Desirous Doubter

For over five decades I’ve prayed religiously—

I’ve prayed for the restoration of the atrophied muscles in my right leg, injured in a skill saw injury at the age of eighteen. The nerve was severed, and despite a surgical and rehabilitative process, I currently contend with the consternation of a foot-drop condition.

My preference for cowboy boots is rooted in the supportive role they play in minimizing the handicap by keeping the foot from dropping as it would in a typical shoe.

For all those decades I have stumbled over “invisible” elements, resulting in both minor physical injuries and major psychological embarrassment.

As I approach my mid-seventies, other maladies and conditions have surfaced: Heart disease (resulting in a bypass operation), deafness, arthritis, and unrelenting sleep challenges.

I pray for all of these conditions. And I have experienced healing in some of those conditions. Yet, despite the seeming randomness of God’s answers, I remain unwavering in my belief that God heals. He heals in this life! Now! In the physical realm!

Healing is for here! Heaven is for wholeness!

Additionally, it is not failing faith that may result in our entering heaven having never embraced the promise of complete physical and emotional healing. All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Hebrews 11:13 (New Living Translation, NLT)

The incongruity is that God seems more focused on revealing than healing!

It is in the midst of the myriad malaise and messes of our lives that God reveals Himself. In seemingly random, but righteous serendipities, He intervenes in the persistence of our particular pain with a poignant reminder of His presence, power, and peace, and we are comforted for a season with knowing that we know the reality of the promises of His Word.

Thomas was more desirous than doubter!

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” John 20:25 (New Living Translation, NLT)

God desires that, despite our doubts, we thrust our hands upward toward heaven where Jesus sits at God’s side. Therein lies the revealing of our ultimate healing—our hope on earth of our ultimate wholeness in heaven!

Originally posted July 2018

Heaven. Can’t Wait!

Several public personalities passed recently. Prominently, at 92, Barbara Bush, wife of our 41st President, George HW Bush. Knowing how beloved she was, and having observed her public persona for decades, triggered a more pronounced sense of loss.

On a personal plain, the father of one of my daughter’s best friends lost his battle with cancer a few days ago. He had become a Facebook friend, decades after our daughters’ friendship began before their high school years. I could always count on him liking my Logos Bible verse posts. I was unaware of his physical prognosis.

Several months ago my oldest niece passed after a long battle with a parasite. Despite her phenomenal faith and steadfast service to God, she was called home in what to us felt like an untimely transition.

I was vividly reminded of my own mortality two years ago when faced with a triple bypass operation. That procedure indelibly affected my perception of the future. Mom survived two heart bypass operations, extending her life to 91. Despite Dad’s malaise and loneliness after Mom passed, he reached the 96-year mark.

Longevity is a hope, not a guarantee!

In the process of scanning my parent’s lively and loving letters from their 1939 time apart from each other, I witnessed the tender and naive exchanges, further evoking nostalgia at my recent loss of them. It contributes to my sense of vulnerability at this temporal life juncture. I’m prepared but not ready for the passage!

Heaven’s crowning reward will be our reveling in wonder in Jesus’ presence, with our adoration and ecstatic joy!

Despite Biblical descriptions of heaven by others, my overall sense of what comprises heaven remains vague, leaving a lot to the imagination. Within the context of the passing of celebrities and friends, and having experienced my own possibility of imminent death, In my flawed state, a most comforting description of heaven is what WILL NOT be there:

Regrets, shame, sorrow, or nostalgia rooted in my PAST…
Pain, fatigue, depression, or loneliness from my PRESENT…
Dread, anxiety, fear, or misgivings regarding my FUTURE…

Heaven awaits those who accept His Gracious offer of Salvation! Yet, while on earth, in random moments, He gives us a Glimpse of Glory revealing The Hidden Story!

Since God is my Shepherd, I’ll not be in need.
In green pastures He makes me lie down and feed.
He leads by still waters, my soul to restore;
He leads me in righteous paths, His name’s sake for.
Through death’s shadowed valley no evil I’ll fear;
You’re with me with rod and staff’s comfort so near.
You ready a table in front of my foes;
My head You anoint so my cup overflows.
So mercy and goodness shall follow my days:
I’ll dwell in the house of the Lord for always.

