Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 97

Wisdom Weaves a Tapestry

Thank you, Julia, for sharing such meaningful words about Wyndham’s life. Today, after a very difficult weekend with a sudden downward turn of health (though thankfully he’s significantly better today), I am particularly grateful for those whose threads run through my life…most especially Wyndham’s. Here are Julia’s beautiful words:

I think of a person’s life as a tapestry – people woven together over time and through experiences to create something beautiful and unique. When I consider the tapestry of my life I can see the threads of my parents, husband, children, and siblings. I see tragic relationships and heroic ones, too. There are best friends and enemies, some short threads, some very long.

Wyndham Shaw is a golden thread in the fabric of my life.  Sometimes he is prominent in the pattern and sometimes just a single hint of gold, but he is woven into the story of my life. Wyndham was the first minister I ever heard bring the Bible to life; I never heard anything like it. Once he got to know me better, Wyndham played ‘matchmaker’ to me and Gary Hannon.  When it looked like this relationship just might work, he married us.  He was my boss at HOPE worldwide New England and I saw him pretty frequently back then, leading with his heart and his convictions. He sat next to me as we flew to Romania and prayed for God to protect us and give us victory in bringing hope to the orphans of Bucharest.

The other passenger in the row (a stranger) was also grateful for the prayer.

Wyndham came to the hospital to pray over my newly born son. He supported me when I mentored his middle daughter – helping me to help her. These are the times in my fabric that the threads are more densely woven together, and you can see the pattern – glinting and strong.

Wyndham has always been an amazing example to me of a man who puts the most important things first; God and family and friends. He studied the Bible with my father over time and across much distance, and when my father’s health was failing (and he finally surrendered his will to God’s) Wyndham baptized my frail father in a trough in my living room. A few weeks later, Wyndham traveled across states (into Yankee territory no less) to help me bury my father.

While I do not consider myself among his closest circle, I count myself as so very blessed to be a witness to his strength and wisdom, and his living faith, ‘of greater worth than gold’ for these many years (27 as I count them).  Up close or from a distance, he is someone who has been a consistent example of living for Jesus; a friend, a big brother, a mentor, a boss, comforter, sufferer, a hero–and ultimately, I believe, a champion.  Julia Hannon

May God weave his love throughout our being, so that we can weave his love into the lives of others.

 I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery.
 All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery!  (Colossians 2:2-3 MSG)

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 96

Wisdom “One-Anothers”

Breaking all rules of grammar, today “one-another” becomes a verb. We receive so much encouragement from you as we are continually “one-anothered.” And today, we pause to thank God for you, and for the powerful “one-anothering” you provide for us.

No words can properly express our gratitude for: the smiles you put on our faces; the refreshment you place in our souls; the extra burst of energy you place in our cells; and the perseverance you pour into our attitudes. These come from your daily prayers (which humble us), your words of encouragement (through calls, texts, and cards) that lift our spirits, your thoughtfulness (through acts of service) that help meet our needs, your faith that inspires our hearts, and your sharing of Scriptures that helps us persevere.

Wyndham’s disease stinks. A quick Google search of “Multiple System Atrophy” is daunting. It’s described as a combo of ALS and Parkinsons, as if one is not enough. The disease is hard, and continual. Caretaking is hard, and continual. Yet somehow, by the grace of God, the encouragement of our family, the prayers and encouragement from dear brothers and sisters in Christ—near and far…we feel indescribable joy, closeness to God, peace that passes understanding…for real. And all while this cloud of grief and suffering looms over our heads. It just doesn’t make sense, except for God.

Today we want to say thank you. You have no idea how much your prayers, words, cards, texts, calls, (short) visits, acts of service, comments on Facebook and this blog encourage us. To know we are prayed for around the world is extremely humbling, and every time I think of this I cry, with gratitude. Prayer makes a difference. I feel it.

Our amazing immediate family—they are all in, with all heart. Our extended family continually shows care and concern. Our spiritual family, golden friends, friends from afar, and new friends are sources of great strength and encouragement. Some are constant card-writers or texters, somehow always spot-on with the need of the day.

