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 still would need to 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, how I feel about 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.”

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 73

Wisdom Finds What It Can Do

Life is full of transition, and change is hard. When life changes, do you mull over what was and can no longer be? What you could do and can no longer do?

Transitions happen in many ways:

A move often means we can no longer rely on physical visits with close friends we once enjoyed, or enjoy scenery and landmarks to which we were accustomed.

Personal projects or dreams may run into closed doors, tempting us with discouragement.

Health failure can make most everything we once enjoyed impossible to do—going places, traveling, visiting with friends, sports, and much more.

Job changes might be good, or they may mean we no longer enjoy a job that seemed a “perfect fit.”

Job losses or financial setbacks can mean we no longer enjoy a dinner out, but instead, wonder how to keep food on the table.

Loss of loved ones changes so many things about every part of life. What felt good and right can quickly turn into to an uncomfortable loneliness.

Transitions must be grieved. This is needed. However, without wisdom, we can travel down a sad, sinking spiral. Transitions are so much better with wisdom. Wisdom finds what it can do, rather than what it cannot do.

Wyndham can’t do much of anything he once could do. Even basic conversation is hard since his speech no longer works well.  In all the transitions, I can be tempted to list in my mind things he/we can no longer do. But what good is that? Wyndham decided (from the time he began “crossing off” things he once enjoyed doing but can no longer do) to focus on what he still can do. Wisdom tells him there is no benefit in focusing on what he can’t do. Wisdom tells me the same thing.

Wisdom focuses on what can be done, not what can’t be done. It’s a good exercise, no matter the difficult transition, to focus on what we can do.

We can love.

We can be loved.

We can appreciate God’s creation. If we are blind, we can hear, touch, and smell it. If we are deaf, we can see it. If we have lost all senses, we can feel love in our soul and the kiss of God from the wind. 

We can notice the good in people.

We can be thankful.

We can pray.

We can meditate on what is true, trustworthy, worthy of praise, honorable, pure, and lovely.

We can hope.

We can imagine being with God forever.

We can laugh and cry.

We can feel.

We can hear the words of God.

We can pray some more.

No matter what transitions we face, these are things we can do. No one can take these from us.

When we have this wisdom, what we can do will be more than enough.

 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.    (Romans 8:35-39 NIV2011)

And, as the Message version states these last verses:

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow,
high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 72

Wisdom Knows Whom to Please

 I was fearful for many years. Fearful of messing up. Afraid to disappoint. Afraid to speak up. Many times in my past, when I had been honest it was not well received and came back to bite me. So, for many years (until sometime in my forties), I had learned to do two things: 1. Stuff what I felt so much that I wasn’t even sure what I thought, or 2: Assume the best and safest thing to do was to please whoever was an authority figure in my life.

This was not wisdom. I thought it was wisdom at the time, but it was survival out of fear.

It’s right to show respect to others, but it is not right to confuse respect with dishonesty. I had let fear cause dishonesty. I had to learn to be vulnerable, sharing what I truly believed. I had to pray and fast to overcome this and ask for help—often ending a conversation with someone by saying, “I’m working on being vulnerable. How am I doing?” I begged God to help me through his Spirit to turn this weakness into strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). Praise God, by his power, this has become a strength.

Most of all, this quality takes integrity and an understanding of the love of God.

Wyndham will tell you this quality was not always easy for him, but I watched him have the wisdom, courage, and integrity to hold to the truth and to speak honestly in love. I admired and sought to emulate such deep integrity.

It was not always popular or well received, but as a man of integrity he held to and often referred to this scripture:

 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? (Mark 12:14)

What a Scripture, and what a challenge! To have such integrity that the only concern is pleasing God, holding to his truth without being swayed by what is popular or easier. He was careful, kind, and gentle in his honesty—learning when and how to say things, and what battles were not worth fighting on behalf of a “bigger picture.”  He also read often and strove to keep true in his heart Acts 24:16, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

Wyndham encouraged me in my growth. I read and meditated on Mark 12:14 often, along with another Scripture I have carried in my heart:
 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18).

