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Category Archives: Musings and Stories

Dreams

Dear God, I was thinking a couple of days ago about the idea of dreams and interpreting them. I wonder how much or often you still speak to us in dreams. For example, in Genesis you have Joseph’s dreams and Pharaoh’s dreams. In Matthew, the other Joseph actually had angels visit him in his dreams. Well, last night, I had one that, if there’s an interpretation I’d love to hear it. If it’s just a revealing of my heart and psyche, it was very encouraging.

It was my wife and me and we had decided, for whatever reason, to recreate our wedding day now. Not renew our vows, although that was part of it, but actually recreate our wedding day. It was fraught with problems, but we were just delighted and laughed the whole time. Many things were going wrong, but we were just rolling with them and laughing.

The interesting thing is that there were missing people. Over the last 30 years we’ve lost several, including her parents, so she walked the aisle by herself, without her dad (Although, for some reason, she had on a heavy backpack the we had decided to use as a substitute for her dad. And the weight of the backpack didn’t burden her even while the weight of it made her stumble forward. She just laughed as she came down the aisle). Her aunt who played songs at our wedding was there, but she couldn’t remember the songs so she just kind of sang randomly. Oh, and I remember this. My wife and I were talking before the ceremony about how our original one wasn’t that religious, but then as we saw everything unfold we saw Jesus everywhere. In the songs we picked, the scriptures. It thrilled us to see how involved you had been from the beginning.

Father, I’m glad I’m talking about this dream I don’t think I’ve ever prayed about one like this before, but it’s encouraging me. It’s reminding me that you are there with us and you have been with us from the beginning. Thank you. It’s showing me that, even with our current struggles (I’m thinking of her heavy backpack) we are holding up well. So, for whatever reason, I feel like singing The Doxology to you. Praise God,from whom all blessing flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above the heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

“Vulnerable Conversation with Toby Mac about Grief and Loss”

“I started to learn to laugh, even in the first week a little bit, but not laugh as deeply, you know?” I don’t know if I’ll ever laugh as deeply. I don’t know if I’ll ever smile as big. But I can smile, and I can laugh. I don’t know if it will ever be–until eternity–if it will ever be fully.” (2:50 mark of video)

Dear God, I heard this interview yesterday and it struck a chord with me. Especially this quote. Especially as a parent, I think when we go through some sort of loss, whether it is a wayward child, a broken relationship, or the tragedy of death, when we are apart from them for any negative reason, I don’t think it’s ever possible to laugh as deeply or smile as big. There is always a cloud. Always an omnipresent pit in my stomach. I’m just grateful that you are omnipresent as well.

In the Bible in a Year podcast I’m listening to, they were covering the part of the Joseph story in Genesis where Judah is pleading with Joseph for Benjamin’s life (Genesis 44:18-34). Judah describes Jacob’s pain, and it reminds me of what Toby was saying in the video above. This brash, conniving, manipulating scoundrel was devastated by Joseph’s loss. Judah couldn’t bear to watch him lose Benjamin too.

I guess I had this sort of loss for about 10 years now. Neither of my children died, but I’ve been in some state of brokenness with one of both of them constantly over that time. And it’s true, what Toby said. I can laugh again, but it’s never been as deep. And I’ve smiled, but it’s never been as big. Mercifully, at least up to this point, the difference is that I have a hope that restoration is still possible. My time with them on this side of heaven is not sealed and lost forever. That’s why I pray for them. That’s why I hope. That’s why I burn candles. That’s why I worship. As Toby also said right before the quote above, you find us in the pit (or we find you there). If our pain is omnipresent, so are you.

Father, I pray for Toby and his wife. I pray for the rest of their family as well. I pray for my own family. Comfort and guide all of us. I am trusting that this is the path you need for all of us to walk to ultimately work your own wonder in each of our lives. Thank you for continuously sitting with me in this pain. Thank you for raising up people around me, including my wife, who are an encouragement and comfort to me. Thank you for loving me, my wife, and my children so completely.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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New Year’s Day

No verse.

