Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 83

Wisdom Stands Amazed

We have developed a rhythm lately. For those who know Wyndham well, rhythm does not come to him naturally. (He may have been known to clap or dance to the beat of a different drummer.) However, the kind of rhythm I am meaning concerns the repetition of daily tasks (on purpose) that were once done without thought. Now, all activities—eating, sleeping, moving (really, everything) take strategic forethought. After much practice (as in learning to play an instrument) we have developed a rhythm for the essentials of daily life that works—at least for now. Because life repeats these same rhythms day after day, it’s easy to let life become routine. Since there is no more travel, nor going out for activities—the rhythm is much the same each day. Though circumstances may be different, I venture to say we are not alone in the temptation to let life become routine. It’s far too easy to miss the wonder that each day brings, even amidst challenges. 

What kind of “wonder” is found in daily difficult and challenging circumstances you may ask. If you don’t ask, I have certainly asked this question. At the beginning of this year, I chose a Scripture that I would strive to remember and put into practice each day–Mark 10:32. Earlier in this chapter, Jesus is pursued by crowds and (per his custom) teaches them. Pharisees then come and test him with questions about divorce, and next, his disciples try to send children away. Jesus not only calls the children back but corrects the disciples. He then confronts the materialist heart of a rich man and promises the disciples that they will receive abundant spiritual blessings for that which they give up. As we reach verse 32, Jesus is headed to Jerusalem, where he knows he will face death.

They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. (Mark 10:32)

Originally, I had picked this verse because I thought it meant that those who followed close to Jesus were amazed, while those who followed further behind were afraid. While there is much truth in this application, the verse refers to Jesus’ disciples, who had been walking with him, as being both amazed and afraid. They were amazed at Jesus’ life, his teachings, his boldness, his love, his promises, and also his courage—as he was walking toward suffering. However, the fear likely arose because they were walking with him toward suffering.

No matter what I may be experiencing or anticipating, it’s normal to feel some fear—but it is far better to stay amazed with Jesus! Within the rhythm of each day there is so much to be amazed by—I just must remember to see it. When the rhythm of our life becomes routine, even when it’s busy and exciting we can cease to be amazed with Jesus. We then lose faith. Every day I try to purposely notice and acknowledge the vastness of creation, from the stars to the intricacies of the spider web which I need to sweep off of the ceiling. I marvel at the breeds of dogs at the dog park across the street and the flock of thirty-plus wild turkeys around the corner.  I am humbled to see new life, remembering my neighbor who just brought her new baby home. I am amazed at hearts that I see changing around me because of the power of the Word of God and the power of persistent love. I see the sunset, and sometimes the sunrise and it’s not only gorgeous, but never the same.  I’m currently reading a book on Science and the Bible that blows my mind as I learn more about the majesty of God. I see “Godincidences,” which some might call coincidences in many areas. Most amazingly, I (we) feel peace that passes human understanding and joy that no one can take. If I don’t intentionally stand amazed, then fear can waft in.

When I stand amazed, my rhythm becomes anything but routine. For when I believe, I see the wonder of God at work, such as Jesus told Mary in John 11:40 (NRSV).

4Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

What amazes you? Life becomes anything but routine when we stand amazed—and watch and wait in expectation as we observe God at work. Wisdom stands amazed. Fear sits forgetful.

  In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. (Psalm 5:3) 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 82

Wisdom Lives Today

I’m often asked, “How are you doing?” This is a loaded question.  I appreciate the question, yet I don’t know how to respond without prefacing my answer with “today.”  Today I am doing okay. Today is the only day I know I have on this earth, though I am confident I have endless spiritual “todays.”  With the progression of Wyndham’s illness, we treasure today—each day. It’s a gift. Because it is precious, I think of today a bit differently than I used to. Things that once seemed important often don’t carry the same value they once did. I know things may get more difficult physically for him, and for me, but we choose not to focus on this. Anticipatory fatigue and anticipatory anxiety are real things. Things we don’t wish to choose. Thus, we focus on today. 

