Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 90

Wisdom Knows “Busy’s” Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our relationship with God will matter.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 89

Wisdom Lets “Them” Catch You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring them on!

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

Angela closed her note with a prayer from Augustine:

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

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

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 88

Wisdom Overlooks

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

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

Many Scriptures teach this wisdom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good question, right?

Wisdom overlooks.

And, wisdom is willing to be overlooked.

God is an overlooker in various ways.

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

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

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

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

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

Wisdom overlooks. Will we?

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 87

Wisdom Finds the End of Me

The Christmas festivities were over. The tree lights were turned off, and a blissful, satisfying feeling of exhaustion set in as my head hit the pillow. The bliss and satisfaction were soon awakened and diverted by approximately five hundred sneezes and a feeling of cement in my head. As I got up to get tissues I quickly realized that my knee felt injured, shooting excruciating pain at every turn and with every step. Over the week, the illness subsided but the knee pain has not. (MRI coming soon.) At first, it was annoying, but as it now affects my ability to help Wyndham without facing debilitating pain, it has at times felt unbearable. Several nights ago, the pain wouldn’t stop. While I wish I could share that I felt complete trust and assurance that God was faithfully listening and working on our behalf, to be honest, my thoughts went more like this:
God, aren’t we dealing with hard enough stuff already? Now, this. Really? Are you trying to crush us? I’ve got nothing, God. Really, nothing.  I feel utterly and completely helpless. That sad mess was my “prayer.”

I wasn’t sure if my pillow was wet from the tears, or from the newly acquired conjunctivitis. (I don’t share this stuff to garner sympathy [prayers are always appreciated, though], but to share raw and real thoughts…and how God entered the picture.)

Normally, I like and strive to live life with a “glass-half-full” perspective instead of a “glass half empty” point of view. Most often, I rely on God’s love, count on hope, and feel deeply thankful. However, during this time my glass was not half full. It was not even half empty. It was dry as a bone—completely empty. It wasn’t pretty, but, that’s when God showed up in full force. Oh, he had been there, it’s just that I couldn’t fully feel his presence until I was utterly depleted…I’ve got nothing. I’m completely helpless. Yet, as I leaned into the suffering and cried out to God, I found I was soon leaning on Jesus. He had appeared in the suffering—as in an epiphany. Seldom, if ever,  had I experienced at this depth the ways God uses suffering to bring us into his presence. A deep presence. Presence that fills our soul–one that, if you will, “sees God.” One that convinces us what is truly important—the only thing that matters. One that tells us eternity has started. One that inspires. One that convicts. One that takes us to our knees before him. His presence became deeper, and I’m grateful. As C.S. Lewis writes, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains;”

Suffering empties us, carrying us to the broken place where God can fill us. While I hate the pain of watching Wyndham’s body deteriorate with his disease, I marvel at ways God is working (often unbeknownst to us) through this suffering. I don’t know the answers to all this, but observe that God is emptying us so that we can be more fully filled; so that we can truly see him, in his magnificent glory. There is nothing more filling, or fulfilling than this.

Paul, in Galatians 4, refers to his bodily ailment. His suffering, which he begged God to take from him in 2 Corinthians 12, caused him to see with clarity the only things that matter…as he confides in the Galatians in 4:19 (RSV) that he is in travail for them until Christ is formed in them. Christ formed in us. This is the goal.

There are so many ways I can think of that we could be more useful to God without the suffering—as they keep us from many possibilities. Wyndham exhibits wisdom as he trusts that God completes the end of him. God is enough. I long to carry this wisdom with me, so that Christ may shine more brightly through me.

As I lay on my bed and wept, feeling depleted and useless, I was reminded by Paul that wisdom finds the end of ourselves…so that God can take it from there, where we can see and feel him.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength
he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come
. (Ephesians 1:17-21)

May we all see him clearer, as we find the end of ourselves and watch God take over, through our weakness—to somehow make us strong.