Dear God, it’s the first day of a new year. The irony is that so many people put artificial expectations on this day as a day of turning pages, but life doesn’t seem to be a respecter of the calendar. For example, 2020 had a lot of rough spots, with the spread of a brand new pandemic, a very contentious election cycle, a difficult economy with lots of lost jobs, etc. Everyone was ready to say goodbye to 2020! But within the first two months, there was an attempted overthrow of the government in which the lives of many of our leaders were in peril, there was a freeze that laid waste to most of Texas (where I live) for a solid week, and more people died in the first few months of the year from the pandemic because of the Thanksgiving and Christmas surges. Since then, while there is money in the economy, inflation is high, supply chains are in tatters, and businesses, ironically, are having difficulty finding labor. The gap between the rich and the poor grew greater, with affordable housing becoming harder to find. We found that we could not will or wish away the frustrations of 2020 by flipping the calendar to 2021.

On a personal level, I had some amazingly wonderful things happen and some tragic things happen. I’ve experienced great victories and tremendous sorrow. I’ve experienced incredible love and shocking betrayal. I’d love to say that flipping the calendar from December 31, 2021, to January 1, 2022, will bring the healing I desire and the victories I seek. But I think that might just be the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

So what am I to do? It’s simple, really. Be faithful. Be faithful in worshipping you. Be faithful in repenting to you and others when I need to–and you know that I often need to. Cultivate the soil of my heart so that your Holy Spirit will be able to plant seeds and they will grow into your fruit. That includes not letting the cares of this world distract me from you. And I need to listen to your still small voice and let it guide me in my personal life, in my vocational work, and in my work in the community. I need you to inspire me and then I need to lean into you for that inspiration.

Father, it’s also often a time for resolutions, and I am, indeed, resolving to do something this year. There is a podcast that not only reads through the entire Bible in a year, but also does some exposition and teaching on the passages. My wife listened to it last year, and I think she got a lot out of it. So I am going to try to do that this year. More of you and more teaching from your Word can’t hurt. So help me to use that to tend the soil of my heart, and may the fruit of your Spirit grow in me and through me so that, regardless of the circumstances around me, I might be at peace in the center of your will.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

“Bad Advice” by Fred Smith

Dear God, sometimes we all give and get bad advice. I’ve received bad advice before. I’ve certainly given my share as well. I’m saying this because I read a really good blog post by Fred Smith a couple of days ago called “Bad Advice.” In it, Smith uses the story to Moses’s last words of instruction to Joshua as an example of someone who let his own perceptions and experience paint an incorrect picture. His predictions for Joshua and what Joshua could expect from the Israelites didn’t end up panning out. His final instructions didn’t end up doing Joshua much good–at least not that we can tell.

There are several examples of people in the Bible making the wrong decision. Sometimes we are told it’s the wrong decision and sometimes we aren’t. Paul and Barnabas splitting up over John Mark. Was one of them right and one wrong? How Abraham handled Sarah and Hagar (and Ishmael). Peter and going to the gentiles. My favorite that I’ve mentioned to you before is what I perceive as the mistake of appointing Mathias as the apostle to replace Judas instead of waiting for you to groom Paul. Just people working with limited information and going in the wrong direction.

The good news is that, most of the time, these mistakes don’t get in the way of your plan. You used Abraham’s mistreatment of Hagar to free her from slavery. You accomplished greater spreading of your message by splitting up Paul and Barnabas, and maybe even helped to convict John Mark and encouraged him to grow up in the process. And Joshua still led the Israelites into the Promised Land, experiencing mostly victories and your blessing.

I came up with the phrase a long time ago that you keep me on a need-to-know basis and I very rarely need to know. There are certainly things happening in my life right now that I don’t like and I would change in a heartbeat if I could, but I don’t know what you are doing through this path that I cannot see. And perhaps I will never see it on this side of heaven. I put a local pastor in an awkward position this week by requesting some pastoral counseling about some of my current trials. I chose him carefully as someone whom I deeply trust and respect, and also someone who doesn’t come in with any preconceived biases towards the players in the story. To his credit, he did not try to pontificate and give me an great wisdom. He took notes. He pointed out one connection he wanted to make sure I made, and then we agreed to meet again. He said he would commit the situation to prayer. It was a good lesson for me on listening and waiting. People come to me for advice and I am often too quick to feel like I need to be smart and wise. I need to espouse my “wisdom” so that they will be grateful they sought me out. Instead, I need to be much more willing to just listen, hear them, and wait, if that is what you are calling me to do.

