Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 116

Wisdom Sits

Is it possible to make a difference in someone’s life just by sitting down beside them? You may think, as you pull a chair beside someone that you are just casually sitting by them, nothing more. “Just sitting” beside someone seemed insignificant to me for many years, but I have since learned its importance. This lesson concerning the importance of “just sitting” pierced my heart while in a stark and dingy hospital room in Romania during the late ’90s. The scene before me changed my worldview and gave me new, deepened convictions, compelling me to grow my heart. I was so struck that I captured the moment by photo (with an old-fashioned camera). I’ll never forget this boy’s dark hair and simple cap framing his sunken face. He was obviously ill. I took this picture because I never wanted to forget him, or the woman sitting beside him. My heart went out to this young boy, whose life would end before the day was over.

I wondered about the significance of the woman sitting beside the bed. I learned she was not related to the boy; she really didn’t even know him. But, in her travels, she had seen children like him die alone, as orphans. She put her life in Ireland on hold, and volunteered her time, simply by sitting alongside the sick children as they died. She believed that no one should have to die alone. My heart still swells with emotion as I write this memory.

In the Scriptures, we can read about Job’s illness and suffering. Job’s friends understood the importance of sitting beside their friend:

 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.
Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. (Job 2:11-13)

Job’s friends acted fabulously—that is until they began to open their mouths to explain all the reasons why Job was suffering. Then, they became “unhelpful,” and discouraging. They teach us valuable lessons. We must discern when it is best to talk and when it is more helpful to just sit and be with someone. Most of the time we don’t know the reasons “why” someone is ill, except that we live in a temporary, but fallen world.  Let the one who is suffering give the cues as to what is most helpful.

Wisdom comes when we take the time to listen in order to understand. When we do this, we will know better what to say and how to respond. Wyndham always excelled in this quality. When we practice this. we may even find ourselves, like the woman pictured above, sitting with strangers. She saw a need, and out of the compassion in her heart, she responded.

I love to walk and talk with others. It is not as easy for me to sit and be silent; however, I have had to learn to do so through my current situation. Daily, when I transfer Wyndham to his hospital bed in our room for his late afternoon rest, I bring our big, black office chair into the room. From this chair, I feed him dinner when he awakes, and most every night from 9 PM until 1 AM, I can be found sitting in that chair beside his bed. I am usually studying during this time, while he watches something on television; thus, I am quiet except for inquiring about his needs. The important thing, to him (and me), is that I am sitting there beside him.

We are not alone. Not only does God sit with me (and Wyndham) as I sit beside the bed, but amazingly, I know that He has invited me to sit with Him! This helps me to remember that these difficult times, for us all, are temporal. We have an amazing seat God has given us in the heavenly places. Yes, he has already given this to all who are Christians. This seat is not just reserved for life after death, but we can sit there now! From this seat, our perspective on caring, giving, and hope can be transformed to be like Christ’s. May we all better comprehend the immeasurable and incomparable riches of His grace, expressed through Jesus’ kindness to us.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:4-7, emphasis added).

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 115

Wisdom Seeks His Face

Wyndham found something amusing as I was shaving his face last week. I was confused, asking why the laughter, but laughed along with him. He laughed because as I shaved his face, I made all the facial contortions that he would have made had he been shaving himself. I thought about this moment and how it relates to our walk with God. (I know, my mind is weird.) Because I have observed Wyndham and studied his face so long and carefully, I had imitated, without thinking, the expressions he would make.

Likewise, when one becomes familiar with the “face” of Jesus, their actions begin to resemble His; what He would do, and how He would think. To know Jesus, I must carefully consider and meditate on His words so that through His Spirit the eyes of my heart will be enlightened (Eph 1:17-18). When we love Him we want to know Him…His expressions, thoughts, and attitudes so that prayerfully, even without realizing it, we imitate Him. I pray to let what flows from Jesus flow from me. For this to happen, I must continually seek His face.

