Life's full of sandbars, isn't it; we're going along our merry way and -BAM- out of the blue a Goliath stands before us! We're taught if we are strong enough and work hard enough, nothing can stand in our way and we don't challenge this way of thinking until we're faced with a set of circumstances we are unprepared to navigate. Cliché's like "When life gives you lemons, make PWC Dock lemonade" and "take the bull by the horns," reinforce the idea that we're in control of our lives, but what if we have it all wrong, what if we're not in control?

A dear friend called me a few weeks ago to tell me she had wrecked her jet ski in the Wando River. She took her 5-year-old out for a ride, not realizing she left at low tide until she slammed into a sandbar. The jolt forced them off their sea vessel into the South Carolina pluff muds. They trudged through the sinking black sand until they reached the middle of the circular sea wall. Once on more solid turf, she was convinced they would be safe since high tide was just a few hours away. Then they could retract their jet ski and return to their home, which she could see from a distance. Her main concern was for her family. What would they think when she and her son didn't arrive home in time for dinner? She had no way of letting them know she and her son were fine, that they'd be home in a few hours. Her only option was to wait for high tide. She said for the first time in her life she felt as if she had no control over her circumstances, she felt unprepared; relating her angst to what a cancer patient must go through.

Preparation for Battling an Unforeseen Enemy

When she returned home, she found out her family had called everyone they knew to find out where she and her son were. They called the Coast Guard and her husband even borrowed a neighbors jet ski and went out looking for them. When no one could find them the family worried one or both of them were hurt - or worse - dead. The sun was setting when they returned home. Their family, seeing them from the dock, rushed to envelop them as they got off their jet ski. Tears of terror turned to tears of joy. Everyone wanted to know why she couldn't see the sandbar from afar. My friend explained the tide was lowering as they streamed through the water and a thin layer of marsh was covering it. After hours of recounting every detail of their story, the family put an emergency plan in place, which involved several layers of safety measures including tidal rules, sea craft radios and waterproof covers for each of their cell phones. They learned that night how important they were to each other and how everything else had no real value. What they couldn't see ahead: They were being prepared for a looming storm.

This same friend wrote me last night to tell me her husband's daughter had just given birth to her fourth child. After a very painful labor, their daughter had to deliver by c-section. During the surgery she ruptured her rectum leading to a secondary surgery to divert her colon. When they opened her up, they discovered cancer. A tumor had bound itself around her colon and burned a hole into her vaginal wall. Now the doctors will do exploratory surgery to find out how far the cancer has progressed. She is a wife, a mother of four, a daughter, a sister and a friend. With her life in balance she worries about her husband and children. Her father has rushed to her side, delivering emails to friends and family of her current prognosis, asking for prayers and believing she will return home like his wife did just a few weeks ago.

Bring the Rain

I was turned on to a blog called Bring the Rain recently. It's by a mother who started documenting her story after she was informed at her 20-week ultrasound her child had two lethal conditions and if she carried to term her baby would be a still birth. She replied to the doctors, "I think that my Jesus is the same as He was before I walked into this room." No matter what your spiritual views are, you've got to admit, that is faith. Faith is commonly defined as believing in something or someone without proof. On the subject of faith, Robert Schuller writes, "There will always be the unknown. There will always be the unproveable. But faith confronts those frontiers with a thrilling leap..." This woman confronted the reality that she would lose her child, decided she would carry to term anyway and used her experiences to help others. What she couldn't see ahead: She would get a book deal, speaking engagements and support from around the world!

It's easy to believe what we can see. It's hard to hear a prognosis of stage four cancer and believe anyone can live through it, yet people do everyday. It can't be explained, there's no science to why one-person lives and one person dies, yet they have the same prognosis. There's no understanding why one mother dies inside when she loses a child, while another mother adopts an abandoned child. Faith may just be the antidote when we realize we are not in control. It causes us to be hopeful that our circumstances will change, that the tide will rise again.

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