“Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread” – D. T. Niles
“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus
Crumbs Along the Way
How does one honestly and humbly say he has gained enough wisdom along the way that has helped shape his character and still have the hutzpah to believe others might learn a thing or two from this collection of crumbs along the way I have gathered? For me the answer lies in the truth that I received these crumbs, chunks, and a few loafs from mentors. Some I have had the privilege to know personally; others had the hutzpah themselves to write books of their own from which I have gathered up tasty treats, nourishing ideas, insights, knowledge, and wisdom. I hope that from among these collected morsels you too will be able to digest some character building meals.
Finding myself recently partially retired, with the exception of a small position, with a Hospice company, I was planning to quietly ease into a life of leisure and house husbandly completion of “Honey-Do” lists. I had already acquired a few more ministry type pastimes signing in the choir and leading music for a Sunday School class. I started a guitar class for beginners, and even found a regular gig playing my Mountain Dulcimer to help compulsive gamblers relax. I also continue to participate in the prison ministry of KAIROS. It was in this last context along with a health crisis that lead me to begin this book.
During one of the team formation meetings for the next KAIROS weekend we had a spiritual exercise in which everyone had the opportunity to pray for and be prayed for by every other member of the team. This is a powerful exercise. While many of the prayers may seem ordinary and general some stand out as extraordinarily inspired. Such was the case when Matt prayed for me. Even though he does not know me well his words cut to my heart and soul with healing, inspiration, and challenge.
Matt spoke with understanding of past struggles and disappointments in ministry, he proclaimed that God is not finished with me yet. There is important work yet to be done. He proclaimed it is not how we begin that matters, but how we finish, and assured the Holy Spirit would guide me to whatever God had planned for my future ministry.
At the time I did not know what all this might mean. However, the Gift of Discernment helped me know that his words were His words. Nothing in particular came to mind. I figured, if God had something important for me to do, He would let me know in his own good time. Meanwhile I intended to continue enjoying my retirement after the fashion I had already taken.
About a week later the health crisis hit. On June. 19th I had surgery to receive a total replacement of my left knee. It was part of my retirement plan. Everything had gone smoothly. Recovery was ahead of schedule. I was happily showing off my scar and demonstrating my strength and agility as testimony to the healing power of prayer. August 28th less than two weeks before Matt’s prayer my knee began to swell. At first I chalked it up to over exercise in our pool and used extra ice and elevation. However, it did not get better and six days after the significant prayer my doctor discovered my swelling and pain were not the result of over exercise but rather came from swelling due to infection. The following Wednesday I had surgery to remove the knee and faced 12 weeks minimum before another surgery to give me “a new knee for Christmas”.
My initial reaction was disappointment, grief, and sadness. Disappointment because I had been doing so well and because I would miss the KAIROS weekend. Grief because it is a loss, lots of losses. We had planned a weekend get away, and a New Year vacation. I am in a new praise band at church and so on. The Sadness was more profound. Almost every day from April to the present I had said “These are the good old days.” Life was good the new knee surgery was a good thing and had gone very well. My wife had a new job. The first ever she really enjoyed with a great salary and working from home. We had a new above ground pool and were loving the daily swim. There were no family crises, I thought ” After years of one thing after another this is our time for ease and enjoyment. Finances are good the other shoe is not about to drop.
After a couple of days I managed to emerge from these emotions enough to begin thinking more positively. I have a murder mystery in the works that has been sitting idle. I took it up before surgery and managed to write two scenes before feeling blocked again.
After surgery I began posting progress reports to Facebook. This had proven to be very encouraging to me after my knee replacement. There was a very positive response from, family, friends and acquaintances. So it seemed a good plan for my recovery this time as well. Sleepless on my first night post op I posted, ” it’s 3:35 am I haven’t slept and I’m wide awake.”
I received the following reply.
Hi Fr.. Geoff. I am in Hawaii and still awake also. I just read your post about still being awake at 3:35am. I was reminded of the beautiful and powerful meditations you offered us happening staff. Its a gift that I still carry with me and continues to be apart of my spiritual exercises. My wish for you this evening is for the peace that comes thru our encounters with jesus and all that is inherently divine in Creation. Rest easy old friend and thank you for all of the Love you gave me during my turbulent adolescence!! In geat Love, Jim Dobbins
So I thought, that was 30 years ago and was important enough to be remembered. I have learned a lot more in 30 years. So, maybe, just maybe , this is God’s way of saying I could finish well by collecting up all that wisdom and share it with some more Jim Dobbins!