It seems the Mangum family is not getting much relief these days. If I've been neglecting your email, text, or phone call I'm sorry. From my mom's cancer, to my decision to step down from my position with CC, Martie's nerve issues, Tabitha's Madelung Deformity (wrist issues), my own health scare, school planning, relaunching a church, and today Taylor's fall down the stairs, we've been pretty busy.
I don't want pity. I hope by this post you see God's grace and mercy. I pray by our testimony, our joy, our hope, our faith that you too may find peace.
I want to be honest. I have cried, I've been frustrated, I've questioned.... However, it seems with each new trial, my faith grows stronger. I'm sure that's what James is talking about in 1:2-3, "Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness."
Early on I was convinced the Lord was calling me to just sit at His feet. It has been the prayer of my Christian life to be more like Mary (Luke 10:38-42). For the first time in a long time, I can say that I've yearned to meet with Jesus daily, not out of habit or duty, but out of love and dependence. The fire that I had so early on has been re lit. I've been reminded of the urgency of the gospel to those around me. He's shown me how much He loves me. (As if dying for me wasn't enough) Oh, He's so patient.
Martie and I have also been reminded of the realities of spiritual warfare. Ironically he is preaching through Ephesians. The last couple sermons have been specifically on 6:10-20. Verse 12 has been fresh in my mind, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." There is a war going on. We forget so quickly. John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." The promise comes from our Shepherd (vs. 11), He came to give us life!
So often we welcome the blessings and condemn the trials. Job's own wife challenges him to "Curse God and die" (Job 2:9) However, if we believe what we say we believe, then Romans 5:2-6 is good news to us. "Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Last week, I received my first mammogram. With my family history, the doctor thought it would be a good idea. Friday afternoon, the imaging office called and requested I come back for more pictures. These new images would be taken at the Cancer Center at Duke. Easy enough, I'm very familiar with those offices. We had all weekend to think about the possibilities. I knew there was something God wanted me to know, and to share through all this. I prayed, and I requested prayer. I can honestly say, His Spirit gave me strength, confidence, and joy. I have not been afraid. Today, we went to get the imaging. The radiologist explained that I have a mass, and they want to figure out what it is and get a plan. After the second mammogram, they decided to do an ultrasound.
While waiting in the room by myself, I felt a little anxiety rising. I started to sing (out loud), My Life is an Offering. I couldn't remember all the words, so I just started singing, "God you are good, and your mercy endureth forever...." Peace, overwhelming peace.
I wrote in my journal just days before:
"Lord, I do not understand completely what's going on, but I trust You! God you are sovereign. You know the plan. Use me how you will, but You will have to equip me. I am weak. My faith is little. But I'm willing to be used by you. My life is yours. I want to be faithful to you more than I want health."
The doctor then called Martie and I back for the ultrasound. There it was, the mass. My stomach sank. After he finished the measurements, he called in a second doctor. She walked in and said, "So, do we have a cyst?" Yes! It's clear, There's NO cancerous tumor in my breast.
I echo the words of Paul in Philippians 1:18-21, "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
If you are a brother or sister in Christ I challenge you to fall to your knees, worship Him, run hard after Him. If you've never trusted Christ as your Savior, I plead with you to trust Him. Turn from trusting in yourself, your deeds, this world.... He is the only one who can save. It doesn't matter what you've done, He already knows. He loved you so much that He was willing to die for those things. Three days later He rose from the grave and conquered death. By putting our complete faith in Him, we can live. There's no greater joy and peace that comes with that surrender.
Thank you for reading. I will leave you with a link to the song I was singing today in the doctor's office. Below the link are the words.
This life is an altar
Where I want to offer
My soul and my mind and strength
Cleansed by Your mercy to live a life worthy
Of the One Who called my name
Jesus, be glorified
Jesus, be magnified
Let me be a pleasing sacrifice
Jesus, be glorified
Jesus, be magnified
Here on the altar
My life is an offering
How could I not love You?
You authored my rescue
Raised me up, from death to life
Your Spirit is in me, revealing Your glory
Oh what joy as I give my life
I choose to lose my life, Lord
And find it in You