are here and doing well. You are such an encouragement to me; I am so very thankful for our “blogosphere” friendship.
    Your pictures are always so beautiful and apropos!
    Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts with us.
    Hugs to you, my friend!
    Blessings~

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Another stunning painting, Lynn! Your paintings bring everyone so much pleasure. I feel as if I’m right there in the scene, perhaps in a sleigh following the young man and his horse hauling the wood. The viewer has such anticipation about going forth into the light. It feels as if one will see the presence of God Himself emitting the light around the turn. Thank you for sharing your personal story. It will help so many. Blessings and hugs to you!

    Like

    1. Oh, this means the world to me! Thank you for your words about the painting. Sometimes, I wonder if God can use my art the way He can use writing to speak forth His word. But you caught the meaning, message and heart in my painting. You can’t even begin to imagine how much that encourages me! Thank you, thank you! And may God bless you beyond all that you can imagine in 2018! Huge hugs!

      Like

  12. I just wanted to take a minute to let everyone on this blog know how much I thank God for you all. Lynn, the Lord used your post to let me share this message because through you, He’s connected me with some amazingly talented and gifted writer’s for the Kingdom. Let this message serve as a personal note to each and everyone of you. Keep letting God use your heart as the canvas on with He writes, and I pray that He’ll enlarge your territory to spread, paint and pen His good news. Keep using every ounce of your God-given giftedness for His glory as you already do, and God will continue to use the fabric of your everyday lives as a platform for true change in the everyday lives of His people. Peace and many blessings upon you all….Lynn, if there are others that are in this blog family that aren’t on this blog, please forward…My iPad has issues. Love you ALL to life!!!!

    Like

      1. God is doing something HUGE, and it’s amazing being among such a manifestation of His Word in like mindedness…

        “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment…1 Corinthians 1:10

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s