In the Shadow of Death, Part 3

This is a continuing email exchange between Wayne and a man who is struggling with healing, faith, love, trust, and mortality as his wife appears to be dying from metastasized breast cancer in the face of a promise they both held in their hearts for her healing.

You can read from the beginning starting here.

From Alan on May 3, 2019 (seven days after first email)

Lynn is treading water, and I am treading with her. I continue to pray and believe for a miraculous intervention and healing in this realm but have also started praying, “May your will be done, Father.”

It occurred to me that most of my life I have equated asking the Father for “His will to be done” with something negative. Almost as if that is a prayer option guaranteed to disappoint.

He has done amazing things already – Lynn has lived four years and four months longer than the original prognosis of two to three months rendered in January 2015. She has lived three months longer than hospice thought when they were called in early February. They said two to three days.

What Alan wants is a Lynn completely well on this earth, totally cancer-free and full of renewed health and vitality. What God wants may be the same, or it may be different and may include her being cancer-free and full of renewed health and vitality in the eternal realm.

I see a need in my life to trust Him entirely and be comfortable with praying, “Your will be done” in all situations. I think you would call it learning to “live loved.” It’s funny, I preach His love as limitless, unending and without condition, yet I am finding that I have much to learn myself about believing the very thing I share with others.

So we wait. I feel terrible for Lynn to be confined to an uncomfortable hospice bed, totally reliant on me for juice or water, unable to go outside and enjoy the warm weather she loves so much. She isn’t complaining. She’s never complained. She’s the same strong, peaceful woman I have been privileged to know and love all these years.

I am getting impatient I guess – what a selfish way to think. I pray, “God, please either heal her or take her to be with you.” I wonder if that prayer stems more from my discomfort than hers.

Nevertheless, we wait upon the Lord. Thankful that He has brought folks like yourself along for the journey. I am not overstating when I say that your emails have helped sustain me. Thank you for caring and allowing God to use you in our lives.

My Response:

I hate your pain but love your note and your heart in the midst of this. In the face of great need, the lie that haunts us is that there must be one more thing we can do that will turn the tide as if all we’ve done to date while well-intentioned just wasn’t enough to move the Creator. He’s waiting for someone to do just the right thing, or say the right words. It’s just not true. Who knows how God works, how he determines the days of our lives, how he intervenes or doesn’t? We don’t.

But I trust this. If there’s more he needs or wants you to say or do here, he will make it known to you. He has had plenty of time to heal Lynn, so we might consider at this point that healing may not happen.  Love her and say your good-byes as best you can in trust that all of this is in his hands. And God making it clear won’t come through the anguished advice of well-intentioned though misguided friends.

If this is her homecoming, he is still preparing things in her, even though you can’t see them from the outside. He’s making ready her part of his bride and will liberate her into the next life at the right time. It may not look that way to you or me, but he knows what he is doing. I love how you’re loving her and how you are learning to live loved even in the most difficult and painful of circumstances. It will bear fruit in your heart until the end of your days.

From Alan on May 6, 2019 (ten days after first email):

Have I said “thank you” yet? You are doing the absolute work of God Himself in my life. In the darkest of hours, your words are His light cutting through to my heart. I am dumbfounded at the power and anointing that jumps off of the screen as I read over and over what God has given you for me.

I was imagining sitting with you at a coffee bar and getting gut-level honest. The words from Heaven that you sent to me about loving Lynn well had two effects:

First, they encouraged me beyond my ability to articulate. As I mentioned at that time, they came from the Holy Spirit directly.

Second, they cut like a hot knife into the recesses of the past, exposing the truth that many times I have not “loved Lynn well.” I’ve had wandering eyes, incredibly ungodly thoughts and imaginations, and a list of regrets that would fill pages.

I have begged God while sitting at her bedside, hot tears streaming down my face for “another chance, Father!” I want a do-over, an opportunity to love her every day with the knowledge of the pain that I have now. I want another chance to ‘love her as Christ loves the church, giving himself for her.” Thank you for sharing with me that God sees me doing that now.

I feel so special in all of this, as if you are penning a personal book little by little to me. I am confident that you have touched millions of folks and changed their lives.

Please know that your words are like a spiritual solution in an IV bottle that God is sending into my veins. I literally feel His presence when we communicate, and that is  comfort for which I am desperately grateful.

My Response:

Alan, your gratefulness is well noted, and appreciated. But this exchange is about you and God’s grace and love in the midst of such horrible experience…

And I would say this, “loving a woman well” is not a standard of perfection by which we judge the past; it is the trajectory of our growth. You’ve grown into this ability to love Lynn the way God wants Lynn loved in her passing if this is her time. Of course, none of us know that, so it makes it difficult to say the good-byes with people we love.  Entrust whatever healing might come into the hands of your gracious Father and spend this time as if it is her passing. It may not be, and if it’s not you’ll have no regrets. If it is, you’ll be grateful for the closure you’ve had in the midst of it.

