It was this time last year—somewhere between November and New Year’s—I sat down to dream about 2014.

As a speaker, I try to develop new keynote presentations every year. And I spend the final weeks of one year brainstorming ideas for the next. But I was stumped. Should I talk about Family? Leadership? Complicated relationships? Faux-leather handbags?

Then I read Exodus 13-14. I don’t have space to unpack the whole complicated drama. Besides, you really should read it for yourself. It’s quite a story. Here’s the short of it:

Moses and the Israelites were on their way to the Promised Land. After years of suffering in Egypt, the good life stretched up ahead. No more pain. No more suffering. No more hunger. No more fear.

But then the unexpected happened, right there within reach of relief.

An inpenetrable Red Sea ahead.

An army of blood-thirsty Egyptians behind.

Talk about bad luck and bad timing. They prayed for deliverance. And instead got a disaster.

As I read the story, I thought how you and I are like the Israelites. We know how it feels to be trapped with backs against a wall. We know the agony of seeing the Promised Land from a distance, but discovering it’s out of reach. We know how terror can grab the throat and refuse to let go. And we know we can pray, pray, pray for one thing and get another. Angry, afraid, we shake fists at the sky.

Enough already! ENOUGH!

Suffice it to say, my head snapped up after that afternoon hanging out in Exodus 13-14. I knew exactly what my theme would be for 2014.

Fearless. 

So, in November and December last year, I developed a whole series of Fearless messages.

{And t-shirts. I made t-shirts.}

I thought I was doing it for YOU. So you would know how to live fearless in the face of impossible odds.

I didn’t know it would rescue ME.

*deep breath*

Last week I went to the doctor for my regular eight-week check-up. I hoped it would be a normal appointment. A few weeks ago, a new lump appeared under my tongue. Even so, I’d had a clean PET scan on September 30, and I reassured myself all was well.

Last Friday I found out otherwise.

The cancer is back. For the third time in four years.

On November 25, two days before Thanksgiving, I will have another major surgery. {did I mention Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday?!} This surgery will be far more serious than the last two, approximately 9 hours long, requiring a full week in the hospital. After four or five weeks of recovery, I’ll start intense radiation, possibly chemo. Then, in January or February, I’ll have another major hospitalization and surgery and more radiation.

Although my docs are confident they can kick this once and for all, I’m told the next six months will be an earthly hell. I’ll spare you the specifics, but I believe it. I’ve cleared my calendar, cancelled all projects and engagements. No eating. No speaking. No traveling and connecting and doing what I love. At least not for quite some time.

This is not what I dreamed of for 2014. This is not what I imagined when twelve months ago I read Exodus 13-14 and plotted out a series of presentations. This is not what I anticipated in March when I faced—and conquered—cancer and a tough surgery. And this is certainly not I wanted two months after a heartbreaking goodbye.

It’s all too much, my friends. I’m tired. My family is tired. And although we’ve prayed and wished and pleaded for our Promised Land, I cannot do a thing about this darn Red Sea.

But here’s the sweet news: I’m covered with peace. A deep, consuming, fearless peace. Why? I’ve been here before, in the middle of impossible situations. And every time—EVERY SINGLE TIME—my God has shown up. Fear is a waste in the face of such a Deliverer.

Besides, I’ve discovered a delicious little secret about Red Sea moments:

A miracle waits in the middle of it.  

Red Seas are front-row seats for Divine displays. When it looks like there’s no way out? That’s when glory shows up. When you think you don’t have the strength for one more day? That’s when God’s mighty arm reaches down to ease your load. Don’t know if you can stop crying, for all you’ve lost? He grabs a jar, collects your tears and says, “I see! I hear! And I will not let you go!”

This isn’t a trite cliche. It’s what I know to be true, through heartbreak after heartbreak. I don’t how God is going to get me through my Red Sea to my Promised Land. I don’t have a clue how he’s going to show up and show off.

I just know he will. 

That’s enough for me.

No fear. Only faith.

Join me?

What’s your Red Sea? Join me in looking for the miracles in the middle of it. Grab a journal, a pen, ask God to give you eyes to see, and then … get ready to WRITE. It’s coming. 

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