Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rest and Restoration

A couple of hours after Robyn and I were first told about my cancer diagnosis I found myself lying in a hospital bed wondering how could this have happened so fast and how can I slow down the process. The facts as we knew them at that point were that I now had a drain hose hanging out of my side and that I had a "very serious and aggressive" liver cancer. My human instinct was to say "Wait! Back this train up and slow down! I'm in control and I can't process this!" I couldn't help but think "at what point did I lose control of this situation?" Oddly enough, I never asked why or why me? I just thought of how I could regain control of the situation and stop this runaway train.

Later that day a very dear friend of mine, Dennis McMains, showed up at the foot of my bed. I have no idea how he found out that I was in the hospital so quickly but his timing could not have been better. It was like God sent one of His paramedics to the scene of an accident to comfort the victim. I didn't realize it then but Dennis' kind and gentle words were exactly what I needed in that moment. Dennis reminded me that God was right there with us, kneeling down to us as a father would do for his child who had just fallen after his first few steps. He reminded me that God was in control and that now is the time to rest in His arms and allow Him to do the work. Little did I know that his words to me that day would be so true and make such an impact on my life.
Since that day, those words have been echoed to us from so many of you through your emails, cards and letters. In studying God's word and reading other books the same theme also always seems to flash at me like a neon sign at midnight. "Rest in the comfort of knowing that God is in control and His plan is perfect." Today, we find ourselves doing exactly that. We are resting in the knowledge that He is in control and that He will provide what we need and when we need it.
We've found though that there is another side to resting. It is restoration. It's not that we didn't have faith and trust before all of this began, but the faith and trust that we did have is being restored to a level that we're not familiar with. I thought my faith in God and the trust I had in Him to take us to Papua New Guinea a few years ago was so steadfast that I couldn't imagine being any closer to Him. But today, seeing how He is working in our lives and the impact He is having on others through my illness, I can't help but feel like He is standing by my side, holding my hand and whispering in my ear saying, "One step at a time".
For those of you who have experienced this humbling but fulfilling reliance on God, you know what I'm talking about. For those of you who know God but haven't yet dropped your guard enough to allow God to take control, I recommend not waiting until you find yourself in a situation where you have no choice. For those of you who find this completely unbelievable or who don't know God personally, I urge you to find the answers to your objections and questions by talking to me or another believer. Having a close and open relationship with God will be the most comfortable place you'll ever be.



Robyn said...

I think Cody is taller...you look like you may be standing on higher ground. Love you honey!

Anonymous said...

Rest and Restoration....what an encouragement! This will be printed off and put in my "file of encouragement" folder.
Thank you and your family for embracing the path God has placed in front of you as His perfect plan and giving Him the glory.
Romans 11:36 NIV
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

2Corinthians 1:20
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Thank you for being such an encouragement!
Praying for each of you!

Lee Ann Feenstra

Carissa Carpenter said...

Thank you so much for your perspective on this. I've had to change jobs recently and have had trouble giving all control to the Lord. But, He will carry us if we let him. Ironically (and by no coincidence) for the last 2 months the pastor at my church here in Florida has been preaching on Resting in the Lord, focusing on Psalm 62. Verses 1 and 2 show that the psalmist knows in his head that we can find rest in the Lord. What is interesting is that in verses 5 and 6 the psalmist is doing self talk to try and convince himself in his heart that this is true -- such vulnerability. Anyway, the passage has been really encouraging to me. If you want to hear the series of sermons you can listen online. http://www.lovingfamilies.us/

click on Listen to Audio Teachings Online.

Thanks Russ, you and your family are in my prayers.

~Carissa Carpenter

Luke said...


After reading this post the other night, I came across these two verses in Proverbs 20 and couldn't help but be reminded of you.

6 Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love,
but a faithful man who can find?
7 The righteous who walks in his integrity—
blessed are his children after him!

Thanks for letting me be one of your kids!

Pam Hester said...

Russ and Robyn:

I know right where you are. It is a humbling and yet complete envelopment of yourself in God's arms. What a beautiful place to be from the inside out. Those on the outside can't really comprehend it but you who are on the inside can rest in God's strength totally, knowing his plans are perfect for you and that you are right in His palm, right where He wants you to be, trusting and waiting to see Him bring GLORY to Himself through you!!!

I am continuing to pray for you guys daily and feel bad that I have been unable to visit with you. Rick and I would love to get together with you whenever you have some time free.

My heart goes out to you in attempting to find employment on top of dealing with all the rest of the stuff that is happening. I pray God will quickly and clearly open the doors to lead you in the direction He wants for you.

We love you guys and want you to know you are bringing much HONOR and GLORY to our Lord. (And by the way - my little fingers did the flying to let Dennis know right away what your situation was - He is always the right man to encourage isn't he??)

In Christ,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these words with us Russ. As I read them I was brought to a renewed sense of His love and kindness even in the midst of what (on the surface) looks and feels like a raw deal. Finding rest and contentment in such difficult circumstances is a testimony to the unsearchable grace God has granted us. Thank you for pointing us to the Christ once again. May I find; may we all find the kind of rest AND restoration that only comes when we rest in the wonderful assurance that our kind heavenly Father only gives us good gifts. Even when circumstances look otherwise.