Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 54

Wisdom Values Relationships

We all want our lives to count. We want to matter. To be validated.

Isn’t this why Facebook and Instagram “likes” are a thing?

And this is why rejection, bullying, and loneliness feel so cold and cruel.

We resonate with Susan Sarandon’s words in “Shall We Dance:”

”We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet; what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage [or a friendship, or church family], you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all of the time, every day.  You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it.  Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness’.”

The problem is, people can let us down. They forget, don’t notice, and sometimes don’t care.

Wisdom finds validation in relationship with God. Then, we are filled up so that we can give to others, whether or not they give back.

Wisdom knows that God remembers.

10  God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)

Wisdom realizes that God notices.
9  For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.             (2 Chronicles 16:9a)

Wisdom knows “we count” to God.

29  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.
30  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.   (Matthew 10:29-31)

How we love to share good news. It’s just not the same to keep it to ourselves? We want someone to hear about the big fish we caught, the new chapter we wrote, to notice our new haircut, or to know when we are hurting…to be a witness to our lives.

God knows. He cares. And so should we.

We were created to share, to encourage, to have abiding friendships. “Christ in us” means we will also care, we will also notice, we will remember, and show another that they count.

Wisdom values relationships, and learns to care as Jesus does.

A vivid memory stands in my mind which continues to teach me. A number of years ago Wyndham and I were in the parking lot in our car, preparing to leave from church.

Then Wyndham, out of the corner of his eyes, noticed one of the sisters crying as she was leaving. He stopped our car, got out, and went over to her as he put his arm on her shoulder to ask, “What is wrong? Why are your crying.” I had not even seen her.

Wisdom notices.

It’s so easy to walk right by someone in need, thinking someone else will take care of it—or I’m not his/her closest friend so it’s none of my business.

Truth is, he noticed, he cared, he remembered her situation, he stopped what he was doing and altered his planned course…to tell her “you matter.”  (As I just read this blog to him he told me he remembers that time because he  struggled in his mind on whether to stop, as he was hurrying to drop me off before heading to get to a Patriot’s football game. Maybe that’s why I remember this so vividly.)

We are offered this reassurance from God, and as we have been given, we then can offer it to others.

We, like God, can say to others (by our words and actions)….I notice you, I remember you, you matter, you count.

As I walked beside a lake a few years ago, these two chairs were a vivid reminder of our innate need for relationship. God planned for us to be in community. He planned for us to be in his church…a family, a body, a place for unity in relationships where we can be vulnerable, gracious, truthful, and full of love. Where we count.

Wisdom values relationship, finds it in God, and then passes it on to others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 53

Wisdom Knows That Less Is Often More

I am a “finish-if-it-kills-me” type of person. Yep, stay up all night to finish a project, turn over an entire house to find a missing object. That sort of thing.

Wyndham stays wiser. He figures that he can finish it later, or look for it tomorrow—rather than stay up too late, infringing on tomorrow’s energy. This was his practice.

Oh, to be that wise.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Thankfully, I think his wisdom is beginning to rub off on me.

You see, I “had” to finish a project tonight…and now it’s very late. And I still have not written Wednesday Wisdom #53. So, I am taking the opportunity to remember Wyndham’s wisdom (and Solomon’s wisdom in the above scripture).

Not all wisdom comes in packages over 500 words. In fact, Solomon continues in Ecclesiastes:

3  As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.
7  Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God. (Ecclesiastes 5:3, 7)

Wisdom knows that many times, less is more.

Wyndham has often stated, You can’t easily take back something when you say too much. You can much more easily add more later— if it’s needed.

So, I’m signing off tonight for this Wednesday with Wyndham…knowing that time is precious and God instructs us to make the most of it (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Wisdom knows how to determine when “less is more.”

When it comes to our words, it’s likely more often than we think.

 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,…(James 1:19)

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 52

Wisdom Brings Resolution

Have you ever been in an awkward or difficult conversation, felt badly about it, and yet never spoke of it again—dropped, as if it had never happened?

