Monthly Archives: February 2013

Sundays Musings 2/17: Life as an Accident

No, this post is not arguing in favor for evolution. The inspiration for this post does not come from any church meditations from today. Rather, I could say that the source of today’s write comes from between my two shoulder blades. The ache and knotted muscles are a still-present reminder of the accident that happened Friday a week ago. Some of my readers will be familiar with the details but for those curious readers who have not heard, I will relate in brief.

One of the students from Faith Builders had invited the guys to his place in Canada for a pre-semester party. The plan was to go to Ottawa and tour the city. In anticipation, 5 of us traveled to Kitchener on Thursday. Friday morning came early and we were on the move. Also on the move was a massive snowstorm. It wasn’t too bad or so we thought and we never gave a thought to the idea of turning around and giving up on the trip. The roads kept getting worse the further we went. Seven hours after we had left, we were a hour or so away from Ottawa near the town of Brockville. Coming up on an accident scene, we were slowing down when a semi slid past us, pushing a pickup truck. We could have reached out and touched him. Relieved it hadn’t hit us, the driver accelerated to move out around the accident. I was sitting in the back seat and the thought went through my mind that this could have touched off a chain reaction. Glancing back, I saw another semi jackknifing straight towards us. I threw myself down and before I had time to yell a warning, the semi had hit us, pushing us forward and into the median. The back window shattered as did the window on the passengers side of the van. Like all accidents, it happened in a moment.

Fortunately, no one was severely hurt. We all walked away. But it got me to thinking. In the past seven years, this vehicle was the 4th one I’ve been riding in that was totaled due to an accident and that I’ve walked away from. One big difference was that in this one I was sitting in the back seat. In the previous three, I was sitting in the front. Maybe that is why, after this accident, the feeling of “having escaped” or “being spared for a future purpose” wasn’t as strong as it was in the previous accidents. Whatever. The fact remains that I’m alive today to write this. For that, I’m deeply grateful. So, walk with me and I’ll take you back over my last three accidents.

122085931

The back where most of the damage was done. I still can’t believe that I and Matt, the other guy in the backseat, didn’t receive a single glass related injury, not even a scratch.

122085933

122085968

122085986

Really, in comparison to the next two, this looks mild.

002

This accident happened in Paraguay. The brief tale behind this carnage is that I lost brakes and came upon an intersection. The light was red and I rear ended a dump truck. I was by myself and in the moments prior to the impact, I distinctly remember thinking that I could favor the passenger side. So I did. If someone would have been with me, I cringe to think at how this accident could have turned out. Definitely much worse.

In my mind, the bus ride home from this accident was one of the longest I’ve spent in my entire life. I was by myself but in times like these, you need a second person. Someone to talk to, someone to cry with, someone to vent your frustrations to, just someone to be there. Their presence alone makes the situation better and I had no one. It was on that bus ride that I again felt the assurance that my time wasn’t done and that my life still has purpose.

005

013

It’s a pity this accident happened. This was one of the better trucks I have driven.

This next one happened about 5 years ago, minus one month. A friend of mine and I were returning from Arkansas, having attended a Bible school. I was in the passenger seat and was sleeping. He dozed off as well, went left of center, and hit that Sebring convertible that is in the ditch to the right in the first picture. Here again there was Divine protection. If we would have hit a pickup, chances are great that one of us wouldn’t be alive today. Our car was a Sebring sedan and the car absorbed most of the shock.

My first memory of this accident was the impact and seeing the airbag in my face. But later in the hospital, I wrestled with feeling rejected. I should have been grateful to have been alive. Instead, I was asking God why He hadn’t finished the job and took me home in that accident. The feeling of having been thrown onto Heaven’s doorstep and finding the door locked was very real. I have never longed to go Home like I have during those hours by myself in that Ft. Wayne hospital. But, tonight, I sit here at my study desk, typing out this post and not feeling a single pain from this accident. Of all the ones I was involved in, I would say that this was the worst. Below are some pictures.

CIMG2536

CIMG2544

CIMG2545

CIMG2546

I was sitting in this passenger seat. Looking at this picture, I still wonder how I could have “escaped?”

What has come through in all of these accidents? It’s not trite to say that God isn’t done with my life. It’s not a pat answer to say that it wasn’t my time to go. Those are true. But at times I lose that sense. I focus on other things and on people. The last accident in Ottawa got my attention. I’m here and I’m His. Saying that, I mean that there are battles to fight, people to reach out to, love to spread, and the Gospel to be preached to those who haven’t heard it. The question is, is that our focus? God uses accidents as wake up calls but trust me, those are expensive.

