I Will Walk by Faith
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Jeremy Camp recalls when he met Melissa, the pretty girl in his Bible study, their on again/off again courtship, and the cancer that had them praying with fervor and grasping for the hand of God.
I Will Walk by Faith
Bob: Jeremy Camp and his wife, Melissa, began their marriage together full of hope. She had beaten cancer and the future looked bright.
Jeremy: After the honeymoon, you’re on this high. Everything is just—it’s amazing. We kind of pushed aside the fact she was noticing some issues.
We went in, and the doctor pulled me aside. I went out of the room—I said, “Okay, so, what’s going on?” He goes, “Well, the cancer has returned; and it’s spread very rapidly.” I said: “Okay, well, what’s the next step? What do we do?” He, literally, said—he goes, “There’s nothing else we can do.” And I remember: “What do you mean?” He goes, “She has weeks to months to live.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, March 11th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You can find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. We’ll hear today from Jeremy Camp the real story that is going to be featured on movie screens all across the country this weekend in the movie, I Still Believe. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. We are spending time this week listening to a powerful love story—a story that—honestly, this is one of those stories, where if you saw the movie and didn’t know that it was based on a true story, you might go—
Bob: —"Yeah, I don’t know that that would really happen,” but this really happened.
The movie we’re talking about is a movie called I Still Believe that comes out in theaters this weekend—produced by the Erwin brothers, who made the movie, I Can Only Imagine. This is the story of Jeremy Camp and his marriage to his wife, Melissa.
We’ve had a chance to see the movie; in fact, we showed this movie to folks on the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise last month as a special pre-release; and they loved the film.
Ann: They loved it.
Bob: I think the reason people love this film is because of what it has to say about love and about marriage. It’s showing love in a deeper way than most movies generally show love.
Ann: I think it really gets into our vows—the vow that we make in marriage of loving one another in sickness and in health. This really gives a picture of sickness and the hard part of our sacred vows.
Dave: And Jeremy knew, before he made the vow, that this would be sickness.
Bob: Yes; let me bring everybody kind of up to speed, because we’ve already heard Jeremy explain this week: he went to Bible college—met there a young woman that he was drawn to; her name was Melissa. They started to date and then they broke things off. Then she was diagnosed with cancer. He went to the hospital room to visit her; and on the way there, he said, “If she says she loves me, then I’m going to marry her.” In the hospital room, she said she loved him. They decided they should get married, even in the midst of cancer and chemo and what was not a good diagnosis.
Ann: I think a lot of times in movies you’re always wondering: “What parts are true? What parts have they added in to make it a good story?” This is all true, which is pretty remarkable.
Bob: Yes; trying to plan a wedding, and plan a marriage and plan a life together, in the midst of chemo, is a challenge as we pick up the conversation with Jeremy; he’s talking about that.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Jeremy: At this point, they were just hoping on the chemotherapy killing it, but they—with cancer, of course, you have no clue—it’s very unpredictable. They were doing—she had ovarian cancer—so it was a very—and it was called granulosa cell tumor; it’s very rapidly growing. They had to, at one point—the last time she had the surgery, it was the size of a volley ball—her tumor in her stomach. It was pretty gnarly.
This is a very aggressive cancer. At that point, knowing, “I don’t know what’s going to happen,”—we both didn’t know what was going to happen, but I didn’t care. I knew that I loved her, and I knew that I wanted to be with her no matter what happened. We formally got engaged, and—just the journey began, for sure.
Bob: And you read 2 Corinthians 5:7—
Jeremy: —Whew!—“called to walk by faith and not by sight.”
We ended up getting married, and it was beautiful. It was looking better; she was growing her hair back. She was so excited because she had a little bit of hair for the wedding. I wrote her a song that I sang to her that, honestly, I don’t remember. I don’t know if it’s a thing where—I could probably find it, but I think right now it’s one of those where—
Bob: —best to leave it alone.