Or, have you had a conflict and decided that silence is golden—and then placed the unresolved conflict in your museum of golden-silent- unresolved conflicts?

Or, have ever stored unresolved feelings in your heart? Then, a family member or friend asks if you are okay and you answer, “I guess. I dunno.” You leave it at that.

Or, have you asked your kids what happened in a certain situation, or asked them what was troubling them—only to receive a blank stare?

Nothing gets mentioned again. Unfinished.

The thought often prevails…If I don’t talk about it, it will just go away by itself.

It rarely does. We store these little unresolved snapshots in our head until they become full blown photo albums in our minds. As a result we feel weird with certain people, try to avoid them, or retreat into a cone of silence—our hearts unexposed. Unresolved.

Wisdom brings resolution to conflicts, unresolved feelings, and qualms.

 A valuable bit of wisdom I have observed and learned from Wyndham is his commitment to bring anything unresolved to “real” resolution. Stating the obvious. Addressing the elephants parked in the living rooms. Speaking the truth in love.

In bringing resolution, a relevant scripture and heart felt prayer would open and close the discussions.

He would ask the person(s): What would resolution look like for you? What do you need in order to be resolved?

Then, conversations—with the backdrop of Jesus’ heart and attitudes as the goal in mind, would begin. The conversations, however difficult,  had to be honest, or there could be no progress.

5  The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. (Proverbs 20:5 NIV 2011)

Words of resolution were always needed: Are you resolved? The situation at hand would beg the question: Does there need to be a heartfelt apology—as in… I am sorry. Please forgive me? If so, is the apology accepted? For real?

“I dunno” was never an acceptable answer to “what’s wrong?” This is a common answer, especially from kids to parents. Wyndham wouldn’t force our kids to reveal what was going on in their heart, but instead drew them out. This took time, and it took convincing that he was a safe place. Creating a safe place comes from reassurance, a listening ear, ability to relate, sharing how you understand, or want to understand, vulnerability, and unconditional love. At times, “I dunno,” is an excuse for not wanting to talk, while at other times the person may genuinely not know what is inside, and needs help figuring this out.

Never let feelings linger unresolved. If you can’t get something resolved, get help from a trusted (and spiritual) friend and adviser. Living rooms are much more livable when they are not inhabited by elephants. Vulnerability is hard, but brings freedom from deep inside. Jesus’ words and principles are always true, such as in John 8:32. …the truth will set you free.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 51

Wisdom Keeps the Doors Open
By Jimmie Brunson
Reading the Wednesdays with Wyndham series, one can’t help but understand that Wyndham loved to fish.  As his brother-in-law for 40+ years, I have had the blessing of sharing in some of the fishing adventures and contributing to the legacy of fish stories that made their way to the memory books.
One of my favorite quotes is,  “Fishing is not so much about catching fish, but being in places where fish are likely to be.” Over the years, Wyndham and I fished together and we enjoyed catching fish, but more importantly, we experienced the joy of being together as friends and brothers in Christ. Being committed fishermen, we have fished in calm seas and rough seas, in daylight and darkness, and with many other friends. Fishing together provided many memories of spending time together and enjoying the blessings of life which God has so richly provided.
I have always appreciated the perspective which Wyndham shared with me. Living a thousand miles apart, our time together was limited to times when we traveled north to Boston or when Wyndham and Jeanie traveled south to Florida. I have always appreciated being able to pick up where we left off from our previous visit as though time had not been a factor in our relationship. 
Fishing with Wyndham meant time to focus on important things in addition to catching fish.
Wyndham has a great understanding of boundaries and when to speak and when to listen.  As an elder, he shared with me about the need for fellow elders to be open to one another and be willing to hear what others had to say. He stressed the need for openness and accountability, and honesty and vulnerability.  He has always been able to blend his experiences with God’s word, and his love for others. His gentleness and humility have allowed him to have relationships that transcend the norm.
I always appreciated that we could have a conversation and Wyndham would offer his thoughts without passing judgment. That quality allowed him to keep the doors open for further conversation.  That being said, he was not reluctant to speak the truth in love and encourage others to do the same. He has the ability to be helpful without taking over.
17  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
18  Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness (James 3:17-18).
Wyndham and I share a very special bond, along with Bob Harrell, and (the late) Wayne Martin. The four of us were answers to prayers which Dick and Martha Whitehead prayed on behalf of their daughters Carolyn, Kay, Barbara, and Jeanie. They prayed that God would bless each of their daughters with Christian men who loved God and loved their daughters. The four daughters and the four sons-in-law shared the legacy of having Dick and Martha Whitehead as parents. We have all experienced the joy of Christian hospitality, loving relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the joy of reaching out and bringing others into a relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  We have also experienced the blessings of grace-filled marriages, loving children, and exceptional, adoring grandchildren. Jesus said that ” I have come that you might have life and have it to the full (abundantly).” Yes, we have all been truly blessed and I am very grateful to Wyndham for everything he has contributed to the Whitehead family and legacy.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 50