Seek his face? What does that mean? In the Old Testament, when one even came close to the face of God their face became radiant, too bright to be viewed. God’s face reflected such glory and majesty that it could not be directly viewed; yet, the Scriptures teach us to seek His face:

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)

  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
  Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
(Ps 105:3-4)

So how do we seek God’s face? We look at Jesus. There, we see God’s face.

And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face,
and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you.
“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!
  (John 5:37-39 NLT)

We see God face to face when we “hear” Jesus’ voice and “see” his face. To seek Jesus’ face means to seek Him relationally; it doesn’t mean we learn a religious system. Wyndham taught me to seek God’s face; to know Him relationally in a much deeper way.

What does Jesus’ face show? In His face we can see compassion and courage with those who are hurting or lost in idolatry (Mark 10:21). We see the pain in His face as He agonizes over lost Jerusalem (Mt 23:37). We can see His empathy when His face is covered with tears because His friends are hurting over the loss of their brother (Jn 11:33-35). We can see the agony on His face as He knows He must be separated from His Father in order to save us (Mt 26:39). We can see His face emitting forgiveness while He was hanging on the cross (Jn 23:34). We can see His confidence in His disciples as He tells Peter to “feed His sheep” and  tells His disciples to take the gospel to all the world (Jn 21:16-17; Mt 28:18-20). We picture His glowing face as we hear Him give a blessing for His parting words before ascending (Lk 24:50). We see countless other faces of Jesus.

When we consistently, carefully, and considerately seek His face we start imitating His thoughts and moves, even without realizing it, because we are being transformed into His image, from one degree of glory to another. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, our faith will always be strong (Heb 12:1-3). May we continually seek His face, turning our eyes upon Jesus.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Refrain:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Written in 1922 by Helen Lemmel

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 114

Wisdom Learns to Dance

Wyndham has many strengths. Dancing was never one of them. He just hears the beat of a different drummer. It’s not that he didn’t want to dance with the beat, he just didn’t hear it. Our children have had fun in the past imitating his one and only dance move. It looked like the action movement that accompanies the children’s song called, “Roll the Gospel Chariot Along.” The action consists of twirling one’s hands around each other. Right there, that was Wyndham’s dance move. (Oh, how I’d love that simple move now.)

So, it was particularly meaningful (and wise), when he agreed to take ballroom dance lessons with me in the couple of months preceding Sam’s and Leigh Ann’s wedding fourteen years ago. I love to dance. When I hear music, I can’t help myself. The rhythm makes me want to move. It makes me happy. It may not be pretty, but I do feel the beat of the music and love to respond. For a few months, we, along with Sam and Leigh Ann, took ballroom dance lessons at an Arthur Murray Studio that happened to be about a mile from our house. We all had fun, and since he can count quite well, we learned some basic 1,2,3,4 box steps. Sam and I, by contrast, had some “out of the box” steps at the wedding. I recently passed by the old “now closed” studio and reminisced about that time and thought about dancing. I see a metaphor with dancing and a relationship with God. Too often, one’s theology of Christianity means adherence to outward laws while under the observation of an “all-seeing eye” in the heavens. God is often wrongly perceived as uninvolved, too big to care, or too small to intervene. There could certainly be no “dancing” with such a God. Perhaps some think Christianity as sitting in an audience watching God “perform;” but, the audience member can only watch in awe at the marvelous grace, majesty, and power of the dancer, not participate in the dance.

Too often, God remains separated from the “audience,” separated by the vast gulf of the orchestra pit. I picture Christianity, or a relationship with God,  as God crossing the gulf of the pit and extending his hand to me, in the audience—carrying me to the stage of life to dance with Him. As I follow his lead, I begin to hear the music of God’s orchestra and am better able to get in step with his dance. I’m clumsy, so He starts me with the simple 1,2,3,4 and I get tangled up in my own feet; however, I realize that when I trust Him and let go of me, it’s an exhilarating, scary, beautiful, unimaginable, thrilling, frightening, and oh so wonderful dance. He never lets me fall; I just have to hang on and follow His lead.