I continually seek to better understand and to more brightly reflect God’s amazing love—and have learned that wisdom knows whom to please. If we don’t get this one right we will compromise our convictions and continue in fear. It’s easier than we think to fall into this trap. It’s all too easy to be concerned with “what will they think?”


Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
(Galatians 1:10 NRSV)

4  but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts….
6  nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others
…                      (1 Thessalonians 2:4,6 NRSV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 71

Wisdom and a Rock

It seems the weather has been particularly wild all over the world. Last week many of our friends in the Carolinas were dealing with a hurricane. Today we got the remnants—torrential downpours and fierce thunder and lightning. Ours only lasted a day. Theirs lasted days, and many are still under water. In other places all over the world people are still picking up pieces after storms, with homes destroyed and streets flooded. Homes on sand near the oceans have little hope of standing.

For as long as I can remember, Wyndham, when he could still speak well and pray out loud would continually thank God for being his rock. He always used this term. I don’t think I appreciated this metaphor nearly as much then as I do now.

Most weeks, when weather allowed, we would walk and pray at our special place about forty minutes from our home, in a town called Manchester-by-the-Sea. We would walk a trail leading to a place so beautiful it seemed unreal. There we would find an expanse which revealed a panoramic view of the rocky north Atlantic shore. As we neared the end of the trail, approaching this gorgeous view, we always passed a gigantic marble rock. It has likely been there for centuries, on this hill overlooking the ocean. It’s solid and has withstood years of crashing waves and howling nor’easters. 

I always admired the rock and thought it was such a great addition to an already priceless view. It provided even more ambiance. However, I never had to hold on to it for dear life. Now, as the winds and waves of deteriorating health howl, Wyndham’s true rock (and my rock) means everything. It’s no longer just admired, it’s sat on, clung to, and is essential. But, that’s the way it should be anyway.

Because our rock is the unchanging, all-powerful, and loving God who has been a friend for many years, Wyndham’s faith, joy, and peace is unshakable. He has the wisdom to hold  to the rock, to sit on the rock, to hug the rock, and to never leave the rock. He can even laugh when his voice can’t easily be understood (even though it’s hard) and can have patience and perseverance even while living an extremely difficult way of life. Without this rock, we would surely have been swept away, torn apart by the waves.

Because the rock is solid, and he has the wisdom to hold on, he is okay. We are okay. We are better than okay. Very blessed. Sometimes sad, but secure in hope. The view from the rock is always spectacular, even in a storm. Perhaps especially during a storm.

Everyone needs this rock, for it can withstand any storm. It’s not meant to merely be viewed but is meant to be embraced.

 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
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.
(Psalm 61:1-4)

I believe that Jesus held to that rock while he was on earth, as he referred to this song while on the cross.

 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.

Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God. (Psalm 31:2-5)

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 70

 

Wisdom Loves to Laugh

Each night I read some Bible out loud before we pray…as Wyndham can’t hold a book and reading is too tiring for him. Last night as I was reading I verbally stumbled with a tongue-twisting word. I kept saying it wrong, repeating it, and then saying it wrong again. Wyndham’s voice is weak, but as I was reading, tongue-twisted, this quiet voice came from the man laying in the bed who almost looked as if he was asleep… “easy for you to say.”

My concentration completely left me when I heard this. I just laughed for a while at his quick and sarcastic comment.

Truth is, we laugh a lot. We need to. We encounter a lot of daily (hourly) hard things in our lives at this stage. We can cry or laugh. Very occasionally we cry, but most often we choose to laugh. We intentionally laugh and find things to laugh at. Laughing is good for our health. And, it feels better.

In fact, Mayo Clinic reports that laughter induces physical changes in our bodies. It stimulates our heart, lungs, and muscles and increases our endorphins. Laughter also activates and relieves our stress response, soothes tension, improves our immune system, relieves pain, increases personal satisfaction, and improves our mood.1

Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there is: “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

I am quite sure God has a sense of humor. Just look at some of his creation! The porcupine, the aardvark, otter, the penguin, puppies, and the sloth likely induce some heavenly laughter. (I follow an Instagram post that has the sole purpose of showing the cuteness and funny antics of animals—It’s called happiness4all if you want to add this little joy to your life.)