Father, I have friends who are having marital problems. I see suffering through my work on a daily basis. And I certainly have my own personal life situations that vex me and bring me tremendous sorrow. Please help me. Help me to be at peace. Help me to trust you. Help me to not get out ahead of you. Help me to not short-circuit your plan. Make your plans beyond my own corruption. I give you praise. I give you glory. I thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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“Citizens of the culture and dabblers in the faith”

Dear God, I visited a Methodist church yesterday and there was a guest preacher, Colleen Haley. She gave a really good sermon, but this one line stood out to me: “Too many of us are citizens of the culture and dabblers in the faith.” I really liked that. It took me back to something I’ve thought before about myself and others: we treat Christianity more like a philosophy to live our lives by than a submitted, worshipful relationship with you. And I’m guilty of it too. Maybe I fight against that tendency more than most, but I’m certainly “prone to wander,” as the line in. “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” says.

But the phrase citizen of the culture and dabbler in the faith was particularly convicting. What does it mean to be a citizen of the culture? What does a citizen of heaven here on earth look like? The question that might condemn me the most: Which one does my life more closely represent?

Maybe I can look at the parable of the farmer scattering seed on the different types of soil (Matthew 13). I think the dabbler in the faith citizen of the culture is best represented by the soil filled with weeds and thorns: “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.“ Conversely, the citizen of heaven is represented by the hood soil: “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Father, help me to let go of the cares of this life and the lures of wealth. I confess that I’ve been a little materialistic and selfish lately. I’ve cared more about myself than sharing what I have with others. I’ve cared more about my own respite and entertainment than about worshipping you. I’ve probably been more of a citizen of the culture and dabbler in the faith than I’d like to admit. I’m sorry.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

Christmas

Dear God, there are a lot of paradoxes in American life. One paradox is that the more we advance as a society in things like technology, economy, medicine, etc. the more we seem to regress emotionally. High depression rates. High rates of dissatisfaction. More anger.

This leads me to the paradox of Christmas. There are some who do not believe in you but want the (I’m having a hard time coming up with the word…) extravagance (I think that word works) that comes with the season. More spending. More partying. There’s even more giving. I think it is because we are looking for respite. We want respite from the slog of our year. We want to feel that adrenaline rush from giving or receiving a gift. We want to exhale and take a break. I think that is what is behind the current view of Christmas in American culture.

As Christians, we get caught up in this too. I had a Christmas party for our staff at work. We are in the middle of our biggest fundraising campaign of the year, so I am having to work as hard as I ever work this time of year. I spent some time this weekend thinking about presents for family and friends. I’ve also thought about where some of my wife’s and my year-end giving should go. I’ve thought about trips I want to take, and I’ve planned one for between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I’ve watched some Christmas movies like Die Hard and It’s a Wonderful Life. Notice there is not much there about you. Okay, there isn’t anything there about you. I’ve spent some time singing Christian Christmas carols/songs. I’m planning to attend and speak at a Christmas service this Wednesday, so I’ve been preparing for what I will say. I delivered toys for Toys for Tots and our Rotary club yesterday, but even that wasn’t about you.

Father, I’m going to a church service here in a little bit, and with that service, I want to fully immerse myself in your presence. I want to worship you. I want to be still and know you. I want to feel your Holy Spirit. I want to cultivate good soil in my heart that will give your seeds good space to grow and return a yield that is 10 or 100 times as much. I want to experience and be an instrument of your peace. Show me how to do all of this. Meet me where I am this morning.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

Redeemed

Dear God, I was in church last night and the deacon preached about being redeemed. It made me think that I’ve never really thought about that word. It’s definition, I mean. Here’s what I found on Merriam-Webster Dictionary:


1a: 
to buy back REPURCHASE

b: to get or win back

2: to free from what distresses or harms: such as

a: to free from captivity by payment of ransom

b: to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental

c: to release from blame or debt CLEAR

d: to free from the consequences of sin

It made me think about the children’s storybook, Corduroy.

In it, a stuffed bear sits on a shelf, awaiting someone to purchase him. A little girl sees him and wants him, but her mother says no, pointing out that Corduroy is flawed. His overalls are missing a button. After they left, Corduroy does his best to find his button so that he will be worthy of purchase, but it doesn’t work out. The next day, the girl returns and tells Corduroy that she counted her money and she asked her mother if she could buy (redeem) him. After she took him home she sewed a button on his overalls saying, “I like you the way you are, but you’ll be more comfortable with your shoulder strap fastened.”

