The One They Said Wouldn’t Come

In early September, in the darkness that comes between the close of one day and the start of another, Jesse awakened to his new reality. We have been walking and trudging and sprinting and schlepping through the past several months, eyes on one goal ahead of us…Jesse telling others about Jesus with his own mouth. If you are new to this story, you need to know that a 10cm brain tumor was found in my husband’s brain in September. It was located primarily in the part of his brain that controls a person’s ability to speak and comprehend. We had no idea leading up to its discovery that he was so sick. In the first several days after the tumor’s discovery, I was told repeatedly that his death was imminent and that I needed to work toward getting his affairs in order and letting the children tell their daddy goodbye. I vividly remember asking a trusted friend who had worked with brain cancer patients how long she thought he had. I asked her to be forward and blunt, because I have little affection for fluffy words in crisis. “Six months? Maybe a year?”, she said.A white hot rage welled up inside of me when she said those words. Not at her, but at my own audacity, at my own foolishness. No matter what kind of time line mankind puts on a life, it is God who is sovereign over time, and no amount of me asking “How long?” was going to change that truth. It was a pivotal moment in this journey, when I recognized the limitedness of my sight and my lack of trust in God’s timing, and let go of control. The Lord’s name is no less blessed when He takes away than when He gives.

So there we were, trapped in an uncomfortable and cold ICU, my husband’s thoughts trapped inside his own mind, watching doctors and nurses come in and out like the tide in a violent storm, all of them with variations of the same words to say:

“Surgery as soon as possible. Remove the tumor. No idea what the outcome will be. Probably won’t be able to talk ever again. Won’t be able to think. It will give you time to say good bye. Too far gone. No hope. . .”

And Jesse, thoughts confined to his own person, heard and understood but could not communicate his awareness to anyone but me. . .with his eyes. He stumbled through sounds, struggling to say anything coherent.

And I, because of the shift in heart and mind I had experienced before, fought with every doctor. Because he was there. Jesse was there. He was thinking and understanding. He just couldn’t tell us with words. I’m telling you this, because I want you to understand how bleak and hopeless everything looked. Because when you understand what was, you will understand the powerful hope of what is all the more.

Our family has been steeped in dark moments over the past several months. So much loss. So much hurt. So much darkness. It came in like an unexpected earthquake, and the tsunami followed that, and the flooding, the aftermath, the digging through splintered pieces to find the salvageable parts. . .That’s been the humanity of our lives since September, and still more darkness has welled up with my Uncle’s sudden and unexpected home-going and his memorial service in a few hours. But this God we know: this God who is Light has not once, not ever, not for a millisecond stepped off of His throne, abdicating His authority in surrender to the sufferings we have had. He has been with us. WITH us. Over us. Around us. He has given us such fervent peace, such unsquelchable joy. And because we have been in total darkness, we have chased the glitter-sized spec of light in the distance, unable to look away because of the hope it represented and how brightly it shimmered. We have chased it, growing nearer, light expanding as we have heaved and gasped for air and collapsed with weariness over and over again. Then suddenly, and yet not suddenly, we realized the spec wasn’t a spec at all, but the blazing, fiery sun instead. I have written before that we have been chasing the sun, and so we have. We have been chasing light. THE Light. We have been chasing Hope; and we have found it, shining above us and in us, warming up every cold extremity, giving life to our souls sometimes numb from the cold detachment of death and disease. We have found Jesus in the heights of healing and ever-growing restoration, in the uncontainable joy of better scans and more time with Jesse; and we have found Jesus in the depths, His brilliance all the more obvious to us contrasted against the stark blackness of life.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3

4 thoughts on “The One They Said Wouldn’t Come

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  1. Once again I read your beautiful words of testimony of our Faithful God and I lift praise to Him and pray that He will continue to show Himself mightily in your midst!


  2. Ashley, you don’t know me, but we know your parents. My husband, Jason was on staff at FBC as Minister of Education/Administration until we moved to Thailand to be missionaries. Most Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings I sang beside your mom in choir. We were transitioning right about the time your world turned upside down. Jesse has been on my prayer list ever since and I’ve been reading your blog posts when mutual friends post them. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for trusting God and encouraging us all to do the same. I can relate to a family member with cancer – my mom died from it 2 years ago. Such pain, yet such a deepening of faith when we allow God to mold and shape us into who He wants us to be. Never would have made it to Thailand without that journey. Thanks for sharing yours.


  3. I’ve just been reading and listening to your entries the past several days…. I continue to be strengthened myself as I read and listen and learn from your experience that you share so well! I came with Shelly a couple of days ago and got to see Jesse in person for the first time since this all began! What a joy-full time we had, getting to witness this miracle going on in your lives, and giving Jesse hugs as we talked about this amazing grace called hope! Trying to keep my empty hands open too right now!
    In Gods big love and mine, “Granny Lee”


  4. Hi there – Chris here from MonkDev. I had the privilege to speak with pastor Jesse again a few months ago and personally hear this story. We’re praying for your family and we’re really excited to hear about the progress and what God is doing.


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