Think of some of the crazy and unlikely ways God has worked in your life. Certainly some of these show God’s sense of humor (as well as his incredible grace toward us).

I find remarkable irony and humor (and God’s wisdom and power) when in Numbers 22 Balaam’s donkey spoke like a man and Balaam, well, he acted like a donkey. And picture when Gideon’s tiny army defeated the Midianites by blowing ram’s horns and breaking clay jars (Judges 7). And Jesus, God in the flesh, was born in a stable, was presented as a king riding on a donkey, and his lineage included Rahab, a prostitute.

Likely, since we don’t live in the first century, we miss much of the humor of Jesus when he uses hyperbole, parables, and exaggeration to make his points.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery says, “Jesus was a master of wordplay, irony and satire, often with an element of humor intermixed.”

Consider Jesus’ word pictures of a log in someone’s eye, and religious leaders who strained gnats and swallowed camels. Swallow a camel?

But most convincingly, we are created in the image of God! You are, and I am too—and I sure do love humor. I love to laugh. In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite things to do.

The Proverbs of wisdom recount the benefits of a joyful disposition. This would certainly include smiles and laughter. The Scriptures knew this long before Mayo Clinic found out.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

Proverbs also adds, “A happy heart makes the face cheerful” (15:13); or seen from a different view in verse 30, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.” Proverbs 16:24 tells us, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” 

It’s good to laugh. To be cheerful. This sign hangs in the entrance to our living room, and it’s a good one. (And yes, the Red Sox playing in the background add joy as well.)  While Wyndham takes some medicine for some symptoms, the best medicine is a cheerful heart.

May we all heed the wisdom of God (and this sign) as we “Live well, laugh often, and love much.”

 

 

______________________________________________________________________

1. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456)

2. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, and Tremper Longman III, eds., “Humor—Jesus as Humorist,” Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 410.

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 69

Wisdom is Mind Change

By Gordon Ferguson

The title reminds many of us of an excellent book written by Tom Jones about how he came to view and deal with multiple sclerosis. It is a most encouraging and inspiring book, and one that I imagine Wyndham and his family have received much help from as they deal with his debilitating disease. But this article is about the abundant wisdom possessed by Wyndham, and so we are discussing other aspects of mind change.

Changing our minds is not often an easy task. It is not science but much closer to an art form. Many questions asked and answered about mind change tell us a lot about a person. How quick are we to change our minds – too quick or too slow? What causes us to change our minds – emotions or clear reasoning? Who influences us most to change our minds – those closest to us or those who make the most sense? What is our attitude about changing our minds – willingness or begrudging reluctance? What motivation is strongest regarding changing our minds – a desire to be right or to determine truth? Good questions, don’t you think?

The whole process of mind change is demonstrated so well by Wyndham. I’ve watched him in this process many times in many circumstances with many people. He has mastered the process in a way that few have, providing us with yet another lens through which to observe his wisdom.

Wyndham is a slow thinker in one sense – not caused by a limitation of intellectual powers at all, but by a self-imposed spiritual limitation. He simply refuses to rush into judgment. I have known many leaders in the church who prided themselves on being able (in their minds, at least) to size up situations and make very quick decisions. Often these decisions were made after hearing only one side of a story (often a friend’s or another leader’s side) and were many times of a nature that the lives of others were significantly affected by their knee-jerk decisions. Just thinking about the times I observed this process in the past gives me a pit in my stomach right now. Had those types of self-assured, cocky, arrogant decision-makers not read the Bible?

James 1:19 – “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

Proverbs 17:27 – “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.”

Proverbs 29:20 – “Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”

Proverbs 18:17 – “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”

Wyndham is a very patient and careful listener. He won’t interrupt a person sharing their heart – and he won’t let others interrupt them either. I know – I’ve been in both places with him! He and Tom Jones remain two of my most trusted confidants, the two men whose counsel I cherish most. After leaving Boston years ago, I have flown back to Boston on several occasions primarily just to get time with Wyndham and have him talk me off of the ledge. He not only knows how to change his mind in right directions, but he can help others do that in a masterful way.