Jeremy: Yes; I’ll leave it alone. I know it sounds interesting; but I just—I don’t even remember it; isn’t that crazy? But I just kind of went to—that’s just a part in my heart that I’m keeping, but it’s something that’s just kind of hidden away.
We got married and went on our honeymoon. On the honeymoon, she was noticing some issues. I opened up the Word of God—called to walk by faith and not by sight. I pulled out a guitar that was in the place we were staying. It was her aunt and uncle’s house—they let us stay at in Hawaii—so sweet. And started playing—and the song: “Will I believe You when You say Your hand will guide my every way? I receive the words You say every moment of every day.”
I remember just going, “Okay, am I really going to believe what this is saying?” and I concluded on the chorus, of course—just saying, “Alright, I will walk by faith even when I cannot see because this broken road prepares Your will for me.” Didn’t even know exactly what that meant in the sense of what was going to happen; but I knew that it was, at this point, we were stepping out in faith on what was going to happen.
The Lord sustained our hope in such a huge way. I don’t share this part very often; I know I share it in the book; but when I talk about it, I don’t share it often; but I think this will give you an indication of the hope God gave us. Before we got married, they told us we were going to have a hysterectomy. I remember just going, “Oh, we’re not having any hope of having kids, no matter what happens with her cancer,” and being devastated. I’ll make this short, but we prayed a ton—a ton.
I told the doctor, “So, if you go and get ready to remove this—and you don’t find any cancer—you won’t remove; right?” And he goes, “Yes.” I go, “Okay.” And they found nothing—they found nothing—which later, was actually something I had to deal with in a negative way because I go: “Why would You heal her then, and not at the moment? Why would You give us that hope?”
But see—it was the hope that God gave us that, while we were married, we didn’t have to go into it, saying, “Well, we’re never going to have kids; but okay, we can at least be together,”—not that that is an end-all.
Jeremy: “It’s okay.” But it was the hope that God continually gave us throughout our marriage/throughout even our engagement, when they were going to have this surgery. It was hope, and that’s what God continued to give us.
Bob: Would you play Walk by Faith?
Jeremy: Yes, absolutely.
[Jeremy sings Walk by Faith]
Bob: Amen. [Applause]
Bob: Well, again, we’re listening to a conversation with Jeremy Camp that was recorded—this was actually recorded about four years ago in front of a studio audience/a live audience; our staff gathered here at FamilyLife®.
Ann: Did they know a movie was going to be made at that point?
Bob: Jeremy didn’t know. This movie was not in the works at that point. He had just written his story in a book, which is called I Still Believe. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that the Erwin brothers heard this story and said, “That’s the next movie we want to make.”
Of course, hearing the song, Walk by Faith, when you understand the context in which that song was written, gives that song a whole deeper meaning; doesn’t it?
Dave: I mean, it’s easy to say: “I’m going to walk by faith,”—and we say it often—but when you really have to walk through a valley, and you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you do know there is a God walking with you, that’s a walk of faith.
Dave: And He—I mean, it’s a beautiful song; because it’s what we all are going to have to do at some point.
Bob: Well, and here’s a couple beginning their marriage together, having just seen God do a miracle and cure Melissa of cancer—take away the tumor that the doctors could not explain what happened—and they headed off on their honeymoon.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Bob: It was not long after you got back from your honeymoon that you were in the doctor’s office again. This time, they said, “It’s not good.”
Jeremy: Yes, we—so we went in; you know, after the honeymoon, you’re on this high. Everything is just—it’s amazing. We kind of pushed aside the fact she was noticing some issues.
We went in; and the doctor pulled me aside. I went out of the room—I said, “Okay, so, what’s going on?” He goes, “Well, the cancer has returned; and it’s spread very rapidly.” I said: “Okay, well, what’s the next step? What do we do?” He, literally, said—he goes, “There’s nothing else we can do.” And I remember: “What do you mean?” He goes, “She has weeks to months to live.”
I remember there’s a point where I can’t describe a certain emotion. I just wept; I fell on the ground, and just wept. I remember I went into the room afterwards, and she saw my face. I didn’t actually even tell her because, really, she knew it wasn’t good. Not until we started driving home is when she went, “What did he exactly say to you?”
