The five-year-old shown in this picture is today a world record holder at 33. But she doesn’t hold the record for something you might expect, like an Olympic gold medal or a Nobel Prize. Instead, this woman holds the record for being on chemotherapy the longest without dying; not something they like to put in the books.
She has a genetic disease which requires weekly doses of chemo in order to live. She was a cherub of a child who has now been ravaged for 28 years by poison. I love this little girl, now a young woman, and I am hopeful to grow old with her. She is special to me because every time we get together we experience a bubble of the Kingdom of Heaven. She is a rare occurrence of a stable bubble of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. So far, every time I occupy her space I experience the Kingdom of Heaven.
When she was younger we would have her over just to hang out. We had a ritual of washing her hands and feet and then applying a special lotion. Chemo does rather horrendous damage to the extremities. She would sit and we would love on her as a little girl, then as an adolescent, then as a college coed, then a young woman. She is still sitting, still visiting, still experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven as we massage her hands and feet, even today. She is family to us by the blood of Jesus.
Each year she comes to do holiday cookie baking with our family, and we look forward to sharing the Kingdom of Heaven with her. She is a lovely woman, now wife, to a fine young man still taking chemo every Saturday. We consider her husband to be brave because he knew what he was getting into as he romanced her. He lives with the reality that her very existence is tied to chemo every Saturday, and that simply living is a week to week proposition. Yet still, he chose her.
It is a practical activity to pray for her. It is a practical activity to sit with her, wash her hands and feet and apply the special lotion. She loves it and we love her. A few years ago, after her wedding ceremony, I had a rather severe conversation with God while praying for her. I was angry and confused about how someone could be like her: living within a bubble of the Kingdom of Heaven and yet not completely and permanently restored to full health and vitality. It is quite simply arduous to live dependent upon pharmaceuticals every week that ravage your body. How can someone live inside a bubble of the Kingdom of Heaven and not be, well, perfect? She is dependent upon chemo to live, but more exactly, she lives weekly by the grace and design of God. In the midst of my anger, I received a stern direct message in my soul: Yes, she lives with a horrible disease, yes, it makes life hard and different for her and her husband, but she lives her life to the fullest every week, continuously present within the Kingdom of Heaven. It is her destiny to do so. It is the grace of God that surrounds her every day.
At the end of my conversation with God, I found myself wanting a horrible disease requiring weekly chemo, if it would only mean living within the tangible presence of the Kingdom of Heaven every day.
I pray for her differently now, knowing what the Father is doing through her life.
Important to note: she lives a quiet, regular life and we have kept her identity confidential because she does not want attention. One day that might change, but for now, we honor her desire to live quietly, inside bubbles of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Steve digs deeper into the emotional facet of the Kingdom of Heaven with a young screenwriter who experienced a Bubble of the Kingdom of Heaven for the first time.