He changes his own mind by time-tested biblical and practical principles. He is not quick to change his mind, but he does understand the time sensitivity of some decisions. Unlike some leaders I have known, he is not afraid to make decisions because of worrying about being wrong or worrying about possible reactions or responses. He just wants to make righteous decisions, not necessarily popular ones. His quest for truth drives him, and he is never satisfied with good or better when best is within reach.

His mind changes are seldom emotionally based but based on those principles mentioned above that fit the situation most clearly. That being true, the emotions of others are not weighed much in the final decisions, although they are respected and listened to carefully leading up to that final decision. His wisdom in changing his mind and the minds of others leads him into answering all of those other questions raised in the second paragraph in the right way. He is never overly influenced by who is speaking, but rather by what is being said. Neither favoritism nor sentimentality will carry the day with him. What is right is the clear target and not who is right, himself or anyone else in the discussion.

As all of these articles in Jeanie’s blog show, Wyndham’s wisdom is demonstrated in many, many ways. But in my judgment, it is shown perhaps best in the realm of mind change – his own and that of others through his direction. He is not only at the top of my list when seeking guidance in the most serious life matters, but at the top of my wife’s list as well. He earned that spot soon after our arrival in Boston in 1988 by carefully guiding us through our needed mind changes about our marriage and ministry. I don’t think I would have survived the ministry part without him, and I know that our marriage would not have become what it has without him. Mind change, the fine art of discovering the pinnacle of spiritual thinking, is sought by many but mastered by few. Wyndham Shaw is one of the few.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham – 68

Wisdom Connects

Anyone can say words. However, wisdom can turn words into connections. Without connection, it’s impossible to communicate on a heart-to-heart level. Wisdom connects words to the heart.

Wyndham, for as long as I have known him, has been a great connector. As he connects deeply with individuals, he also helps them connect with each other. Connectors do this. Their connections are contagious. If connection is only with us, we build dependence instead of family. For years  I have studied Wyndham’s ability to  connect and have sought to emulate this gift as much as possible. 

Ironically, Wyndham’s body has a major connection problem. Though his mind is excellent, and his body should be physically able to function, it doesn’t. There’s a disconnect. It is as if a drawbridge has gone up between his head (or mind) and body. It doesn’t connect well anymore. Our nervous system normally does this connecting automatically…but unfortunately this connection is now missing for him.

Too often, the metaphorical drawbridge goes up when people try to connect. Words are spoken but they don’t bring about closeness or desired unity. They simply give information.

I’ve noticed several aspects of connection as I’ve “studied” Wyndham’s ability to connect. This connection comes not just from words said, but also from the emotional atmosphere and feelings that surround the words. These bring down the drawbridge so that connections are made. The following are attitudes I have watched Wyndham exude which elicit true connection.

You are important to me. I care about you and I value you. This attitude is a bridge between spoken words. The drawbridge is down when we know people care as they speak to us. Even now, though Wyndham can barely talk, he will ask, “Did you give them my love?” or, “How did her meeting go?” or, “Did Caleb catch a fish today?” Because he cares.

I want to hear what you have to say. We all want to be heard and understood.  We communicate this when we truly do want to hear what others say. This invites connection.

I will be vulnerable.  People connect to our weaknesses. It’s often humbling to share them, but we can likely think of people we have easily connected with because of their vulnerability.  Sometimes (often) these posts feel vulnerable. I always read them to Wyndham and ask if it’s okay to share. He always tells me that he knows that connection is in the vulnerability.

I want to have eye-to-eye contact with you.  Often a look from Jesus elicited connection and emotion. Truly the eye is the lamp of the body, as Jesus stated (Matthew 6:22). There’s just something about eye-to eye-connection that helps beget heart-to-heart connection.

