Mondays With Marv
It's hard, isn't it? Especially for a take charge person like myself. If I were in charge I would keep our friend Marv here on earth. I would pray away the cancer. I would keep asking God for a miracle. I "long for" or "crave" that kind of miracle, and have been reminding God what an awesome display of His mighty power that would be...to hear the words, "cancer free." To everyone who has paid Marv a "last visit" they would be so amazed at such news! Oh how God must be laughing at me when He hears such thoughts from my head.
Probably more often than not, what we crave is not what God would have for us. He doesn't need to miraculously cure Marv to prove His awesome power. In Marv's preparedness and readiness for his death, his unswerving faith is plenty of witness to God's awesome power.
For those of you praying for Marv - he would like the prayer changed. No more prayers for Marv to be able to eat and keep it down, please. I will confess right here and right now that this has been my prayer for purely selfish reasons. Afterall, if the body is fed it will be nourished and remain alive. We will continue our bible studies, and continue our worship together. Life will remain as we know it.
Marv realized today, after talking with the Hospice folks, that he has been wrestling with God. His body wants to stop eating - God is calling him Home. He has been forcing himself to eat, and the Hospice nurse reminded him that he needs to listen to his body. His body is DONE feeding the cancer, and keeping IT alive.
When Marv shared this today I made a comment that he was like Jacob wrestling God in the river. At once he and Carol looked at one another, each making a connection that perhaps this is why Marv's hip has been hurting (for no obvious reason) for these past few weeks.
Genesis 32:22-40 reads:
Jacob Wrestles With God
That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." The man asked him, "What is your name?" "Jacob," he answered. Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob's hip was touched near the tendon.
I think Marv felt he needed to get past Christmas - for all our sakes. (Heck, that would have put a huge damper on things to have him die at Christmas time.) For the past several Monday evening bible studies Marv has expressed his eagerness to be with His Jesus. Yet, when it came time to pray we did not pray, "Lord, Marv is excited to be with you soon in heaven - please honor that eagerness." Instead we prayed for Marv's stomach to be able to tolerate food, for energy, etc.
Marv would like prayers for HIS OWN ability to let go. To stop wrestling with God, to stop feeding the cancer and his body. I am sure it takes more strength to stop eating, knowing it is going to lead to death, than it does to eat, not because you are hungry, but because you know it keeps the body going.
Carol and I spent some time alone today while I helped her shop for a laptop so they could Skype (phone video) with their grandson in the military, and Marv's daughter in Oklahoma. I was concerned about how she might feel deep inside. She could be angry at God for giving her and Marv only 13 years together...but she is not. I am certain she has praised God for every moment they have spent together. She knows, and said, "it is time."
Marv is ready to be called Home - tonight he said at our bible study, "Give up, give up, give up - I need to let God be in control." He wants to crave not food that will keep him alive, but instead crave the unending joy of being in God's holy presence.
Marv does NOT like sitting in his chair all day feeling "blah". Not in pain, but simply "blah", while waiting for something to happen. Perhaps God is not completely done with Marv yet, as he has two unexpected visits coming up with people who need/want to talk with him. Perhaps they will witness firsthand Marv's strong faith in the face of death, and it will help them with their own faith journey. This is where I feel God's awesome power will be revealed, not in a miraculous cure, but in the power of steadfast faith.
Tonight, I am letting go. I am finished. I've pushed myself and have completed what I felt I needed to do. The book I so badly wanted to get done for Marv is complete. In fact, they decided on Saturday that they did not want a multitude of family pictures, or pictures of Marv doing this and that in a Powerpoint presentation. It is too complicated with their family situation. Marv does not want his funeral to be all about him. Of course it will be a celebration of his life, but more importantly, he wants it to be about giving praise to God. They've requested that the book I made, inspired by God, be made into a Powerpoint presentation. It's a "wow" request, it's a simple book, and it is an amazing honor to do this for my friend. Tonight, I assembled the images into a presentation. Finished. Ready.
That's it - 21 slides containing scripture and verses from a poem. A repetitive image of not Marv, but the "essence of Marv"...a worn straw hat, a worn bible, a cross, a trowel laden with dried concrete, and three nails...nails to represent the Savior who died, so that each of us would be given the gift of GRACE. Nails that remind us that Jesus, too, experienced suffering. Nails to remind us that our burdens, our dark pasts, our worries and our troubles - can be nailed to that cross. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
This blog post begins with the last page of the book, "Oh Man of Simple Faith". It speaks of the hope that Marv has in eternal salvation. I want to close this posting with words Marv spoke tonight, words that really struck a cord with me. Words that made me realize I need to let go... Marv said, "If I died tonight I'd wake up as a happier man." Amen.