56: Would You Give It Up for Me?

56: Would You Give It Up for Me?

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Would You Give It Up for Me?

The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him.

~William McGill

I am a first-generation Canadian. My parents came to Canada from Denmark in the 1950s and I was born in Calgary six years after they arrived. I think as soon as I was weaned from a bottle, I was introduced to coffee. When I was about two years old I would get about a quarter cup of coffee, the rest of the cup filled with cream and sugar. As I got a little older the mixture got blacker and blacker. Coffee was an important part of my life.

Then, one cold Sunday morning early in January 2000, I was putting on make-up and fixing my hair, trying to finish quickly so that my husband Charles and I could have some time to enjoy our second cup of coffee before heading to church. This had been our custom for twenty-one years. As I combed my hair and looked into the bathroom mirror, I heard a distinct voice say: “Would you give it up for Me?” I thought Charles had spoken so I turned around, but saw no one. Then I heard the voice again very distinctly say, “Would you give it up for Me?”

I stopped brushing my hair. “What? Give what up?”

The voice again said, “Would you give it up for Me?”

I felt, more than understood, that I had just had an audible encounter with God. And for some reason God was asking me to give up coffee.

I went downstairs to my husband and told Charles what I had just experienced, and that I needed to stop drinking coffee immediately. Charles did not question my sanity, as I thought he might. Instead, he said, “If you think God is telling you to stop drinking coffee, you must stop and I’ll stop too, to support you.”

Over the course of that year, many times I wondered why God had asked me to stop drinking coffee, but I would not question His wisdom. We had the youth group come to our home for a New Year’s party to usher in 2001. As we prayed together, our youth pastor’s wife, Cathey, said something that remained in my thoughts for a very long time.

“We welcome in the New Year,” she said, “but even as we do that, we think about how we need to stay focused on God throughout this year. This might be a year of challenges, of good times and of bad times. We might be called upon to offer help and support to each other. We might have to say goodbye to friends. Someone right here in this room might not be here with us next year.”

I thought about those words, even though I knew she was thinking more along the line of kids moving away than anything more ominous. A month later I suspected God used her to prophesize what the future year held for me.

In January 2001, I had a full physical and went for a routine mammogram. The technician normally does not reveal findings to patients, but she let on that she thought she saw something unusual and sent me immediately for an ultrasound. Three weeks later a biopsy confirmed I had breast cancer. In early March 2001, I underwent a mastectomy followed by four rounds of chemotherapy.

I could relate countless stories during that two-year battle with cancer, where God spoke to me through prayer, scripture, and God’s people. As Cathey had prophesied, the youth group was instrumental in lifting me before the Lord in prayer that year. Many of those young people remembered her words and banded together to surround my family with unconditional support as I battled cancer. My entire church family ministered to me through random acts of kindness and service. The worship team even came to my home and led a mini-worship for me when I was too sick to venture to church. I received countless e-mails from friends around the world. Truly, God used them all to encourage me through the entire experience. I could, and probably will, write a book about my journey with God through that cancer experience, but I know the first chapter would focus on why God told me to give up coffee in the first place.

Doctors, nurses and technicians later told me that the lumps discovered in my right breast were so small that the technician almost missed seeing them in my mammogram. She had asked me before the test if I was a coffee drinker and I had told her I gave up coffee the previous year. I didn’t know it at the time, but later learned that in some women heavy coffee drinking can cause little fatty cysts to develop in breast tissue because of the caffeine. This can sometimes throw off a mammogram reading. If I had not given up coffee, the technician might have thought that those tiny lumps were nothing more than cysts caused by my caffeine intake. However, since I was not a coffee drinker at the time of the test and had been off it for over a year, she decided to investigate those lumps. As a result, that early detection of cancer saved my life. My surgeon told me that my particular form of breast cancer was extremely aggressive, and had the lumps not been detected when they were, I probably would not have survived the year.

I have thought often about God telling me to stop drinking coffee. It sounded like a strange thing at the time, but I obeyed without hesitation. God asked, “Would you give it up for Me?” The more I have thought about it over the years, the more I am sure those words didn’t have as much to do with giving up coffee as it was my giving up everything to God.

I have come to realize that the moment God speaks to you is the time He wants you to respond to Him. I had no idea what was happening within my body, but God did. His timing was perfect. Had I disobeyed, I would not have lived out that year. It was a life-or-death decision for me and I didn’t even know it at the time. I pray that in the large things and small things, whenever He asks me to “give it up for Him,” no matter what He asks of me, I will respond immediately, “Yes, Lord!”

~Lynn Dove

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