Our family group is truly a “family” group. Most of us are needy. Several of us are caretakers. Within the past few months, two in our group have passed from this life to Paradise (and what stories of faith they take with them). We have among us disabled children, aging parents, aging selves :-), Parkinsons, MS, MSA, congestive heart failure, raising of grandchildren, and various other situations. But a more giving, vibrant, faithful group can’t be found. Whether it’s praying, serving, providing meals, studying the Bible, baptisms, singing, Christmas caroling, serving the poor, taking the family group service dog to Children’s and Veteran’s hospital, and just inventing ways to encourage and do good…this describes the group. What a beautiful plan of God to give us a physical and spiritual family.

I have learned so much about the value of encouragement and the wisdom of God in creating relationships. The demonstration, by the triune God, of love and relationship is beyond understanding. My greatest regret presently, is that I can’t do more for others who face difficult times. I can pray, and can learn to be a better card writer and encourager as I go.

It’s beautiful and challenging to reflect on some of the Scriptures about our relationships in the body of Christ. Here are a few of God’s instructions on “one-anothering.”

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. (Romans 12:16)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8)

I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. (Romans 15:14)

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.(Ephesians 4:2)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Thank you for the ways you “one-another” us. Your words and prayers are deeply valued. May we all keep “one-anothering” each other in these ways. We love you.

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham- 95

Wisdom is an Apprentice and a Mentor

Today I taught, shared, and reminisced with a wonderful group of young women in the New England School of Missions about various experiences, life lessons, and favorite scriptures on discipleship. We talked about the importance of being lifelong learners who long to be transformed into the image of Christ. We talked of the importance of prayer, Scripture, honesty, humility, vulnerability, and perseverance as we learn and as we mentor. We can’t “fix” anyone, but we can take them to Jesus who can. We can with them as together we follow Jesus.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)

This evening I read a note from Jack Frederick describing apprenticeship and mentoring. Wyndham, because of the way he has lived (and lives) his life has remained both an apprentice and a mentor. In other words, always learning and always mentoring. Mentors who always keep learning and growing, no matter the situation, make the best mentors. Humility is key. Without humility, we won’t have an eagerness to learn. I so appreciate this attitude in Wyndham, who in his physical weakness trusts his strong God and continues to learn—thus still mentors. And, I appreciate the following words from Jack.

I’ve learned more from walking with experienced leaders than from all the books I’ve read and speeches I’ve heard. I learned how to effectively lead Bible studies from sitting in on so many studies led by my friend Wyndham Shaw. We were both young, but Wyndham was an experienced ministry leader who had successfully led campus ministries and large churches. Later, he and Gordon Ferguson taught and trained me and others in the role of being an elder/shepherd/overseer in churches. And we learned not just from lessons; we walked with them to see how they cared for people and wrestled through difficult situations in people’s lives. They shared their successes and failures—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

An apprentice is defined as a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer. It’s a great way to learn, the best. When we achieve university degrees and take a job in our field, we realize we still have a lot to learn. We have textbook knowledge, but we find in applying knowledge it’s much more effective to learn from those who have gone before and figured out pitfalls we didn’t see in the textbook and classroom.

I generally find that people who are accomplished and successful tend to be quick to seek and listen to wisdom from others. Often, when we are younger we can  think and say such things as, “I want to do it myself” or “I’ve got this, I don’t need help.” When I asked the CEO of Raytheon if he would like to study the Bible and to be my discipleship partner he responded, “thank you for asking me this, no one ever asked me something so important before.” He also said he had 80,000 people who told him things he wanted to hear, but no one told him what he needed to hear.

When I say “study the Bible” this means using the Bible to teach a friend to know God and what it means to become a follower or disciple of Jesus. That friend might be an atheist or agnostic, but it could also be a person who is very religious but has never really sought to understand the Bible and its teachings. I studied with a friend who had been a minister in a well-known church group for fifty-three years, yet he told me he only knew four or five Bible verses which he used over and over as he traveled around the nation preaching. This might be where you are…it’s okay to be there, it’s not okay to be satisfied to remain there; so get some determination and get someone to help you.

