Still Learning To Trust Him//Cynthia Thomeer

A year ago this week, I had an incredible experience that filled me with terror and perfect peace at the same time. God’s presence throughout and His perfect love cast out the fear that seemed to be unavoidable. When I look back at it now, I’m filled with awe and gratitude for how He communed with me through His Word and His people. I had just finished a year of treatments for breast cancer that included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Then, I was told that the breast cancer had spread to my brain. As I prepared to begin treatments for this new diagnosis, I had the privilege to share during the women’s time at the Tidewater RVA Fall Retreat. It was such a gift! Besides the tremendous blessing of spending a little bit of time with these wonderful women, the week I was able to spend meditating, reminiscing and communing with God was the most blessed week of my life. Amidst the chaos in my mind and emotions, He came in and calmed me in the deepest way. I knew that I should be terrified; I could see the fear on the faces of my loved ones and hear it in their voices. We looked at the statistics for my diagnosis and it was not good. That I am here right now and doing so well is not what we expected. As I thought about what to share with you here, I was drawn back to something that God has been teaching me for many years: to trust Him. It sounds so simple and, really, it is. But I have found that when everything is going well, I don’t tend to trust Him. I find ways to take care of everything, either by myself or, more frequently, with the help of others; and, honestly, most of the time, it works out pretty well. After all, if it didn’t work out so well, we wouldn’t keep trying to do it all on our own. God used my experience last year to show me that I am not able to take care of any of it, no matter how big or small. This thing was just too big and too out of my control. The “big” thing was the radiosurgery I had on my brain, but the sweetest thing was the week He gave me with Him. God reminded me of  His faithful and steadfast love and that He would never leave nor forsake me. He has used a passage in Jeremiah to remind me that He is the only one who is worthy of our trust. I want to share that passage with you and a little bit of what it meant to me specifically during this time a year ago.

Here is an excerpt from my Caring Bridge post right after my first cyber knife treatment (if you’re not familiar with radiosurgery, google it — it’s pretty cool!):

My first radiosurgery treatment is behind me now and I am so glad! It turned out to be fairly easy, so I trust that my treatments on Monday & Tuesday will be, as well. I laid on a skinny, but comfy table for about 1 1/2 hours with a plastic mesh mask over my face that was attached to the table. As soon as it was buckled down, I felt pressure on my head and that remained throughout the time; just a little reminder that, “No, Cynthia, you can’t sit up or even move your head, so don’t even think about it.” With my claustrophobia this should’ve been terrifying, but God kept me calm and it was actually a fairly pleasant experience. . . On Tuesday of this week, I was feeling scared all day; just thinking about the procedure and all that could go wrong (I don’t even know all that could go wrong, but my mind is pretty good at making stuff up). I was focusing on the humans who would be doing the treatment . . .

cynthia

 The next day, God began to remind me that He was going to be the one in charge of all of it, not the humans, they are His instruments, not the other way around. What a difference that made! Suddenly, I began to feel a little excited about getting it done (I also tend to swing wildly from one extreme to the other, at times), so by the time I went in today, I was feeling pretty fine about it all . . . A passage that the Lord has used for me in the past came to me today and I want to share it with you. Maybe it will be something that God will use for you in your current circumstances or to prepare you for what’s to come. Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah and was told by God that he needed to give them a warning they wouldn’t heed, they would reject him (Jeremiah and God), but that God would deliver him; not an entirely pleasant thing for Jeremiah to hear, nor task to be given, but Jeremiah obeyed. In this passage, God reminds him and us in whom we can place our trust:

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

At first glance, it can hit you wrong; we all have people in our lives who we trust and we don’t like to think that there’s even a possibility that they could let us down. But this truth is that we all have that in us, the inability to be trustworthy at times, because we’re human and the sin nature is still in us telling us that we are self-reliant and don’t need God. So, the strong word of “curse” here is definitely appropriate in the sense that no person is worthy of our full trust; only God is and, truly, blessed is the one who puts his trust in the only One who is worthy and able to carry out the promises He has made. This is the truth that I carried with me today into that room with the skinny table and apparatus that shot radiation beams into my head that were so strong that the humans administering them had to stand on the other side of a very thick door. And on that, I could not let myself dwell; my focus was, and is, on my Father who loves me unconditionally and so much that nothing can separate me from that love, even me. I hope that you are able to hear and apply this truth to whatever is going on in your life right now, whether it be something difficult or joyful. Often, the joyful things do a bigger job of drawing us into our own self reliance, so I pray that we will all be aware of where and in Whom we are placing our trust. Only He is worthy!

I’m thrilled to report that God used these treatments to knock out the three tumors! I have had three clear brain scans in the past year. I’ll have a brain scan every three months, most likely, from now on. I am so thankful that God is still reminding me that I can trust Him, no matter what comes.

 

cynthia2

 

I am a big supporter of CRU, especially Tidewater RVA CRU! I love seeing God’s love displayed through college students as they are faced with huge challenges and I want to offer encouragement. My husband, Paul, and I live in Yorktown; we have 4 grown children, a son-in-law and 2 grandchildren. I love listening to podcasts while I’m doing all kinds of tasks at home, everything from sermons to true crime stories. I have found that there are not enough hours in the day for me to hear all of the ones I am interested in and that is very sad.

 

Heart over Sacrifice//Emma//VCU

This summer has been one of refinement and learning God’s true heart and character. I am a do-er and since becoming a Christian a little over a year ago I get caught up in works. Constantly feeling like I must repay God for what he has done for me and proving that I am worthy of his love and attention by what I do. After “giving my summer to the Lord” I expected to be in a state of spiritual bliss all summer – sitting in Jesus’s lap and enjoying his presence because “look at me God, I chose to serve you this summer.”

I did not realize this was my mindset until about half way through my summer mission with Cru[in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire] when I was plagued by spiritual dryness and just feeling burnt out. I was envious of the girls I was with as they shared how their intimacy with the Lord was growing and growing. “Lord, why? My quiet times have been extra long, I spent extra time on the beach for outreach, I prepared extra for Bible study, I don’t give in to (insert sin struggle here), etc” I thought.  Then I remembered  Luke 10:41 “Martha, Martha…” I immediately blocked that out because I didn’t want to hear it, and Martha might as well be my middle name.

As the summer progressed God continually brought me to a place where I had no choice but walk by the Spirit. After continually trying to earn his love and constantly failing he taught me to press into his grace. He taught me that he wants my heart over my sacrifices. He wants surrender not perfection. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says, “and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing”. I can give all away and do all that I can but God cares about my heart. Not only that but he blesses me according to his grace not according to my performance. He loves me because that’s who he is and he loves me despite my prideful attitude this summer. Falling in love with Jesus feels like actual falling sometimes but this summer has taught me to love freely and rest in his grace.

 


emma

 

Hey all! My name is Emma and I am currently a second-semester “super” junior. Meaning I am old and should be a senior by now but life happened so here we are. I am an Exercise Science Major at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. I am a lover of Jesus, fitness and anything that has to do with peanut butter. I am currently training for my next powerlifting competition and I absolutely love how the Lord has used it so powerfully to teach me perseverance through set backs. I also spend most of my time discovering the endless quirks of Richmond with my best friend Roxy, who just happens to be a Doberman.

Something Bigger // JESUS Film // Meg

Last month I was in Orlando & I had the chance to visit & tour Cru’s international headquarters.  Did you know that Cru is part of a larger missions organization praying, reaching every society in corner of the world? Outside of our local Cru movements & Bible studies & discipleship, we have thousands of Cru movements on campuses all over the US.  Then there are thousands of Cru movements at campuses around the world! And that’s just part of our campus ministry.  Add on to that the number of people involved with other Cru ministries reaching military, high schoolers, families, businesspeople, planting churches, even Olympic athletes… the list goes on and on.

