Just In Time

The Glorious Unfolding is Steven Curtis Chapman’s newest album and, since the first day I pressed play, it has become a go-to album for me, in particular, because of the profoundly relevant and comforting message that is conveyed throughout many of the songs on the album. Without a doubt, despite the fact that I’ve had a number of notably difficult periods in my life, being my dad’s caretaker for the final sixteen months of his life, as his health and independence declined after diagnosis of a stage four glioblastoma brain tumor, was the darkest and most difficult experience of my life. I can definitely speak from experience when it comes to the notion of trying to maintain some thread of faith in God’s providence at a time when it was so dark that I couldn’t see my own hand if I waved it in front of my face. Surely, there were momentary flickers of light from caring and gracious people who knew about his situation that would briefly reflect off the golden thread that God had hanging for me where I was at every moment of that journey. But, it was all too easy to lose my focus and to not be able to find it again when I was at my weakest and in my greatest need. I was broken and empty and felt, surely, like I had nothing to hold onto. But, His thread of hope was still there whether I could see it in a given moment or not. He never left and, because I had nowhere else to turn, I never gave up seeking Him. While I often felt like I was lost in a free fall, he was holding me and carrying me through. Eventually, a new purpose and peace would be revealed (read about that part of my story here, if you’re not already familiar), but, it was only in His time, just in time, that I would learn just how powerful faith in His plan can be. 1 Kings 17 reminded me of that dark period in my life as I read about the widow that the prophet Elijah met at the gate of Zarephath of Sidon. During a time of famine and weary from his journey, Elijah asked the widow for a drink of water and a piece of bread. Verses 12-16 reveal the widow’s circumstances and lay the foundation for a lesson in faith that she learned by trusting God despite her struggles:

“As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat and die.” Elijah said to her “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.” She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

My dad passed away February 20, 2012, but, not before accepting the idea that God loved him and that he had good reason to accept hope in Christ. In fact, the last thing that I said to him that I’m confident he actually heard and understood was that my uncle (who was there in the house with Dad and I at that time) were doing all that we knew to make him as comfortable as possible and that the rest was up to Jesus and that He would take care of him. Dad had been extremely restless and agitated that morning and he couldn’t talk due to the brain cancer’s progression, but, after assuring him that Jesus was in control, he settled down and rested through the rest of the day until he eventually breathed his last breath around 12:30 AM with my arms around him for the last time. His present peace and eternal future is brighter than any of us here can even imagine. The nearly two and a half years since my dad passed away have been tough at times, to say the least, but, in that time I have also experienced a gradual increase in my awareness of the beauty of God’s glorious unfolding story. I know that there will likely be challenges ahead in my life during which times I’ll need to remind myself of this life lesson that I’ve been learning, but, it is certain. He knows what He is doing and wherever you are in your journey, you need to know and remember that “this is going to be a glorious unfolding…just wait and see…and you will be amazed…

The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying

This blog post is spot-on and certainly worth sharing, re-reading, and adjusting one’s perspective on “blessings” as a result of…

The Accidental Missionary

*Writers note:  After reading your comments, I have been moved to revise the following piece.  In a post where the main point is to encourage others to be aware of how our choice of words can get in the way of conveying our true intent, I realize the irony that my choosing to refer to my lack of understanding of God’s purpose as “dumb luck” caused some folks to miss the meaning of the post itself.  Silly me.  While people may still disagree, I think this slightly revised version better captures my honest intent.

I was on the phone with a good friend the other day.  After covering important topics, like disparaging each other’s mothers and retelling semi-factual tales from our college days, our conversation turned to the mundane.

“So, how’s work going?” he asked.

For those of you who don’t know, I make money by teaching leadership skills and…

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Be Independent

If you’re a friend of mine, you likely know how passionate I’ve become, just over the past two years, about the people of Haiti and the work that The Hands & Feet Project, and other organizations, do to address the deep and desperate need that exists there in the poorest country on the western half of the globe. But, let not my passion for the people of Haiti diminish my appreciation for where I live and the generations of leaders and soldiers that have maintained the freedom that I enjoy today.

Going back to the colonists who were tired of taxation without representation and the government leaders that guided Thomas Jefferson as he wrote the Declaration of Independence, to declare to Britian the colonists’ rationale for taking a new direction, it is evident the only time the world changes is when somebody gets up and acts. I consider this at a time when the biblical notion that God expects those who he’s blessed greatly to extend their blessings in service to others has been weighing heavily on me.

So, on this 238th Independence Day, it is due to a combination of my gratitude for those who’ve played a role in making and keeping the United States of America free and independent and my recognition that I’ve been greatly blessed in my life that I will celebrate this day and extend my wishes for you to do the same. But, I will also recommit myself, today, to not look away when the needs of those around me, here in America, in Haiti, or elsewhere, are so evident and I will ask you, too, to not wait around for somebody else to address their needs. Be independent. Get up and do something about it. Happy Independence day.