Wisdom Offers a Safe Place

Do you remember being scared as a child and running to a parent’s embrace? Or being caught in a storm and reaching the warm safety of shelter? Or, have you sat white-knuckled on a turbulent airplane flight welcoming sweet relief as wheels touch the ground?

Safe at last.

An important place to find. A needed feeling to feel.

Without it we are anxious, agitated, and afraid.

While God is our true safe place, when someone reflects his qualities they offer an aura of safety, approachability, and confidence. A safety that is grounded in the safe place they have found in him.

4  One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5  For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:4-5)

Wyndham has oft been described, for good reason, as a safe place.

When difficult situations arose, he was a first point of contact. When someone needed help with a relational difficulty, he was called on to help sort it out. When people were hurting, his integrity, his hugs, and the wisdom of his words brought “safety” to many. He has provided a safe place for me, for his kids, for his grandkids, the church, and his neighbors and friends. (Only the fish aren’t safe with him.)

32  The evil of bad people leaves them out in the cold; the integrity of good people creates a safe place for living. (Proverbs 14:32 MSG)

When I reflect on ways Jesus, full of grace and truth, was a safe place several encounters stand out to me.

The Apostle John referred to himself as the one whom Jesus loved. This scene in John 13 is quite incredible. Jesus, the creator of the world and the Son of God was troubled—sharing his heart with his friends as they ate together.

John felt safe enough to ask the obvious. He felt safe enough to lean his body against Jesus. He felt the safety of assurance of Jesus’ love for him.

21  After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”
22  His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant.
23  One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.
24  Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
25  Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” (John 13:21-25 NIV 2011)

Jesus was vulnerable. He shared his heart. He shared meals. He sat on the floor with his friends. He gave affection. He told the truth.

In another instance, a crowd of religious law keepers and leaders brought out a woman caught in adultery, intent on stoning her. As the account is given (John 8:1-11)  we see Jesus’ interactions with the crowd as well as the shamed and guilty woman. He treated her with dignity, did not “side” with the religious leaders but offered grace (and truth). He reached the hearts, dispersing the crowd—and bringing hope to the shamed woman.

Sometimes he spoke the truth while looking at someone with eyes that exuded love. Other times he called outcasts by name, or made a point to touch them. He wept.

One of my friends, sitting behind us, took this picture during a church service a couple of years ago. I was not feeling well that day and rested my head on Wyndham’s shoulder. On his other shoulder, our dear friends’ special needs daughter rested her head. As Wyndham imitates Jesus, he offers a safe place. 

What does being a “safe place” look like?

Wisdom that offers a safe place:

  • Makes an individual feel loved, because they are loved.
  • Expresses affection.
  • Is vulnerable and approachable.
  • Shows respect.
  • Listens well.
  • Seeks to redeem, rather than condemn.
  • Validates one’s value.
  • Doesn’t assume the one who might appear “more religious” is right, but practices Proverbs 18:17.
  • Speaks the truth while leaving one full of hope.
  • Points to the ultimate safety which is found in God alone.
  • Understands that we are living for something beyond this life.