 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 86

Wisdom is a Perfect Spiral

by Randy Jordan

The college years seem a long time ago, but some memories have never faded. There were so many things that made our campus ministry days at the Crossroads Church of Christ so very special. One of them was “Brothers Football” – an epic contest that took place each Saturday morning during the fall on a recreation field at the University of Florida. I can’t remember who won or lost, but I have never forgotten Wyndham Shaw at quarterback. I am sure his teams won more than their fair share of games, but it was the way he threw the football that has always stood out to me. He threw a perfect spiral with pinpoint accuracy. The ball seemed to always be between the numbers of the receiver, and the deep throws were uncanny in avoiding the cornerback’s efforts to block the pass. His spiral was somehow easy to catch, and his completion percentage was high. He seemed to see the playing field like few others. Wyndham was never flashy, but he was always very, very good. 

I have thought many times about how to describe a lifetime of knowing Wyndham and now realize that the perfect spiral is the perfect metaphor.  The Crossroads Church sent out many campus ministers during those early years and It was inspiring to hear the stories filter back from time-to-time. Wyndham (and Jeanie) were among those courageous campus ministers, and I marveled at not only the way his ministries grew in North Carolina and West Virginia, but also the caliber of those who chose to receive from Wyndham the perfect spiral of the Gospel. I am so grateful for friends like Doug Arthur, Doug Jacoby, Scott Green, Sam Powell, Gary Knutson, and Dave Malutinok who in many ways started their faith journeys in those ministries.

At one particularly vulnerable time in my faith, I felt unsettled about the changing landscape of our fellowship of churches.  By that time Wyndham had made his way to the ministry staff of the growing Boston Church of Christ. I ran into Wyndham at a regional conference in Atlanta and shared with him my doubts, fears, and concerns. He once again responded with a perfect spiral that extended beyond my doubts and fears and landed in my heart (right between the numbers). I felt such relief after learning from Wyndham’s clear judgment and wise advice. I was free to make some very important decisions that forever changed the destiny of our family’s spiritual journey.

It was a great joy to be reunited with Wyndham and Jeanie in 1996 when I was asked to become General Counsel at HOPE worldwide. The Shaws, as Geographic HOPE Leaders, were part of HOPE worldwide’s leadership team at the time and we were blessed to meet regularly together. No matter my anxieties about taking on new responsibilities, Wyndham always seemed to have the right thing to say to give me encouragement and faith. Wyndham’s wisdom showed up in every one of our leadership decisions – another perfect spiral.

Wyndham’s positive influence also extended to helping me as an elder in the Philadelphia Church. Wyndham was only a call away as our eldership faced many challenging circumstances. He helped us retain the confidence that God will always work for good so long as we remain faithful to His will. It was so comforting to hear Wyndham describe how he had addressed a similar situation when we were convinced that the challenge we were experiencing was the only one like it in the world. His answers always seemed perfect for the moment.   suspect Wyndham in humility would disagree, but that’s how it felt to me.

I am so thankful for Wyndham’s perfect spirals through the past five decades. Brother, I am still learning from you and will be eternally grateful.  With respect and love!

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 85

With love and deepest appreciation for your friendship…

And as the video expresses….family and friendship are the most precious memories. (The video attached is a little heartwarming end of the day from the granddaughters:-) )   

Merry Christmas from the Shaws 

 

PS   The anniversary video surprise turned out great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom With Wyndham – 84

Wisdom Builds Memories

It was to be the perfect anniversary gift. Wyndham and I would be celebrating 44 years of marriage, and I had an idea for the perfect gift for him—a particularly meaningful gift. I wanted this gift to be extra special because, with Wyndham’s disease, we never know if we will get to celebrate another year. (Really, none of us know this.) When we were married, on December 14, 1974, technology was different than it is today. We were hi-tech though; we had an audio cassette tape made of our wedding. We also have a collection of wedding picture proofs, though could not afford to buy the pictures. So, my idea was this: Take our proofs and our audio cassette to someone who could make a video from the proofs and the cassette. I found someone who could transfer the tape to MP3, and Melissa found someone who could put the video together. I knew Wyndham would love this, as it would bring such meaningful, precious memories to life. He would cry, as tears come quite easily these days, but would be so encouraged. Wyndham has always been an exceptional memory builder.