When the music portrays the sounds of tragedy, God lifts me; when the music elicits fear; God holds me; When I need to step out of my comfort zone, God twirls me; and when I can’t hear the music; He guides me. For some reason, He wants to dance with me and invites me into partnership with Him. He carried me over the pit that separated us, and as Zephaniah pens in 3:17: The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

I never want to be separated from Him, because I’d fall back into the pit, and on my own, I really can’t dance. If I distance myself, I can’t even hear His song. Oh, but this dance is not just for me. He is calling everyone to this dance, and it becomes more beautiful as it is synchronized, reflecting His grace and majesty. Everyone that joins has a special contribution to make. I want everyone I know to join, so invite as many as I can. I tell them to listen to His music (His words) and follow His lead in order to let Him carry them across the pit and dance in step with His Spirit of grace and truth.

The beautiful truth is that God calls us into a relationship with Him. I must be attentive, imitating his heart, vision, and purpose as I follow Jesus. God is not uninvolved with me or any of His creation, and has in fact, through Jesus, given me the fulfillment of the promise of His Spirit dwelling in me (Acts 2:38-39; Col 1:27; Rom 8:11). The “music” we dance to must come from the Father. As Galatians 5:25 states, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Otherwise, we will “dance to the beat of a different drummer,” with disastrous results. I long to listen to and obey the Word of God, while understanding the freedom resulting in the dance God wants to dance with me. I remind myself that there is no fear in love (1 John 4:19) and that I can know and rely on the love God has for me (1 John 4:1). So, I will keep on dancing, twirling, and holding on for dear life… all the way into heaven.

(photo of poster “Dancing With God” from lindaleecreates)

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 113

Wisdom Looks Back to Look Forward

When I write, I often know how I want the piece to begin and end. It’s just those pesky missing chapters or paragraphs in-between that become problematic. So, I look back to previous chapters in order to make progress on the next ones. The chapters yet unwritten.

Today, many of us look back to a life-changing day in the United States eighteen years ago. We know where we were and what we were doing when tragedy struck. We look back and remember.

I will never forget walking through the September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City six years ago and finding a note placed on a memorial wreath by a name etched in concrete. Before this encounter, I had felt a general sadness for those who had fallen; after, it became personal. The note read:

Dear Donald, 

Your children and I miss you more and more each day. Donald (14) plays soccer, golf, and drums in his first year of high school. Lara (14) continues to dance and sing. She was selected to be in the select choir. Connor (11) looks just like you and loves the ocean. He has the same passion for bodyboarding as you did. They speak of you often and wish you were here to see them grow up. As for me, I am very busy running around getting them to all their activities. I miss our life together.

Until we meet again. Love, your wife Jacqueline

On the other side of the letter was another picture with this message:

Every year on your birthday your niece, nephew and children throw a wreath in the ocean in Montauk. This was your favorite place. Everyone misses you.

As tears streamed down my face, remembrance went from “history” to “personal.”

This past week, Wyndham and I looked back through pictures representing memories, as our church celebrated her 40th anniversary. It was inspiring to remember spectacular ways God has changed countless lives. It was also sad, yet inspiring, to look back on the life of a dear friend who passed from this life two weeks ago. Another treasured friend left our house to drive to a place in the mountains—to look back and remember his beloved wife on what would have been their anniversary today. Remembrance is personal.

Though we are living in difficult chapters, we can look back to remember the goodness of our God and his unspeakable blessings in our lives. Though we have shed many tears these last few days simply remembering, they are precious, meaningful tears because they come from love. Remembrance is personal.

Remembrance becomes personal only when names, emotions, and memories are attached to an event we are remembering.

Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are merely historical, general events until they are attached to someone whose love captures our hearts. Whose presence we feel. When this happens, remembrance becomes personal and revolutionizes the way we think and live. I owe the meaning and hope in my life to his example, sacrifice, power, words, and his Spirit that lives in me. If my remembrance of Jesus isn’t personal, then he will be a distant historical event observed in a museum, rather than a current life-changing, joy-producing relationship.