Wisdom offers a safe place.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 49

Wisdom Loves to Fish

By Jack Frederick

Fishing is not easy.  If you don’t love to fish then fishing is often not fun. It’s only fun when the fish are biting and when you’re catching fish if you don’t love to fish. I never knew anyone who loved to fish like my friend Wyndham.  Many times we drove at 4 am to Gloucester (MA) to fish from the jetty, a long rock wall fabricated from very large blocks of stone as a barrier to protect boats from sea waves.

We often took our sons Steven and Sam. Wyndham and Steven love fishing. Jack and Sam liked to go fishing when the fish were biting. By sunrise Jack would lie sleeping on the huge rocks in the warm sun while Wyndham and Steven fished. Sam would entertain himself catching starfish with his bare hands in the shallow water. 

Jesus promised his followers he would make them fishers of men.  Many of them had been fishermen by trade; they probably liked fishing when they caught fish since they could sell the fish and earn a living.  Some, or at least Simon Peter, demonstrated my ‘like for fishing’ that day when Jesus was teaching by the shore.  When Jesus asked Simon (Peter) to put out to catch some fish Peter grumbled, “we been fishin’ all night and haven’t caught a thing”….but if you say so we will go fishing.  They caught so many fish their nets began to break and the boats began to sink. (Luke 5:1-11)

Wyndham is that kind of fisherman…when others have been fishing all day and caught nothing he can walk up and begin catching fish. Lots of fish. Big fish. I don’t know how it works, I just like to go fishing with him…I catch fish, too. 

Wyndham is a fisher of men like Jesus. He is good at that, too.  I always liked fishing for men with him. I learned from him how to fish for men the way Jesus said we would. We caught lots of fish, big fish and little fish. Sometimes the nets got full, sometimes we had to call off our weekly Bible Talks where we invited visitors to come and learn because we had so many people studying the bible to learn about Jesus that we didn’t have time for Bible Talks.  Besides, that’s why you have Bible Talks, so you can invite people to come and learn more about God.

Jesus knew Peter and his friends were fishermen. He knew they caught fish, at least sometimes. But he knew they needed to learn to love to fish so he showed them how. And in so doing Jesus promised to teach them how to fish for people. These “unschooled, ordinary men” (Acts 4:13) learned from Jesus how to fish for men, how to be good at it, and how to be effective at fishing for men. They learned to love fishing for men.

Not sure I ever learned to love fishing, but I learned from my friend Wyndham to love fishing for men. I learned the value God placed on the men and women we taught to know God. I learned to be good at fishing, effective at fishing because God so values each person we help. The overwhelming reason I love fishing is because I feel such deep gratitude for the salvation God gave me through knowing him and his son Jesus whom he sent (John 17:3).

The world desperately needs to know God. People face so many hardships and troubles. We read about them all the time in the news.  We see politicians and leaders decry the pain, and scramble to identify what they think causes problems in our society. Some things are evident, but at the heart of all this hardship is our need to know God and how he wants us to live.

We need more fishermen who understand, more fishermen with the courage to turn the world upside down. Whether we are “unschooled and ordinary” or well educated it doesn’t matter, we just need fishermen with faith so that God can work powerfully in their lives to help others. We need fishermen who love to fish, fishermen who love the people they are fishing for…fishing to rescue from the darkness of this life.

I wasn’t born loving to fish, I had to be taught…and I had to be willing to learn.  The world is crying out for help. The people around you are crying out for help. You may think otherwise if you live in a ‘religious place’ as I do. In that case pray for God to open your eyes to the need and to the harvest which is ripe on every corner.  The question is not how well or how willing you are to speak, the question is…are you willing to learn to love others as much as Jesus did?  He said, “By this will everyone will know you are my disciples, because you love one another” (John 13:35). 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 48

Wisdom Never Gives Up

No, this is not a pregnancy announcement. However, to me this little outfit is pregnant with meaning. (So. the picture does not show how little the shirt is. Trust me, it’s little. My arm is only so long.)

