I am a God who heals. I heal broken bodies, broken minds, broken hearts, broken lives, and broken relationships.
My very Presence has immense healing powers.
2011 was a rough year. I was serving as a full-time associate pastor on a large church staff where God’s Spirit was leading us into ministries outside our comfort zone and church doors. We were serving others, particularly the poor, in God-sized ways. I was especially enjoying ministry with my friend, our Senior Pastor, Dr. Ken Diehm, One day, he even laughed and said, “We don’t even have to work to lead, do we? We just look where God is at work and run that way!”
In February of 2011, we ended a normal work week, said a casual goodbye, knowing we’d see each other for Sunday worship. But overnight, my friend Ken developed a sudden brain bleed. In 24 hours, he was gone.
With our congregation reeling, we gathered for worship the next day. Instead of Ken, I preached to four full worship services of devastated people.
Less than a week later, we hosted the largest funeral in the church’s history. People filled four large spaces to overflowing, and even gathered online as the service was livestreamed. My own heart was shattered. I called on God as I stood up to preach, trying to bring Good News out of even this.
The next months were a blur of ministry in a shattered setting and great change. I did my best to honor my own grief while pastoring an aching congregation.
Six months to the day after Ken died, I found a lump in my breast. I assumed it was nothing—I was only 49. I was wrong. The diagnosis: ductal cell carcinoma.
The best surgeon was out of town for two weeks. Until I met with her, I told no one but my husband. I needed a plan first.
In the meantime, I was booked to speak at a large, sold-out community women’s event. Believing the show must go on, I prepared my words without including my new life-threatening diagnosis.
In just six months, I’d experienced three of the most difficult speaking tasks of my entire ministry: the sermon the day after Ken’s death, his funeral, and now this. I knew I could not do it on my own. I asked God for help.
Giving God thanks
After the event, I sat on the front pew alone, giving God thanks for equipping me once again.
I didn’t hear Betsy re-enter the sanctuary. Suddenly beside me, her voice shaking, she said, “I don’t know why, but I believe God wants you to have this.” She placed in my hands a leather-bound copy of Jesus Calling, my name embossed on the front.
A few months earlier, another church member gave me Jesus Calling. It had already been a lifeline to me with short entries and soothing words from Jesus.
Betsy and I cried. It felt like our tears baptized a holy moment.
My healing journal
That day, in that leather-bound, personalized copy of Jesus Calling, I began a mini journal. As I read daily, I’d write the year and a tiny notation in the margin.
Every year, I kept reading Jesus Calling, making a note in the margin. Every year, the devotional spoke to me in a different way, the living Word, miraculously alive and delivered straight to my heart.
Over time, my book became a mini journal of healing. More than nine years have passed since I found that lump, and in the margins of my book, you can see my healing. You can see ups and downs and how God’s Word fed me and guided me.
There in the margins, you see one son’s college graduation, another son’s high school graduation, our daughter’s wedding. You can see mammogram after mammogram, each anxiously awaited and then washed in relief after the “all clear.” You can see news of a grandbaby on the way . . . then another, then another. You can see trips I got to take, more weddings, losses, and struggles. In between those milestones, you see lots of ordinary days for working, writing, resting, and yoga. Each day, more extraordinary healing from cancer and grief.
Precious record of God’s faithfulness
Now, there’s barely any room in those margins. The leather cover hangs by a thread from daily use. On some pages the ink is smeared from teardrops of worry, sorrow, or gratitude.
I now have a precious record of God’s faithfulness, presence, healing touch, and soothing words. One little book and a few words recorded each day, now a holy treasure.
I’m thrilled to know about the latest edition of Jesus Calling with the note-taking feature. Maybe I will start a new book and watch new journeys begin. This time, I vow to use the lines it provides to be neater and more intentional with my notes. Now, I know what God can do through our smallest efforts. I can’t wait to see what is next.