Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sundays Musings 3/24

Envision your life as a verdant and flourishing kingdom. Now envision this kingdom divided into separate spheres of yourself. In the middle might be your church sphere and in the corner, your work sphere and so on. Your kingdom is divided up; every facet of your life in its place. It’s a reflection of you. 

Ever been in a situation and place where you felt totally shredded? Where each of your carefully crafted plans and dreams lie about you in piles of rubble? The scene around you has the feel of a warzone; the dust from the rubble drifts up in thin tendrils to an azure blue heaven. From deep within you, a wail rises up. A primal desire to give vent to how you truly feel. But like a soldier in a war zone, you don’t. You feel like you can’t afford to. So you set your face like a mask and pick through the rubble, looking for something familiar and wondering if things will ever be the same. It’s eerily quiet. Unlike other disaster scenes, no sirens wail. No emergency responders are swarming over and through the piles of debris and rubble in search of survivors. ‘Cuz there is but one survivor, you.

In your private kingdom, other places still exist where all is green and vibrant. The total devastation of this small area is offset by these other healthy areas but your mind is on this one, the one that needs help. The one that was flourishing, seemed healthy, and that now lies in shambles. Sitting down on piece of rubble, you prop your head in your hands and think. Thoughts flit through your mind. Questions tumble freely but their  answers aren’t forthcoming. In this maelstrom, you feel yourself losing control of beliefs that once felt solid and secure. You wonder, Where is God?

His answer surprises you. Right here.

Right here? Right here in this devastation and amid this rubble?

Yes. In fact, I caused it. It is then the hot tears flow. They had threatened but you never gave release to them. Now they splash freely and in their salty wake comes  catharsis, a release from the tension and the question Why, God, why?

From these cathartic tears, a peace begins to well up. A peace that can only be explained as divine. As the days go by and the dust from the rubble settles, the continuing presence of peace comforts the pain of destruction. The phrase, “peace which passes understanding,” becomes more than a collection of words expressing a pat ideal. It indwells and becomes part of your existence.

Your sphere or zone of rubble maybe a different one than mine. It could be your church situation, your work, your family, or something personally. It matters not which of these it is but we have all been there. We know what Ground Zero feels like. That overriding feeling of devastation and the accompanying question of how to rebuild, how to survive when every day feels like a drag.

It has been such a week for me. A week of devastation and shock. Wednesday and Thursday were some of the hardest, most loneliest, and introspective days of my life. Under any other circumstances, my behavior on those days would be anti-social. But in the face of this, it’s called recovery. Even now, I’m not sure I’m whole. There are still traces of destruction. Rubble still abounds. But I have a friend. Though He caused it, He promises to help me re-build. He promises to be there and already He has given comfort. Though the pain is raw and it’s all I can do to stay composed, He has given His peace. I truly can not explain it but its undercurrent is what has stabilized my past week. And for this, I am grateful. .

EJ

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A Painful Code of Honor

I really don’t know how I’ve survived the past two days. At times, the world around seems like a hazy existence. My grades have suffered and if this goes on too much longer, the effects will be felt by those around me. I’m working hard to see that that doesn’t happen.

It’s tough being a gentleman. Maybe I’m not but I aspire to be and it’s that aspiration that currently leads down a road of thorns. A gentleman’s word and honor are bound up all in one. There is no dichotomy between the two. His word is his promise. By his very nature, he can’t be or do otherwise. Though it rip him apart, he will be faithful to the word he has given. It is that sort of pain that I currently feel. Last night, I had to give vent. Lying in my bunk and pen in hand, this is the result:

God, this old heart of mine aches,            

Weighed down with pain, it nearly breaks,

This present valley looks so long,

A heart so full, no room for song.

 

What once filled my heart with gladness,

The same threatens a most bitter madness,

What once seemed a joyous stream,

Is now an almost unattainable gleam,

Yet…

Deep down below this current strife,

Lies a fountain of truth giving life,

And though pressed by disappointments sore,

Twill rise to refresh my soul once more.

 

And tho this strife threatens to slam

And cause me to question who I am

And grief oerwhelms in cathartic tears,

And should this ache linger thru the years,

Yet…

My word I’ve given to a friend,

A word from which I can’t rescind,

A word of honor, to be sure,

A word to which I will endure.