No one knows (until now) the meaning behind this little boy outfit. It is a personal “stone of remembrance” for me, representing a time of desperation and faith—of disappointment and discovery.

The week of August 10, 2016, was full of hope and excitement for me and my family. My son and daughter-in- law would find out the gender of their third child, already having two girls. We prayed and fasted for God to give them a boy, and I was confident God would answer accordingly.

We also awaited a procedure that was thought to be a cure for Wyndham’s then unknown disease. I envisioned taking down the wheelchair ramp and giving away all the medical mobility equipment we had acquired. I had no doubt God would answer this miracle prayer, as I never gave up. Sam and Leigh Ann would have their son, and Wyndham would be healed. I bought this little boy outfit that says “Never Give Up” to give to them upon the news of a son. I had complete faith God would answer both requests with a resounding “yes.” It made perfect sense. After all, God would be glorified.

However, the cupcakes in the gender reveal were pink, not blue. Wyndham’s surgical procedure not only showed there was no cure after all, but brought on severe complications. He stayed in recovery a very long time because the doctors thought he had suffered a stroke. Disappointment was thick— heavy with confusion. You see, I had never doubted. I never gave up. What happened, God? I never gave up!

Wyndham recovered from the surgery, but not the disease. I tucked the little outfit away, as I still believed God would surprise us at the baby’s birth—the ultrasound would be wrong. “Never Give Up” would prevail! After all, we had been so disappointed with the surgery outcome, didn’t we at least deserve blue cupcakes?

However, beautiful little Colette was born December of that year. I have not yet given her the outfit, but I will in time for summer. (Surely summer will come. I won’t give up!) It will work for a girl, too. (Stay with me, we are forever grateful for sweet Colette.) “Never give up” has taken on a new meaning for me since this time. A much deeper meaning

I am reminded of this deeper meaning after long observing Wyndham’s wisdom. Wisdom that told  him to never give up. I’ve seen him persevere through all kinds of adversity. I’ve watched him never give up when he was opposed for speaking the truth. I have seen him face deep discouragement and watched him never give up. I have seen him dismissed from a preaching job, with a baby on the way, no insurance, place to go, or savings—and never give up. I have heard him pray desperate prayers, and never give up. I watched him believe that campuses and cities and neighborhoods were truly ripe for harvest, and never give up. I have seen him believe in and counsel hurting marriages—and never give up. Now, I see him barely able to talk, and yet engage and share his love and convictions—and never give up. I watch him unable to do anything he once could do—and never give up. Many in his situation would have given up. He will never give up. He will live for whatever God has called him to do every day he has, without giving up.

Yes, I bought this outfit to celebrate my victoriously answered prayers. I faithfully reasoned,…if I never give up praying and believing I  will see God answer my desperate pleas.  Those pleas were answered, just not how I had first hoped.  Little Colette (Coco) was meant to be a Shaw. And now no one would ever wish it differently.  She has a will of steel. I am confident God has great plans for her. Wear this little outfit proudly, Coco. You were the answer to prayer, and we are all grateful. 

As for Wyndham’s illness….I can’t say I am grateful, but I am surrendered, and I trust. I see God at work in mysterious ways. I still believe God is able to heal him. So far God has said “no.” I don’t know why and may never know. Thus, “never give up” takes on even greater meanings. When you are disappointed, never give up.

12  We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! (1 Corinthians 13:12 MSG)

Whatever the circumstance, Wyndham hasn’t given up, and neither shall I.

When you are disappointed, never give up.

As long as you have breath in you, never give up.

When you are doing good and opposed, never give up.

When you fail once again, never give up.

When you can’t see your way and things look hopeless, never give up.

When you can’t find an answer, never give up.

