I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2003. I have had a good time of it, and I have worked and felt good most of those years. However, I had finally gotten to a point where the breast cancer had gone into my lungs, and then into my liver in May 2016. There was a lag in my treatment as the doctor was trying to figure out what to do. I was in no pain, but sooo tired! She got me a chemo pill to take and within a few days, I started feeling better, and was able to work the rest of the summer with our cabin rentals, as well as into the winter as a piano teacher, complete with recital for my students and doing worship for Christmas Eve!
What happened while I was in bed was what I wanted to write about. I needed something to read, and when I had met my husband in 1985 he had all of George MacDonald’s novels, and I read them all. I knew he still had a lot of them, so I decided to read them again. I knew as I read there was something different about it, the characters were so good, and his insights to the reader were like having a father sitting beside me giving me such wisdom.
One day I came across MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons, so I thought I would read that. It was amazing. Then, because my future seemed uncertain, I wanted to know what MacDonald thought about hell. I bought a book called The Late Great Hell Debate by Michael Phillips where he takes sermons that MacDonald wrote about hell and comments on them. I came across this quote from MacDonald in that book;
In the second epistle to the Corinthians Paul says, “He hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (verse 5:21) This is read by some as: “He gave him to be treated like a sinner…that we might be made righteous like God…that Jesus was treated by God as if he were a sinner, our sins being imputed to him, in order that we might be treated as if we were righteous, his righteousness being imputed to us.
I was thinking, “Yeah…? So? …What about it?” I was raised Baptist and was fed this doctrine since I can remember. Then he goes on.
In other words, by a sort of legal fiction, Jesus was treated as what he was not, in order that we might be treated as what we are not. This is the best device, according to the prevailing theology, that the God of truth—the God of mercy, whose glory is that he is just to men by forgiving their sins—could devise to save his creatures!
I knew there was something up. My interest was piqued! I read on.
I had thought that this most contemptible of false doctrines would have by now ceased to be presented, though I knew it would be long before it ceased to exercise its baneful influence. But to my astonishment I came upon it recently in quite a modern commentary which I happened to look into in a friend’s house…
It seems to me, seeing how much duplicity exists in the body of Christ, that every honest member of it should protest against any word tending to imply the existence of falsehood in the indwelling spirit of that body.
Therefore, I now offer my protest against this so-called doctrine. I count it the rightful prey of the foolishest wind in the limbo of vanities, whither I would gladly do my best to send it. It is a mean, nauseous invention, false and productive of falsehood.
It is the meager misshapen offspring of the legalism of a poverty-stricken mechanical fancy, unlighted by a gleam of divine imagination.
Anyway, you get the point. I think I had built such a trust with MacDonald that if I didn’t know his writings and his character through those writings, I wouldn’t be able to even receive such strong statements against the foundations of my faith.
So all this is really intellectually interesting, but what happened to me next was experiential, which I have had little snippets of in my Christian walk, but not for any extended amount of time. But what happened to me next is what can only be described as a time of entering into the Bliss. I was in it for four months. I didn’t even know what was happening to me, but while I was in it, time was different. I want to say slower, but it wasn’t that. It was like I was above time. I loved everyone. I saw people that I would hardly give the time of day, and I loved them! I saw my own crap and I knew I was a complete shithead, and it was okay! I ran out to the field in the mornings to watch the sunrise, and felt patient and kind to everyone. I couldn’t stop talking about Jesus to everyone, and I felt completely born-again. Like His life was my life. Like the Father really did love me. And I think that was the missing piece my whole life, I had thought that God was angry and had to send Jesus down to pay for my sins, (and who knew if Jesus even wanted to do it), and then even now the father only loves me because I am hidden in Jesus. I started to listen to Baxter Kruger, to Brad Jersak, Bruce Wauchope, John Crowder to name a few. I gathered so much information during that time, untwisting this thread of Doctrine that was chocking out my channels to the Father that Jesus had worked so hard to open for me!!! I used to hate this one song where you sing over and over:
He loves us, Oh how He loves us, Oh how He loves us…
I used to think, “Of course he loves us, he has to love us. He is like the Friends of the Friendless club. It’s all obligation. But through this experience I have realized he really does love me, and that he loves everyone, not just a few that say the right words, and then the rest burn in hell for eternity.
The bliss left about a month ago, and the thought came to me that perhaps I grieved the Holy Spirit. That could be, because I am sure not above that! But a gentler thought came that perhaps He was holding my hands to walk, like a parent does a child, and now he has let go and I need to toddle towards him, feeling a little unbalanced and unsure as I do.
For Christmas, my husband gave me a picture of George MacDonald at his daughter Mary’s bedside when she was young, and he is holding his son. I cried when I opened the gift, knowing it was a picture but not knowing what of…because it was at my bedside that George MacDonald ministered to me the most profound truth that I know.
I am doing good right now, I have found a phase 2 trial in Anchorage that I could possibly do when this chemo doesn’t work anymore, and it is in immunotherapy. I am 57 years old and my time and life are in His hands.