Today I can do the most important things. I can love God and love people. I can be loved by God and be loved by others. Today I can serve, and today I can live out God’s purpose for my life. Today I can strive to help Wyndham have the best today possible. With God, and only with God, I can do today. And tomorrow, I can say the same thing. Living today keeps me focused on what I can be for God and others now and helps rid my mind of worry and regret. I better understand Jesus’ admonition to ask for daily bread. Today my faith must be real. I must live fully in today. I know that many tomorrows will hold various difficult situations because Jesus says, “in this world you will have trouble.”  However, he continues with “I have overcome the world,” so that we can have peace and take heart (John 16:33). Thankfully, this world is not my true home. God planned for us the life before the Fall (when sin entered). As I mention in the book “An Aging Grace,” His lovingkindness and grace kept us from the Tree of Life so we won’t have to stay in a broken world forever. He has something amazing planned. However, to get there I must live well today.

When Wyndham was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy his neurologist lovingly looked at us and said, “You will have the privilege to focus on the things that are most important. You will learn to live the way all of us should live every day.” I could write a whole post on Dr. Khurana and what I’ve learned from him, but I’ll limit this tangent to a few sentences. He has a rare combination of gifts such as listening intently, showing compassion, focusing on the positive, knowing what to say and what not to say, eagerly wanting to help (giving his cell phone number and answering quickly), and building you up.  To add to this he is brilliant, yet humble. He is currently building brains from stem cells (in the Khurana Lab at Harvard…yes, it’s named after him) in order to search for cures for this disease. His team of researchers is making amazing and exciting progress as they seek to match antibodies with wayward proteins, hoping the antibodies will kill the proteins that fold improperly into the cells, thus wreaking havoc on the nervous system. I know this is a tangent, but Wyndham’s neurologist understands the physical value of focusing on today, even while his research is for tomorrow.

Such is wise living. Wisdom understands that focusing (spiritually) today is what prepares us for tomorrow. My faith must be strong today to prepare for unknown tomorrows. How I live today affects how I spend eternity. I must wake up today with a pure focus on loving God and loving people, and being loved by God and by people. Certainly, I get distracted and fall short, but this is my goal each day. The Scriptures below (and many more)  instruct me on today (emphasis added):

  This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24 (NRSV)

  For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice!  Psalm 95:7 (NRSV)


  Give us today our daily bread.
Matthew 6:11 (NIV)

 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:11 (NLT)

  The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope. The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. Colossians 1:5 (MSG)

  So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God.
  For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes.
  If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.
  These words keep ringing in our ears: Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.
Hebrews 3:12-15 (MSG)

  Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?
  Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—
  but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.
  So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace.
2 Peter 3:11-14 (MSG)

So, I ask— how are you today?

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 81

Wisdom Speaks with the End in Mind

Words are funny things. They are powerful. God created with words. Words play many roles as they: Inspire. Instruct. Hurt. Convict. Comfort. Entertain. Enlighten. As they do their jobs they produce varied emotions in the speaker and the hearer. Upon reception of words we may cry, laugh, sigh, smile, cringe, or even scream. Have you ever longed to own a “word catcher” that could catch careless words somewhere between your mouth and someone’s ear? I have. Unfortunately, there is no such thing—so the burden is on the speaker. If not careful, as the Red Sox would say, “Damage done.” 

Wyndham asked me a wise and rather profound question this week. I was in conversation with someone who was assisting us in a particular task. All was good. Perceiving a problem, I communicated something to this person in the form of a question, reminder, and plea. I didn’t raise my voice, and I tried to be kind and positive. However, this was not the first time I’ve spoken similar words to this person, and the words have yet to be well-received. As I think back, maybe this was the fifth or sixth time over the past year I have spoken similar words.  However, I thought perhaps the time was right to bring up the previously visited topic. Again.

Well, it wasn’t.

After the person didn’t react well the mood changed. Wyndham asked me later, “So, what were you hoping to accomplish?”

