One time I made a deal with God: if I fight for a cure for cancer, will you be sure that I never get it?
Somehow my hours of planning pancake fundraisers and roasting s’mores with students on campus (just for an excuse to throw childhood cancer stats at them) and even stringing little Superman underwear scribbled with colorful, catchy childhood cancer facts should totally earn me some brownie points. The happier the flapjack poster, the better the odds. I’ll store the points up for later and God will certainly reward me with a healthy life. And the nights where we stayed up all night, dancing for a cure, those had to earn me some serious credit. After all, I gave up a year’s worth of time in planning, fed college students food in exchange for advocacy ears, clanked together a few coins in a jar, designed and wore the T-shirt, and then gave up one whole night’s sleep to prove my dedication to such a worthy cause. Surely dancing equates to a cure for cancer. We had such a good thing going.
We had a deal, right?
I actually don’t know the outcome to this bargain. God may not have cancer on my itinerary, but it will also probably have nothing to do with how many Red Bulls I drank to stay up all night dancing.
I think He might care that I cared. He made my heart break for the small children with no hair. He made my mind spin with possibilities of getting my friends to care about the small children with no hair. He made my hands and my feet move into action in defense of the defenseless small children with no hair, and he made my schedule clear for the hours of sign making and awareness spreading that yes, indeed, these children are small and yes, indeed, they lost a lot more than just hair.
But somehow I don’t think this whole bargain thing is real. We can’t get straight A’s all our lives and expect our paycheck to directly correlate. Believe me—the numbers on my pay stub do not reflect a deal gone well in that department. I brushed my teeth every day growing up—it was my little brother who didn’t—yet I still don’t produce enough saliva and my teeth are rotting. Where’s the even trade on that one? I started cheerleading in 1st grade before everyone else and put in hours and hours at the gym and my parents threw dollars and dollars down the drain and I went to private lesson after private lesson…but I still didn’t make the college team. No scholarship or return on investment for that one.
We all would like to think that we made it through a really hard winter this year, so we will surely get a beautiful spring in return. Well, this day still shows clouds out my window.
So I guess I’ll have to just do what I love for simply the sake of doing it—with no hope for an exchange. If I help all my friends and family with the mind-numbing editing of resumes, my book won’t magically be on the shelves at the bookstore. If I write grants for money for those who are hungry, I’m not guaranteed a life without rolling pennies to buy groceries. If I help fight for a cure for childhood cancer, my small child might one day get cancer before the day we ever see a cure.
But, how about this deal?
If you send me more cold days, could you send me some gloves or even a fire to warm my hands? If you send me some days of poverty, could you send me a laugh to get through it? If you send me more pain and tooth decay, could you send me some doctors who understand and who even care?
And if you do send me cancer, could you send me someone to shave my head and hold my hand? Maybe even someone who would shave her head with me—someone fighting the battle by my side.
My grandmother died when my mom was exactly my age—24. I would bet my mom had a few things up her sleeve that she was willing to sacrifice if God would have just kept her mom alive. If I just try harder and help more, could you just let her stay to meet my children? And I would bet my grandmother watched pennies turn into dollars and dreamed about her retirement one day. If I just save it now, will you let us enjoy it later? None of the bargaining worked out. But God did send a loving family to help her through her illness, to build a lift to get her in and out of the bathtub and point to letters on charts when she could no longer speak. And God did send a wonderful stepmother to love the grandchildren and be Grandpa’s companion in an adventurous retirement. The deals aren’t always quite as we bargained, but there are comforting deals that He can certainly uphold.
I would bet she loved how her family loved her and I would bet she loves how her family is loved today—I think she would have bargained for that.
We live in a world where we pay someone in exchange for cleaning our car. And we buy new brakes expecting that we will be safe on the road. Someone asks me for a favor at work and I usually respond, “What’s in it for me?”. We expect something in return. So please excuse us if we stomp our feet too loudly some days. Sometimes we just have to stomp our feet and march up the stairs and slam the door because life just isn’t full of fair bargaining.