Looking back at Jesus’ life and experiencing his presence makes remembrance personal and helps me look forward. Because of his life, I know the way the story ends—and it’s glorious.

When we look back to look forward, the chapters become clearer. They may look blank and scary now, or contain new plot twists we did not intend or wish to write about—but nonetheless, they are part of our story. May we always remember the ending, and faithfully and courageously write (live) new chapters.

As we remember, may we let Jesus’ love inspire us to look forward to the day when there are no more tears, no more death—only life lived in love in the presence of God and all who have given their lives to him.

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;
and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them;
 he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
(Rev 21:2-5)

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 112

Wisdom Finds the Stones

I just knew God was going to surprise me. I even told Him this as I pulled into the parking place at the ocean. I had not been to the ocean for many months and was eager to see it before the summer ended; so, I decided to would take the better part of a day to go on a spiritual retreat—just God and me. This was the day, thanks to Sam who worked from our house in order to stay with his dad.

I pulled into the parking lot adjacent to a special beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea; special because it’s the beach where Wyndham and I spent many Mondays walking and talking with God and each other. I was hesitant to go to this beach because going to “our” places for the first time alone can be difficult. Though we can no longer walk together, God still walks with me. (He sits with Wyndham.)

No one else was on the beach. This may have been due to red algae continually riding waves to the shore. Thankfully, red algae could not hinder my communion with my God, so I got out of the car. As soon as my feet hit the sand I noticed a perfectly stacked pile of rocks gracing my path. This pile was placed as the centerpiece of the short beach. Stones of remembrance. That’s what I saw.  I smiled, knowing they were there for me, a little hug from God.

Instead of sadness (which certainly happens), I felt joy. I looked at those stones (sans plaster) and remembered the times the Israelites were instructed to build stones of remembrance so that they would not forget the goodness of the Lord. I, too, remembered.

When you have crossed the Jordan into the land the LORD your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster.
  Write on them all the words of this law when you have crossed over to enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
(Deut 27:2-3)

God and I walked, talked, and sang together, hand in hand. At least that’s how it felt. God’s Spirit is like that. God envelops us if we let Him. I sang two songs repeatedly (words changed to match the venue):

I come to the ocean alone. While the sun shines bright and the waves roll.                      And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.                              And, He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.                    And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

 

My God and I walk on the beach together.                                                                                    We walk and talk, as good friends should and do.                                                                        We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter.                                                                    My God and I walk on the sandy shore.

My God and I will go for ‘aye together.                                                                                        We’ll walk and talk, as good friends should and do.                                                                  This earth will pass, and with it common trifles.                                                                         But God and I will go unendingly.

Each time I walked past those stones of remembrance I felt renewed gratitude for the ways God has blessed me. I told Him some of the things I deeply appreciate including the love I feel inside my soul, the purpose I feel for my life, the joy that refreshes my heart, the clear conscience that gives my mind peace, and hope, which springs from the confidence I will never die (physically, yes; but, my body is not me). I felt (feel) thankful for the physical and spiritual family God has given me.

I felt (feel) thankful for the ways Wyndham inspires me. While living in his incapacitated body, he still focuses on God’s goodness to Him. He sees stones of remembrance. Because of this, he stays grateful, cheerful, and courageous.

After some hours, I turned to go back to the car feeling full and refreshed (another thing God does for me). Then, I noticed to my right and to my left many more stacked stones…as if they had multiplied. The more I gave thanks, the more things that there were to remember. 

Truthfully, nothing is more joy-filling, peace-inducing, and spirit-lifting than time alone with God. This comes from: remembering His mighty deeds (made known since the beginning of time); remembering the beauty of His creation: remembering that He is with me in the suffering, the trials, the waiting, and the unknown; and remembering He will not leave me. Truthfully, I  already experience eternity, even now. Eternity has already begun because eternity starts with knowing God (Jn 17:3).

