In this life there are many things to prepare for, but the most important is for our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. I will take you with me, should you want to come along, on my personal journey to the door which will lead to eternity, through which every soul must pass. Where the angel of death waits to ask the all important question, "Are you prepared for the Kingdom?"

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Location: Anacortes, Washington, United States

Two years ago I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was one of the fortunate ones who survived surgery along with chemo/radiation treatments. Recently, it was discovered that the cancer had returned and although I am again on chemotherapy, in all probability I have perhaps one more year to live. During these last months I would like to share what I have learned about the most important thing we'll ever do in this life and that is, prepare for the kingdom of God.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The One Thing Needed

I would like to start with a question for you. When you woke up this morning, what was the one thing you thought of that you simply had to do today. More importantly, have you done it? Then ask yourself, if I die today, will it matter?

I'm a little slow in starting this post because I had a little unexpected trip to take. Two weeks ago, I went in to have a small device surgically placed near my left collar bone underneath my skin to accomodate my chemotherapy treatments. I will spare you the details involved, but those of you who have or have had one of these know what I'm referring to.

Anytime something is surgically placed in your body, there are always risks. Some are rare. One of the rare risks in my situation was the possibility that while trying to find the correct passage to the artery my lung might be accidentally punctured, causing it eventually to collapse. Well guess what, again I made it into the lucky few who could take part in this experience and live to tell about it.

As I was lying in my hospital bed waiting for the doctor to come in and do what needed to be done to inflate my lung, again I'll spare you the details, I called my best friend Abbot Joseph to tell him of my current fate. Since I was at a loss as to how to break this news to him, after the emotional roller coaster ride I've put him through over the last two years, I simply said, I have two words for you "Redemptive Suffering." To my complete surprise and astonishment, he replied, "Milk it for all that it's worth."

For those of you who understand the meaning of redemptive suffering, I hope you find the humor in this. I certainly did. But in that humor was a joy so indescribable that it lifted me above what could have been unbearable. Such is the joy of redemptive suffering. Such is the love of God.

And for those of you who are wondering, what in the world is redemptive suffering, I will try to explain it in my simple terms, for I am in no way a scholar or theologian.

Redemptive Suffering is simply taking the one thing needed, your suffering, and offering it as a sacred act to God. Uniting it with the Cross of Christ who suffered and laid down His life freely to once again unite us with the Father. When we consciously choose to do this we give a value to our present suffering condition that we cannot imagine.

How do I know this? Well, because since I have chosen to turn my unpleasant condition into a sacred offering to God, I have had the ability to come through this trial in ways that I know I simply could not do as a human being. However, this does not come without preparation. Never did it enter my mind as I was making life changing choices three years ago that they would be so instrumental in how I would endure life today. Never did I think I would be on the brink of death within such a short time. Never did I even contemplate death.

It is a great mistake to think that death is far off in the distance, so far away that when we wake up in the morning it does not even enter our minds. It is a fact of life that we see around us everyday, but somehow the mind manages to block out it's reality and we prefer to believe in the illusion that we will live in this life forever. Until we come out of this deception, we cannot live!

So what does God in his incredible mercy do, He gives us suffering to remind us that we are dust and to dust we shall return. He says look, your time is short, so why don't you start thinking about preparing for the moment when I will demand your life. It's not a hard thing to do. Just start being real about who and what you are so that when you suddenly find yourself in My presence you won't be so surprised and look so terrified. When you see Me, I would like you to be relieved that you no longer have to wonder about what My Will is, you will just know, like the angels know and you will desire nothing else. But if you've wasted your time looking after yourself and your own personal needs and haven't really prepared for death, which is the only sure thing in this life, then you will be trapped by your own wants and needs and will be sad to discover that I don't have those things to offer you. Then I can't help you.

So seek first the Kingdom of God and the wealth of his righteousness, for wherever your treasure lies, there will you find your heart. These are words from the one who knows, who was with the Father and is with the Father. He calls to us, follow me. In these words I hear the call to Redemptive Suffering, the one thing needed, truly the most sacred act we can offer to the God of Love in our preparation for the kingdom.


Blogger Teresa said...

Laura, this is gorgeous, this is something beautiful for God!!

I am so thrilled that you offer me, and everyone else, such a thoughtful and generous way to be in touch during this precious period of time allotted to you, as you confront the eternal questions with such immediacy. You are teaching me how to do this - to approach death with mindfulness - in my own life.

Your opening question brought me up short, because I am procrastinating from doing that important thing today by playing on the computer. :)

So now I'm off to the salt mines -- with a vastly improved attitude, because this life IS so precious, and every moment does count!

Thanks so much, dear friend, and may God bless you richly in this endeavor!


12:38 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Bragg said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Bragg said...

I know I don't say this very much, maybe I've never said it, but I'm proud to have such a strong mother. I know that I am one of the biggest procrastinators. Throughout all that has happened in the last couple of years I have had to look at things from a new perspective. There have been many positive and negative things that I have seen. We don't agree on a lot of things and I realize that's ok. There is a lot of history that cannot be changed. We have right now, and that is what's important. I know that there is little time to be wasted. This is a wonderful idea to post this information. I know it will touch a lot of people. The only request I really have, and you've heard it before, if you want us to come visit all you have to do is ask, we don't need extra trips to the hospital. I know that my section of the family tries to provide entertainment and not to take things too seriously, I think we'd go insane if we took it all seriously. So while I joke about the hospital visits, I know that what happens happens and we have to push through it one way or another. We can dwell on the negative or we can try to put a positive spin. I opt for cracking jokes, or letting LeeRay do it for me. Then there's always a story about your "darling" granddaughters.... but we'll leave those for another time. The one thing that all of us do take seriously is that we do love you.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laura, thank you. I'll stay with your 'blog til it ends.. and will try to pray you any extra strength you may need. You're about to teach us something magnificent.

May we truly listen.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Rob Grossman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Rob Grossman said...


My thoughts and good wishes continue to be with you.

I'm happy that you've found a faith which seems to provide you with courage and acceptance.



4:22 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

You're in my prayers, and you have my gratitude for sharing your experiences and, more importantly, insights, with us.
Michaelk Borussia

5:36 AM  

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