I thought about this question for a while. What was I trying to accomplish? I did feel, upon evaluation, that I was trying to bring about needed change for that person’s (and my) well-being. However, I thought through other times I’ve had this same conversation. What did I seek to accomplish then? Some of those answers would have been to let the person know:  I don’t approve. I want you to know my level of frustration. You’re not doing “it” the right way. 

Whenever words are born of frustration, or dare I say “condemnation,” they don’t accomplish good. They don’t strengthen relationships, While the end results of what we hope to accomplish may be right, timing and attitude are key. It is wise to ask: How will my words affect the relationship?  What am I hoping to accomplish? How would I feel if I put myself in the hearer’s place? Am I most concerned about speaking my words, or am I more concerned about the overall welfare of the hearer?

I would wish Paul to describe me as he does Timothy in Philippians 2:19-20.
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.

 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare.

I must get “me” out of the equation and wait until the emotions of the moment pass and frustration levels wane. While speaking the truth in love is needed and right (Ephesians 4:15 ), wisdom is needed for when and how to speak. Often, this can be determined by stopping to consider the wise question,
What am I hoping to accomplish?

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 80

Wisdom to Feel Blessed and Thankful

Today’s post is intended to say “thank you” to each of you who take the time to read these Wednesday words, week after week. Your words of encouragement, your prayers, and your comradery with us mean more than I can express. Thank you, dear friends and readers, for lovingly sharing in our journey. Thank you for your love and support. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for the ways you allow God to use your life to give to others. Thank you for being you. Thank you. This sign on our bedroom wall expresses well my heart. Blessed. Thankful. 

It often feels vulnerable to share some of the innermost thoughts of my soul in writing. I probably would have stopped writing these blogs months ago were it not for your encouragement. Though writing is often therapeutic for me and helpful in processing thoughts, it is also at times difficult (and brings on very late nights most Tuesdays). I write these thoughts primarily to honor a man of integrity and wisdom (who is also the love of my life). I also hope to express some of the wisdom I have gained from him (and many of you) in ways that can offer practical life lessons for growing in wisdom.

Physically, days are difficult for Wyndham (and for me as a caregiver). Spiritually and emotionally, “blessed” and “thankful” are the most appropriate words I can find to describe what we feel. God has abundantly blessed us, and we are so grateful to him for his loving-kindness, and for our family and friends. Thank you, and have a wonderful “blessed and thankful” Thanksgiving.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 79

Wisdom Touches Lives

By Dave Malutinok

Wyndham is my mentor, spiritual father, brother, and friend. Wyndham, and his wisdom, has forever touched my life. As I was flying across the Pacific on my way to Cambodia I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to share my gratitude, gratefulness, and sincere thanks for the blessing he has been in my life. 

My thoughts went back to 1978.  I was a one-year-old Christian at the Carolina Evangelism seminar. This was the first time I saw him in person. He and Jeanie were larger than life to me.  I had listened to Wyndham on cassette tapes and was so eager to meet him.  I listened to many tapes of very good speakers, but there was something about him that immediately drew me in. I remember thinking of ways I might be able to afford to transfer from West Virginia State University to North Carolina State, where he served as campus minister.  When I returned to West Virginia I discussed with some brothers how amazing it would be to have the Shaws at WVU.  I remember praying a ton about it and sending Wyndham two or three letters, asking him to come to help us and lead the church. God answered my prayers, and he moved to West Virginia. I know this experience brought them many painful situations, but during this time he became my spiritual father. There were times when I felt like I wanted to give up trying to be a Christian, but then I would honestly think of Wyndham—his heart for God. His love for people exhibited his love for God, and even knowing how much he loved me kept me going.

Peggy and I had planned to move to Charlotte, as Wyndham and Jeanie had moved there, and our dream was to be with them again.  Before we moved there the Shaws moved to Boston. Even though I had a killer job offer in New York, the dream of being with the Shaws overshadowed any professional benefit I might enjoy. Moving to Boston, without a job, and with Peggy six months pregnant with Scott, was one of the best decisions of our lives.

