Practicing Resurrection

By Amy Johnson on April 21, 2019

Six years ago today, Travis underwent surgery to remove the cancerous part of his colon.

We call this our cancerversary.

While this journey has been difficult, we are thankful that Travis is one of the miraculous outliers and is here today to celebrate life with us.

I was recently listening to the Wendell Berry poem entitled “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” and when the last line was uttered, I balked. That was it. That was Travis. That was us.

In the poem, Berry speaks to living a life “that won’t compute.” He rallies his reader to “Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing…Plant sequoias…Expect the end of the world. Laugh…[and] Be joyful.” But it was his last admonition that gave a name to what we do every two weeks:

“Practice resurrection.”

Travis was thinking over these words when he and the kids were having their ritual “hot tub conversations.” The hot tub has been tremendously helpful for decreasing the chemotherapy pain and increasing focused time with the kids. There are three rules of the hot tub: 1. No peeing 2. No fussing. 3. Ask any question you want.

That night, Travis asked the kids what questions they had. It was quiet. Then Lilli said she felt kinda bad even asking the question, but Travis reminded her of rule 3.

She said that she knew that Jesus went to the cross because of his intense love for us. But if Jesus knew that after his death, he would resurrect and be, once again, with the Father and with us, then did that knowledge make his love any less?

Travis paused and then explained it this way:

Every two weeks, he has to ride in a car to a place that he hates. He even has to take medicine to calm him down just so he can go through the doors and sit in the chemotherapy chair. He hates the chemo drugs as they go in his body. He dreads the nausea. He gets anxious about the muscle and joint pain that is coming. He has foreboding about the other terrible side effects that come every two weeks. He wants to run away from every single part of the process.

But each time he walks through those doors and sits in the chair, he reminds himself that he is doing this chemo for Amy, for Lilli, for Patton, and for Aidan. He knows that in order to be with his family, he has to endure the pain that his body will receive. He has to experience a death in order to experience life. Every two weeks.

He practices resurrection.

So, to Lilli, he shared what the author of Hebrews says: that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (12:2).

He practiced resurrection.

It is because of that love that Jesus was willing to go to his death. He dreaded it so much that he sweated blood. And it was for the joy of being with the Father and us that he was willing to endure the pain. That future joy is what defines the current hope.

Today, we pause to thank God for His nearness in these 6 years of fighting cancer. It has, and continues to be, an uncertain path.

Thank you for continuing to pray for the miracle of complete healing.

Amy Johnson

About Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson served with Serge in Bundibugyo, Uganda where she and her husband Travis worked as medical missionaries. They also played a critical role in leading Christ School Bundibugyo through a leadership transition. Amy and Travis along with their three kids are now back in the US while Travis is fighting cancer.