When you think God hasn’t heard you, never give up.

He is there. He is with us. He never gives up on us. Wisdom never gives up. Wisdom knows the reward that lies beyond disappointment.

35  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
37  For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.
38  But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
39  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Hebrews 10:35-39)

39  But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.  (MSG)

No matter how tempted you are to quit. Keep going. Crash though those quitting places. And never, ever give up.

Wisdom never gives up.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 47

Wisdom Finds Spiritual Heroes

By Kevin Miller

Several months ago I was on the phone helping a friend and fellow disciple with his marriage—communication, emotional intelligence, patience—this kind of stuff.  This brother and I had known each other in the faith for over two decades, and after helping him I felt satisfied that I had done a good job in the conversation. The feeling of self-satisfaction was short lived though, as my friend commented, “Boy, I sure am glad you married into Wyndham’s family, otherwise you would never know how to help with this kind of stuff!”  I smiled on the other end of the line, humbly knowing that this was most certainly true.

And this is true of so many areas of my life.  The challenge of writing one blog on wisdom that Wyndham has passed on to me–is that he has passed on so much. Is there an area of my life that he hasn’t touched?—I couldn’t tell if there is one.

I met Wyndham in Paris. I was 22 years old and had just finished taking his daughter out on our first date.  I think I was petrified to speak to him, as any young dreamer would be in front of a hero whom they’d heard so much about. Two years later his daughter, Melissa, and I would marry. Since then two decades of life have flown by.

Over the course of that time babies would come, more in-laws, more babies, spiritual victories, church crisis, family vacations, buying homes, selling homes, successes, failures, and lots of life.  Through it all Wyndham has gone from the intimidating hero of a young man to a mentor, trusted advisor, father figure, co-worker, partner, friend, and ultimately the best of friends. 

Throughout the last decade there is very little we did not talk about—family, personal challenges, parenting, marriage, the Kingdom, Jesus, and church building at every angle. I cherish it all.  Who am I that I have gotten to sit at the feet, or in the fishing boat of this man (although in the boat there is surprisingly less conversation that you might think; fishing with Wyndham was more intense than you might expect fishing could be).

 

 

When forced to narrow down one piece of wisdom that I would share from my time with Wyndham it would  be that this world needs spiritual heroes.

If you were to ask my son for Wyndham’s favorite scripture he would say:

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

A spiritual hero is a man who takes care of these three areas of his inner life. He protects his heart, maintains a biblically lead conscience, and is real as he does it. Over the course of Wyndham’s life he has modeled this kind of a life and has encouraged me to do the same.  This is the kind of man the world needs, and it’s the kind of man he has been for over four decades.

Wyndham was a young evangelist in the 1970s. He was the first campus minister sent from the Crossroads campus ministry to see God bring over a hundred baptisms in one year on one campus.  From the day that I met him, he has been a radical man filled with radical convictions.

 

Wyndham is also an elder extraordinaire.  His deep impact in this area is felt worldwide. I have long observed that when people are hurting, when their marriage is in trouble, when they can’t figure out their kids, Wyndham is on the short, short list of men that people call. And he helped to establish elderships filled with these kinds of men, literally all over the world.

It is in this blend of radical man and understanding shepherd that I have found Wyndham’s wisdom.

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

As I get older I feel increasingly challenged by the fact that Jesus was the perfect balance of God’s glory, full of both grace and truth. Many of us naturally gravitate toward one aspect of Jesus’ character. Perhaps we are a naturally compassionate person, or maybe we are someone who embodies the revolutionary side of Jesus’ personality—turning tables and confronting sin. Jesus was full of both grace and truth, two characteristics that seem diametrically opposed to one another. But, in Jesus they both took root equally well.

Unhealthy extremes exist in all corners, in the world and in the church. The amazing thing about Jesus was that he was the perfect blend of so many qualities you might think could not exist in the same man.  He was filled with zeal, but also touched the leper. He drove out the money changers with a whip, but also wept over a dying boy and his mother.