And for those of us who know the Bible, have read lots, and even taught Bible studies to many others…have you done so recently? If we go a few months (or years) without applying our knowledge, our abilities atrophy—just as muscles we don’t use regularly.

I’m grateful for men like Wyndham & Gordon who diligently learned to be effective in applying their faith and teaching others. I’m grateful to them and their wives, these and so many others who taught me not just from the textbook, but from their lives as they allowed us to walk with them.

I teach classes on rocket science. The thing that students and teachers like most is that I teach them the theory from the textbooks, but then I show them how we apply that math & science to actually design, build, and fly rockets. Both are vital, but academics and theories are no good unless you can prove that these work in real life situations.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

 Of all the important things we do in life, learning and applying the teachings of Jesus are most important. Are you an apprentice and a mentor? Who is training you, and who are you training?

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 94

Wisdom and a Rock

We had crazy wind yesterday. My rocking chairs frolicked around the porch from side to side. My door wreath landed at the neighbor’s fence, and everything hanging went flying. The birdhouse crashed. Our house, surrounded by open playing fields on both sides, always receives an intensified dose of wind. It was loud. Whistling. Banging things around. Denver, our golden retriever, took refuge under our bed.

Psalm 61 is one of my (many) favorites. Verses 2-4 read:

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Friday was a hard day. I thought for a while that Wyndham was losing his battle with MSA. I was scared. Thankfully, he rebounded and was soon back to his normal (MSA) self. It was scary, but somehow—peace-filled beyond human understanding.

Because of the rock. The one higher than I.

We used to pass this granite rock on our favorite place for prayer walks, a vista with a panoramic ocean view. This rock has held firm through many a violent storm. It always reminded us of the rock we have as our foundation for life. One that can’t be shaken. One that does not fly away in the wind. One that is a refuge. Better than under the bed.

Last week a friend came to visit. He later told me he was inspired by his visit with Wyndham and wanted to share about it in his sermon on Sunday. He then asked me what Wyndham does to maintain his relationship with God in his current situation. I thought about it and answered this:

I would say that he has built such a deep foundation that it carries the way he thinks when times are hard. He is physically weak and immobile so that everything must be done for him—but he controls his mind, thoughts, and interaction with God. He relies on God’s love, the Spirit, and trusts that God is in control and can work through weakness.

I read to him and we pray, though he only adds “amen” because he can’t really talk. Many mornings he will watch and listen to a YouTube of worship music with scenery and scriptures. (I just asked my TV for “YouTube with worship music, scenery, and Scriptures” and voila. It exists.) But mostly, the relationship is maintained because it stems from the strong foundation that has been built over the years. God and he can just sit and be. Funny, Wyndham and I can do that as well. That’s what deep relationships can do. They can be. 

When Wyndham became disabled, he immediately re-read Job. Wyndham greatly values integrity.  He committed to be as Job (2:9-10) and never throw away his integrity. He would say, as Job did, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

And he remains grateful. And joyful. And laughs a lot. He/we focus on the good. On the things for which we are thankful. One day at a time.

This is what it means to him to hold on to the rock. The one higher than I. God has been our refuge and will continue to be. Wyndham built his life on a rock. Wisdom builds on the foundation of the rock.

The storm helps us better understand what is truly important…and the preciousness of hope. Our spiritual selves never have to die. How amazing is that?!  I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

So, if you think your daily walk with God doesn’t really matter and the little decisions you make every day don’t count—remember that you are building a foundation. That rock will hold you when the storms come. And they will come.

 I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears…

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me…

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?

