There are some people who talk about faith as though they know it. The word falls off their lips like so many dead leaves from autumn trees, catching the wind to look briefly victorious before falling limp and dry and crushed for us all to see the sinking sand of “maybe” upon which their hopes rested.
Eyebrows raised, we question the existential nature of faith and grace, wondering if we would ever see moments like the ones in Acts in the midst of the theoretical theology handed to us in Sunday school. We silently judge, secretly condemn, and dig a little deeper into skepticism of our religious upbringings as we watch faith sputter out all around us in favor of the harsh realities that make up life.
And then there is Arron.
When I think of Arron, the words “pursuit of excellence” come to mind. I met her at Ole Miss around 1998, and she was then as she is now: a big ball of energetic accomplishment, her core as driven as it was optimistic. Forever “smizing“, Arron was nonetheless never the person to cross. After she finished consulting Jesus, she would in fact come for you–still smiling, never wrinkling her outfit or her face. Some marriages, careers, and kids later, we found each other on Facebook. And I can tell you that her zest for life has not let up at all. She still smiles, albeit now as a CPA AND REALTOR (I know, right?), a wife and mother, and an entrepreneur who leads by example as she both uses and markets Visalus–from which she earned a free frigging BMW. BECAUSE SHE WAS SO GOLD AT SELLING THEM JOINTS.
You tired yet? Good, because there is more.
Already a remarkable human being who has accomplished much more than the average person (certainly more than my late blooming self), I have also watched her fight volley after volley of attack in her body. Arron has CML (chronic myelogenous leukemia), a type of cancer in which the body produces loads of (sometimes malformed) white blood cells, leaving no room for red blood cell production–which, for the biology deficient means that her body is not getting enough oxygen, the main job of red blood cells. The primary treatment option–chemotherapy–doesn’t (in her words) “differentiate between the good or the bad….it attacks them all”. Chemo kills white and red blood cells, decreasing her immune system even as it saves her life.
She literally has an issue of blood.
Arron obviously is not the only positive person who has cancer. Many, many people are walking down parallel roads of late night ER visits and insane amounts of doctor’s appointments and debilitating treatments. But the thing that impacts me in this particular case is Arron’s faith. Not hope. FAITH.
I want to preface my next thoughts by saying that I am a student of faith. I have always wanted to know exactly what it is, how it works, how you know when it is working, how to access it, how to use it… to say I am intellectually obsessed with it would be kind. I stalk faith like Zaccheus climbing trees, looking for a glimpse of it. I studied at Living Word (Bill Winston). I read books by Jesse Duplantis. I listen to podcasts of sermons by Creflo Dollar. If I can quote chapter and verse of any scripture, these are the ones I know in my sleep. I have craved to understand it. And so while I have been circling it all this time, God gave me the opportunity to witness it in action as Arron actually fights the good fight of faith.
The essence of which is this:
Faith believes in what should be–what is–even as every fact tells us otherwise. It goes against normal and rational. It places you in a space where what you believe starkly contrasts with what you have in hand.
In order for it to work for you, you have to be ready to hold on tightly (Hebrews 10:23)–without wavering–to the idea that Jesus has finished the work for complete and total salvation (Greek: sozo), and all you have to do is rest in the knowledge that you have everything that salvation has made available–you just have to not waver.
Which brings me back to Arron.
All along my stalking of the cross, I had never seen this in action up close and personal. Nobody in my imediate circle (and I mean nobody) had ever walked out life in the God kind of faith: the “it is so” kind of faith. The “speak it” kind of faith. The “it’s already done” kind of faith. The “praise Him in advance” kind of faith. It wasn’t until I began to watch Arron’s very real battle with CML, that I knew what faith looked like. I have never seen someone that I knew live life as though the world had already aligned itself with one’s own mindset.
Can I tell you?
Here Arron is, going through a journey fraught with the opportunity for fear and doubt and misery, not hoping she will be healed but knowing in her own mind that she is already healed. Even as her body wrestles her like the man who visited Jacob in the night, she knows without reservation that she is healed already. She is simply waiting for everybody else to get with the program.
To Arron: There will be many who look at your current situation as proof that God is not real, that faith does not work. But we both know the truth. His name is Jesus Christ, with whom you are seated in heavenly places, a partaker in His righteousness, His grace, His faith. I, along with your family and friends, openly and gladly stand with you in advance praise for the manifestation of the healing that has already taken place in your mind. I want to be the first to say: It is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in my eyes.
Your faith has made you whole.