I remember when we stayed with them for a while in their basement.  I laugh as I remember our son John telling Jeanie, “You have nice flush toilets!” (We have kept that as a joke whenever we visit, even though we did have “flush toilets” in West Virginia.) They set us up to be discipled by a couple that has become one of our closest friends, the Fergusons.

They helped us to go into the ministry. During times when there were situations that I had no idea how to solve, Wyndham was there for me.  The amazing thing is that throughout my entire Christian life, he has always been there for me. Wyndham was the first male in my life that did not abandon me. I always knew that if I needed him, he would be there.  I remember feeling terror, pain, fear, anger, faithlessness, and many other emotions at Shepherd Hospital shortly after Scott’s life-altering accident. Wyndham and Chip flew down to visit. That was the first time since his accident that I felt a level of peace. Because Wyndham, my earthly adopted father, was there for me I could remember how much more my Heavenly Father will always be with me. I committed that I would always keep him in my world. 

I also rather un-fondly remember the nights in the Billerica office building. Oh my goodness, what a time. The difficult decisions that needed to be made for the church were so crucial, yet he never lost his calm. Instead of severing into many separate churches, God used Wyndham and Gordon to hold things together in the Boston church.

………….

Dear friend, I am so sorry for what you are going through. I have earned that sometimes it is impossible to fully understand God.  It is futile to ask “why.”  I have also learned that what God expects of us is faith. Faith that He is with us, He understands our plight, He has felt physically what we feel, He has felt emotionally what we feel, and yet He has overcome through our Lord Jesus—and paved the way along with the Holy Spirit to faithfully accept our sufferings with joy, thanksgiving, and peace.

For a while after Scott’s accident, I couldn’t find peace.  For years I struggled, prayed, talked, screamed outwardly and inwardly, but have through it all found peace.  Brother, I pray for you to have peace through faith that passes all understanding. I pray for you to daily remember me and the impact you made in my life. You have impacted my life like none other, save Jesus. I pray that God will also daily enlighten you to remember the thousands like me that you have impacted.  I really mean thousands.

Jeanie, your support of Wyndham, and your love for him through your actions are worth more than a million words. You are setting an earthly example of the loyalty and love that was written about regarding Ruth and Naomi.

Dear brother and friend, whom I love and respect with all my heart; have peace because He has overcome the world. 

John 16:33. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 78

Wisdom and Abiding Friendship

By Gary Dollar

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7)

It was fall of 1989, near the end of my life, that I met Wyndham.  My family and I were stationed at Fort Devens in Ayer Massachusetts. I was a career soldier enlisting in the Army in 1975, and over the past 14 years, I had become severely addicted to alcohol. My attempts at sobriety for the 10 years leading up to then were futile, including a treatment program at one of the best inpatient centers in the country. I had become hopeless, emotionally hollow, and suicidal. Somehow, I was still alive but my internal organs ached. I was dying.

Even though I was reaping what I sowed and getting what I deserved, my wife Susan, my son Aaron, and my daughter Andrea were innocents and never should have experienced the hell I introduced into their lives…

  • Physical and emotional abuse
  • Fits of rage
  • Infidelity
  • Legal separations and consistent threats of divorce
  • Broken promises to change creating optimism followed by heartbreak
  • Kids living fatherless for much of their adolescent lives
  • Susan living husbandless, in fear and loneliness
  • Hypocrisy – this “man” of the house was a respected and well-liked police officer during all of the insanity, and consequently, they were forced to live the lie outside the home as a happy and healthy family.

Hurricane Florence struck the Carolinas this September with a vengeance.  It caused 53 deaths and over 16 billion dollars in damages. It made landfall bringing sustained winds of over 140 mph and overwhelming floods. Those who ignored advice to get out but survived the onslaught were comforted when Florence passed over and continued on her way. But they were oblivious to the devastation until they wandered outside. It will take months, and more likely years, to rebuild—and even so things will never be the same.