(Psalm 18:1-6, 19 30-31)

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 93

Wisdom Throws a Pebble

Though we had to tromp through snow to get to the creek beside our house, I decided today would be a good day to introduce our youngest grandchild to the thrill of throwing pebbles off the bridge into the water. Through the years, all our grandchildren have enjoyed this little adventure. This afternoon little Colette held two pebbles in her tiny hand, I held one in my wrinkling hand—and on the count of three, we heaved them off the bridge and into the water, with a splat and a plunk. As the pebbles dropped to the bottom and out of sight, we could only see the ripples that they produced. Where those ripples traveled, I have no idea. The little creek next to our house ebbs and flows…sometimes swiftly and sometimes barely moving—but eventually meets a river (I think the Ipswich) which flows into the Atlantic. As we watched the ripples fade out of sight I thought of the scripture from the book on wisdom, Ecclesiastes 11:1, 5-6:

   Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again…
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
  Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

 Colette (Coco) is a tiny, precious little two-year-old, and I’m a not-so-tiny almost 65-year-old. There was nothing strong or eventful about our throws, and our pebbles were small. But we threw them—and the ripples began. Like the small pebbles, we never know where our seemingly small actions will take the ensuing ripples as we strive to follow Jesus—through good deeds, prayer, words of encouragement, sharing our testimony, and sharing the Scriptures. The energy of the Spirit of God carries the ripples from our meager pebbles in ways and to places we cannot imagine.

This week I received an email from Don Lee, a dear friend we met while in our twenties and leading a campus ministry in Raleigh, North Caroline. We certainly lacked experience and expertise, but we had a whole lot of faith in our great God. Don was a student at Duke University who became a Christian during this time. Every year without fail, for the past forty-two years, he has called Wyndham on the anniversary of his baptism into Christ to thank him for sharing Jesus with him—for “throwing that pebble.” He gave me permission to share his note:

Wyndham, I’ve been mulling over for several days how to express my gratitude to you for studying the Bible with me 43 years ago. I’ll never forget that time. I was a shy, unconfident, fearful, and empty young man in my freshman year at Duke University. My sister Nancy, ‘set me up’ to meet you and study the Bible. Each week I’d make the drive from Durham to Raleigh and meet you at the Brooks Avenue church of Christ. Your piercing eyes would see right through me. I felt exposed, but, at the same time accepted by you. Your patience in walking each step of my new spiritual journey with me was essential.

At one point I said, “Let’s get me baptized.” Instead of being fired up about my decision, you dug deeper to make sure I had dealt with some issues with my family being Lord of my life before Jesus. I’m so thankful you risked our relationship to help me get over this obstacle. There’s no way I could have persevered for this long without being tested early on. Jeanie, thank you for your weekly WWW (Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham) blog. Since the time Wyndham studied with me so many years ago, I’ve only gotten to follow Wyndham from afar. All that you’ve shared (as well as so many others’ contributions) make me wish that I could have been around you more!

One of the recent blogs (#88 Wisdom Overlooks) helped me so much. As many will testify, your legacy and impact reach far and wide. While most of the ministries you have been in are on the east coast (FL, NC, WV, MA), few people realize the worldwide impact. That small NC campus ministry included Douglas Arthur (London), Douglas Jacoby (global Teacher), and Gary Knutson (Johannesburg). Your legacy has reached to China as well. Other disciples from that NC ministry (Scott and Lynne Green and myself) went to China. God used the Greens to plant the Hong Kong church in 1997. There are now 27 churches with almost 4000 disciples in the China region. What more can I say? I think of you and Jeanie often. Your faith and courage to finish the fight inspire me. I love you. Thank you for sharing God’s word with me. Love, your Brother in Christ, Don 

God’s Word is powerful. We just have to throw the pebbles. The Spirit of God will take the ripples from there—in mysterious and unimaginable ways.

  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
  so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8-11)

 Throw that pebble today, and by faith…wait for God to do more than you dare ask or imagine.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 92

Wisdom Considers

Every once in a while, a kind note or message arrives as a pleasant surprise—like when you hear from someone who you haven’t seen or spoken with in decades. I have been learning the value of kind words, and words that express appreciation. Kind words mean a great deal. Many of you have expressed such kindness, for which Wyndham and I are eternally grateful.

As I write these Wednesday blogs, I have several goals in mind. One is to honor a man I love and respect deeply. Another is to share wisdom observed from his life, in hopes that it can spark practical spiritual growth, encouragement, or inspiration.