When my physical body one day no longer accompanies my soul, my truest self will be unencumbered, experiencing the unimaginable “wonderful” which God has prepared. Everything good is in God’s presence. That’s the beauty of heaven…relationships of love, beginning with Him, and lasting forever.

When we keep our focus on the unseen (everything in God’s kingdom), we are sure to find all kinds of beauty and encouraging surprises God has prepared for us. Stones of remembrance will multiply.

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 111

Wisdom Cares in Many Dimensions

As I glanced down at the pen I was using today I was struck by the two words imprinted on the pen. Care Dimensions. Care Dimensions is the name (and a good description) of Wyndham’s hospice company, but the two words struck me as full of meaning. Caring takes on many dimensions. Wisdom knows this.

I  can clearly see three-dimensional objects, even in movies if I wear special glasses, but God is beyond the third dimension; a dimension far beyond my understanding. When I think and read about God’s “other-dimensional” character it is humbling and amazing to hear that he cares for me.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
  what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
(Ps 8:3-4 emphasis added)

God really does care for us, His beloved creation. He cares for all His creation, including the earth (Ps 65:8-9) and the animals (Ps 36:6-7). When we are like Him, we will strive to care like Him. God cares for more than my existence. I’m comforted that God cares about my situations and emotions.

I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul. (Ps 31:7 NLT, emphasis added)

I’m also grateful, as Isaiah describes God’s care through His feelings about Israel, that God never stops caring for me.

  “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.
  I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you
(Is 46:3-4 NLT, emphasis added).

I learn it’s also okay to specifically ask for God’s care when I feel I am sinking. At times I ask God to help me to truly feel His care.

  Answer my prayers, O LORD, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful.
  Don’t hide from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in deep trouble!
(Ps 69:15-17 NLT, emphasis added)

God’s care includes speaking the truth and confronting sin. I also learn that God takes it seriously when we don’t believe He cares for us, as it leads to grumbling and disobedience, as told by the Psalmist about Israel (Ps 106:23-27). Sometimes, when things don’t look the way we think they should, we don’t recognize that God is still taking care of us (Is 1:3; Hosea 11:3-4 NLT). On the contrary, when we believe that God cares for us it leads to confidence, fearlessness, and generosity.

Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
  They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them.
  They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly.
  They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.
(Ps 112:6-9, emphasis added)

I never expected to be so encouraged by a pen. As I hold this pen and think of the many dimensions of God’s care that hold me, I also remember the many ways I have seen Wyndham showing God’s care. For when we truly believe God’s care for us, we can pass His care on to others, because we are secure. We can care in the multi-dimensional ways needed. Wyndham believes God cares for him, thus his care for others has filled many dimensions.

I have seen him strive to care for all Jesus’ disciples, just as God cares for all who are His (Jn 21:15-16). I have seen him treat those who are troubled and whose souls are anguished with great care. I have watched him show extra and tender care to those who are weak or less dignified, while being patient with everyone (1 Cor 12:24-25; 1 Thess 5:14). I have watched him be an example of strength and tenderness caring for and shepherding God’s church (1 Peter 5:2-4), and I have had the privilege of watching him take care of orphans and those in distress (James 1:27). I’m eternally grateful for his imitation of God’s “care dimensions.”

Caring for others isn’t flat. It is nuanced, according to their needs. Our ability to administer care stems from our belief that He truly does care for us according to our needs. We love because He first loved us. We care because He cares for us.

As I hold this pen, I remember that I am held by God’s “care dimensions” for me, and I am forever grateful for Wyndham’s care that touches many dimensions, including strength, tenderness, and patience. May we all expand the borders of our “care dimensions.”

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 110

Wisdom Knows a Thing is Just a Thing

A ring is just a thing. So are many other “things.” My close acquaintance with long term, terminal illness helps me distinguish between the value of physical things and spiritual things of the heart. I placed this wedding ring on Wyndham’s finger nearly 45 years ago. Amazingly, he never lost it through all his fishing, hunting, and sports adventures; however, recently he needed to lose it. His nurse was concerned because it was embedded in a swollen finger which she feared would become quite painful.