We read that book to our kids and, at one point, we were walking our own little girl through a PetSmart and she saw a stuffed Doberman with a missing eye. We tried to show her a similar one with both eyes, but she wanted the flawed one. Of course, we bought it for her and named him Corduroy. I can still picture our two-year-old daughter sitting in her stroller, holding a stuffed Doberman as big as she was. Our daughter is grown and gone now, but that toy is still in our home. I’ve told it that as long as I have a home it has a home. It might be a little silly, but I’ve always loved what that “dog” represents.

So I thought of all of this yesterday when the deacon started talking about Jesus redeeming us. Redeeming is what someone does when they pawn something and then go back for it. Redeemed is what someone does when it claims something (I redeemed a lottery ticket). I redeem my luggage when I claim it at the baggage claim. Something is sitting there waiting for its redemption. It’s lost all of its own agency and any power it has over the situation. It needs redeemed.

So here I am. A flawed bear, sitting on a shelf wondering if anyone can love the flawed person I am. I am that Doberman waiting for a little girl to claim me. And there you are. You knew I needed redeemed, but you had to come and do it yourself. And you love me the way I am, but you also know I’ll be more “comfortable” if you help me deal with some of my flaws.

All any of us have, really, is hope. We have the hope that Jesus gives us if we will recognize it. Jesus takes us off of that shelf, loves us the way we are and then gives us what we need to be complete. He redeems us. I am sorry he had to pay such a high price for my redemption. I am sorry I am not what I would consider to be worthy of the redemption. But I am grateful that you think I am worthy and that you have redeemed me. Thank you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

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The Gift of Pain

“[Dr. Paul Brand] was the one, really, who established that [leprosy], which is the oldest recorded disease, and a greatly feared disease. When you say leprosy people think of movies they’ve seen where patients are missing fingers and maybe even a whole hand, amputations, they are blind. And all of those are common manifestations of the disease. But Dr. Brand proved decisively that all of that abuse came simply because those with leprosy lacked pain. So they lacked that warning system that keeps you from reaching your hand into a fire, that forces you to blink every few seconds. And if you just keep your eyes open all day long, forcing them to stay open, they’ll eventually dry out and you’ll go blind. So millions of leprosy patients have gone blind simply because they don’t blink anymore. They lack the signal that says, ‘Blink, blink.’

“And he was the first person I met who said, ‘Thank God for pain. If I had one gift to give to my leprosy patients it would be the gift of pain. And I had spent my life trying to figure out suffering. I couldn’t think of anything good about it. I read lot of books on the problem of pain, the problem of suffering, but never one called, ‘The Gift of Pain.’ And ultimately, the two of us together ended up writing one. And it shifted my focus from, ‘Why do these things happen?’ Which I don’t think the Bible gives us much wisdom about. Job wanted that wisdom very badly, and he never got it from God. God just said, ‘No, that’s not your job. That’s my job. Your job is, ‘Now that they have happened, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to respond? Are you going to trust me or reject me? Is there something redemptive that can come out of this suffering?”

Dr. Philip Yancey – The Holy Post Podcast, Episode 476. 9/29/2021. Time Stamp 1:13:40

Dear God, I heard this podcast a few days ago, and I’ve been noodling with it in my head ever since. In fact, I probably let it distract me from actually spending much time simply worshipping you. I used my thinking time as a substitute for worship. I’m sorry about that. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth my time. It’s an interesting concept.

So what would the world look like if there were no pain? I suppose it would be easier to ask what my own life would be like if there were no pain. Prosperity gospel preachers would tell me, I think, that no pain is the goal for life. If we are doing it right with you then you will eliminate my pain. You will make it all sunshine and roses. I recently spoke with a woman whose husband died a few years ago. He had a terminal illness with almost no hope for survival. Yet, she expected him to be healed until the moment he died. She still carries the pain of his loss. She still carries, I believe, some anger towards you for letting her down.

As for me, I’ve certainly been disappointed with you over the years. I’ve had things happen, especially with my children, that have caused me tremendous pain. How could you let this happen? Wasn’t I supposed to get some amount of protection from these bad things if I prayed to you regularly, prayed for them, invested in them, etc.? What gives?