Another purpose for these blogs is personal. They help me to recount precious memories and things I have learned (and am learning) as I process what the aggressive and progressive nature of Wyndham’s illness brings—a deep current and anticipatory grief (and sometimes fear), yet somehow accompanied by inexpressible gratitude, intimacy with God, trust, and a peace that passes human understanding. (Thank you, God.)

Wyndham, until he was unable to continue the process, was working on a book (which I’ll finish) entitled, “Gleanings from a Shepherd.” This comes from his life, containing stories of lessons learned from God (through life) concerning qualities of an elder. I pray that the “gleanings” expressed from others in these blogs (and hopefully from me as well—as the one who has witnessed his life up close and personal for four and a half decades) are a helpful book of sorts. Prayerfully, many of these stories (blogs) along with others unpublished, will one day accompany his “Gleanings from a Shepherd” book.

Today’s nugget of Wyndham’s wisdom, from an old friend we have not seen for many decades, recounts yet another important quality of wisdom—consideration. All too often, it’s easy to keep conversations shallow and incomplete, leaving relationships at a standstill. The scriptures teach us to consider how to stir each other up to love and good deeds.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,… (Hebrews 10:24)

“Consider” means we think through, study, and meditate on something. Wyndham excels at learning (considering) and valuing people—often resulting in stirrings of love and kindness. Today Jerry Sprague, that “old” friend from our campus ministry days in Raleigh, North Carolina, sent the following note:

Wyndham was very instrumental in my spiritual growth when I was a young Christian. I grew up not knowing how to communicate negative feelings, so I would always stuff them inside. One time, Wyndham and I were supposed to meet somewhere, and he forgot. When he realized it, he approached me in fellowship and apologized. I gave him my typical response, “Oh, that’s okay; no big deal.” He looked me straight in the eyes and said, Brother, tell me how you really feel. That’s the only way I can ever get to know you. 

That moment had a tremendous impact on my spiritual development. I should have verbalized how disappointed I was and that it did hurt me; in scriptural terms, “speaking the truth in love.” That’s the first time I really understood what it meant to be open and to speak the truth in love. God used Wyndham to teach me this truth.

It was still a struggle to be that open, but that was the starting point! Wyndham was always so gentle with me, and we continued to have a warm and effective relationship. I remember shedding tears when he told me he was moving. He had been such an inspiration to me. Please give him my love and thank him for the love he showed me!

May we all use consideration in our conversations. We never know the effect our words can have.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 91

Wisdom Loves “Hump Day.”

One of my favorite current commercials features a large camel walking into an office building enthusiastically asking employees, “What day is it?!”  He thrills, even to the unenthusiastic response by one of the workers who mumbles, “It’s Hump Day.” The camel, obviously pleased with “his” day shouts, “Hump Day! Yeah!!”

Wednesday has often been tagged “hump day” because it’s smack dab in the middle of the week. The thinking is often that until “hump day,” the week is an uphill battle, but on Wednesday the weekend is in sight. There is hope. We must simply persevere through the next couple of days to get to something better.

Wisdom loves “hump day” because wisdom perseveres, and wisdom hopes for something better. We must go through the “Mondays and Tuesdays” that are difficult and repetitive in order to find hope.

What are your (figurative) Mondays and Tuesdays before “hump day”—those times that are hard and you feel tempted to quit?

Quit serving. Quit caring. Quit trying. Quit reaching out. Quit praying. Quit making progress.

My “Mondays and Tuesdays” come when caretaking feels really hard and sad. When a vast amount of reading and writing homework awaits. When I must drive to meet someone for an appointment and the temperature is below zero. When the snow hasn’t shoveled itself. When I sit down to pray but don’t feel like God is being a very good friend. When I need to exercise, but I’m tired. When I know I should reach out, but fear disappointment.

I think I’m not alone. We all have many days which require plain ol’ perseverance. In fact, there can really be no meaningful perseverance until we want to quit, right? Otherwise, we are just doing what we want to do.