So, Melissa and I gathered butter, oil, dental floss, and various other YouTube “tricks of the trade” to try to slide it off. It would not budge, and the attempt to remove it was painful. Unwilling to be conquered by the stuck ring, she called a jewelry store that was located half a mile away to ask if they could help us. The owner was gracious and said he and his daughter would come to the house after he closed his shop. Around dinnertime, this man and his daughter came to the rescue with a ring cutter. At first, he did not think it would be possible but worked mightily while using his instrument to successfully cut the ring. Using pliers, he pulled it apart and slid it off Wyndham’s finger. I thought I might be sad, but instead, I was moved by this man’s graciousness. When I asked him what I owed him his reply was, “I did not come here to do business, I came because someone needed help.” I cried and gave him a big hug.

I was reminded of the beauty and grace in simple acts of kindness and determined to pay it forward. I didn’t feel sad, because the removal of the ring didn’t change anything—except the possibility of a soon-to-be-damaged finger. I remember words that Wyndham often said when something broke or was lost…” It’s just a thing.” Or, when we were met with an unexpected expense that we felt we couldn’t afford…” It’s just money.” And he meant it. A thing is just a thing. A thing has no lasting value.

Wisdom knows that physical things don’t last. Wisdom stores treasures in heaven.

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21)

This past week several golden treasures came to visit— Two Sams and two Iiames. Friendships like these are not things, but true treasures. I often lay in bed at night and think of the treasures I possess. They are all relational.  Spiritual relationships, with God and each other, are what will last. What “thing” will last other than our relationship with God and with His sons and daughters (our brothers and sisters)? Nothing can take these away. Even when our physical bodies leave, for Christians, love, and relationships are eternal. And one day, we will also have new bodies. Now, that’s something to smile about. Of course, I grieve and cry many tears for aspects of the relationship I temporarily miss, but I find when I set my heart on things eternal my mood changes.

And, Wyndham’s wedding ring has a new home on our mantel that seems a fitting place. Every time I see it I think about what lasts, as well as the kind store owner who came because someone needed help.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 109

Wisdom Never Walks Alone

I thought it would be a simple Nana/grandson fishing adventure. (That sentence, in itself, was amazing to write because I do not like fishing, so any fishing trip for me is not simple.) However, since Caleb was staying with us overnight while his parents were out of town and his sisters were elsewhere, I thought it would be fun to go to the nearby reservoir with him so he could fish. A wooded, scenic path leads to this reservoir—a sparkling lake where fish are known to live. We walked the path to a place that looked “fishy” to us, but they weren’t biting. He offered to let me throw some casts. I did, and promptly lost his lure when it hooked something big in the water which was not a fish. Line snapped. Fishing trip over.

It was a fun time with Caleb, though I was not prepared for a flood of emotions that filled me as we first entered the entrance to the path leading to the reservoir. As I first set foot on the path my eyes instinctively filled with tears. The emotions surprised me until it hit me that the last time I walked this path was when I was walking hand in hand with Wyndham. This was an oft-walked path for us; one where we would walk and pray. We would climb out on the rocks, often bringing our dogs, first Jordan and then Denver, after Jordan was gone. We would offer them endless fun retrieving tennis balls we would throw into the water. Many prayers were said, and memories made. Thus, the welling of emotions makes sense. Caleb was kind and understanding as I explained my sadness.

Since that day last week, I have spent some time meditating on the presence of God in my life. I am, in fact, never walking alone. God is so completely relational that somehow, he is one God who is also one with Jesus and the Spirit. I have spent hours contemplating the Trinity and have come away with two concrete thoughts: The nature of God is a dimension beyond human understanding, so I might as well just accept that I will never “figure it out,” but the Trinity shows us perfect relational love and unity. Since God is relational, and I am created in his image–I am relational, and his Spirit really does live in me, as it does every Christian. I am never alone. For real. God’s Spirit was always walking with us when we did walk together, and the Spirit never left. God’s Spirit is still with Wyndham and is still with me. Though I can’t walk and talk hand-in-hand with Wyndham anymore I will never walk alone, and neither will he.

