I spent four years of my life working long, long hours to fundraise for Cystic Fibrosis research. The years of 2008-2011 were spent giving all of my time away to this cause, all because of one little girl.
I spent hours planning events, fundraising donations, recruiting volunteers, leading meetings, creating fliers, and booking venues. All of my time was given away to the cause of this one precious little girl.
Now well into college, I don’t think about cystic fibrosis much. Not like I used to. My time is given away elsewhere, my mind is consumed with Young Life girls, a class full of 21 third graders, papers and projects due this week, and the always looming question, “what in the world am I going to do after graduation?” But earlier this semester, Sophie came over, and she spent the night with me. Just like she does every year on her birthday.
But this year was different.
It was her twelfth birthday. And she came over with one small bag, filled with clothes and a toothbrush. That’s it. Just a normal sleepover, like every other twelve year old. No pills. No breathing treatments. Just Sophie.
So much of the holiday season is about thankfulness, celebrating what we have. The other day my devotional asked me, how often do I stop and thank the Lord, really thank him, for what He has done in my life. Not just a short and sweet little “thanks Jesus!” but a really long, sincere, deep gratitude. How often do I express that?
Here’s the answer: not nearly often enough. I have a million things to be thankful for. Right now, my long, sincere, deep gratitude, is for Sophie.
A year ago, I got the strangest phone call from Sophie. I remember it so vividly. I picked answered the phone as I was walking into REI, and she exclaimed “I don’t have cystic fibrosis!” I don’t think anything coherent went through my mind. Just, “what…?” She told me the diagnosis had been wrong. She had never had cystic fibrosis. The first eleven years of her life, we had thought our days with her were numbered, that each day was one closer to the end of her life. But now she was telling me that everything we knew had changed.
Her mom got on the phone and used a whole bunch of medical terms that flew right over my head, and I still don’t quite comprehend it all. Here’s what I do understand: because of the most recent research, doctors now know that Sophie’s variation of CF is much different than what they thought. The aggressive treatment they thought was needed before is no longer needed. Sophie is still a carrier for CF, but she is now free to fully live, to be an active twelve year old girl with a lot of life ahead of her.
Sophie doesn’t have cystic fibrosis. I don’t know if that’s ever really sunk in the way that it is now. Everything that we worked for for so long, the money we fundraised and the miracles that we begged Jesus for, He answered them. He took away cystic fibrosis, and He gave Sophie the hope of a full life. No more ticking clock. No more heartbreak and fear and worry over health. No more. Just Sophie.
And it’s what Jesus did for us on the cross. He took away the ticking clock, He took away the imminence of death, and He gave us the promise of life- eternal life with Him.
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4
And so this holiday season, I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with gratitude for Sophie, and for life, and for the promises of our Savior. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for saving Sophie, and thank you for saving me.