Hebrews 10 contains some of my favorite crash-through-the-quitting-places verses:

  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,…
 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive     what he has promised.
(Hebrews 10:232-24, 36)

I love that he is faithful, I love that we can encourage and be encouraged. I love that God has given me a sure promise.

One of Wyndham’s favorite verses on perseverance is about overcoming:  To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

Wyndham is an excellent overcomer, and he has the wisdom to hold on to hope. He asked me to add this verse:

 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
(Romans 5:3-5)

He is confident that hope will not disappoint.

How I love hope. How I need hope.

My verse focus for the year is from Romans 15:13:  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

I count on the power of the Holy Spirit to fill me with hope. To overflow me with joy and peace…as long as I trust.

This hope is why Wyndham can stay joyful and peaceful. I know it’s the only way I can.

Hope is everything. Hope of eternal life brings peace…and joyful anticipation. It brings comfort.

As you persevere through your Mondays and Tuesdays…. remember today is “hump day”—a day to find hope. Because ultimately, Sunday’s coming. The day of resurrection.

So keep on riding. Persevere. And take hold of hope today on “hump day.”

In the words of the camel. “Hump day!!! YEAH!”

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 90

Wisdom Knows “Busy’s” Purpose

It’s an oft-spoken phrase: I’m so busy! Life seems to fly at a rocket-speed pace. Even when not busy working, we are busy checking phones, working remotes, and dashing kids to and from activities. We are often busy doing good things, as well. “Busy” can be necessary, but can also become a trap. A habit. A competition. A sense of worth or security. It is of utmost importance to discern the reason behind our busy.  Ultimately, is it to help others, and ourselves bring glory to God?

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. (Proverbs 14:8)

Wyndham spoke often of a reply my dad would give when someone asked him his occupation. I can still hear my dad answer, while wearing a big smile on his face: “My occupation is dean of admissions at the University of Florida, but my preoccupation is the Kingdom of God. There was no doubt in my mind what was of first importance in his life, and our family’s life. Our family’s busyness reflected this priority.

Wyndham has lived a busy life, but now he lives life at a slow pace. No deadlines. No phone calls. No emails or texts. No travels. No traffic. When he was diagnosed with MSA his neurologist told him, “Now you will have the time to focus on what is truly important.”  Important has taken on new meanings. What often seemed urgent has since lost importance. What is truly important, has become what is more urgent. For Wyndham, his disease numbers his days—that is, without divine intervention. Yet, we all need to live with our earthly purpose and heaven in mind—because we all have numbered days.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12 RSV)

One nugget of Wyndham’s wisdom, which stands out to me and which I try to emulate, was his response toward busyness. He was always busy, but never too busy to love God first and then love people. He was never too busy to be deeply involved and connected to me and our children. He was never too busy for people. He decided to live this way.

When we are busy, people can feel hesitant to approach us. When Wyndham was approached, people often said something like…I’d love to get some time with you or get some advice from you, but I know you are so busy. Wyndham would stop, reach out a reassuring arm, look them in the eyes and say… You are my busy.  By that, he meant that people were his priority. He was never too busy for people. To love them and to serve them. Who is our busy for? What will our “busy” mean a hundred years from now? Money won’t matter. Sports won’t matter. Our degrees won’t matter. Our looks won’t matter.

Our relationship with God will matter.

We have often advised others…If you are too busy to keep spiritual priorities and build meaningful relationships…then you are just too busy. Something has to give. We can even be busy doing spiritual activities while missing the heart of God and people. If we do “busy” without the heart of Jesus, we will be exhausted and ineffective.

Tonight, as I participated in my online class’ collaborate session, I asked my professor a question. As part of his response, he emailed me a quote from John Piper’s, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s delight in Being God. It reminded me that “busy” flows well from the soul filled by God.

