by Tom Beutel
“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Hebrews 12:13 (NIV)
Perhaps it is my practical German heritage or my engineering background, or perhaps it is the words of Jesus Himself when He says, “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30) that cause me to see that, sometimes at least, there are only two ways, black and white, with no shades of gray. Either one believes that God cares for and sustains His creation and His people or one does not. In this there is no “third way.”
Christians believe that God is personal – “Our Father who art in heaven” – and that through the Holy Spirit He guides (John 16:13), comforts/helps (John 14:26), and empowers (Acts 1:8). Peter, the companion of Jesus, and apostle of the early church reminds us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7).
An important aspect of peace is our peace with God. In fact it is our peace with God that forms the foundation of all peace – with ourselves, others, and creation. If there is not peace with God, there is no real peace.
Peace with God means that we are in relationship with Him. We seek His will through Scripture, prayer, and the counsel of others. We see His hand in the beauty of the creation and in His provision for our needs. We recognize that in fact He does care for us. While the scripture in Hebrews says that we should create level paths, there are times when God, in His love and care, creates level paths for us.
This is just such a time for my wife Wendy and me. On June 14 Wendy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. That day it felt like someone had hit us with a 2×4! Our initial reaction was disbelief and wrenching grief. Where did this come from? How did it happen? Why?
Now, barely two weeks later, we are still somewhat in shock, but God has shown us that He does care and that He is making level paths for us. Wendy is probably the most Godly woman I know. As she has wrestled with this reality God has put in her mind the phrase “level paths.” He seems to be saying, “I know this is not a good thing. I have been at work for longer than you realize making level paths for you.”
Two years ago we changed churches, for a number of reasons, one of which was to worship in a local church. While we had dear friends in our former church, it was difficult to really be a part of that body being almost an hour’s drive from home. Now, in our local church we are truly a part of the community, one which is surrounding us with love and prayer. God was making level paths.
Last year with unexpected changes in the health care marketplace, we became aware of and subsequently enrolled in a Christian healthshare plan as a supplement to the insurance we were able to obtain. Between these two, we should not have to worry about the financial aspects of the cancer treatment. God was making level paths.
Wendy’s cancer was discovered because she had a lump in a lymph node in her neck. After two CT scans and a biopsy, the preliminary diagnosis was ovarian cancer, stage 4 because it had spread to the lymph node in her neck. The good news was that there was no evidence of the cancer in any vital organs. If the cancer had not spread to a visible spot, we most likely still would not be aware of it and would not be already embarking on treatment. God was making level paths.
As we began the consultations about treatment, we were able to meet with a local oncologist and the next day with a specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. The end result is that chemotherapy can be done locally while the specialist oversees the overall treatment plan. The local hospital’s cancer center and the Cleveland Clinic will collaborate providing the needed treatments without long drives to Cleveland. God is making level paths.
The reality of the disease, the treatment and ultimate outcome has been and still is a big unknown and is still pretty scary. We have no experience in this. We don’t really know what needs to be done or how to do it. But, friends and medical professionals have stepped in with advice, guidance, and help. Family, especially our younger son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids have come along side of us providing comfort, love, and help. God is making level paths, because He cares for us.
Wendy’s prayer is that whatever the ultimate outcome, God will be glorified. He has been with us through many things in our life together. He is with us now. We hope that sharing a bit of our current “unexpected journey” will be encouraging to you and will, in fact, give glory to God, the One cares for us, making level paths.