She looked at me, and it was unbelievable; because now, I look back, knowing that it was a God thing. She goes: “I want to let you know, if something happens, I want you to be able to move on and go…” I said: “Stop! I don’t want to hear it.” She was giving me permission already. At first, I was going “Why are you saying that?”; it really kind of upset me.
I’m so thankful; because it really was a comfort for later, in meeting Adrienne. That’s a whole other thing; we’ll get there, but it was very powerful.
Bob: You grew up in a family, where when the car wouldn’t start, you laid hands on the engine. You grew up with groceries on the front porch.
Bob: Part of you is thinking, “We’re just going to believe God; and He’s going to heal you,”—
Bob: —“and we move on.”
Jeremy: That’s exactly right. When I heard that—and she had the faith as well—but there was just a moment; it was a God moment—I just said: “We’re going to fight this. We’re going to battle this.” I mean, we did everything. We had pastors and friends and laid hands constantly—prayed constantly to the point, where I was going, “She’s going to be healed,”—not even a question. It literally was, for me, not even a question.
And of course, you have your scary moments. I remember to the point where I couldn’t take care of her at home any longer because it was getting so bad. I had to give her pain medicine. I was changing out her—she was getting dehydrated all the time, so I would wake up at 2:30/3:30 with my alarm and change out the bag. Pretty soon, it just got so weary—I got so tired that I couldn’t do it any longer. We ended up in the hospital and, progressively, it kept getting worse. She had to go get her stomach drained from these fluids. At one point, it was every other day; and then it became every day.
Bob: How are you processing?—this all-powerful, all-loving God, who you trust and you believe in—and your wife’s deteriorating condition and coming to a point, where you’re going, “I don’t think she’s going to make it.” How are you making sense of that in your own life?
Jeremy: You know, it’s something that you really have to understand God’s sovereignty, His goodness, His mercy, and His faithfulness in the midst of what we may think is supposed to be. You see, because we always have an idea of what something should be, or something should turn out to be. My ideal, of course: “Heal. We go out; we have a story of a miracle—or a story of God’s healing power—and we’re going to share this with the world. I mean, we’re going to be in front of thousands of people, sharing of God’s goodness, singing songs; and she’s going to be there.”
You have to come to grips with: “God, are You trustworthy?” That was a question I started having: “Can I really trust You—really trust You?”
Bob: Take us to those last days; because there was a moment in that hospital room that was a pretty amazing moment in the midst of her pain, and suffering, and unconsciousness—
Bob: —there was a moment; wasn’t there?
Jeremy: Yes, there was. One thing that I do want to share that I remember—she was praying that one person would accept the Lord. I remember—before she came to the point, where she wasn’t comprehending, and she was just not awake any longer—the nurse had received the Lord, that had been taking care of her and that she’d been praying for. We got to tell her that before she died.
And—so I haven’t shared all of this for a long time. [Emotion in voice] I remember it was five hours before she went to be with the Lord. We were sitting there; we were praying; and we’re trusting the Lord, just saying, “God, please!” I still believed that He could heal her; I wasn’t doubting. I know that God can heal; so I was just going, “Alright, Lord.”
I remember she stood up out of bed and goes: “It’s gone! It’s gone!” And I was—I thought, “Okay, this is just a moment, where she is not really understanding what’s happening.” She looked at me directly in the face; and she goes, “Jeremy, you have to believe me; it’s gone.” So that moment, I’m going, “She’s conscious, and she knows what’s happening.” I thought, “She’s healed!” I remember she even got out of bed for a second. We’re like, “Oh, okay; lay back in bed.” She laid down and fell asleep; and then, never woke up again.
I remember, when I first heard the words, “She’s with Jesus now,” I was on the ground, just weeping in the fetal position, crying out to God, just saying: “God, I’m so confused. What just happened in this?” There was worship music playing in the background. I remember God just saying to me, “I want you to stand up and worship Me.”