I want to hug you.  Have you ever been speaking to someone and their kindness and connectivity just makes you want to get up and hug them? Wyndham knows the importance of affection. We all need hugs. More than we think. Lots of them. It’s hard to hug someone and stay disconnected.

I will be honest with you. And, I want you to be honest with me. There’s nothing like the truth that brings the freedom allowing connection. As Proverbs 24:26 (NLT) states,  An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.”

I want to leave you encouraged, and with hope. No matter how difficult a situation or conversation, we connect to those who are able to offer hope (which is always found in Christ). I have noted that Wyndham gives hope even (and especially) in difficult situations and conversations.

I want to be approachable. I’m always inspired by the way Jesus easily connected with children and the poor. He was a the greatest leader ever, but easily approached by what some considered “the little (or less important) people.”  It takes extra effort to ensure we are easily approached. How can we ever connect with someone we can’t easily approach.

I’m so grateful Almighty God encourages us to approach him (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16).

May we all grow in wisdom to connect as we speak and engage with others.

 

Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham – 67

Wisdom Knows a Secret

It’s a typical morning.

C-Pap mask off.✔ Contoured pillows under legs removed.✔  Ice packs under elbows moved.✔  Foam boots (to prevent pressure sores) pulled off.✔  Pulled from bed onto power chair.✔ Teeth brushed.✔ Face washed.✔ Shaved. ✔ Dressed. ✔ (All done for you, not by you) ✔ Picked up and put on portable commode.✔ Back on chair.✔ Help eating breakfast.✔

And so the day begins.

My question to Wyndham:  So, how are you today?

His answer, each day: Good, I’m good.

And he means it. He is grateful for this day (as am I).  I then put his shirt on him (almost always a “Life is Good” T-shirt because they are comfortable, easy to get on and off, and have a good message). Today’s shirt reads, “Life Is Not Easy. Life Is Not Perfect. Life is Good.” That works. ✔ 

We share thoughts, usually some laughter, and a prayer. A prayer for “daily bread.” In that prayer we share a secret.

Wyndham has a secret.

Wisdom knows the secret.

The secret is this:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
  (Philippians 4:12-13, emphasis added)

This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.
For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
(Colossians 1:26-27 NLT, emphasis added)

Christ in you (and me). This is the secret—a secret that envelops our very beings. A secret that proves true day after day.

However, since these verses have been read for nearly 2,000 years by countless people it’s really no secret. Unless Christ doesn’t live in you. Then true joy, abiding peace, and solid hope seem unattainable…a secret only longed for.

This secret remains a mystery of sorts. How else could Wyndham be “good?”  How can we be deeply happy, despite a really tough situation?

It’s because of the secret.

“Christ in us” is unable to be physically seen or touched. It’s a secret to the physical 3-dimensional world in which we live. None the less, it’s real.  When we have Christ in us, the secret is revealed.

What does it mean to have Christ in us? It means we have the same power in us that raised Jesus from the dead. Do we hope for a miracle? Absolutely. But have we both already overcome death through Christ in us? The answer is a resounding “yes.”

This secret means that God pours his love into our hearts through his Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). We can feel loved, because we are. We can give love, because God keeps pouring it into our hearts. It doesn’t run out even if we are tired, or our bodies don’t work.

I have no other explanation as to why we can approach each day with joy, gratitude, and hope. And these are realities, not wishful thoughts.

The secret of Christ in us means that no matter the circumstances, we can have a deep joy,  an abiding peace that doesn’t make sense, and a hope that can’t be crushed.

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)

God’s Spirit IS Christ in me. In us. Meditate on this. All the power of Christ. All the love of Christ. All the peace of Christ. The whole purpose of Christ—really and truly living inside of me—the part of me that can’t be touched but is eternal. The soul.

And this is wisdom’s secret.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham – 66

Wisdom Is “Whataburger”

 By Sheridan Wright

I know that this tittle sounds weird…but bear with me. I have enjoyed reading “Wednesday Wisdom with Wyndham” and hearing others recount how Wyndham, in God’s wisdom, has had an impact on their lives. My reaction is always the same: no surprise. I smile to myself and think, “Yep, that’s Wyndham!”

