Writers tend to be creatures of habit and sticklers for staying on track. Schedules are important. Meeting deadlines is critical. As any writer will tell you, the actual writing of the story happens after days (weeks/months) of research, building the setting, developing the characters–and for some of us–writing a detailed synopsis. Add to that the normal activities connected to family and friends and church, holidays, unexpected home or auto repairs, and social events we don’t really have time for but are too much fun to pass up. Some writers also have day jobs that shorten the amount of time that can be spent writing.

But what happens when an unwelcomed and uninvited intruder barges into your life and there is nothing you can do about it? That happened at our house three months ago. This unwanted guest arrived without warning and expected us to simply accept him into the family. The intruder is still here, freeloading on our time and stealing our energy. We tried pushing him out the door, but he keeps getting back in.

Yes, the intruder has a name: Cancer.

While we didn’t have an inkling cancer was about to pay us a visit, Someone else did. Nothing cancer can do goes unnoticed by God. My husband was diagnosed with cancer in March, had surgery in April, and began chemotherapy in May. Were we prepared? That’s a hard question to answer. My first inclination is to say, “No way!” But I am beginning to see God’s fingerprints on mile markers along this journey, and I suspect He was preparing us without our knowledge.

So why wouldn’t God tell us this was going to happen? It’s not like we could run away from it. A cancer diagnosis isn’t like a hurricane warning–you don’t secure the shutters and stock up on batteries and drinking water. But I believe God knows we will lean on Him and trust Him more deeply if we aren’t forewarned. Psalm 34 says, The righteous (believers) cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. (v.17-18)

God not only has heard us, but He’s walked with us, and never left us alone. A staggering number of people have prayed for us, and our church family has come alongside us in ways we didn’t expect. Some stepped up to help with areas of service to which I had already committed, and one sweet young couple is even mowing our grass. In addition, God has given us opportunities to share His love with those we’ve encountered along the way–folks we might not have met had it not been for the cancer.

God has done something else, too. When I was completely overwhelmed trying to find time to get everything done, my husband’s appointments and treatment schedule, plus find time to write. . . He did it. He sent gracious people to give me a hand doing other things so I could care for my husband. And when I feared I might not make my writing deadline for the first time in my life, He gave me increased stamina, and stretched me as a writer, putting characters and scenes and plot lines together that actually made sense even though I was exhausted.

Nobody likes intrusions, especially when they arrive in the form of a life-threatening disease. But I’m clinging to the One who knows the end from the beginning, the One who carries me when I have no more strength to put one foot in front of another, the One who is closer than my own breath.

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