I sat on a rock overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains on that Sunday morning in September. In the stillness that was shrouded in fog, I felt the burden of trudging through cancer treatment and my toxic job. I prayed for God to lift me out of that pit, and waited for some sign that God was listening. Eventually, the answer came in that ‘still small voice’ in the words, “It’s About the Future.”
I continued sitting there, wondering what this message meant for me. I thought about the future when I was first diagnosed, asking God to spare my life. With my aggressive treatment regimen, my oncologist was confident that I’d be okay—and I believed him. But where I mired down, was in feeling that my future would continue as daily struggle with my health and my career. It was hard to look beyond my present. How could I see the future when I was consumed with dread?
The answer didn’t come that morning on the mountain. In fact, that message became a question that stayed with me; what is it you want me to see in the future, God? There was a sense that I wasn’t to stay in my present state of anxiety. While that conversation with God didn’t change the fact that I had to return home to chemo and work, I did feel lighter—like God was starting to pull me up from the pit.
I continued to look for the meaning to be revealed. It seemed that God was showing me to avoid getting bogged down in the negative climate at work. It was a temporary place. I was to do my best while I was there, but eventually I’d move on. With my cancer regimen, I should focus on the treatment in front of me, engaging with the infusion staff and the family and friends who accompanied me. I would be present to the moment but moving toward the future.
By April I’d finished treatment. I was tired from the radiation, but now I could fly to a research meeting in Arizona. Afterwards I took my journey to Sedona then traveled on to the Grand Canyon. That evening, I watched the sun setting over the South Rim and was reminded of that morning in the Smokies.
Watching a hawk flying near the canyon walls, I remembered the message, It’s about the Future, and this time there was more: Don’t be weighed down by what’s happening now. Get through today but look ahead to the future I’m providing for you.
I remembered Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Hope and a Future. This was a promise of God’s faithfulness to see me through, to pull me from the pit and place my feet on a solid rock. I couldn’t see the future God had for me, but I did feel assured with that promise.
Eventually, a way was provided from that job to one in a healthy environment. The cancer treatment was successful and I’ve had years of being cancer free. There have been times I’ve gotten bogged down again, but I hear that same message and know to keep moving. Those steps forward have led me to solo journeys that have become pilgrimages for my soul.
Years later, in my future, I sat on the banks of Lake Champlain in Vermont and remembered that message. The answer had now come to me fully; Stay in God’s presence each moment and He will lead you to the Future, one that is filled with Hope.
What about you?
Have you had times of being so weighed down in struggle you couldn’t see a hopeful future?
How could you find your way to greater hope?
What resources are available to help you when you feel overwhelmed?