I am in Hawaii with my dear Prince Philip taking a needed break, getting some rest and having great fun. While here I am also doing some rewrites on my book “Gold in the Road”. Some of you have asked about how that name actually came about. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from the book which shares that story!
THERE’S GOLD IN THE ROAD!
Philip and I continued to be amazed that so many were following my journey through the cancer storm via my CaringBridge page. As the visits grew into the thousands and then more than 10,000, we realized that God was doing something which was bigger than us. This journey of mine wasn’t just about me; it was about many like me who had experienced cancer or had a loved one who experienced cancer or who had faced some other kind of faith crisis. They all needed to be reminded that God cares for us in the midst of the worst storms of this life. We read every comment posted to our site and were strengthened by them daily. Many times, God spoke to me through those comments.
One morning, a longtime friend Renee Redmond called from the East Coast where she lives with her husband and son. She commented on the CaringBridge site saying, “as long as you are willing to let us walk this journey with you, we are willing to share it!” And so, with time, I found my prayers about my cancer changing. Those who have gone through a similar storm will probably tell you the something similar. In the weeks and early months after diagnosis, your most earnest prayer is, “Oh God, please heal me. Don’t let me die.” And though I continued to desire healing, I found my own prayers weren’t much about healing any more. Instead, my most earnest prayer became another plea. It was, “God, if we must go through this, make it count for your Kingdom! Touch lives! Let others know You better because we share our journey through the valley of the shadow of death!”
It was on the two-month anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy and three months after my cancer diagnosis that I had the most powerful dream I would experience in my cancer storm. In the dream I was walking through what I knew was the valley of the Shadow of Death. The path was rugged and the terrain was rough. As I walked, I was weary but resolved. My eyes were fixed on the other side of the valley. On the other side of this horrible valley, I would be safe. I kept trudging along.
But a moment came in the dream when I realized that my eyes were so fixed on getting to the other side where I would be out of the valley that I hadn’t taken time to regard my surroundings in the valley, to look at what was around me. I didn’t want to stop looking at the other side of the valley, but I knew God was prompting me, so I shifted my gaze from the distance to the path where I was walking. I was astonished. In the path were pieces of gold shining up at me! Literally imbedded in this rough and rugged, even treacherous path, nuggets of gold shone with brilliant light. There was gold in the road.
As I gazed with marvel at these gold pieces, I heard the Lord say to me, “On this most difficult journey, I have placed gold in the road. If you will have eyes to see, you will be encouraged, even delighted in what you see. After you have passed through the valley, remember that I was with you and that I made for you gold for the road.” I awakened from the dream and quickly went to my prayer journal to record it and to begin to name some of the nuggets of gold God had placed in the road.
There was the gold nugget of a husband’s love and devotion for his wife which reached a level of great nobility. There was the gold nugget of deeply knowing God and His presence in such a dear and treasured way. And there was the gold nugget of dreaming a dream that this journey could make a difference for God’s Kingdom – that somehow, in His mighty and mysterious way, He would do something big and good and beautiful with our journey through this cancer storm. He would make this journey through the cancer storm not just bearable, He would make it beautiful.
That dream changed the way I viewed my cancer storm and indeed, it changed my life. I began to speak and blog about the dream and the gold in the road of the cancer journey. “Gold in the Road” became the favorite phrase that followed me through my months of treatment. When I struggled with how hard the treatment journey was, that road laced with gold pieces came to my mind. And in the silent moments in the darkness of night, I began to thank the Lord for my cancer journey. The Lord may not have given me cancer, but in His sovereignty He did give me the assignment of faithfully walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Until I saw the gold in the road I had not been able to authentically thank Him for this fiery trial. But in my holy nighttime moments as I thanked Him for the journey, I knew that our lives had grown more meaningful to us and more valuable to Him because we were forced to walk this rugged road.
I knew that without this hard assignment, I never would have found the gold in the road. And I wouldn’t have missed that gold for anything! My friend John Hawley who works with metals and was following my journey, asked a friend to make for me a large, rough chunk of golden metal which spoke to my “gold in the road” discovery. It was a great gift and sits today on the hearth of our living room fireplace, a brilliant reminder that on the hardest journey God has ever asked me to walk, He placed gold in the road.
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.