In the last half of 1989, Susan and I were introduced to Jesus and became disciples. (Apparently, nothing is impossible with God.) Repentance produced a time of refreshing for the entire family. My external changes were obvious. I stopped drinking and smoking as well as using “Army dialect,” and Susan learned to find peace in God and gain trust in her Father to protect her. The storm that presented our most immediate threats had passed over. But, it was the deep-rooted devastation to our hearts and minds that presented the biggest risk to our future physical and spiritual lives.

Eight weeks after our conversion we were deployed to Germany. Even though I told my new brothers, that “I was all set,” they insisted that Susan and I spend some time with the Shaws for some marriage discipling time before departing. That was the first time we met Wyndham. He was nothing like we expected. We anticipated a stodgy, un-relatable priest-like man who would let us talk for a while and send us on our way with some superficial advice. But he was nothing like we expected. He was unpretentious and kind, and not only opened his home to us but also his heart—much like a loving father. We knew he was a “safe place” He was extremely compassionate and never gave a hint of condescension, arrogance, or superiority. That day Susan and I confessed sin, cried, shared things from our past that we had kept secret for years. He was open with his life and masterfully handled the scriptures laying the Biblical foundation for Godly marriage.  I left his house that day knowing that I had a real friend. While serving in Germany the Shaws would always schedule time with us during the European Missions Conference in spite of the huge roles and responsibilities they had at those events. Each time we met, no matter how long the separation, they treated us like we were together the day before and were always concerned with the progress of our marriage, asking Susan how things were going. I’m not sure why they didn’t ask me…

Sadly, over the years, there have been times when I allowed my past life to resurface. These were some of my darkest moments that at times would cause me in shame to turn my back on God, in some cases for a long time. Wyndham frequently reached out to me and let me know he was praying for me. And the few times where the situation would become desperate—in love, he fearlessly came to my side to encourage and call me back to God. It was those times that led me to repentance, and back to the church family.

   From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 

   God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)

God, in his providence, brought us back to Fort Devens from Germany. I have since retired from the army, moved to a neighboring town near the Shaws, gained further education, entered the civilian workforce, and recently retired. Wyndham and I became the best of friends through all these times. No man has done more to save my marriage, my life, and ultimately my soul. His carrying me through the hard times has created a bond between us that will last into eternity. I am so thankful to God that he determined for me this appointed time in history at this exact place.

There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 RSV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 77

Wisdom Values Team

In case you haven’t heard—our favorite baseball team just won the World Series! (We were, and are, pretty fired up about this.) I emphasize the word “team” for a reason. This Boston team is not a team because they all wear red sox and have their paychecks signed by the same organization. Team means much more to them than this! They function as a team in their attitudes.

Team works together. Team values each other. Team accentuates community rather than individuality. Team sacrifices. Team relies on strengths of others. Team rejoices with another’s success. Team hurts with another’s hurt. Team offers help. Team doesn’t give up on teammates. Team communicates. Team puts the good of the whole above personal gain. Team works hard and plays hard.

Scriptures speak of teamwork again and again, as we are meant to function as a team—in community. God did not plan for us to practice our Christianity in isolation. It’s impossible to practice community in isolation.

  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;
  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
  Live in harmony with one another.
 (Romans 12:4-16a NIV 2011)

Wisdom understands the value of team. I have learned much about teamwork from Wyndham. For as long as I have known him, he has valued and practiced team-building. When first leading in campus ministry he always planned the ministry with a team. He pulled in campus students for planning devotionals, had lunch together with the guys, and consulted them while coaching them. He prayed, played, and did the work of the ministry together with them. He believed in them when they didn’t believe in themselves. I remember one conversation (as the ministry was growing quickly) with a brother who knew some Bible but was a new Christian. Wyndham told him he needed him to lead a Bible study group and take on responsibility. The brother assured him that he wasn’t ready for such responsibility. Wyndham told him he knew that quite well, but he was needed anyway—he was the only one he had for the job needed. God would help him. Wyndham encouraged him and walked with him, and this brother in Christ (along with many other young Christians), took on more and more responsibilities. Many of these campus students became ministers after they graduated college and remain in the ministry today, over forty years later. Throughout later ministries, Wyndham practiced the same things, because he deeply values team.

