A few months ago, I noticed my skin was starting to sport moles.
No, not THAT kind.
There you go.
I read that moles tend to happen in one’s thirties and thought little of it. Perhaps that “I’m Invincible” feeling was still lingering from my teens.
But as the year wore on, one particular mole kept staring up at me from my front right torso, as if to say “I’m important.”
Further research revealed that melanoma is not something to trifle with. It would seem that skin cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if caught early and one of the least treatable if not. I spoke to a couple fortuitously placed church friends and learned that investigating the mole via a “shave biopsy” carried a benefit-to-cost ratio too high to ignore.
Man. There’s a word I never wanted to be using in my thirties. Or, y’know, ever.
I picked a physician (first doctor’s appointment in years, for which I thank God) who looked at that self-important mole on my front right torso, then the three of various heights and colors chilling on my back, and immediately went “let’s look at that one” while eyeballing the front one.
Complicating things was that I was less than a month out from the funding deadline of my Czech Republic mission. The biopsy results became a fork in the road: either they would be normal and I’d pay up and head to Europe, or they wouldn’t be. Whereupon I’d need to give serious consideration to pulling out of the trip, returning the donations, and launching without delay into whatever treatment was needed.
Now you know why I didn’t announce my trip as soon or as excitedly as I wanted. I was waiting to see.
It’s one of God’s favorite gardening spots, but when you’re the tomato plant…
I went home and over-analyzed, because that’s how I roll.
Call me melodramatic, or perhaps an old soul, but over the years, I’ve slowly gained an appreciation of Paul’s words in Philippians 1:23: “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”
This is no indication of a desire to end my life, but I definitely understand Paul’s weariness (though I haven’t lived his life). I’ve gotten irritated with the things of this world, how they promise life and then either disappoint or, worse, dart away and beckon to me again, letting me chase the illusion. Money, status, other comforts…all like pieces of meat suspended in front of a dog by a fishhook tied to his back. So much of life on this side of the veil is quiet disappointment. I want so badly to see Jesus. I want so badly to shed this evil tent and become the person I’ll be in heaven, never again to prick anyone else with my sharp edges.
I took comfort in learning that many people have had suspicious moles removed with no ill consequences, but still – I don’t presume to know what God’s going to do. I’m not arrogant or deluded (or un-scarred) enough to think anything like “Oh, you’re an American Christian, everything will be fine”. Indeed, sometimes I over-apply my theology of suffering, expecting bad news at every turn because the Christian life is supposed to be hard and why do I deserve better than Ed down the street?
So, in a weird way, I found a small, detached part of myself toying around with the idea of…whatever outcome. What if the end of my earthly road was not forty years along, as we millennials so easily assume, but only one?
No doubt about it – there was at least some appeal in just casting off all my worries and going home.
These things are too wonderful for me to know.
But there were also more things I want to accomplish before God. It felt too soon. Of course, it’s way too soon for a lot of others, too….
And, of course, all of this wound its way up to a critical mass of overthinking until I finally just had to do what I always do: trust God.
I went and got a shave. My doctor deadened the area, produced a sharp exacto-ish knife and started carving up the self-important little spot like a Thanksgiving roast. Blood everywhere, it was awesome. When I looked later, there were three brown dots in the wound – the termini of the now-cauterized blood vessels. Cool.
In early June, the results came back.
Two words that some people long with indescribable anguish to hear. I pray they do.
Apparently the spot is a “congenital nevus”, whatever in tarnation that is. Dermatological false alarm. I paid up, hopped on a plane, and hopefully God will turn my two weeks in the Czech Republic into a harvest.
It would seem there’s more to do.
May I do it well. For we never know how much road we have left.
If you enjoyed this article or know someone it would bless, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks so much!