I gathered the pictures and went downstairs to grab the cassette, stored in the special place of safe-keeping. I hadn’t looked in this particular cabinet in the basement for at least a decade, so I was eager to listen to the tape again—if I could find a cassette recorder.

The cassette tape wasn’t there. In fact, it was nowhere to be found (and, for faithful blog readers; no, it was not in the freezer). After hours of searching, I realized this was not meant to be. (My best guess is that the cassette was in a tape recorder we had owned, which was thrown out years ago.) While I was searching, I found a forgotten box of VCR’s full of precious memories—things like Jacob’s last day in Romania and his arrival in the US twenty years ago. I thought about how I should transfer these videos to CD’s, but then asked myself, “why?” Do I really need to possess these videos, and do I really need the missing audio cassette tape, or can I just close my eyes- and remember. I did just that; closed my eyes and brought back precious memories. I didn’t need a tape player, I just needed to focus and take the needed time to reflect.

Memories are powerful. Some bring warm feelings, while others bring angst and sorrow. For some, certain memories bring trauma. God gave us an amazing capacity to remember sounds, smells, and feelings associated with events. Mary, mother of Jesus, treasured an all-important memory that affected her life, and ours:
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19). The message she treasured in her heart contained life-changing words—some glorious, some frightening, and some that would one day pierce her soul.

Many times, we must choose the memories we allow to roll through our minds as we strive to follow Romans 12:21, and overcome evil with good. For those with painful memories, this is hard work and only possible through the power of God’s Spirit and the focus on His Word. One family I know makes new memories by celebrating a day of “good deeds’ and “paying it forward” on every anniversary of their son’s death. When we treasure and remember God’s instructions, we choose wisely. When we remember God’s Word, write it on our hands, and etch it in our hearts. we know wisdom.

 Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions.
 Do what I say and you’ll live well. My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it!
 Write it out on the back of your hands; etch it on the chambers of your heart.
 Talk to Wisdom as to a sister. Treat Insight as your companion.
(Proverbs 7:1-4 MSG)

We use wisdom when we build precious memories. As we were recently talking with our kids of Christmas memories, they remember many things—traditions and certain foods they still count on. We do well to think of ways we can purposely build precious memories. While we more often think of ways we build memories with a spouse or with children—what memories are we building with God? Do we build special times with him conversing in prayer, reading aloud his words to us, acknowledging and meditating on the power of his working, standing in awe of his creation, and worshiping him in song? These are memories we can call to mind when we grow weary or our faith is weak.

At times, I have been so busy trying to frame and capture a moment that I missed the moment. We might lose all pictures and precious documents in a  house fire or computer crash, but no one (as long as our mind functions) can take precious memories. As we celebrate the holidays, wisdom would have us build precious memories—with God and with others. What better way to overcome difficult memories, celebrate a lost loved one, or build deeper unity and joy?

As for the special anniversary gift—it’s still coming. For the soundtrack, I am using “our song” of over four decades, “On Top of the World” by the Carpenters. And, we are using a favorite poem by Edgar Guest that was read by Sam Laing at our wedding  (and for this project read by our children…at least I think that was their secret plan). The poem, entitled “It Takes a Heap O’ Living” is about making memories. A few of the lines concerning precious (though difficult) memories read  (when changed to modern English) :

For these are scenes that grip the heart, and when your tears are dried,

You find the home is dearer than it was—and sanctified;

And tugging at you always are the pleasant memories…

May you build precious memories with God and with others during this holiday season. Store them in your heart so they are readily available to fill your soul with deeper faith and abiding joy.

But, shhhh, don’t tell Wyndham about his gift. It won’t be ready until Christmas.

 

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?