Today, I felt the need to retrace my steps to walk and pray, and I felt a certain sense of peace that passes human understanding. Though I’d give anything to walk the path with him again, the solo adventures I am now more accustomed to consistently reassure me that the presence of God’s Spirit continually envelops me, walking with me because of its residence in my soul. Because of this, love always accompanies me. This is an amazing reality. I can sing this song by Austris A. Whithol:

My God and I go in the field together; We walk and talk as good friends should and do;

We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter; My God and I walk through the meadow’s hue…

My God and I will go for aye together; We’ll walk and talk just as good friends should and do; This earth will pass, and with it common trifles, But God and I will go unendingly.

Wisdom never walks alone. Wisdom was “walking with God” at the creation of the world. Wisdom can be an intimate friend.

  The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; (Prov 3:19 ESV)

  Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend,… (Prov 7:4 ESV)

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 108

Wisdom Owns It

I remember as a child taking a job feeding my neighbors dogs for a few weeks while the neighbors were out of town. I probably remember this because they had me feed them bologna sandwiches for treats. I dutifully did the job, but it was a job. They were not my dogs. And they slobbered. A lot.  Then, when I was nine years old I got my own dog. I was thrilled to be the owner of a dog. This was different than feeding my neighbor’s dog. I named my dog. I played with my dog. I talked to my dog. He slept on the foot of my bed. I even wrote a poem about my dog. He was mine. I owned him

So it is with our spiritual life. If we don’t truly own it, it will feel more like a joyless job, often feeling like a mere routine? We certainly won’t thrill in it, write a poem about it, or delight in talking to God.

So what might keep us from owning our spiritual life? Routine? Neglect? Following rules rather than personal convictions? Pleasing people more than pleasing God? Having a “back door” for a possible exit? Perhaps these reasons point to our need to “work out our own salvation…” Sunday, Wyndham relayed a message about owning one’s spiritual life.

Sunday was a glorious day. Our teenage grandson made the decision to follow Jesus and was baptized into Christ. We now have a granddaughter/sister and a grandson/brother. Caleb wanted to be baptized in our hot tub in the back yard so that his Papa could be part of the wonderful occasion. We realized the day before that Sunday was also Wyndham’s 47th spiritual birthday. He was baptized on June 2, 1972. It felt like a kiss from God to share this date.

Since Wyndham cannot speak clearly or loudly enough to share, he carefully expressed to me what he wished for me to share with Caleb on his behalf. Not surprisingly, the first scripture he wanted to share was one that has stayed close to his heart and guided his character since that day in June, 47 years ago.

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

He asked Caleb to strive for this love and to keep a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith.

He then asked me to read 2 Timothy 4:6-8

 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.
  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

It was hard to read this scripture through my tears because it feels so real and relevant. Wyndham has fought the good fight and is still fighting, perhaps in the most difficult way yet. Time for departure is nearer than we wish. He is, as described in a previous post, running “heartbreak hill.” Heartbreak hill is a long, hard stretch up a hill near the end of the Boston Marathon route. However, eternal life with God…. beyond description is waiting at the finish line. Now that’s someone and something to run to!

Wyndham asked me to tell Caleb, “It’s your race now!”

True words.

We must all own the race marked out for us. No one can run it for us. If we don’t own it, we won’t run it. At least not for long. And if we don’t own it, we will have no joy attempting the run.

Sometimes it takes times of reflection and prayer to internalize the true ownership of our race. Then, and only then can we keep running despite injury, fatigue, or course detours. The beautiful thing is that when we take ownership of our race we are carried along by loving arms of support and the breath of refreshment from he who runs alongside us, gives us refreshment, and picks us up when we fall. It’s my race. It’s your race. May we own it and run it wholeheartedly, never taking our eyes of the one who runs with us.

  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
(Hebrews 12:1-2)