Your humble “Bad Christian” took a little summer hiatus from the daily ramblings last month. July featured a countdown of the top twenty most read articles in the two year life of this blog. The countdown finished with a piece written just a couple of days after hearing about my wife Joni’s diagnosis of breast cancer. That post was called “Sentences That Change Your Life”. Sixteen months later I can verify how much one sentence changed our lives. It was an odd coincidence that the story was delivered to many of your electronic mailboxes on the same day that ABC’s Robin Roberts announced her breast cancer diagnosis on ‘Good Morning America’.
I saw Robert’s brave optimism and strength. But I also saw the emotion and fear of the unknown battle that loomed in the days ahead. It is not an easy journey. But I am sure that Robin Roberts will be an inspiration to women across America. The message that Robin emphasized was the importance of early detection. With early detection there is a 95% five year survival rate for breast cancer patients. Please do not ignore regular checkups.
The reason for hanging up the “Closed for July” sign at the old website was a good one. Joni and I took a big chunk of last month to embark on a celebration cruise that marked the end of her treatments. We flew to London and met up with two other couples who had shared our journey and now shared our joy. On July 4th we journeyed to Southhampton, England to begin a twelve day cruise around the British Isles. We tried not to dwell on the fact that Southhampton was the port that Titantic departed from ninety-five years ago. That little factoid did make me pay a bit more attention to the mandatory safety drill that all cruise ships have before departure.
During Joni’s long journey through chemotherapy and radiation she often talked about getting “postcards” from God. When she would get a bit down or discouraged she would inevitably receive an unexpected visit, note or blessing. I cannot tell you if the following event was a “postcard” from God for us. But the timing was indeed remarkable. We had started planning this cruise just after Joni’s diagnosis as a way to celebrate the eventual end of treatments. After a long and difficult cancer journey we finally reached the celebration journey departure.. This was the scene as we pulled away from Southhampton.
That is not an enhanced photo. That is how the rainbow actually appeared from our balcony. We were as awestruck as Noah must have been when God made His promise to him.
Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures.”
I will never forget that rainbow. Joni and I had adopted a song called Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns as the anthem for our journey. The lyrics are a powerful reminder of the need to trust God in all things.
I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
And stepped in and saved the day
Once again, I say Amen, and it is still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear you whisper through the rain
I’m with you
As your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
I’ll Praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
You are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will Praise You in this storm
For Joni and I the storm has passed for now. I am reminded of a quote from author G.K.Chesterton: “And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.”
We have had some rain and dark clouds. Now we have a chance to rest in Him and savor the rainbow. On our trip we visited the beautiful country of Ireland. I will leave you with this Irish blessing.
“May God give you…For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer.”