All is in Father’s hands. This moment is all we have, not what could or might be. We just have the moment and his grace inhabits it with us. We are not alone in any of it, and we are not abandoned to our own wisdom or resources.

“Father, hold Alan and Lynn in the palm of your hands today. Cover them with life and light and grace and comfort. As you are seemingly drawing Lynn into your eternity, may she be totally lost in you and your love. The same for Alan, Father. Overwhelm him with your love, quiet his anxious thoughts and let yours spell the day in his heart and mind.  Jesus, may your grace be clear as you stand alongside Alan, feeling everything that he feels and knowing how best to soothe his soul and bear his pain. Spirit of the Most High, do your work for “those who mourn” until grief of this difficult passing be swallowed up in all the joys their relationship contained, and all it will contain for ages to come.”

To be continued…

Read Part 4 here. 

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5 Comments
  1. Susan Theron July 30, 2019 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Hi Alan and Skip
    Recently I find myself saying the same thing, Thy will be done !! and then explaining to God that’s it’s truly not a cop out. When I come to the end of myself, my ideas, my ideals, I can only get to the place of Thy will be done. God is the only one who knows it ALL, the beginning from the end and everything in between. My thoughts are with you Alan and your wife, and my thought are with you Skip. You continue to enlighten me with your words of wisdom love and encouragement.
    When Yeshua came face to face with death on the cross….he fell on his face before Yahweh and his final words were… Thy will be done. Amen brothers in Yeshua.

  2. Rodney Stephens July 30, 2019 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    I have been reading your words in the shadow of death and I cannot help but relate to everything that has been said. My wife just passed from head and neck cancer on August 17, 2018. I was her sole caregiver for the final year of her life along with the hospice nurse who made a weekly visit. She was the greatest human being I have ever met and I know she went to be with Jesus. So, I can relate to everything both you and Alan have said in this series so far. The only thing I would add to that is that God allowed me to love my wife extra-intentionally for the last 36 years of our 46 year marriage. This happened, because God showed me a vision of my wife dying of cancer 10 years after we were married. God allowed me to love my wife in extraordinary ways for the last 36 years of her life. So, I had absolutely no regrets about my love for her or her love for me. I feel the pain of Alan, when he says that he wanted a do-over, so that he could love her in the right way before her passing. But, that would be unnecessary, since I know from personal experience, that she knew how much Alan loved her before she went to her eternal reward. It was his daily time with her as God gave her an extended time on earth, so that Alan could prove how much he loved her- And she knew that!!!

  3. Rhonda July 30, 2019 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    This story has impacted me greatly about loving well. I went on a trip to see an old friend who moved to Ohio about 20 years ago and I still live in Arizona. I saw her 4 years ago and our visit was a good one. The last 11 days was probably the most stressful with being with her. She began pouring her heart out to me about when she was raped at age 8 and when she told her grandmother what happened, grandma blamed her. Her mother became pregnant by another man and not her husband and my friend was the product of that union which she was abused greatly by the man her mom was married to. Her family has abandoned her, stole her property, called her horrible things. And the church she was attending had absolutely no love for her. (a very legalistic place, she took me there and I begged she not go back again). She was angry all the time, frustrated over the smallest of things. I have shown her The Grace Course; sent her the He loves me Book but I see she is really struggling with receiving the love of the Father and even my love. Her outbursts had me thinking that I should cut my trip short but it was this story that kept me going. It is hard to love those who aren’t lovable. The Holy Spirit directed me to be silent in her outbursts and before I left we did speak in detail about her brokeness. I will be staying in touch to continue to encourage her about our Heavenly Father’s overwhelming love. I am thankful for your obedience because it has moved me to another level of expressing my Father’s love. Please pray for my friend; her soul needs so much healing.

    • Wayne Jacobsen July 31, 2019 at 11:18 am - Reply

      If you can endure her outbursts without damaging your own soul, you have given her a great gift! What pain and abuse she has suffered, and sometimes people like that just need someone to “see” them, and acknowledge their pain. That may be why she let you into the brokenness. This takes lots of time for someone to sort out the pain and open enough to understand the love and grace of our Father. But few can take that much pain and not take on responsibility for it. It’s a great gift to listen, to acknowledge, to love them beyond it, if you’re up for it. I pray for you both. It’s some amazing kingdom work you’re doing there, Rhonda.

  4. […] Read Part 3 here.  […]

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