Often the older Christian and ministry leader, he has always felt the need for team. He knew he didn’t have all the answers, and that we were all learning together. While he wasn’t afraid to lead, he was inclusive. He asked advice and sought ideas, because he valued the thoughts of others–in ministry and in life. We invited most anyone we were around into our marriage and family, asking for their input whenever we were bumping, in raising kids, or even for reassurance that we were thinking well. Wyndham always included me in his thinking, eager for my input and thoughts, and let me how deeply he valued them. He still does, even though conversation is difficult because of his speech. He was inclusive, open, and eager for our kids to be part of the family team. We can’t feel like part of a team if we don’t feel needed, valued, or appreciated. Building team can’t be faked or formularized. It begins with humility.

Our beloved Red Sox have exemplified team. Their manager (Alex Cora), whether he knows it or not, has used Godly principles of team-building, as described in this excerpt from an article by Jim Hackett, written for WEEI radio.com on October 25.

When I watch what everyone labels as magic coming out of Cora this postseason, I rather see the sum of eight months of building belief in his players and that faith and strategy coming perfectly to fruition…

…Cora doesn’t look at what Ian Kinsler or Sandy Leon can’t do or what they haven’t been doing. Oh no. Cora…looks at what these players can do and thoughtfully places them in positions to succeed at what is consistently turning out to be just the right time…

… Maybe he’s smarter than other managers or more prepared. Maybe he just has razor sharp instincts or perhaps a lucky rabbit’s foot, but I don’t think so.

I think Cora works on looking for the value in each and every one of his players and started doing it the day he was hired. He finds it and lets the player know it. He lets his players know without a shadow of a doubt, that this particular skill or strengths he sees is important and that the team is going to need it.

What happens from there? Magic? No, the confidence in the player builds and builds and when the moment for magic comes, that player is ready. Find it, confirm it, reaffirm it, and use it. Then just wash, rinse and repeat.

And this championship team was built simply from practicing principles God has always known and established. Imagine what can happen when we join with God’s Spirit to build up the body of Christ. Nothing, no nothing, can stand in the way of what God can do through the power of His team. Wisdom values team.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 76

Wisdom Reads

Though Wyndham was always an excellent student, in elementary school he was occasionally chastised by teachers for reading. Yes, you read correctly. It seems he would creatively have his “correct” school textbook open while reading a biography tucked neatly inside of his textbook. He would keep reading this way until the teacher noticed—or until he had read all the biographies in the library, which he did. His love for reading continued through the years.

Wyndham is in good company. Certainly, Jesus was an avid student of the Old Testament, as he quoted it often. Also, we know the Apostle Paul greatly valued “books.”

Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
  I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
  When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
(2 Timothy 4:11-13)

I’m reminded of Wyndham’s love of reading tonight as we watch our beloved Red Sox in the World Series. (Stay with me, Los Angeles friends.) Wyndham had no television when he was growing up, so he read. His parent’s “no television” choice had one exception. Every year, for the World Series, his dad would rent a television. This was a big event. The World Series is still a big event in this house.

Reading helps us gain wisdom. Of course, nothing surpasses the importance of reading the Bible. I love reading the Bible but must fight to read it simply to hear God speaking to me. It’s easy for me to read it for teaching purposes, or for ways I can share it with someone else. All good. But, the most important way for me to read the Bible is to really let the Spirit speak to me. In the quiet (or even the noise), God is always speaking to me. Then, I must ruminate on what he says…concentrating on what he speaks to my heart. God’s Spirit communicates.

Today I read a Facebook post by Jonathan Laing, quoting his young daughter saying she was “Missed— Underheard,” thinking she was saying “misunderstood.” I thought this was a brilliant perspective of “misunderstood.”  I wonder how often God feels like he is altogether missed. And, underheard.