Back to “Whataburger.” I entered the University of Florida as a freshman in the Fall of 1972. Wyndham was the Resident Advisor on my dorm floor. As was his custom, he invited me to the “soul talk” (small group Bible discussion) in his room on Monday nights.

You know how some people enter college with lofty goals of high achievement and a focused dedication on accomplishing these goals?….Well, I was NOT one of those people. I had a passion for foolishness, and it seemed to come to me with gift-like ease. Yet the “soul talk” intrigued me. Initially I went, not because I was searching, but because of Wyndham’s sincerity of faith—he had neither the self-righteousness nor weirdness that I had witnessed in many others with devout belief. During the next 2 months, I developed a love/hate relationship with the ”soul talk”: I loved the practicality and relevance of the Bible, but I hated the way it unnerved me. The unnerving won out, and I quit going. Two months later, after a night of “drinkin’ & druggin’”—in an act of sheer stupidity—I fell 3 stories off a dormitory roof.

Because I had partially separated my hip in the fall, my mobility was restricted, and I was limited to my dorm room for a few days of recovery.

A knock sounds at my door—in walks Wyndham. Now keep in mind that by this point in time, I had not been to “soul talk” in a couple of months; I was plunging headlong in the OPPOSITE direction of EVERYTHING Wyndham had tried to get me to understand. I did not want to know what the Bible said (in fact I was trying to forget what I had already learned); and to top it all off, my best thinking had led me to a dorm room convalescence from a near fatal incident.

If ever there was a prime time for a sarcastic remark like “Attaboy Einstein, you proud of yourself?”—this was it. INSTEAD, Wyndham said, “Sheridan, I’m going to Whataburger, can I bring something back for you?” At first sound this may seem so trivial—an insignificant tidbit of information. Yet, if that is so, then let me pose this question: Why do I remember it 44 years later as if it were yesterday? I knew I was a fool—I had proved it scientifically. I was in the cross-hairs of ridicule and condemnation. I was running from God. I was running from Wyndham. I was running from anyone that had anything to do with God or Wyndham. And yet, what did I get? An act of service…an act of grace.

To me, wisdom is not so much the accumulation of knowledge, it is the RIGHT USE of the knowledge you have. Wyndham knew Jesus, he knew God’s Word, and he knew his fellow man. To be sure—there are times when you have to confront, times when you have to forthrightly speak the truth. Wyndham does not shy away from that. Yet in that dorm room, all of his knowledge of Jesus, God’s Word, and human beings caused him to give this guilty soul an act of grace. In doing this, he gave me a foretaste of a Biblical truth that one day would define my life: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this—-while we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Is it any wonder that six months later when I came to my senses and wanted to get my life right with God I would want to find Wyndham? At that time I was living off campus and did not know where he was. I prayed that God would allow me to find him. The very next day I ran into him right in the middle of a campus of 24,000 students. Within a week I was baptized into Christ—on January 13, 1974.

I suppose that the nutritional merit of Whataburger is a matter of debate. I can neither affirm nor deny it. But one thing I do not doubt: to have the wisdom of Christ is to reach out to individuals with genuine concern and to say or do the RIGHT thing at the RIGHT time. Wyndham did that. Wyndham taught me that. Wyndham is that.

Thank you my brother and my friend for showing me the Way. Thank you for that “Whataburger mission of mercy” that just confirmed what I had witnessed my freshman year in Jennings Hall—you REALLY believe, you REALLY follow Jesus, you REALLY care about the glory of God and the salvation of people. I love you and I gratefully owe you a debt of love….my wife, my children, and my grandchildren owe you a debt of love. 

 

If I let my imagination go, I picture all of us at the judgement giving an account of our lives. For many of us, the name Wyndham Shaw would come up in that account. “He led me to you…”, “he helped my marriage, my parenting…”, “he cared enough to rebuke…”, “he shepherded…,” “he brought me a burger”……

 

As we continue, the Lord smiles, “Yep, that’s Wyndham—-Well done, good and faithful servant!”