Embers

I never should have said it out loud.

I said to my mentor, “I really believe I have finally figured out what joy really means. It’s not what I always thought it was. It’s not always belly laughing or dancing – sometimes, it’s just knowing. I think I’ve reached a place in my walk with God that no matter what may come, nothing can steal my joy.”

Just a few days later, on Sunday October 16th, he sent me a text early in the morning that said “Melissa, you came to my mind this morning. Here are some verses I believe God wants to seal in your heart. 1 Peter 1:3-9.” As I read these verses that morning, I reflected back in time over the previous two years. Years of breakthroughs and learning how to dream again. I read these verses through a joy-filled lens, and the words held me.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

A little more than 24 hours later, on October 17th, 2011, I got the phone call that would change my life forever. “Melissa, you have cancer.”

My Protector, My Comforter, My Healer knew that I would need those verses, so He made sure they were planted in my heart. I read those verses again, but this time through a grief-filled lens. And again, the words held me.

I had said it out loud, that nothing could steal my joy. It was so much easier to make that proclamation on the “through” side of breakthrough than on the “break” side. Or so I thought at the time.

Today marks one year from that day. I have thought and prayed about what to post today, because I could write a book about what the Lord has revealed to me this year. But He just keeps bringing me back to one central truth to share with you today.

That thing I said out loud? Well, it’s true.

I realize that years ago, when I invited Him into my heart, my soul, and my life, He took me at my word. So what I receive in return is an intimacy with Him so close that it’s hard not to see Him, even in the midst of cancer. A presence so deep that it’s hard not to feel Him, even when my heart is broken or my dreams for myself shatter in front of me. And a voice that is now so familiar that it’s hard not to hear Him, even when He quietly whispers.

I have come to understand that faith is not always like a raging fire in my heart. You know what I mean – those mountaintop moments when our felt connection to His presence is so thick and His goodness is so great that it’s almost too much to bear. But after the raging fire has been smothered by rain or snow, when only a faint glow from one single burning ember remains – well, that’s faith, too.

That one tiny, glowing ember that remains still moves mountains. I know, because it moves me.

Sometimes, it’s not too much. But it’s always just enough to get me home.

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