Sickness a Catalyst?

I’ve been sick a good portion of my life.
Nine life-threatening illnesses, sick.
Sepsis, renal failure, ARDS…the list continues. Some of these words I never knew existed until I laid comatose in the ICU several years ago. But this tidbit of information, if I had the choice, I’d rather not talk about.
Let’s be honest. Who wants to be known as the sick girl?
Yeah. Didn’t think so.
Happy, healthy, stick-your-tongue-out fun girl, now that’s a cooler title.
Then diseases happened.
For many years, I would have given my right pinky to rewind life just to be normal one more time. Only, my normal looked selfish, prideful, and pretty much unusable for any kingdom purpose.
(Sadly, these things can creep back in when my humanness seeps out.)
It’s amazing how quickly an illness ignites your relationship with God. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.”
It took being back-flat in the hospital, sipping breaths through an endotracheal tube to realize He is all I really have. The stuff of life will forever get me down. Politics. Bills. Disputes. Housing repairs (which I might need to start another blog just for this category—did I mention our roof is now leaking? Ha! I have to laugh and praise God for sending our marriage group to Band-Aid our dripping ceiling).
Life is there. Surrounding me, compacting me on all sides.
That’s where Jesus comes in.
Deuteronomy 31:8 promises, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
That’s a hard verse to swallow when you’re staring illness in the face. But if this sin-filled, redeemed body can offer any insight, it’s this: life is short.
I only get so many years to leave a legacy, to reach out to my neighbor, to live for Christ.
But the best news is: eternal life is, well, eternal.
One of my all time favorite quotes that grabs my heart and squeezes pretty hard each time I read it comes from Jon Courson’s Application Commentary:

“‘It’s time to go home,’ the Lord said to Hezekiah through His prophet, Isaiah. “I’m taking you home and sickness is the tool I’m using.’ What if the Lord came to you and said, ‘Set your house in order, I’m taking you home.’ Would you panic? Or are you walking with the Lord in such a way that you would be at peace about it?’”

I did a big huffy-sigh after reading this the first time, because this means surrendering everything and trusting in God’s sovereignty that maybe my sickness was my catalyst to see life differently.
Then one Sunday morning, my pastor spoke right to me. I mean, there were other audience attendees, but his message clearly had my situation written all over it. Pastor Dan said God put a calling on my life. Me? The person who can feel shamefully inadequate at times.
He gives us all gifts and we’re supposed to use them.
Am I listening? How many more hospital visits and CT scans and rounds of antibiotics can my body take before finally giving out?
God only knows.
Nine days ago, this reality hit home when Jason’s father passed in the night at age sixty-four. Deep moans escaped my body learning this news.
Life. Is. Short.
You live, you die. What’s it all really for? This survivor thinks it has everything to do with God, and not so much about the stuff of life.
Some of you know bits and pieces about my story. This video gives a sneak peek into a portion of my illnesses. And since pictures are worth a thousand words—this clip Jason and my brother-in-law, Shawn, created for my survivor party is my helpful reminder to be thankful for just a leaky roof.
Has anything ever reminded you how short life is?

  1. Brenda VanLandingham says:

    It says you did not make the video available to tablet users. I went to u tube
    Brenda VanLandingham P.O.Box 693 Ellenton, FL. 34222

  2. Paula Mantrozos says:

    It is amazing…NOT too much (but then I’ve been around hospitals and chemo, etc.) But again, I don’t think it’s too much at all! I knew of your story, Dabney, but now I feel I KNOW your story. If that is what you were after, then, success! You are a brave woman, with a huge heart. A “never give up” kind of gal! It was a joy to know you as a student and then after the Hodgin’s as a colleague here at PBA. The Joy of God in your life just shines through the eyes of your children. You have given them the dogged determination to LIVE their lives and not just exist. I’m proud to call you my friend and Sister in Christ! You and Jason KEEP IT UP!

  3. Lizzie says:

    Oh, sweet Dabney! That video made me cry. :'( You’ve been through so much! You are such a strong person, and such an inspiration! Thank you so much for bravely sharing your heart and your story. I hope you know it’s never something to be ashamed of. It’s usually in our weaknesses where His grace can shine through.
    Through the month of July, my dad was in and out of the hospital. We all got tired of it in just that one month, so I can’t imagine having to basically live there as it seems you have. You’re a better woman than me, by far! 😉
    I’m so sorry for the pain you’ve had to go through. 🙁 But I’m also so happy for the beautiful, strong survivor you are now! 🙂
    How is your health now?

  4. audrakrell says:

    It was such a joy and pleasure to meet you last February. And now this further glimpse into what really matters. I’m so glad you are answering God’s call to share His message through speaking and writing. Can’t wait for your book!

    • dabneyland says:

      I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to meet you at the conference. I feel like our conversation in the hidden room was a divine appointment. You helped calm all those crazy nerves. Thanks for being there when I needed a friend.

  5. Your well written story and video clip were amazing. You really touched my heart and soul. You do a great job at inspiring faith in others. Keep it up. May God bless you with a long healthy life to continue your mission of spreading the faith.

    • dabneyland says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Sometimes when I put my heart out there (through shaking fingers), I wonder if I’ll offend someone. My prayer is that God always gets the glory.
      You’ve touched my heart today.
      Blessings to you.

  6. marysmission says:

    hi dabney. we spoke once many years ago when you were living some distance away from your family at a facility to help you throuth ?lukemia? i believe.
    i was compelled tonight to check in on your family tonight, and im glad i did…. i found your blog. i love the personal nature of it all. i share many of the same beliefs as i have been led on the road to wellness/wholeness, i.e. living in full alignment with the LIFE-giving co-resurrection of myself (with my Lord).
    for the sake of the audience, I will share here that God healed me of narcolepsy, but only 90%. what?! that doesnt line up with God’s completeness and excellence, or does it? God invited me to walk out the last 10% of healing in tandem with HIM showing me how to be well via strategy and trust-building exercises that seemed, on the surface, to be unassociated, or only mildly associated with my health. My striving and focus could not be after my idea of wellness, and not even after His idea of wellness. My sole fixation needed to be HIM, the person, my Maker, my Lover, my Friend. HIM ALONE! But I was, apparently, far too self-focused for the Kingdom work He fashioned and determined me for. Oh how in His sovereignty He allows (yes, even ordains) what He could easily prevent in His power!!!! Oh how His view of everything in our lives is through his rose-colored glasses of goodness- the perfection of Christ imputed upon us at our reception of the salvation gift!!! Oh how He is always working all for our good!!! Sickness? Disease? Death? – all a mere breath away from obliteration. But if a greater outcome is possible by leaving them in place, then so be it- His love will not make room for less, “as a Father, the son whom He delights in.”
    fasting. food/plant healing. setting boundaries with people. leaving toxic relationships. giving up all my earthly possessions. exercise. quiet time with Jesus daily. time management. creative exploration/expression. playing with children. serving. connecting with nature. confessing and praying with freinds/vulnerability. -all of these are part of my wellness – what God catalyzed through sickness, so I would not only know physical wellness, but so i would know Kingdom wellness through my whole being.
    i would love to talk to you again soon.
    you are beautiful, and highly favored among God and man.
    you are a shining emblem of heavens humor, color, sound, movement… just by your flow in heeding the Spirit. keep up your great writing too!!

    • dabneyland says:

      Thank you for taking the time to post. I wish I could say I remember all the details from this time in my life, but much of it is a blur (other than what I journaled) because of all the chemo. God is good and continues to guide me when I put my stubbornness aside. I read your blog and enjoyed how you too share from the heart.
      May God continue to bless you in all that you do. 🙂

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