 

A gentleman’s word can’t be broke,

For a gentleman is a different folk,

His words, his honor are his pledge,

Against these, dishonor is ne’er alleged.

 

Though gray clouds of doubts arise,

And disappointment oertake my skies,

And gloom enshrouds the path ahead

And passion lies dormant and dead,

Yet…

My word is given, I can’t go back,

My honor’s at stake, I shall not slack,

For to do so would only be to fail,

My course is marked, I’ve set my sail.

 

One day this pain shall all have ceased,

And this battered heart shall be at peace,

It now seems hard to believe twill mend,

Yet God shall soon set it right again.

Categories: About life, Just me, Praise, Quotes, Rants and Randomness | 1 Comment

A Prayer

Father, as we go to our homes and our work, we ask You to send the Holy Spirit into our lives.

Open our ears – to hear what You are saying to us in the things that happen to us and in the people we meet.

Open our eyes – to see the needs of the people round us.

Open our hands – to do our work well and to help when help is needed.

Open our lips – to tell others the good news of Jesus and bring comfort, happiness, and laughter to other people.

Open our hearts – to love You and our fellowmen as You have loved us in Jesus.

To Him, with You our Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, all honor and praise shall be given now and for ever. Amen

At the closing ceremony, representatives from all the 40+ ministries that attended this convention went forward and volunteers from the audience prayed with each of the ministries. This was the final prayer here at Manor Church. Now, REACH 2013 is over and part of history. I feel privileged to have been a part of this. It’s been grand watching the ministries coming and working together to show people what God’s work in the world. For any member of the conservative Anabaptist constituency interested in missions, the next REACH, should there be one, is a must to attend.

And now to all a good night,

EJ

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An Advertisement for a Friend

*Commercial blurb*

K, you have been warned. I use this blog to talk about me and my life. But tonight, I want to proclaim a website to the world. Many of mine friends are married and I thank God for them. One such friend of mine owns a mattress and furniture store and operates it with his gracious wife. Their website is www.dreamlandmattress.net. So, if you are lacking in quality furniture or looking for quality sleep, stop in. Jesse and Krista would be delighted to help you. More than that, if you need spiritual help or encouragement, talk to them. They’d love to chat.

EJ

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Blessings of the Bum (ankle)

Well this morning I walked to my desk. Gingerly and in a herky-jerky fashion, I walked. With each step, twinges from sore tendons, ligaments, and the remnants of the swelling arrived to my brain. By the time I got to my desk, my ankle had gone from an ache to a light pain. But I was walking.

I’m still on the recovery from a badly sprained ankle. The ability to walk shows that healing is happening. That is good. In my last post I had referenced the blessing in being helpless. I find two main blessings.

The first is simply the time off. Without a leg to stand on, sports are not options. The time spent in playing I can now use in doing homework, reading, or meditating. So this extra time was good for me. I used it profitably. As of today, I’m a week ahead in my homework assignments. That I can feel good about.

The second thing is the benefit of friends. Being immobilized, many simple activities are beyond my physical capacity to achieve. I’ve never been in such a position. The willingness of the people around me to help overwhelmed me. Need a drink? Just call for one; someone will get it. Need someone to fetch something? Chances are they will be obliged to do so. At mealtimes, I did not lack for someone to carry my meal tray to my table. That was a blessing. Ever try carrying a meal tray while on a pair of crutches? It’s an impossible task. Taking a shower was an unexpected mountain. No, I did not call for friends. One leg + wet environment + extended arms is a recipe for disaster. I survived. From this blessing, I want to be more willing to help out where needed and to be more courteous. We need more of it.

Now, I’m back to a leg and a half. By the weekend that half should have grown back to a complete ones. Sprains hurt. Sprains are debilitating but sprains can teach important lessons. Lessons on humility and gratefulness and the goodness of friends.

Gratefully,

EJ

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Painfully Helpless

Less than 48 hours ago, all was well. Amazing how something as simple as a sprained joint slows me down. I mean, come on, I’m 24. I have a healthy body. But this inflamed ankle makes everything take twice as long. Taking steps with a pair of crutches is not my idea of recreation. I’m not used to nerves screaming at me when I try to move my foot into a more comfortable position. At lunch yesterday someone accidentally bumped my ankle and I nearly went through the roof. Pain, I’m unfamiliar with it but it has become the reality of the past 2 days. Helplessness I’m also unfamiliar with and it too has become reality in the last 48 hours.

