Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 83

Wisdom Stands Amazed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 82

Wisdom Lives Today

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

So, I ask— how are you today?

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 81

Wisdom Speaks with the End in Mind

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

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

Well, it wasn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 80

Wisdom to Feel Blessed and Thankful

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

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

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

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 79

Wisdom Touches Lives

By Dave Malutinok

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

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

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

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

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

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

………….

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 75

Wisdom Builds Faith While Expressing Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

My dear daughter,

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

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

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

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

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

 Always and forever yours,

Abba

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

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 74

Wisdom Knows How to Be Still

Be still?

“Ain’t got no time for that!”

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

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

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

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

Or, is it to “be still?”

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

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

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

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

Wisdom knows how to be still.

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

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

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

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

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

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

(By Katharina Von Schlegel—public domain)

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

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

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

Oh, lead me, Lord, that I may lead…

Oh, teach me, Lord, that I may teach…

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

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

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

(By Frances Havergal and Robert Schumann, public domain)

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

 

 

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)