I was reminded that we are part of something so much bigger.

The same week that I was touring our headquarters, I hopped onto Facebook & read two encouraging posts made by two girls who are in our Cru movement at VCU.  Both of them are traveling internationally this summer in different countries in Africa sharing the gospel, loving people, praying… it’s been beautiful to watch from afar [and their pictures are incredible… God is the best artist!].

As it so happens, both girls got to experience one branch of Cru called the JESUS film. It’s the story of Jesus through Luke – a film that has been shown for 35+ years, translated into 1200 languages, and one that has been used to share the gospel with hundreds of millions of people & on record, they know of at least 200 million people who have given their lives to Jesus as a result of this film.  Every word that Jesus speaks in the film is a direct quote from Scripture. It’s incredible.

JESUS Film

Photo from Sarah’s blog [linked below]

BOTH girls – on summer mission trips with two different organizations – had the opportunity to show the film to people who had [maybe] never heard the gospel before.  Both girls got to experience the story of Jesus in  the heart language of those who watched the film.  Both girls saw people come to Christ as a result.  Two different countries. Same gospel. Lives changed.

I wanted to share with you Kayla wrote in a blogpost reflecting on showing this film because it impacted me so greatly.  She writes:

During our last night there we had a showing of The Jesus Film. Quick side note about this connection- I’m a part of Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) at VCU and that film is a project of the ministry as a whole, all around the world. I had no idea [this organization] showed the film until we arrived in the community so I was pleasantly surprised to hear I would be able to experience it, even though I’m not directly a part of a Cru Summer Mission right now. The film is the story of Jesus, the greatest story ever told (imagine Passion of the Christ, but the PG version). The coolest thing about this film is its adaptation to the different cultures around the world. It has been translated into countless languages so the people of Maubone could experience the most incredible story ever told in their native language, Tswana.

Even though I had never seen the film, I knew the story. I’ve known the story for practically my whole life so I went into the viewing with the mindset of simply focusing on praying for the members of this community while they watched. It wasn’t until one of the first miracles was shown and the members began cheering and clapping that I realized- we should never become numb to this story. Making the blind see, raising the dead to life, being whipped for sins He never committed, nailed to a cross, and coming back from the dead to welcome us with open arms. Us, the very ones who nailed Him to the tree by our actions. As the film went on they didn’t stop reacting because to many of them, this was all new. And even to the ones who knew the story, they didn’t sit in silence. They felt the pain of their Savior. They felt the joy when He rose from the dead.

Beautiful. Yes.

This is the story that we’re part of. This is something bigger.

To see the behind the scenes area where the film is translated, prayed over, updated… and then to know that that same week, Sarah & Kayla both had the chance to put what I saw into practice & reach dozens of people with the message of the gospel… I’m reminded of the grace & sovereignty of God.

How cool is it that he allows us to join in on something so much greater with him. Sharing the gospel, here in the United States, overseas in a village that no one has ever heard of, it doesn’t matter.  We’re part of something bigger.

As you close out your summer & look ahead to this year, what might you trust God for? What’s your something bigger that you can be a part of? Maybe you’re looking ahead to next summer, thinking that this summer wasn’t exactly what you’re looking for. Consider [already] going on a summer mission trip, giving a few weeks to share the gospel [& have fun] – internationally. Maybe you’re looking ahead to after graduation. You can be a part of sharing the gospel for a few months, for a year. Cru has internships & you could introduce students to Jesus in the US, or you can go internationally… you can even give a year to travel the world with JESUS film & be a part of seeing the unreached come to know their Savior.

I’m praying for you as the summer winds down & life starts to gear up again. We get so lost & so narrow-focused on the here & now that we too often forget that God has called us to more.  What’s the more he has for you? Ask him & listen.