Welcome to the first session of “In the Round”, a time where other voices can be heard singing the harmonious melody of Light and High Beauty. Our first guest writer is a recently-graduated high school senior. I’ve known this guy for a while, but over the past semester I’ve seen him grow in wonderful ways. Recently, he was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. His surgery is this morning and expected to go well. So, opening up the round is John…
I write this account 11 days after receiving the news of a tumor on my brain and the night before the operation to remove this hopefully benign tumor from my frontal lobe. It recaps the hardest, most impactful 6 months of my life.
Finishing up the fall semester of my senior year of high school and beginning my final semester, things seemingly couldn’t have gone better. My relationships were thriving, my different spheres of ministry were fruitful, opportunities were opening, and I was reading and learning more than ever before. I had never felt such external favor with the Lord, but as everything went “so well,” I couldn’t help feeling that I was completely missing something, some deep insecurities that lay dormant.
In late February, everything fell apart at once. I did not receive a summer internship that I had looked forward to for the better part of six months; I wanted this internship just about more than anything. This was the first time I had ever had something like this completely stripped away. I ached with pain like I had never ached before. The Lord then began stripping things away from my “established” Kingdom. The walls were being torn down, and my insides were left “naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). The tearing away and exposure constantly felt like ceaseless waves bashing upon me as I barely found the energy to push above water to grasp for a single breath of air. Over and over for months the waves seemed to never quit as I learned the meaning of complete dependence on Christ. I finally could see my reality of approaching the throne of grace of Hebrews 4 naked and exposed, bringing nothing. However, my increasing clarity to reality in no way softened the waves. The suffering and revealing of sin continued in such large doses, that I would find myself pleading for the Lord to make things easier, always ending with an apprehensive, “But I trust you anyways.” I often didn’t feel like I trusted the Lord, but I had nothing else. He had taken everything but given me one thing: a more solid foundation in Christ than I had ever known.
As the Lord tore away my now awoken insecurities, it continued to hurt. It hurt to have the things in which I had placed so much confidence and security ripped out from underneath me. I would begin to get a foothold, and then some other insecurity would fall out beneath me. But over time, I began to focus less on the waves crashing around me and more on what the waves were pushing me towards: a more precious and savored Christ. The path following Christ had never been so rough, yet grace had never been so sweet.
Fast forward to June 16. I was expecting a rough week of camp working one-on-one with a difficult camper, so that morning I read through 2 Corinthians 4 on light momentary affliction preparing us for an eternal weight of glory. A few hours later, I walked into the ER at St. Vincent’s Hospital with a pounding migraine. Six hours, a CAT scan, and MRI later, the doctor walked through the doorway. I had hints of suspicion throughout the day that it was more than just a migraine, but they were just lingering thoughts until that moment. The look on his face echoed of more serious news than I cared to hear. As he told of the tumor they discovered on my top left frontal brain lobe, my immediate thought was, “Really, God? Another curve ball?” This entire semester of grasping for air, and God was going to throw me yet another curve ball. Had I not grown enough in the previous months? Had I not shown that I realize my utter dependence on Christ? All I wanted was an easy break, but now this! I had forgotten how much sweeter Christ had become through everything else that semester, and all I could see was one more wave coming.
As I digested everything that night and over the next couple days, it finally hit me. Don’t I know that my Father loves me? Don’t I know it? The One who rules all things and controls all things is not only on my side, but also because of Christ, He has given me the Spirit of his Son, allowing me to cry out “Abba! Father!” And yet I would call this tumor a curve ball… No. No. No. This tumor was no curve ball meant to strike me out, but an act of my loving Father to prepare me, His son, for the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17) How marvelous! I had forgotten the very passage that the Lord laid on my heart to read that morning I realized the tumor.
So as I write this about 7 hours from my surgery, I have security. I have it not because my surgeon is awesome (though he is), not because I’m praying everything goes well (though I am), and not because doctors expect it to go smoothly (though thankfully they do) but because my Heavenly Father did not one day just say, “I think I’ll give John a tumor.” No. He specifically and specially designed this tumor and all the circumstances surrounding it with care, so that he may draw me unto Himself. He is preparing me, slowly but surely, for His glory.
– John Morson