But I’ve learned over the last few years that you are doing things I cannot see. It’s in the Bible over and over again. Some of the stories are obvious to us now (although they were not obvious to the people who experienced them). Joseph, Jacob’s son, could not see how his imprisonment by Uncle Ishmael’s descendants would lead to your glory. But there are other stories that are more subtle. Like Naomi. She lost a husband and two sons, but you ultimately redeemed that to give David his great-grandmother, Ruth. As Yancy said above, ours is not to understand why something happened, but to decide how we are going to respond to the situation or circumstance. Will we trust and hope in you, or will we sink into despair?

My wife and I were talking about Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman’s story of when they lost their young daughter in an accident. They really struggled with both the loss and in dealing with each other and how they were processing the loss. Ultimately, they had to learn to both give freedom to the other as to how they needed to walk through and experience the pain, while still experiencing the pain themselves. And they needed to see how they could support the other in their own walk. It’s complicated, but it’s also essential. Right now, my wife and I are experiencing a painful situation, and we are responding differently. Thankfully, this is not our first rodeo with each other, and we are much better at both communicating what we need and also giving each other the freedom and support to go through the situation the way each of us needs to.

But to go back to the first question because I am way off topic. What would it be like to not experience any of this? What would emotional leprosy (as opposed to physical leprosy) look like? I suppose an emotional leper would be completely insensitive to other people. The parts of my that should contain sympathy and empathy would be gone. I would have no tolerance for others. I also wouldn’t have any motivation to do anything. Without the knowledge that even lethargy will cause me harm, I would totally embrace lethargy and laziness. I would be completely irresponsible because there would be no consequences for my irresponsibility.

I was talking recently with someone about the difficulty of parenting because, as adults we know that we only learn and grow through struggle and trials, but as parents our temptation is to protect our children from struggles as much as possible. I have another friend right now who is struggling to know what to do with his 20-year-old son who is living at home and dropped out of college. Does he kick him out? Does he give him space to figure his life out? Where does he draw the line? And what does he do about his wife’s perspective, which is different than his own? And taking a step further back from the situation, what is it that you are doing for him and his wife through this pain? How are you using it to shape them?

Father, I think it is right that pain is good for us, although it is probably still hard for me to label it as a gift. I’d just call it essential to our development as humans. Right now, the only thing that has restored some of the relationships in my life that were broken was pain and hitting bottom. Alcoholics often have to “hit bottom” to decide that they are powerless over alcohol, their lives have become unmanageable, and they need you to restore them to sanity. It doesn’t happen while they are at the bar. It happens the next morning. So I submit myself to whatever you need me to experience. For repentance. For growth. For love. For empathy and sympathy. For knowing what actions to take. For everything. I give it all to you, Father. I don’t need to know why something is the way it is in my life. I just need to know you are in your heaven and all is right in my world, whether I can see it with my eyes or not.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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Monuments

Dear God, I’m praying this on a significant day. It marks the 20-year anniversary of the attacks al-Qaida did on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and it also marks the one-year anniversary of my father-in-law’s passing.

One of my first thoughts today was to look back to one year ago and remember everything you did for us that day. In retrospect, it was truly remarkable. Through a series of events that frustrated me at the time, I happened to walk in on my wife within two minutes of her having found her dad on the floor. We didn’t know it at that moment, but he had been gone for several hours at that point. She had last seen him the day before. Going back further, it’s a remarkable miracle that he was even living next door to us when he died. There is so much to remember of what you have done for us. My wife was talking this morning about being torn that, on the one hand, he died alone and she wishes she could have been there with him, but, on the other hand, his death was apparently quick and didn’t involve the trauma of EMTs resuscitating him, Emergency Rooms, hospitals, nursing homes and rehab facilities (especially in a time of COVID when she wouldn’t have been able to care for him like she wanted. He got a quick, peaceful and pretty dignified death, all things considered. I would say that any of us, if given the option, would opt in for something similar. So you were really good to all of us a year ago, and although the loss still hurts, which it should, there are some real elements to it that are worth of us worshipping you for your goodness.

