Message in a Mammogram
Awake! Awake! Put on your strength… Put on your beautiful garments… O captive daughter of Zion! How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet… who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns'” (Isaiah 52:1a; 2b and 7–NKJV).
I recently sat in the waiting room of mammography–waiting for my turn behind the closed door of imaging. There were three of us–each looking lovely in our white cotton gowns. One woman appeared to be in her early 80s; the other in her 60s. I’m nearing 50.
We nervously looked down at our phones or a magazine–avoiding eye-contact at first, feeling somewhat uncomfortable as we sat there, complete strangers dressed as we were. Then one spoke, though I don’t remember who. Her words broke the ice, and conversation suddenly flowed freely.
“Can you pass that snack basket?” one asked. “Maybe it’s nerves, but my stomach’s growling.”
“It’s nice they provide food,” I added, trying to think of something witty to say. “I guess it’s the least they can do. Even those crackers with peanut butter…”
“… are smashed together,” one added, not missing a beat.
We laughed, each of us appreciating the joke.
Funny, but as we sat there awaiting our turn, one of the first things I noticed was what each of us was wearing on our feet. Each was sporting summer sandals, reflecting, I suppose, our individual personalities–my own Chacos a reminder that I preferred to be walking the lake rather than be found sitting in a waiting room.
I found myself wondering, What paths have these women walked in life?
As if reading my thoughts, the eldest said, “I had colon cancer some years ago. It’s both amazing and wonderful how technology has changed, so that early detection of many types of cancer is possible.”
I nodded–thankful, too, for this. A dear relative was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer and is now scheduled for robotic surgery which we hope and pray will be a life-saver. Technology is indeed a marvelous thing.
Despite the hardships this woman had obviously faced, there she was–wearing a warm smile with her gown. I marveled at how nonchalantly she shared–seeming to have no fear regarding cancer, despite her past.
She’s walked some hard roads, I thought. She’s so brave.
Her name was called, and she stood to leave–her sandaled feet taking her to a room where she disappeared behind the door.
The other woman and I sat in silence for a moment. Then she spoke. “One just never knows… I have a lovely friend near Raleigh–someone I used to work with at the bank. She’s battling cancer. It’s everywhere. Sadly, she doesn’t have anyone–no family nearby–to help her. I reach out when I can, and a group from my church is praying for her, but I wish I could do more.”
I felt a surge of relief. She’d shared that one thing that made me instantly feel as though I was sitting with someone who was more than a mere stranger. She was a comrade, a fellow soldier–her weapon, though invisible to the eye, a steely sword like my own.
“Sounds like you’re doing what you can, and prayer and the power of God’s Word is no small thing.”
“Yes. I just wish there was more I could do to help her,” she lamented.
Her empathy was palpable, her friend’s sickness a sadness in her own heart. In those brief moments, I learned she was the wife of a pastor–an active member in her church and community, with many opportunities for ministry.
She walks in compassion, I thought. I’m sure she serves so many.
Then her name, too, was called, and, like the first, she rose, walked, and disappeared behind a door–leaving me with my thoughts, wearing a thin cotton gown and my walking shoes. And isn’t it just like the enemy to wait until one is alone to sneer his accusations–stirring one to worry, causing her to compare.
What will the mammogram reveal? Is this your year for cancer?
You’re not like the woman who’s battled cancer and won. She’s brave, but you’re a coward.
And the other woman–she has influence and opportunities to serve. But what do you do? You’re not even faithful to pray like you should. And compassion? Ha!
I felt myself slinking back–my gown suddenly feeling five sizes too big; my walking shoes wanting to run, to retreat in fear.
But just in time, my name was called, and I was rescued by a woman I barely knew to be held captive by a contraption that would literally look into my chest–reveal what was there. The irony–too striking to ignore.
The cold steel machine did more than press to take pictures. It pierced me with conviction, reminding me how, far too often, I live in fear rather than walk by faith. This inconsistency is in direct opposition to what I profess to believe–hold in my heart–and translates to hypocrisy, marring the image of God in my life.
Oh, this is truly heartbreaking, and if the enemy had his way, I’d stay stuck. But conviction with Christ leads to repentance, and repentance comes with many beautiful reminders from God’s Word.
So I hold out my sword and say…
Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (I John 4:4).
God is love, and perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:16; 18).
To live is Christ, to die is gain (Phil. 1:21).
Even all these days later, I’m able to thank God for the…
Bravery of one woman…
The ministry and compassion of another…
And the message in a mammogram for me.
And beautiful are my feet as I speak words that spill from fingers on a keyboard–praying God uses them to…
Offer glad tidings of good things.
Because OUR. GOD. REIGNS!
Thus, we can walk by faith–not with fear! And beautiful are ALL the feet that bring God’s news to those who need to hear.
Whether walking in Chacos, squeezed into stilettos, or sporting soggy, soppy muck boots; whether clothed in vintage Coco Chanel or clad in a thin cotton gown…
Expect the enemy. Then armed with your sword–the very Word of God–say to yourself… or, better yet, proclaim aloud to others…
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come, with no fear of the future (Proverbs 31:25).