Wyndham comes closer to the Jesus blend than anyone else I’ve met. He believes in risk taking, Kingdom seeking, radical heroes—and that churches need to be raising young people up, sending them out and giving them responsibilities.  But he also believes that we needed to be wise and compassionate, considering others’ needs and led by the humility of older men. He believes in strong and authoritative leadership, but also in consensus leadership and listening to the words, needs and feelings of people.  He believes in strong leaders but also in deep relationships.

It’s always struck me how easily it is for big personalities with big gifts to do what they do and to shut out voices that are different.  But that’s not what I’ve learned from Wyndham’s wisdom.  His deep love for Jesus and for the word of God has lead him to be a man that strives to build a life and a church that glorifies, obeys, and follows God in all the areas God commands, not just the ones that are easy for him, or that he is doing well in at the time.

Because of this, he is unifier. He has been a leading voice in his generation during his sojourn here on earth. This is what I want to be as well—a spiritual man and a spiritual hero. Wyndham is mine. 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 46

Wisdom Imparts

By Justin Gonet

A month or so ago, my family and I stayed at the Shaw house for a weekend as we often do these days.  That Saturday night Wyndham wanted to teach my son, Micah, an impromptu lesson about fishing—to impart the tenets of the sport that’s been a big part of his life from an early age.

The scene that ensued was mildly heart-wrenching—my father-in-law there in his wheelchair in the living room, his grandson on a child-sized yellow folding chair in front of him with his yellow note pad in hand, taking in every word and jotting down the key points. While my wife fought back tears, I gathered that there was an intense expression of love transpiring between master and pupil. 

Wyndham is passionate about fishing. If you could watch him in action on a boat with a rod and reel in his hands, you would soon realize his love of the sport goes far beyond hobby. His drawn-out fishing trips with his friends and family are the thing of legend.

What is amazing about Wyndham is that as he loved fishing so much, and similarly loved people, he couldn’t help but want others to participate with him.  He found so much joy in fishing that he didn’t really care what you thought of it, he just wanted you to experience it too!  Fishing brought a peace and freedom that drove him—in the midst of the waves and the shouting of orders at lesser mates.  I’ve never seen such a thing before, nor have I ever been able to achieve it personally.

I believe he understood there was a deeper, intrinsic value in fishing than just the sport itself.  It brought a comradery. It seemed the longer and more arduous the trip, the deeper the bonds that eventually developed. 

But as I watched my son in the midst of this lesson, I believed there was something else going on.  Wyndham was now trying to pass on to my son what he believed was of utmost importance. There was something about this sport he has enjoyed for so many years that he felt he had to pass this on to Micah, even after his own ability to participate has left him.

Wyndham loves to pass things on.  Recently, we acquired two fishing poles from his vast collection for Micah’s further benefit.  A few years ago Wyndham bought a chainsaw and became a bit of a travelling wood-cutter-for-hire in order to boost his firewood stock.  This past Christmas I received a new chainsaw as a gift from him, and an unwritten invitation to pick up where he had left off.  Eight years ago, when his own dog, Jordan, was growing “long in the tooth,” he brought golden retriever puppies home from Colorado for my family and Sam’s family so we could train them in Jordan’s shadow.

Having lived with my wife for close to 10 years now, I’m beginning to realize the breadth of Wyndham’s ability to impart.  He is a peerless dad to his kids.  My wife’s ferocious loyalty to him is a testament to this. So much of how we love and discipline our children is based on the example that was set by him, long before I ever met him.

But there is one thing Wyndham is even more passionate about delivering to others than fishing or family, and that is the Gospel.

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 the Bible says, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.”

For over forty years, he has sought to embody the simple facts that Paul spells out in this scripture.