EJ

Categories: About life, Sunday's Musings | 4 Comments

More from “It’s Not About Me”

A while ago, I began Max Lucado’s book, It’s Not About Me. Though it is a short book, it is chock full of illustrations and arguments for reflecting God’s glory. I had posted earlier here about this book but here is more. Enjoy!

The moon models our role.

What does the moon do? She generates no light. Contrary to the lyrics of the song, this harvest moon cannot shine on. Apart from the sun, the moon is nothing more than a pitch-black, pockmarked rock. But properly positioned, the moon beams. Let her do what she was made to do, and a clod of dirt becomes a source of inspiration, yea, verily, romance. The moon reflects the greater light.

And she’s happy to do so! You never hear the moon complaining. She makes no waves about making waves. Let the cow jump over her or astronauts step on her; she never objects. Even though sunning is accepted while mooning is the butt of bad jokes, you won’t hear ol’ Cheeseface grumble. The moon is at peace in her place. And because she is, soft light touches a dark earth.

What would happen if we accepted our place as Son reflectors?

EJ

Categories: Books | Tags: | Leave a comment

Tears….

are the signal of the end and the seeds of hope for the future.

(it’s late but i need to write lest i forget the poignancy of today’s moment)
   I confess, I didn’t want to go. The approach of death is a cruel and most bitter march as it painfully creeps closer and closer one day at a time. I would just as soon have the memories of the healthy human being rather than be confronted with the ravages of disease and the mockery it makes of former vigor and health. Mom urged me to go; if it wouldn’t have been for that, I would have done my business in town and left without seeing him. However I did go and I’m glad I did. You see, as hard as this paradox is to live through and comprehend, it is in the deepest pain and the sharpest of agonies that pure gold of character is formed. Today, I was privileged to see that gold in the life of a man some people revere as a legend and who has lived well.
   As I entered, he was lying there on his recliner. His waxen face looked so unlike the vibrant appearance of the man I had seen 6 weeks earlier. Six weeks ago, his prognosis looked good and his recovery seemed almost certain. He had even thought of again resuming his preaching assignments in church until cancer struck back. Now, he barely has the strength to leave his recliner. The steroids, which are assigned to decrease the swelling of the tumor, make it impossible for food to stay down. There he lies, he who was a brick mason for 50 years and who always had been healthy and fit, now dependent on others for care. For a few minutes, I sat with him. Young and in the bloom of youth, I contrasted sharply with him. He talked freely of the pain that keeps him awake at night and there is no deception in his voice. There was a note of joy in his voice when he spoke of the loving care of his wife and the support of the local congregation. With tears, he shared the struggle of accepting his sudden reversal of fate. Tears dimmed my eyes as well. Why, why, why seemed to be all that my mind could produce and my brain spun, trying to find something to share, something that would make sense of it all. His voice regained some of it’s usual booming quality as he declared that, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”(Job 13:15)  This truth, spoken by a man who proclaimed God’s truth across many pulpits and who has experienced a darker night of the soul than anything I’ve ever known, both caught me off guard and in a strange way, soothed my soul. It did nothing to prevent fresh tears from welling up. “How,” I asked him, “how can I, as a young man, gain a living knowledge of that truth without having to go through what you currently are?” “It’s not easy,” was his response, “but when you get there, you will know the fullness of God’s grace.”
   He asked about my studies and inquired into the student life that I currently live. This diverted us and gave us something else to talk about. Inevitably, the conversation swung back around to him. The time came when I knew I needed to go and yet I delayed. I wanted to stay, as if my presence in that living room could somehow keep him alive at least on the level that he was. The thought was a sham. I could feel myself mentally groping for something, anything that would stabilize me and give me an easy exit from that room but none existed. The reality stared me in the face. The reality that this was probably the very last conversation I would have with this man until Heaven’s golden morning. From such a reality, there is NO easy way out. Before leaving, I prayed with him. The words were thick on my tongue and my voice choked with tears as I attempted to articulate a blessing from the Father for his life. In my muddled mental state, that prayer seemed to run in circles. Rising from prayer, there was one final thing. Oh, throw me down a flight of stairs than make me go through this. I’ll take a whipping of stinging nettles and a rinsing of iodine than face what I had to face than. I couldn’t just leave and jauntily say, “C-ya later” or C-ya next Sunday” or “Get well soon”, especially not when someone has stage 4 cancer and you live 3 hours distant. His position did not allow for an effectual embrace or I would have done so. Limply, I put out my hand. He grasped it with his large one and again, I was aware of the hint of his former strength. I couldn’t meet his gaze. “Goodbye,” I choked, “goodbye until we meet again above.” 
   “Goodbye, Eric,” his voice cracking under his own emotions. “Live well and live for Him.” If I would have had my shoes on and it not have been impolite to do so, I would have sprinted from that room, trying to get as far away as possible from this reality. Yet I didn’t. Leaving his house and walking down the sidewalk, sobs threatened to rip  my chest apart. In the privacy of my car, I threw my head back and allowed the tears to flow. They were tears of grief at seeing a powerful man of God coming to his end. They were also cleansing tears of seeing a legend preparing to meet his Maker with a serenity and wisdom that I wished I would have now. In a sense, I felt as if I witnessed something vitally important, the passing of the torch of faith. Except today, I was the one who was given the torch to run with. Looking back, I feel like that was the purpose of my visit.  Deep within, I feel as if he personally handed the torch to me and said, “Here, it’s your turn. Run and run well.” 
   Now, all that is left is to run well with the hope of the eternal morning in view.
 
