The joy is in the journey, not the destination!”
“Don’t focus on arrival. Enjoy the journey!”
“It’s better to travel than to arrive!”
The article titles on some of the magazine covers in my dentist’s waiting room caught my attention. I understand what they mean. Life is important. It’s a gift. To appreciate and enjoy life is to live fully.
We usually don’t need help looking toward the future. Most of our lives are lived in anticipation. When we’re young, we look forward to the start of school, growing up, and our driver’s license. When we’re a little older, we look forward to our first car, college, our wedding, our first home. Later, it’s our babies, a better job, our children’s interests and accomplishments.
Then come retirement and travel. We look forward to small things as well: church activities, weekend trips, family reunions, holidays, special occasions, spending time with friends, seeing a movie, or reading a good book. Some of us like to golf, hunt, fish, shop, go out to dinner, or go antiquing.
But our dreams rarely reach all the way to the end of life. We are more comfortable when we leave that untouched. Although we may consider our own demise or even dream about heaven, for the most part, we rarely focus on the end of our life.
Many of us say we think we’ll go to heaven, but otherwise, most of us don’t talk about heaven much. I suppose we avoid the subject because heaven reminds us of death. And who wants to talk about that?
But when death draws near, everything changes. No longer can we casually say, “Sure, I think I’ll go to heaven someday,” as if we’re talking about the weather. Heaven is unfamiliar and that is okay with us. We want to live here on earth. To be confronted with death is an affront to human nature; death is our enemy.
During the cancer journey, our anticipation of the life ahead of us may shift from good plans to troubling dreams. Our future, both near and distant, holds many unanswered questions. In regard to afterlife, we have trouble believing what we cannot see. Apprehension ensues.
When I learned I could lose my life to cancer, I believed my trust and confidence were strong. They were. But eventually, at various points during my journey, I experienced a deeper sense of vulnerability and helplessness than I had ever known. I needed strength through it all, but my need became more pronounced at these times. It happened on rare occasions, but a few times, I experienced a chaotic anxiety that bordered on despair when thoughts of the real or imagined loss and trials piled up and overwhelmed me.
In these situations, we need to look away from the threat of devastation and look toward our final destination. The depth of my peace in this life is directly related to the peace I have about my future in heaven. It would be shamefully improvident of me, as a believer, if I didn’t share with my fellow traveler, you, my reader, the reality of heaven.
In case you have not heard or in case you wish to be reminded, I want to emphasize that our Savior has provided a destination at the end of life on earth for each of us. Heaven. If you are afraid, if you are not sure, if you have never anticipated your destination, or if you already love the thought, this is an opportunity to look toward the place called heaven.
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How does thinking of heaven help you deal with cancer?
by Venita McCart
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Venita McCart, founder of Faith Force Cancer Support Ministries – faithforcecancer.com, has connected with hundreds of patients since 2005 through group meetings, personal contacts, writing, and speaking. She develops support groups and materials to comfort and encourage cancer patients and their families. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.