Psalm 23, Poetical Psalms

First posted May 15, 2018

My late morning drive to the local Denny’s restaurant just down the hill from my digs is a highlight in my otherwise boring life! It was not the reasonably priced menu that drew me. There is something more compelling for me.

It is hidden on the back of one of the several menus; listed under the $6 items! The product, more than the price is what begins my salivation. It is French Toast! As long as I can remember, I’ve preferred French Toast over pancakes. And, coupled with eggs, it begins to beckon me to the platter. The particular menu item lists French Toast, eggs, hash browns and bacon or sausage.

For some time, partly driven by a desire for a relatively healthy lifestyle, I’ve substituted hash browns with fruit. I recently added a couple of slices of avocado.

Today my tuning fork of taste composed the instruments of this symphony comprising only French Toast, scrambled eggs, two slices of bacon and appropriately ripened avocado slices.

As I intermittently sipped my Keurig, home-brewed coffee, adulterated with two ounces of hazelnut creamer, and moved from one moist morsel to the next and back again, the end was in sight as the sweet syrup drowned the French toasty dessert remaining on the plate. All gone! Sigh!

Ahhhhhh… breakfast at Denny’s!

Lest you think my life is somewhat pathetic, as I have ascribed to myself many times, think about these elements in the above scenario.

I navigated this short journey alone. I did not go because someone else wanted to go. I did not simply go because I was hungry. I did not travel that 7% downgrade slope just to get out of the house. I went because I had a hankering for my French Toast breakfast. This scenario perfectly pictures “individuation,” the emotionally healthy awareness of knowing who you are and are not, what you like and what you do not like, and, most importantly, possessing an evolving, implemented grasp of your own boundaries.

You might say, “So what does French Toast have to do with boundaries!?” Simply this: the only true control we have in our lives is our own decisions. When those decisions are based on a healthy expression of who and how we are, then a measure of contentment is experienced in knowing that it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks about our choices.

In the past, I have been influenced by those that thought Denny’s restaurants are only a last resort destination for weary travelers who can’t find other places to eat. I may have felt self-conscious eating alone, with the now familiar inquiry from the host or hostess, “JUST one today?” And in past passionate reactions I’ve responded, “What do you mean, ‘JUST one?’ ”

Being in a state of singleness for almost fifteen years, after having been married for thirty, leaves the stark stigma of not quite fitting in. And being involved intimately with Christian single leadership groups, it showcases the bewildering blindness of church leadership in addressing the more than one-half of the population that is single in the Bay Area. It almost seems to me that they are looking at the few that have made it into the net, rather than the many who are yet to be harvested. A vision sees the harvest more than the current catch.

But I digress! That’s what I do masterfully!

And my conclusion is that as we come to understand this concept more and more, couples will be less judgmental toward singles and singles will feel less marginalized and judged by so-called “together” entities. Perhaps it is time for the church to cease compartmentalizing and commence compassionalizing (my made-up word)!

Let us all be single-minded. Because we can have our French Toast and eat it too!

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. Matthew 7:1-5, The Message

Breakfast at Denny’s

Was it better walled in comfort’s womb?
      Wrapped so warmly there, a hopeful tomb?
Waiting, workless, fed by unseen hands,
      Placed so timely by the Master’s plans.
Moses’ desert bush by flaming words,
      Set his heart aglow, for he had heard.
Jacob’s wrestling angel in his night,
      Timely set his soul to promise’ flight.
Job confused by paradox’s pain did sigh,
      Accuser’s friends of comfort wondered why.
Righteous pawn of God’s omniscient plan,
      Rose again, a broken, honest man.
Or was caterpillar’s time on wonder’s stage,
      Held and loved by children—with no cage,
Better than the painful process plan,
      Masterminded by the Maker’s hand?
Yours the choice to stay just where you are,
      Caterpillar dazed, caught in a jar;
Or confined to hope’s now dark cocoon,
      Trusting that your time is coming soon.

      Die caterpillar…
      Sigh cocoon…
      Fly wondrous wings!

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

Butterfly Wishes