God has no needs that I could ever be required to satisfy. God has no deficiencies that I might be required to supply. He is complete in himself. He is overflowing with happiness in the fellowship of the Trinity. The upshot of this is that God is a mountain spring, not a watering trough. A mountain spring is self-replenishing. It constantly overflows and supplies others. But a watering trough needs to be filled with a pump or bucket brigade. So if you want to glorify the worth of a spring you do it by getting down on your hands and knees and drink to your heart’s satisfaction, until you have the refreshment and strength to go back down into the valley and tell people what you’ve found. You do not glorify a mountain spring by dutifully hauling water up to the path from the river below and dumping it in the spring…the way to please God is to come to him to get and not to give, to drink and not to water. He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him…God is the kind of God who will be pleased with the one thing I have to offer–my thirst. 

As a popular commercial implores, “Remain thirsty, my friends.”  Then. we will be energized for our purposeful “busy.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 89

Wisdom Lets “Them” Catch You

Have you ever sensed that someone was following you? It’s not a good feeling…usually.

One time in college, roughly a year after the time I woke from my sleep with a man pointing a knife in my back (frightening, but amazing story…not for this blog, though you can read about it in the book “My Morning Cup”), I thought I was being followed. It was late at night as I drove my Ford Mustang home from a campus Bible study and entered into the deserted parking lot behind my dorm. I had a sense that I was being followed by the car behind me, but didn’t know if I was just uber (no pun intended) sensitive because of the earlier terrifying experience. When the car in question also pulled into the parking lot behind me, I turned around and pulled out—driving to Wyndham’s dorm so he could ride with me to park my car and walk me to my dorm. I was extremely relieved to be accompanied, or followed to my dormitory door by my boyfriend. (I continued this practice of not walking back from the lot alone from that time onward.) I don’t know if it was a coincidence, or if I was, in fact, being followed, but it was eerie and uncomfortable—and I didn’t want to find out the hard way which scenario was true.

There are other times, when being followed brings sweet relief, such as when your car acts up and someone follows you to the mechanic. Or, when your dog follows behind your precious, but crumb-dropping toddler—thus serving as a personal vacuum cleaner.

Today, I hope you can find comfort in the fact that you are being followed.

My friend, Angela Christoffel, is a master encourager. Though she has a daughter with a brain tumor who has endured numerous surgeries, chemo treatments, and continual seizures (holding on to life by a thread many times)— Angela still encourages. She quit her job as a lawyer to provide needed care, and in the recent past had a serious car accident that left her with post-concussion syndrome. After reading my blog a couple of weeks ago, “Wisdom Finds the End of Me,” Angela sent me an encouraging note. (Update: As a follow up to the referenced blog, I received a cortisone shot for a large Baker cyst and complex flapping tear in my meniscus. Thankfully, the shot mitigated the pain, the Baker thing ruptured, and I’ll soon have the tear cleaned up with an orthoscopic procedure. All good.) In the note she sent, Angela shared with me a verbal picture from the beloved 23rd Psalm. I found great encouragement from her words, so will pass the thought forward. Thank you, Angela.

Psalm 23: 6, in many of the well-known versions (such as the NRSV) states,
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.  

Angela shared that the Hebrew word used for “follow” is radap, which really means pursue (or chase). The NLT captures this meaning as it states, Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever. (Mercy, in this context, from the Hebrew word checed, is more often translated as kindness, love, or loving-kindness.)

Angela continued as she shared:
I like the visual of two people named Goodness and Loving-kindness following me throughout my life–every day. Not just the days I get it right but the days I get it wrong or feel hopeless, too. So, I am praying as your day goes along and the pain in your knee is driving you nuts that you will feel two of “God’s people” pursuing you with goodness and loving-kindness filling your glass—so it is not empty.  

I just love this visual of goodness and loving-kindness pursuing me—because they really are chasing me. 

Wisdom allows “them” to catch you. I don’t wish to keep goodness and loving-kindness at a distance, or desire to run ahead so they can’t catch me. I don’t want to do a quick turn to try to lose them.

Bring them on!

Because of God’s Spirit and wisdom, Wyndham lets these guys catch him, and hang on him. I must make sure I slow down to “be still with God” long enough so these guys can catch me. Wisdom lets “them” catch you. And they bring peace.

