Open Hands

Before moving to Northwest Houston for Jesse to become the lead pastor at what is now the Church at Cross Lake

Before you watch, if you will, extend your hands in front of you with your palms down and clench them into a fist, then try to pick something up with your closed hand.

Now turn your fists over and open your hands wide, palms facing upward. Try to pick something up again.  In either position, you can’t pick things up, right?

Do it again, but this time, pick up an object first then hold it with a clenched downward fist for a while. Then, while still holding the object, turn your hand over and release your grasp. Seems silly, I know, but bear with me for a minute here. I have a point. Whatever you are holding onto today, be it past failures, present fears, or future unknowns, it has weight. And the more tightly you hold on to it, the harder it is to maintain a tight grasp and the heavier it feels as your muscles tire and fatigue sets in. If you continue to hold on to that object, your entire focus would eventually have to be devoted to just holding on to that thing to keep from dropping it. BUT, if you rotate your hand over, releasing your grasp and let it rest in your hand, the strain goes away. You still have the object in your care unless someone removes it, but you aren’t straining to hold on to it. When you hear Jesse talk about the difference between how he was living before all of this and how he lives now, this is what he means. Like I wrote in my last post, we can choose to live bound to our humanity, forever struggling to control our lives, or we can live in surrender, opening our hands and giving whatever we have into the care of the One who entrusted it into our stewardship in the first place and accepting whatever He has for us in return. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. It’s tempting to feel like we are made better by our own abilities to manage a situation, like we are the only ones who could possibly understand how precious something is and how tediously it must be maintained. We tend, or at least I tend, toward feeling like letting go of something means I no longer value it or that it won’t be cared for properly. Can I just tell you something without you getting offended here, friends?

 You will never be so good at controlling your life, yourself, that God will look down at you and proclaim you good enough to enter His presence. No matter how in control you are, how much you labor over managing everything in your life well, you will never, not for one single moment, be in control of the movement of God in your life. Whether we realize it or not, every one of us lives in surrender to something and, in turn, in bondage to it as well. If you live in surrender to your desire to trust only yourself, you also live in bondage to it. Surrendering to God doesn’t give Him control because He is sovereign over mankind; He already has control. Surrendering to Christ gives you freedom from the strain of struggling to rule your own life. It is surrender of self and it is bondage to the Gospel, which is Freedom itself.

 “Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly. Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29:9-13

-While what you see and hear on the video is miraculous, I can tell you that Jesse’s speech is markedly improved since this video was filmed (about three days after he stopped taking steroids). He has steadily improved each day since (and it has been several weeks), and if you didn’t know what he has been through, you would never know anything had happened most of the time. He is also reading with increasing fluidity, and his comprehension is getting better right along with it.

-This coming week is our last appointment with our much loved speech therapist at M.D. Anderson. She has been working with Jesse for several months, and we are so sad to be losing her as our therapist (but so glad to have gained a friend over the past few months!). Would you pray with us, that God provide what Jesse needs in that area specifically. Starting over with a new therapist is no easy task on either side.

-We have been dealing with changes in insurance for many weeks now, and will lose our coverage at M.D. Anderson completely on January 31st. While it has been extremely stressful, we have done everything we can at this point, and are at peace with letting that door close. We trust that, if ever we need care there again, God will make a way.

-And can we just talk about how we don’t NEED care at M.D. Anderson!?! Praise God!

-We still have some decisions to make in terms of Jesse’s care in the future. We are starting a second medicine complex that we hope will help his body fight the remaining tumor on its own. If this doesn’t do what we want, we may consider other options, like a low dose chemotherapy. This is our biggest prayer request right now. We are asking God, who created Jesse’s brain and knows his inner-workings more intimately than any man could, to allow the immune therapy Jesse takes each day to do its job and eat away the tumor without any other intervention. We are begging Him to heal Jesse’s body of the tumor that remains and protect it from recurrences. We know He is able, and we trust Him to do what is best for His glory and our good. This is His story, not ours.

-We think we have finally gotten Jesse’s seizures under control, or at least found medications that will make them stop. Dosages may need to be adjusted as we go along, but he goes days without them now, which is a huge improvement!

-Finally, this is not the only video interview we have done over the past few weeks. In ways we could not have anticipated or imagined, we are seeing God answer our fervent prayer that healing come to Jesse in a way that causes doctors to look to Jesus. We’re excited to share with you all what that means. . .but that is another post for another day. 😉