The Gospel is hard to believe; to live by it an even more difficult calling. It is not the popular opinion; it is a narrow road.  Wyndham’s life’s work has been to pass the gospel on to others.  But beyond that, he’s helped me understand that the gospel is so powerful it must pervade every aspect of our lives once we receive it.  It is not only the path of our salvation, but it becomes our code of conduct until that salvation is realized in the end.  It’s our source of faith but also our ability to forgive; it’s our hope in the life to come, but it defines the way we treat others now.  The gospel is of first importance in every way.

For all of the great spiritual victories my father-in-law has accomplished in his life some of his most powerful stuff has been transferred in just the last few years, while in his weakest physical condition.  I see the gospel being lived out in the most real way through the joy he still has, though he’s been stripped of his ability to perform the most basic physical tasks—much less fishing and hunting.

Yet, now I understand that those things pale in comparison to the hope he has because of the gospel.  I have seen no more powerful example of the reality of the gospel truths, than the way Wyndham has endured the pain and loss his disease has brought on him.

As I listened to him wrap up his instruction on fishing, I was struck by the fact that even in the act of imparting his tidbits of wisdom, he had conveyed the most profound lesson about the gospel to my son.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 45

Wisdom Trusts

Jacob: You know Dad, I could lift you much easier if you would let go of the bar.

Wyndham: Sorry, I keep forgetting to let go.

Jacob: Dad, you can let go. I will never, ever drop you.

They laugh. I turn my head to hide the mist forming in my eyes.

The guys were kind enough to humor me with a picture.

“I will never, ever drop you.”

A tender moment. A big lesson. A profound expression of love and trust.

It takes trust, a whole lot of it, to let go of control—in transfers, and in life. The transferee (Wyndham) has absolutely no control over these moves, and is at the mercy of those transferring him.

The three of us—Wyndham, Jacob, and I meet for “transfer tasks” several times a day. I can no longer accomplish these by myself, so Jacob has arranged his schedule to be available to help us. He is exceptionally strong. We work together any time Wyndham must get from his bed or chair to anywhere else. Wyndham assists as much as he can, pulling himself forward to be lifted while holding on to a grab bar. Jacob can lift him completely, but finds it quite difficult if Wyndham forgets to let go of the grab bar.

Such is life—and trust in God.

Life these days hasn’t gone as planned—or hoped. Trust takes on new meanings—believing God loves us when our prayers aren’t answered the ways we hope.  Learning to trust through adversity stretches our faith and deepens our hope. The scripture expresses this well:

(Romans 5:3-6) 
3  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4  perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5  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.
6  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ …

I hold on to this Scripture. Hope will never disappoint us. Because God has poured out his love.

And…when we are powerless….Christ!

When we realize we are powerless, God takes over as if saying—”son, daughter…I will never drop you.”

13  For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)

I watch with deep respect as I see Wyndham’s wisdom decide to trust…and let go. He has had to let go of all that was normal and daily for him. In all of this his trust grows. His trust inspires my trust.

When life doesn’t go as planned, and difficulties happen—will you let go of the bar?

When life is going well–will you let go of the bar?

Our grasp for control makes it difficult for God to carry us. He won’t force us. We have to let go. Often this is a struggle, as we learn from the psalms:

 
2  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3  Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
4  my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5  But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6  I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me (Psalm 13:2-6,emphasis added).

When we were powerless…Christ.

God is big enough, strong enough, and loving enough to hold us, no matter what.

He tells us, “I will never, ever drop you.”

Wisdom trusts.

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I could fill a daily blog for years with wisdom I have learned from Wyndham. However, I’ll stick with one day a week. Each Wednesday I will share wisdom gleaned, not just from me, but from our family who saw him day and night and from friends near and far whose lives he has touched.

Many of you have already told me you wish to share wisdom you learned from Wyndham. If you wish to contribute to this collection please email me at shaw.jeanie@gmail.com with the subject line—Wednesday Wisdom. If you wish to receive these blogs in your inbox, feel free to sign up to follow the blog.

I’ll look forward to meeting you here on Wednesdays. And if you would, please remember us in your prayers. It’s a privilege to have you in our lives.