EJ
Categories: About life | 3 Comments

A Message From a Missionary

Missionary…the word conjures up lands across seas. These lands lie enshrouded in a fog of unbelief and ignorance of Jesus Christ; metaphorically, we see missionaries as bearers of light that pierces this fog. However, the great missionary movement of the 19th century effectively covered the globe. People like Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, and David Livingstone we view as great men of God but from a by gone era. It seems like the world has been reached. Where else can missionaries go? What more is there for them to accomplish?

One morning during winter term, Arthur Nisly gave an impassioned speech from his personal experience as a missionary to El Salvador. His journey to serving in missions was not a easy one and the story he told held us captive. I jotted down his main points and some additional thoughts.

1: Don’t push the dream away.

2: Expect God to guide you.

3: Expect pain, suffering, and misunderstanding

The God of the Bible is preparing you now and in the shadows so you don’t mess up on the the big stage.

Be faithful to your convictions like Daniel was faithful to his convictions.

There are things in our lives that God can do only when He is silent. Survive those silent times. 

God isn’t about making you suffer. He’s about preparing YOU….though it might hurt for the moment.

4: Prepare well.

Listen carefully.

5: Be patient while you wait.

You don’t need to violate Christian principles to achieve your dream. I

6: Serve Him faithfully.

It is more blessed to give than to receive. People are worth investing in.

7: Finish well through worship.

God will win. He can do it without us. We just get the chance to be on His team.

EJ

Categories: About life | Tags: | Leave a comment

Sundays Musings 2/4: Idol Worship

I know some people will disagree with this post and in my defense, I’m not saying this is exactly how things are; I’m saying caution needs to be exercised in this arena.

Today(I’m writing this Sunday night) was Super Bowl Sunday. The Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. In watching the post-game celebration, some things caught my attention that again confirmed how much sports are idolized in our nation.

The first thing was the elevated podium where the initial postgame press conference was held. Above the people, this is where the leading luminaries(owners, coach, MVP, et al) mingled in full view of the people.

Money. The amount of money spent on the teams is staggering. Add in the costs of other expenses outside of that (tickets, in-game advertising, etcetera), it simply is mind blowing.

Procession and presentation of the Vince Lombardi trophy. Very formal and exact with Pro Football Hall of Famer Richard Dent presiding as the presenter. I couldn’t keep the thoughts from swirling through my head. Thoughts of how much this looked like a religious procession with some things rearranged and called different names.

The hero worship of the players as the trophy came down the line. As the trophy emerged from the depths of the stadium, the Ravens players formed two columns and as the trophy passed, reached out to touch it as it passed them. The fervor was apparent simply by looking into their eyes.

The passion of the fans. It’s great to see so many people being passionate about something. In this age of drift and aimlessness, to see people being involved in anything is heartening. It means that the ability to be passionate is still there. Yet, overtones of the Roman circuses faintly ring in my ears.

I could go on and draw some very real modern life metaphors but I shan’t. And I go on the record to say that I’m not against sports nor against watching games. I am against is replacing my passion for Christ with a passion for sports. That is sin. I’m writing only as a reminder that there is something more real to live for. Something that last longer than just here and now in the moment. I love the fact that Ray Lewis is going out as a champ. That was one of the main storylines in this Super Bowl. But come Monday morning, I need something more solid to set my hopes on, something more concrete to live my life for.

Now, let the flaming begin.
EJ

Categories: About life, Just me, Sunday's Musings | 3 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.