Reading shows that we desire to learn. Reading expands our imagination and gives us new perspectives. Reading makes us think, and if we let it—makes us better. I love reading spiritual books and am energized and called higher by many books. Sadly, Wyndham can no longer hold a book to read, so I read to him. This has resulted in an unforeseen blessing. Most nights I read some Scriptures out loud, or at times read something I have read in a book I know he would appreciate. I have learned that reading out loud adds a new dimension to reading, which is good. “Community reading” gives us the opportunity to grow together.

I must close here. The World Series is on, and this is no time to read…or write.

If you would be so kind, in your comments feel free to share a spiritual growth book that has served you well, and perhaps something about the book. I’ll post a collection. Happy reading, and go Red Sox.

My husband is a good sport with my photo requests.

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 75

Wisdom Builds Faith While Expressing Love

A couple of weeks after we were engaged to be married Wyndham moved to North Carolina to serve in the campus ministry while I finished my last quarter of college classes. (I would do an internship in North Carolina.) We were both crazy busy during the five months of our engagement. He was in a new place starting a campus ministry, and I was taking a ridiculous number of hours to finish school, leading a Bible talk or two, and planning a wedding.

Long distance calls were expensive back then, thus restrictive (given Wyndham’s salary of seven thousand dollars a year, and my salary of nothing)! We seldom were able to talk, but wrote letters constantly during our five-month engagement. I wrote every day. Wyndham wrote some days–until my mentor, Ann Lucas, advised me to stop writing for a few days so he would understand what those letters meant. She was wise. 😊 He started writing every day. 

Those letters meant so much to me that I still have them in a box in our basement. Years ago, (perhaps it was our 25th anniversary), we read some of the letters together. They were filled with faith in what God would do and awe at what he was doing. The tone of the letters was so faith-filled—nothing would be impossible for God. The fields were ripe for harvest. The students, the professors, the teens, the adults…we were watching God move in people’s lives as they became Christians. I heard about them in his letters. I felt his excitement, and I caught his vision. His attitude of faith in the letters could best be expressed by Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:20-21.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

These letters also told me how much I was loved. I’d read those parts again and again. Wyndham’s wisdom had (and has) the unique ability to build faith while expressing love. Wisdom does that—builds faith and expresses love. It’s not a technique or writing style, but an overflow of faith and love from the heart.

God’s letters to me, in his Word, do this above any other letters. They leave me with faith and leave me feeling loved. This past week one of my assignments (I’m working on my master’s degree in spiritual formation) included writing a letter to myself from God during the current season of my life. This was an emotionally moving exercise for me. My fingers typed faster than I can ever remember, and the whole time I was crying. Ugly crying. Weeping.  I felt God expressing his love for me (and for Wyndham) and reassuring me that he loves us, hears all our prayers, and is quite aware of our situation. In this letter, he was telling me he “had this,” and I could trust him. Here are a few excerpts.

My dear daughter,

 As you enjoy another sunrise today and experience my reminders and kisses to you through your favorite autumn flowers, the crispness of the air, the wildlife that you enjoy, and the love you feel and experience in your heart…remember this is what I want for you. Trust me.

 If only you could see as I do, you would understand that I would do nothing, ever, to hurt you. You know how deeply you feel about your children and grandchildren. Well, the love I feel for you is infinitely more. Trust that. You will see one day. I will hold you in my arms, and as my Spirit lives in you now, I want you to feel hugged from the inside out. Trust me.

 I hate that you are hurting and that your husband is suffering, but trust me. I feel this with you. I am suffering with you. This is temporary and one day it will be a speck so small you will say…oh…now I get it. I will never leave you alone. I will be with you and him, and your family every step of the way. I have this…

 And, that husband of yours. He is one of my dearest sons. Don’t ever think I don’t have him on and in my heart every day. Know beyond the shadow of a doubt I love you both. I can’t wait to be together one day. Meanwhile, represent me well; don’t ever quit giving. I’m going to lead you to many people who need help finding me. I will help you use the gifts I have given you. We are a team. You are my friend. Don’t ever forget that, daughter.