Then there is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I asked my wife this morning if she finds it peculiar that, as a society, we tend to commemorate the days of defeat. Pearl Harbor. Remember the Alamo. 9/11. I’d be curious to know if the French commemorate the day the Germans rolled in back in 1939. Do the Germans remember D-Day or the day they surrendered to the allies? Is it peculiar that we, as a nation, gravitate towards these days of loss and pain? As I’ve thought about it since my conversation with my wife this morning, I’ve wondered if there is something about the pain that unites us, and, at least for a moment, we are drawn to setting aside all of our differences and having something that we can equally share? I still remember all of Congress holding hands on the Capitol steps in 2001 and singing “God Bless America.”

The truth is, we learn so much more about ourselves and others–we grow so much more–in defeat than in victory. Yes, we Texans celebrate winning our independence from Mexico, but we remember more about the Alamo than we remember about San Jacinto. We remember the date of Pearl Harbor more than we remember the dates of D-Day, VE-Day, or VJ-Day. And we will remember 9/11 more than the day the Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden. Yeah, I wonder how peculiar this is to our culture, or if others do this too.

Father, I always want to be careful to find your fingerprints on the tragedies, because you, my Shepherd, are always there. I can look back to times of great distress in my life and see the little things you did. The little provisions. The daily bread. No, they don’t always turn out the way my human mind thinks they should, but you are still there. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort me. Truly, my cup is overflowing. Thank you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

“The Dance” by Garth Brooks

“The Dance” by Garth Brooks

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye
And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance
Holding you, I held everything
For a moment wasn’t I the king
If I’d only known how the king would fall
Hey, who’s to say, you know I might have changed it all
And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance
If our lives are better left to chance
Oh, our lives are better left to chance
Oh, our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance
Source: Musixmatch
Dear God, I was listening to this song yesterday and thinking about the introduction Garth Brooks gives it in the official music video. The first verse obviously sets the context as being about a romantic relationship, but he explains in that he also likes to think of it as being about living our lives in general and the choices we make to try to do the right things. Sometimes it ends in pain, but the pain or even tragedy is part of the journey and story as well.
Now, I know that not everyone even has the “dance” in their lives. The really joyous good times. I know that some have known nothing but pain their entire lives. But I can claim no such thing. I have had some remarkably wonderful times. There are times I still remember from childhood that were amazing. I’ve known my wife nearly my entire adult life, and we have done remarkable things together as well. When we got married, we had no idea some of the pain that awaited us. I could enumerate the pain we’ve experienced over the last 32 years of knowing each other, but you know it all better than I do. My life, comparatively, hasn’t been tragic my any stretch of the imagination. I’ve had pain to be sure. And there are some specific aspects of my current life that are extremely painful. Frankly, I’m not sure if they will ever be resolved. I’ve done what I can to resolve them, but their future is in the hands of others. So I’ve resigned myself to love them through letting them go and accept the pain as part of that love.
But coming back to this song, there is a lot of brilliance in it. I’m glad I didn’t know 20 or 30 years ago that I’d be exactly where I am now. There is so much wisdom in you keeping me on a need-to-know basis. It’s 8:32 in the morning as I type this right now. I don’t even know what 8:33 will bring. That’s okay. That’s good. If I will just stay in the moment and not worry about the next one then I can fully enjoy the good you are bringing me, absorb the pain, and commune with you.
On this vacation, the vision I keep having is from the 23rd Psalm. This two-week break is a luxury. You are leading me to green pastures and still waters. You are restoring my soul. There will be other times when I will experience the valley of the shadow of death. There will be times when I will be before my enemies. But right now, in this moment, you are restoring my soul. Thank you.
Father, I told you several months ago that I was having dinner with some old friends, and as we shared our lives with each other I thought of the metaphor of each of us having a representational bucket that contained the circumstances of our lives. All of the good and all of the bad. I came to the conclusion at that dinner that if I had the option to put my bucket in the middle of the table along with theirs and then we were each able to choose someone else’s bucket, I would, without a doubt, take my own. Everyone there would probably do the same. Why? As I sit here this morning, I think it is because, regardless of the pain in that bucket, it also contains all of those good and precious memories and moments of which I could not bear to let go. I have more than I deserve. I am grateful for the good and the bad. I embrace the life you’ve given me. Help me to, even in the hard times, worship you as the God who really loves me and can use my life in whatever way helps your kingdom to come to earth and your will to be done.
In Jesus’s name I pray,
Amen
 

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