[Post from Paul] More to follow…

A slice of life from the cancer warriors:

We get lots of offers, these days, from people who want to pray with us.  It’s really quite amazing.  Sometimes, even virtual strangers offer to stand in the LORD’s presence with us.  Today, for instance, while Pam and I were waiting for her radiation treatment to begin, we fell into a conversation with a man who was being treated for prostate cancer and with a friend from his church, a retired gentleman who was providing him with transportation.  The man who was being treated told us that his cancer was in complete remission.

“It’s the power of prayer,” he assured us, “Prayer really works.” 

Well, the four of us joined hands in the waiting room and the man whose cancer is in remission spoke, “Oh Lord, I know how good you are and I believe.  I believe in you and your goodness and I just know that you are going to heal our sister, here.”

I took note of the fact that he left no room for doubt.  Pamela was going to be healed, and God was going to heal her.  It was as if he could see the future, and the future was set, and in the future Pam’s cancer was in remission.  The man believed, and his faith made him certain.

My faith must be built out of different stuff than his.  As I grow closer to the LORD I find that my faith grows as well.  I don’t find, however, that faith gives me certainty.  I’m not certain that Pam will be well in the future.  I’m not certain that I will be well in the future.  Neither am I certain that either of us will be sick.  When it comes to the future, I live in a state of suspense.

I have no idea what the future will bring, except to say that it will bring God along.  Of that, I am certain.  I’m staring into an uncertain future and that very uncertainty challenges me to endure ambiguity, to endure confusion, to endure powerlessness.  Uncertainty also tempts me to pretend, somehow, that I will be granted choice in the matter of what the future will be.  If the choice is mine, of course, I am spared ambiguity, spared confusion, spared powerlessness.  If the choice is mine I can be relieved of suspense.

Now, I’m not saying that this is right, but I actually have a fondness for suspense.  Because of suspense, there is more in my world than what ‘is’ and what ‘is not’.  There is also what ‘might be’.  Certainty drains the life out of ‘might be’.  In a world of certainty there is only hardness — the hardness of ‘yes’ pitted against the hardness of ‘no’.  In the world of suspense there is also a softness to cushion the clash of ‘yes’ and ‘no’.  In the world of suspense there is also ‘maybe’.

Maybe Pam will be well in the future.  There’s a joy in that ‘maybe’.  Maybe her future will be sickness and decline.  Maybe.  There is even blessing in that maybe.  The possibility of a dark future adds a touch of urgency to the present moment.  To acknowledge what can’t be controlled is to be focused on what can be.  We all have the option of embracing the life that’s embedded in the precious now, just as we each have the option of letting it slide by.  If I live in a state of panic, of course, I’ll be incapable of embracing the life God offers me.  On the other hand, though, a state of urgency might make me more capable of embracing life.  ‘Suspense’ to ‘Maybe’ to ‘Urgency’ to ‘Life’.  Could it be that the life spawned by suspense is actually better than a life of certainty?

There is a song you may have heard a while back.  I’m actually thinking you do know this particular song because it had a choke hold on the radio playlists back in 2004.  It’s a Tim McGraw song called, “Live Like You Were Dying”.  The song was written around the time Tim’s father Tug was given a terminal prognosis for cancer.  The lyrics purport to describe a conversation between the young man and the older man facing the ‘maybe’ of death.

Here, with absolutely no permission from the publisher, is part of the song’s story:

I asked him, “When it sank in that this might really be the real end,
how’s it hit you when you get that kind of news?  Man, what’d you do?”

He said, “I went skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing,
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”

And he said, “Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying”

I’ve seen the way suspense has worked its magic on my wife.  I’ve noticed elements of vitality that had previously been jammed between the hardness of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ be freed up by the tidal wave of ‘maybe’ that has recently entered our lives.  Suspense has been supplying color to my own precious now.  I really do “love deeper” and “speak sweeter”.  These changes aren’t the result of some self-improvement regime I’ve undertaken; they’re simply a sample of the quiet benefits that come along with uncertainty.

I do pray, and I do hope, but I’m not giving God any instructions.  Faith, the faith I have, leads me to believe that God blessed us when he opened the future up to suspense.  I will say nothing of certainty about the future except to say that I’ll get there — and when I get there God will be with me.




About pamvbradford

I am a fifty seven year old banker specializing in government banking. I have a beautiful twenty-one year old daughter and a wonderful husband. My husband and I recently downsized, and purchased a beautiful condo in Watertown MA. We love our new home. I know I am a very fortunate person. I am surrounded by supportive family members, by supportive coworkers and by the marvelous support of our faith community at Sacred Heart Parish in Lexington MA. As the Psalm says, "There is nothing that I lack." My whole life changed on July 18, 2012 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The news came from out of the blue. My tumor was removed by the marvelous Dr. Mark Johnson and his wonderful team of surgeons at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The surgery truly was a miracle. I couldn't possibly have gotten better care. Now the 'easy' part is over. The tough part is to learn to walk with God in the midst of danger and surprise. My mood shifts from gratitude to fear and back again but I know God has a purpose for me. There's a reason I didn't die on the operating table. There's something that God wants me to do. This blog is my effort to share with others, with all of you, what it is that I am learning as I put one foot ahead of the other, live each day as it comes, and discover what it is that God has to teach me. Your prayers keep me going. Your love comforts me. Your knowledge and faith guide and teach me. God bless you all!
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7 Responses to [Post from Paul] More to follow…

  1. SR says:

    The one thing we can be sure of is God’s love for us past, present, and future. At times that is our only comfort, but comfort it is. May He bless the two of you with the strength and comfort you need. God Bless, SR

  2. Yes! Thanks for writing, it is a comfort. Thinking of you all constantly. Joanne

  3. Jaye's Brain says:

    Paul’s comment “I do pray, and I do hope, but I’m not giving God any instructions.” quite clearly expresses what I found to be an issue in corporate prayer settings….it was my impression that people were out loud telling God what to do. I’m trying not to throw the baby out with the kitchen sink. I found much comfort in this post…Love you guys, Jaye

  4. ronald lancaster says:

    Paul, This is nice.  I hope I am hearing that Pam has renewed energy and is living one day at a time, and enjoying it.  It is how I live, in uncertainty, but I am grateful each morning I wake up, and continue to be grateful for the  joy I feel and  energy that  I have.  God be with you all in this crazy journey.  Love you all. Julie


  5. Maria O'Brien Hylton says:

    Sending lots of love and good thoughts your way…

  6. Karyn Brownell says:

    Paul – great post about the blessing, the present if you will forgive my play on words, of the present. It’s truly all ANY of us ever has and to live in that moment is to experience Life’s greatest gift. My heart is filled with joy for both of you and your awakening to the Present. It’s a formidable task to live there full time because it’s not what we were taught by our teachers, religion, society, etc., but I believe it to be Truth and in that Truth there is profound Peace. Sending you both comfort and compassion. With love, Karyn

  7. Lisa Cimino says:


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