Confronting the Big C: “You Shall Not Pass!”

Sunset over Laguna Madre Bay, South Texas

[Header graphic courtesy of my pal, Sam, who gets to view the sunsets over Laguna Madre Bay every day, and sometimes shares them with me.]

Hey, folks! By the time you read this, I’m either on my way to surgery, in the process of being dissected, or recovering from it, but I’m writing it the day before because 9/13/22 is a tad hectic. Thanks for understanding.

I received this morning the following text from a treasured friend and fellow Sunday School member named Sharla. Sharla is a Bible scholar and one of the most loving, tender-hearted humans you’ll ever have the privilege to know, and I’m humbled by her encouragement. (She’s also humble enough to point out that the inspiration for her message is lifted from one of Max Lucado‘s studies, which lessens not at all its impact and my appreciation.)

“…this far you may come but no farther” Job 38:11

This verse is my claim for Eric (although, in context, it refers to the boundaries that God places on the seas).

That God would say to this invader “this far you may come but no farther”.

Because that is how simple it is for Him to set boundaries on our life, both for deliverance and protection.

Placing you and Debbie in the arms of the One Who goes before you, beside you, and behind you. May God anoint the surgeons, the surgery, and the patient; may there be no complications, may He grant a full and vibrant recovery.

Because…this far it may come, but no farther.

Amen (let it be so)

Boy, is that a great interpretation and application of that verse, or what? I’ve read the book of Job at least thirty times, and I never thought about extending this picture of God’s sovereign power over things like illness.

Perhaps not everyone reading this is so familiar with the Bible, or this particular passage, so I thought I might try to put it in a different cultural context…so let’s go to the movies!

The Fellowship of the Ring is the first installment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Twenty years ago, a movie version of Fellowship was released, and it contained a multitude of iconic scenes, one of which came to mind as I mulled over Sharla’s text.

If you’ve seen the movie (and I seriously doubt that you haven’t), the wizard Gandalf confronts a demonic fire monster (my words) called the Balrog which is trying to thwart the plans of the good guys (only a few of which are actually human guys, but that’s off-topic). Gandalf stops in the middle of bridge spanning a fiery chasm and faces down the Balrog, while the little band of heroes watches in horror from the relative safety of the other side. Since a YouTube video is worth a billion words in a blog post, here’s how it unfolds:

Now, we know that Tolkien was a devout Christian, and a contemporary of the writer and uber-influential theologian C.S. Lewis, but I’ve not seen anything to suggest that he had the verse from Job in mind when he wrote Fellowship, so I’m making a huge leap in trying to connect the Bible verse and the movie script. (The allusion falls even further apart when the Balrog succeeds in dragging Gandalf along as it falls although it is ultimately defeated. OTOH…it doesn’t cross the bridge, so there’s that. And Gandalf…well, no spoilers for the one person who hasn’t seen the movie.)

Despite my poor attempts, I hope the message comes across that if God — Who created all that was, and is, and ever shall be, and is the omnipotent sovereign over it all — is able to set boundaries on the ocean’s waves, then He can certainly do the same with cancerous tumors, and anything else that threatens our existence.

I’m not nearly wise enough to know why He sometimes chooses to do that, and other times not, and really, that’s sort of irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. It’s knowing that He has the power to do it gives me the comfort that if He doesn’t, it’s because His plan is veiled to my sight, but is infinitely better than whatever I could come up with.

I pray that you have that hope in your life today. Grace and peace to you all.

Oh, by the way, even though I’ve singled out Sharla’s message for this post, every one of the encouraging contacts I’ve received from family and friends over the past few days mean the world to me. You guys are the best!

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  1. Hello Eric. I’m not sure how I missed that you were dealing with the Big “C” as you called it, but I am stopping now to agree in prayer with your friend Sharla, that it can go no further. I know God has numbered each of our days and I trust Him every day I wake that He always knows the best for me whatever that may be. May He bless and keep you to enjoy many more days on this earth. We will look forward to hearing a follow up on your surgery. God bless you and Debbie. <+ Don and Cathy Carruth

    1. Hi, Cathy. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such an encouraging message…and especially for your prayers. I’m doing pretty well this morning (not such a great night) and hope to be back home later today. I hope you and Don are doing well!

  2. I’m continuing to pray for you & Debbie. Alan had colon cancer 3 years ago and they were able to remove the tumor and he is cancer free. We realize how stressful all these procedures are. God bless you both & give you comfort & discernment for the decisions you will make in the future. Keep us updated for specific prayer needs.

  3. God’s blessings on you and Debbie as you walk this path. You are not alone on this journey. God is walking beside you every step of the way. We are praying you have an amazing recovery by the grace of God.

    1. Linda, thanks so much. You’re exactly right — we’ve been humbled by the outpouring of support of so many friends and family members. It’s such a blessing, and you’re a big part of that! ❤️

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