That really was the last thing I wanted to hear or wanted to do was stand up. Because for one, I was on the ground, super weak; and two, worship the Lord—I just really didn’t feel like it. I started to try to stand up. My dad—I remember him helping me up—and we all just started raising our hands for the Lord. It was the most powerful moment in my life. I felt the presence of God so thick; I can’t even explain it: “She’s with Jesus.”
And I now know why she looked at me and said, “It’s gone.” I believe that she was with Jesus already, and her body was physically healed. She was in her new body, and I really do believe that. At first, it was difficult; but then, it was comforting because I went: “Okay, it’s done. She’s—no more tears, no more sorrow, and no more pain. She’s with Jesus.”
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to Jeremy Camp recount the death of his wife, Melissa. It’s a sobering moment; and yet, as they talked about marriage, they knew—all of us know—that’s why we say in our vows: “…for better for worse, in sickness and health”; because we don’t know what’s coming. They didn’t know whether their marriage would be short or long. They had reason to think it could go long; but they’d already been through a battle with cancer, and so the idea that this could just be a short time together.
But they believed God had a plan and a purpose for their life and for their marriage; and as Jeremy talks and later wrote a book on this subject, He did have a plan. In fact, that plan is something we get to see in theaters this weekend. The movie, I Still Believe, is being released this weekend. We got a chance to see the film. This moment in the film where Melissa passes—where we see her death is—
Ann: Oh, it’s so sad. And yet, I really appreciated, in the film, that they were very honest, real, and raw about the grieving experience. It wasn’t just like “Oh, she’s with Jesus now.” It was hard to deal with.
Dave: Yes, the title captures it: I Still Believe—because boy, oh boy, it’s one thing to believe when you’ve gone through a tragedy. It’s really hard when you’ve gone through a miracle; you think God’s healed her. You go on a honeymoon, and it starts back. It’s really easy to lose faith; and yet, this is such a beautiful—you heard it right here—it’s just such a beautiful perspective that you can still believe God is there.
Bob: Well, and we’re going to hear what led to Jeremy writing the song, I Still Believe, as we continue with his story this week. Let me encourage our listeners: first of all, come to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, to see a trailer for the movie. It’s going to be in theaters this weekend; make sure you get out to see the movie. It’s important for you to see this and to take friends. It’s a powerful film—well done.
Get a copy of Jeremy’s story. The book is called I Still Believe: A Memoir, and we’ve got that book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. You may know somebody going through a circumstance like this that you’d like to get a copy of the book for and pass it on to them. Again, order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again the number to call is 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
You know, our hope—Jeremy’s hope in the difficult circumstances that he went through—our hope in life is the hope of the resurrection. The first part of the Heidelberg Catechism says: “What is our only hope in life and death? It’s that we belong, body and soul, to our Lord Jesus Christ; and because of His resurrection we have hope.”
Easter is just around the corner; and we’re making available to those of you, who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today this week, a tool that hundreds of thousands of parents have used over the years to share the Easter story with their children or their grandchildren. It’s a tool called Resurrection Eggs®—a dozen plastic eggs—each one containing a different icon or symbol that tells a part of the story of Jesus’ last week of life on earth: His death, His burial, and His resurrection. These Resurrection Eggs are our way of saying, “Thank You,” today when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
If what you hear on this program is helping you—as a husband or wife, as a mom or a dad, or in any of your family relationships—and if you’d like to help make sure this program continues to be available for you and for people in your community, go online and make a donation today at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. Again, when you do, we’d love to send you a set of Resurrection Eggs as our thank-you gift for your support of this ministry. We hope you’ll find these a great tool to use as Easter approaches. Again, our website to donate: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
Tomorrow, we’ll hear from Jeremy Camp about the unexpected turn his life took about a year-and-a-half after Melissa died—the new love God brought to him. He shares about that tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
©Song: Walk by Faith
Artist: Jeremy Camp [Performed Live on Program]
Album: Stay (p) 2002 BEC Recordings
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