 I haven’t forgotten your devotion to me. Never forget mine to you. Please take time to be still and let this sink in. And always trust me. I’ve got this.

 Always and forever yours,

Abba

As I reminisced over God’s faithfulness to me and his words to me in the Scriptures (not just my imaginary letter), my faith was built. Wisdom builds faith while expressing love.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 74

Wisdom Knows How to Be Still

Be still?

“Ain’t got no time for that!”

Life is busy. Every life stage brings unique challenges which cry out for our attention.

Yet God tells us, amidst our work, amidst our family life, amidst our health challenges, amidst our technology, amidst our everything…to be still.

What is your first reaction: When you feel stressed? When you are tired? When you are down? When you feel annoyed? When you are meeting with someone? When you are preparing for work or school?

Is it to work or plan harder? Distract with social media? Eat? Sleep? Complain?

Or, is it to “be still?”

It doesn’t feel like it makes sense, but God tells us to be still. It’s hard to be still. It takes time to be still. For me, I must put myself in a place where I will have minimal distractions, then take deep breaths, notice and recount God’s bigness and goodness—and connect. And listen. Beforehand it helps me to listen to or sing spiritual music, read some Scriptures, and take time to be still, to listen to what God is teaching me.

 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
  Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes
. (Psalm 37:5-7)

  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah  (Psalm 46:10-11)

  Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
  The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
(Exodus 14:13-14)

Wisdom knows how to be still.

One particular time stands out in my mind from years ago when Wyndham felt a great deal of stress. It was an extremely difficult time in the church and he felt great pressure. What did he do? He didn’t first plan and scheme and talk. He took his Bible and a songbook and went away to a quiet place for a few days with his son-in-law, in order to be still. To be renewed. To hear God. He sang. Prayed. Read the Bible. Listened to God. Went “offline,” to all except God. 

Often, he would walk the power lines behind our house (with his dog following close behind) to sing and pray…and reflect…and then sit and be still—listening to God. I’ve always admired his ability to disconnect—in order to connect. My distracted, multi-tasking brain has a harder time with this. But it’s important, and necessary to make such times.

Sometimes, the place to “be still” is right outside my door. The other night I stepped outside to be still. The stars were bright, the night was quiet. As I sang this song I reflected on God as he quieted my soul. Tears streamed down my face.

Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul thy best, thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Be still my soul when dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears
Then shalt thou better know His love His heart
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears
Be still my soul the waves and winds shall know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below

Be still my soul the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot love’s purest joys restored
Be still my soul when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

(By Katharina Von Schlegel—public domain)

How I needed to be still. It was good for me to reflect as I poured out both gratitude and disappointments. I needed to wrestle and surrender, as this is a hard season of life, of loss, pain, and various disappointments. Despite these, I feel God’s strong presence. The stillness of the night and the brightness of the stars reminded me of his steadfast love. I want to completely rid my heart of fear, as I know that what is on the other side of life on earth is not even comparable to what I have seen—and I’ve seen a lot! I needed to look into the heavens in the still of the night and contemplate heaven, remembering he calls the stars out by name.

Though I have disappointments, his thoughts are light years’ greater than mine. When I am still, God’s Spirit revives my soul as expressed by another hymn:

 Lord, speak to me, that I may speak
In living echoes of Thy tone….

Oh, lead me, Lord, that I may lead…

Oh, teach me, Lord, that I may teach…

Oh, give Thine own sweet rest to me,
That I may speak with soothing pow’r
A word in season, as from Thee,
To weary ones in needful hour.

Oh, fill me with Thy fullness, Lord,
Until my very heart o’erflow
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.

Oh, use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where,
Until Thy blessed face I see,
Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.

(By Frances Havergal and Robert Schumann, public domain)

May we all take the needed time to “be still.”