I badly sprained my ankle on Thursday night. A group of us Institute students were playing the high school guys in volleyball. In the middle of the third game, Trevor and I threw a double block and coming down, I landed on his foot. The instantaneous pain was like nothing I’ve experienced recently. Fiery daggers shot to my brain and the volleyball game was forgotten. I couldn’t walk off the court; I was dragged off. I iced it immediately but underneath the icy numbness, I could feel the throb of ligaments and tendons in a joint chorus of protest.

Yesterday, the pain threshold was still high. Bumping my foot on anything caused a grimace. The simple act of wiggling my foot was beyond the threshold of pain. To move my foot required manually grabbing my leg and moving it CAREFULLY. Argh, aggravations! Yesterday morning, I was putting on slipper over Mr. Tender and struggled with frustration, pain, and helplessness. Come on, I ought to be able to dress myself, not? Yesterday evening, I was sitting in my dorm. Off came the offending slipper from the morning and I stared at the massiveness that is currently my right ankle. Even my toes were swollen. Grr, if I could only fast forward a week and be able to at least limp around, I thought.

This morning, the ankle feels better but I’m still cautious with it. I still can’t put weight on it. Bronson is taking me in to have it looked at. Not sure how much help they can be but something this severe should be looked at. The swelling has gone down and I’m able to bend my toes, which I couldn’t do yesterday. I’m still on crutches and can now at least rest my foot on the ground. Bit by bit, mobility returns but the ability to walk is at least 24 hours away.

 IMG_0218

I should have taken a picture of my ankle yesterday but only thought about it this morning. The swelling has significantly decreased compared to yesterday’s bloatedness.

Anyway, that has been my week. It’s been physically painful but there are blessings in it. What are they? Keep following this blog. I’ll post those blessings later.

EJ

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Sunday’s Musings 3/3

This post should have been written yesterday. However, a day late isn’t that big of a deal. The line I’m pondering today is “contented survival in God’s will.” Does that make sense to readers in this cyber world? Should we desire happiness or a contented survival in God’s will?

Like always, there is an argument behind my questions and here it is. Bear with me on another question, when we look for a sign, how literal should we look? How deep should we press to find a sign? Should we ask for the requested sign or should we allow God to speak and attempt to recognize it when it happens? Understand that by the word sign, I’m referring to whenever God speaks to us and in whatever form that comes. A fiery sunset can be a sign. A friend can speak a sign to us. I hope I’m making sense.

Christians like signs. When they come to a place they are not sure of, they ask God for a sign to show or confirm what they ought to do. But Christians are also guilty of multiple fleeces. Pardon this liberal take on Scripture but the complexity of signs asked for from God is akin to Gideon stacking four fleeces on top of each other and praying that the middle two be completely dry while the top and bottom fleece are wet through and through. The point arrives when we need to leave the sign-asking behind and simply live life. But signs are nice, comfortable, and reassuring so we keep going back to them.

So in asking God to show us something to confirm or reveal a measure of His will, how deep should we press to find that requested sign? If we ask specifically, should we go around looking and trying to cause that sign to happen? My answer is no. Who are we to demand an answer, any answer, of God? We do not have that authority. God in His good pleasure reveals things to us. When He does we ought to be thankful.

Last night, a friend said something that caught me completely off guard. She asked it in the form of a question. Our conversation up to that point had nothing to do with the subject she asked me about. The entire dialogue about her question lasted no longer than 2 minute and I passed it off fairly quickly. Later, sitting in my dorm room, chills swept over me. A prayer that I had made on Saturday came back to my memory, a prayer that God would somehow show or confirm a decision I was trying to decide. The situation crystallized a little bit but still remains a little unclear.

In wrestling over this, I realized something. What I was trying to decide was of great interest to me. I wanted it and upon getting it, I’m sure to be happy. But should I not, I want to be in a state of contented survival in God’s will. The two still bounce back and forth in my brain. Happiness…contented survival…happiness. I don’t know about you but I trust God. I’m opting for the contented survival. It may get rough; there may be pain involved but I know I’ll survive.

So what’s your choice?

EJ

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