Angela closed her note with a prayer from Augustine:

Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give Your angels and saints charge over those who sleep.
Tend Your sick ones, O Lord Christ.
Rest Your weary ones.
Bless Your dying ones.
Soothe Your suffering ones.
Pity Your afflicted ones.
Shield Your joyous ones, and all for Your love’s sake. Amen.

May goodness and loving-kindness reach you, and embrace you.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 88

Wisdom Overlooks

 Recently, a difficult situation resulted in hurt feelings. Mine. To me, “fair” has always been important. When I feel inequity, mine or someone else’s, I can struggle to pull my thoughts back to Jesus—who was a victim extraordinaire of unthinkable inequity—yet entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. While I was wrestling with these “fair” thoughts I “happened upon” an article seemingly written just for me—at just the right time. It was from Vaneetha Rendall Risner’s blog, Dancing in the Rain, concerning the word “overlook.” Her words caught my attention:

I remembered a speaker who said the best way to love people is to remember them as their best selves. That means not dwelling on the things they’ve done wrong but rather focusing on what they’ve done right. Rehearsing their strengths rather than their faults. Remembering the times they have shown up for me and the times they have been kind and thoughtful rather than when they’ve wounded me. In short, one way to love people is to overlook their offenses.

Many Scriptures teach this wisdom:

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult. (Proverbs 12:16)

Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend! (Proverbs 17:9)

So much truth in these verses. Yes, offenses are real. These verses acknowledge this. Yes, we are to be honest and seek resolution with our offenders in the ways the Bible teaches. No, it is not loving to be an enabler.

However, it’s easy to be annoyed by offenses, inconsequential in the big picture of life —Like the past week when a server at a fast food drive-through gave us the wrong meal, not even resembling our order…FOUR times over the course of thirty minutes, or when someone visiting the park across the street parked in front of my mailbox so that my mail was not delivered, or when I stood in a checkout line while the person in front of me appeared to be finished, but then pulled out unsorted coupons and for fifteen minutes cut coupons…after which his card was declined three times. (Yes, I did try to pay the cashier for his order, but he refused…and I confess, I’m not sure if it was fully out of benevolence or frustration.)  Or, when someone promised to do something I was counting on and then didn’t. You get the point. I won’t mention more or my blood pressure may rise. See what I mean? Just. Let. Go.

Wyndham excels in the ability to “overlook.” At times, to be honest, his ability to overlook has actually annoyed me when I didn’t want him to overlook something. But, he is right. He somehow sees right through weaknesses and mistakes to what the best of that person is and can be. I strive to imitate this, but I confess it’s hard sometimes.

Vaneetha, in her blog, shared a well-known story of two monks:

Two monks were walking together when they came across a wealthy, young woman who was trying to cross a large mud puddle. The older monk picked up the woman and carried her across the puddle, placing her safely on the other side. The woman said not a word of thanks.

The monks walked back to the monastery in silence, but hours later, as they neared their destination, the younger one said to the older, “I still can’t believe she didn’t thank you. That woman was so ungrateful.”

The older monk responded, “I put her down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?” 

Good question, right?

Wisdom overlooks.

And, wisdom is willing to be overlooked.

God is an overlooker in various ways.

I’m grateful that as God “overlooks” his creation—while sin is serious and does not go unpunished (read Hebrews 10:29 in the Message), His grace, given through Jesus, overlooks the offenses of all who are in Christ.

Instead of seeing the sin, he sees the love and service of those who follow Jesus. I’m eternally grateful that God, through Jesus, overlooks my sin—and yet amazingly doesn’t overlook my heart or service. Wow.

  For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. (Hebrews 6:10 NRSV)

As I think about wisdom “overlooking,” I envision stopping at our favorite “overlook” to view the rocky coast where the sea often sparkles like diamonds. (We once saw a whale in this spot.) However, as I step outside preparing to enjoy God’s majesty, I miss the whole beautiful scene because I become focused on a bag of litter that someone threw on the ground…and indignant about the thoughtlessness of the litterer as I “valiantly” clean up what they left behind. What a sad scene this becomes.

What a shame to focus on the litter and miss such a glorious sight.

Wisdom overlooks. Will we?