Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:28-29
For anyone who has ever experienced the joy of becoming a parent, you know the immediate feelings that enter your heart and mind the moment you first lay eyes upon your child. Any attempt to explain it would fail to convey the width and breadth of the love that fills you. It’s as if God opens up a part of your heart that had lain dormant, introducing you to feelings and emotions previously undetected. It is one of the happiest moments of any person’s life.
Imagine now that as you are celebrating this indescribable joy, you are also given some of the most terrifying news you could hear: cancer. Suddenly the prospects of parenthood are erased amid the fear of a terminal diagnosis. For many of us, God shields our minds from the very thought of such tragedy. Unfortunately for others, this is a frightening reality.
Eight years ago, Heather and Cameron Von St. James were experiencing the joy of the birth of their daughter Lily when their lives were turned upside-down. Shortly after Lily was born, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma – an aggressive form of cancer that attacks the lining of the abdomen and lungs. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma are given fewer than two years to live, so Heather’s fifteen month timeframe was consistent with what doctors would tell anyone to expect. Fifteen months. Cameron would be left to raise their little girl alone. Lily would still be in diapers. No first day of school. No teaching her to tie her shoes, to ride a bike. No leaving cookies on a plate for Santa on Christmas Eve.
I can’t begin to imagine the thoughts that must have filled Heather and Cam’s minds as they considered their options. Many a parent has boldly proclaimed their willingness to sacrifice anything for their child: a passion, a vice, even an arm or a leg. In an attempt to save her life, Heather made the decision to undergo a risky surgery and have one of her lungs removed. So for Heather and Cam, February 2, 2006 became known as “Lung Leavin’ Day.” The surgery was a success and after a long and arduous journey, Heather can now say she has overcome cancer and is celebrating everyday of her life with Cameron by her side and Lily in her arms. In fact, every year on the anniversary of her surgery, Heather and Cam are joined by many friends and family members for an informal ceremony in their backyard. They gather around a fire, writing their greatest fears on a plate. Then they take those plates and smash them into the fire to show how they can and will overcome the adversities they face. It’s an inspiring story – one you can learn more about by visiting mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday.
How fitting it is to see these plates smashed into a fire, where the pieces are consumed by the flames until they are no more. It demonstrates clearly the love our God has for us. Like Cam and Heather looking at Lily, God looks down on us with an indescribable love. As His children we get to see the depth and breadth of His love for us as His Son, Jesus Christ went to the cross in our place. His sacrifice was great, but through it we receive forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life with Him. But until that time, we can smash the plates of our fears into the consuming fire that is our God, knowing that in Him we can overcome all things.
May God bless the Von St. James family and your family, now and always.