Posted tagged ‘uncertainty’

Temporary Disfigurement

February 5, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 February 5, 2018

                              

My wife and I went to see the movie Wonder a few weeks ago. We found ourselves shedding a few tears during the film, which followed the story of a fifth grade boy named “Auggie” who had Treacher Collins syndrome. Because of his condition Auggie would wear an astronaut’s helmet around whenever he was in public. He dreamed of being an astronaut because in space no one sees the faces of others.

Ten and eleven year old kids can be cruel, but they can also be compassionate. Auggie experiences both ends of the pendulum as it swung from classmate to classmate.

I was deeply moved by watching the film and pondering its messages. Weeks later I’m still thinking about it!

And then Saturday morning I woke up with a rash on the side of my face that made me want to put on an astronaut’s helmet…or paper bag. By Saturday afternoon I looked like I had a huge chaw of chewing tobacco between my left cheek and gum (Not that I’ve ever done that, but I was born in Kentucky! Half the barns in the state used to have “Chew Mail Pouch” painted on one side!).

The past two days I’ve had a few “Auggie moments”. That is, I’m very self-conscious of my face and I assume that everyone I see is looking at me. There’s a sense of embarrassment tied into it. I don’t feel normal, and normal is what all of us want to be unless we’re doing something that our culture thinks is extraordinary.

Lessons are learned in the abnormal moments of life.

This afternoon middle school boy’s basketball tryouts begin. It’s my seventeenth season coaching at Timberview Middle School, and it’s the seventeenth time I will see the uncertainty of seventh and eighth grade boys as they deal with the uncomfortableness of being watched by coaches and other boys who they feel inferior to. Perhaps God gave me this rash to help me empathize with the pressures of being a twelve year old.

Actually, there’s that hint of uncertainty and inadequacy in any middle school child. With some it just might be a little deeper below the surface, but it’s there. Much of the time he or she simply stays out of situations where it has the potential to rise to the surface.

I can relate. In my few trips out in public the last three days I’ve tried to stay to the left so the left side of my face is away from people. Three months from today I’ll turn 64 and I’m still sensitive to my insufficiencies!

I’m simply a self-conscious adolescent in an elderly shell!

We Don’t Know!

December 30, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    December 30, 2014

                                                     

        Nothing quite causes unrest and frustration more than three words: We don’t know!

People who are looking for the answer or final solution find it hard to truly hear those words. You can blame it on the times we live in…and the devices of our time.

For example, I can look at a device wrapped around my wrist and instantly discover how many calories I’ve burned off during my workout.

I can look at the side of a box to find out how many grams of sugar are in the bowl of cereal I’m munching on.

I can go to the Channel Guide on my TV to find out what is playing at 9:00 tonight on the Sci Fi Channel.

I can go on-line to see the balance in my checking account.

But there are some things in life that have a grayness to them, that aren’t instant answers. Those three words…”We don’t know!”, cause eyebrows to be raised and fears to be heightened. They are three words that have become like a foreign language to our culture.

“We must know! We have to know!”

I recently was sitting with a family in a hospital waiting room waiting to hear from the surgeon about the difficult procedure the loved one had undergone. As we waited the text messages kept bombarding family members.

       “How did it go?”

       “Is he in recovery?”

       “What did they find out?”

       “How long will he be there?”

The spouse patiently responded to each one “We don’t know!” The waiting for word and the pressure from those who weren’t there to know was raising her own level of concern. Patience quite often takes a detour around hospital waiting rooms.

Last week my wife and I were inquiring about the purchase of a hot new product that we were looking to buy. The store was out of them. I found myself getting a little agitated when the salesperson’s respond to when they would get some more in was “We don’t know! Maybe next week…maybe a couple of weeks!”

The answer wasn’t immediate…and so I was up against a brick wall. The bricks did not feel good against my desire to move forward.

I often get spiritual questions that I can’t answer. The questioner looks at my response of “I don’t know!” and is taken back. I’m a pastor. I’m suppose to know.

But I have no idea how God created angels, or what kind of fish it was that swallowed Jonah? Why do good things happen to bad people…and bad things happen to good people? Why does one person get cured of cancer, and another die a slow painful death?

Life is filled with questions that I am clueless about answering.

Most of my day is spent in “the immediate.” That is, I can immediately know without wondering. It’s the moments of wondering that are uncomfortable, and yet they are also the moments that are usually tinted with the presence of God.

 

Uncertain Tuesday

March 26, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   March 26, 2013

Tuesday of Holy Week is a day of uncertainty. It doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. Rather, it’s kind of like the finger beside the pinkie- it has purpose to hold my wedding band on, but I’m not sure what else it’s good for. But it’s there!

As a pilgrim on a journey, Palm Sunday is like the opening scenes of a movie, establishing the beginnings of the story, introducing the characters. Thursday and Friday are the days of tension, where the wringing of hands is taking place in the audience. Sunday is the climax, the victory. The forces of good triumph.

But Tuesday…is just there. It’s when the customer leaves the theater to get his popcorn bucket refilled. It’s in the middle, but not quite.

Tuesday is where most of us live. Our lives are full of triumph, tragedy, and resurrection, but most of our life is lived between the highs and lows. Most of our days are lived in the “not yets.”

Moses experienced triumphs and tragedies, but for many years before his burning bush experience we lived in the Tuesdays of life.

The Israelites had a Tuesday that lasted forty years.

David lived most of his childhood and adolescence in “Tuesdays.”

Tuesday is when we are most prone to wander. It is the time when we are most susceptible to losing our focus, or even doubting our focus.

Tuesday isn’t even “hump day.” It’s a day of discouragement. For some it’s the day of just going through the motions.

Holy Week Tuesday is like the child in the family that gets none of the attention, but is expected to be there.

In my walk with God I can pinpoint certain moments that stand out: my baptism on a Sunday night in August at the First Baptist Church of Zanesville, Ohio; youth retreats growing up at Camp Francis Asbury outside of Rio Grande, Ohio; being ordained to the ministry; hearing Tony Camplo speak during Spiritual Enrichment Week at Judson College. I could go on and on…but I won’t! Those events, those moments rise to the surface.

But most of my spiritual journey is not on the peak. In fact, it’s not in the deep valleys as well. It is the space between. Using the Bible as an analogy, it isn’t in the Gospels, but rather in Ecclesiastes, a period that is seemingly void of meaning. Honestly, getting through Ecclesiastes is like trying to read War and Peace in one sitting.

Spiritual journeys require perseverance, stamina, even flexibility. They require a willingness to get through the Tuesdays.