Feeling out of place? Not fitting in? Are you watching those around you making strides in ways that make you envious? Are you dissatisfied with your christian life. Envious of your christian brethren who seem grounded and living the perfect christian life? Is there a slight temptation of envy as you watch your friends and colleagues making their way in a society you feel alienated from? Do you have any friends at all? Do you feel you have passed your used by date? Be encouraged. You are not alone. As a matter of fact you are in good company.
As the years have passed me by I have on so many occasions gone through the motions of loving God and my neighbour as commanded in the bible. Although I have tried my best to fit into the contemporary christian lifestyle but there has always been this nagging feeling there is something missing. Not only missing but the undeniable fact that I just wasn’t fitting in.
Time caused me to redefine my relationship with God, Jesus and his church. Over a long period of time I came to conclusion that I could never be part of today’s religious mainstream church. It was not in me. I could never be a part of a society that is not designed for the life that God has given me. This has alienated me for many years,albeit self alienation, until recently I came to the realization (not a revelation or epiphany) that I was not meant to be part of either. I was purposed for something completely different. I was meant to be a misfit. In context or language that best describes what I am, a stranger and pilgrim on this earth.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe that those that do fit in and are making a place for themselves on this earth, helping their fellow-man, the poor and under-privileged of this world are also exactly where they are meant to be, along with those who have found purpose and usefulness in the church, their religion or their way of life. Even those who are successful in the field of their calling, gifts or talents. There is nothing wrong with that. They are where they are meant to be.
Our calling is different. Yes, calling. God has a different plan for us. But we must come to terms with the fact that if we don’t fit in it is for a reason. The bible calls people like us a “peculiar people”, we are strange and different.
Once I faced the truth about my place in this world and have stopped struggling to fit my square life into the worlds round hole I stopped trying to define my life by societies and religous standards. I have accepted that God in his infinite wisdom has given me the calling of a stranger and a pilgrim as I try and weave my way through the maze of life.
In my opinion there has been no greater stranger and pilgrim to this world than Jesus. He made it very clear to his first disciples that in order to follow him through this world then they were required to give up everything to follow him. You have to give thought to what ‘ everything’ means to you. I know what it means to me and I am excited about the future that I have left in this life as a “peculiar” people.
So you don’t fit in? Great, join the club.
I was twenty-one when I read my first book. The Godfather by Mario Puzo. I loved it. I loved the story, the characters, the violence, the mafia. For the first time in my life I was transported by words into someone else world. Unfortunately it would be quite some time before I read my second novel. As a child I was not encouraged to read. I can not remember my mom and dad reading anything other than a cookbook or daily newspaper.
I failed English I in high school twice because I refused to read the assigned books that were part of the curriculum. I stayed away from school on the days I knew the students would have to stand up and read for the class.
It wasn’t until I became a christian, joined a church and was given a bible that reading became important. King James was the only bible we were encouraged read, right from the horse’s mouth I was told. So being a slow reader to begin with, learning a new language (King James’ ), mixed with dead brain cells from years of drug abuse and you can only imagine how slow a process it was for me. I had to re-read a sentence up to three or four times before the words would register. I was so spaced out I could barely retain any information.
The bible and writings based on the bible and Christianity was all I read. This suited me just fine. Slowly but surely I was able to overcome, with God’s help my reading disabilities. As the years passed I started reading Time and Newsweek Magazines with a dictionary at the ready. I was expanding my vocabulary at a rapid pace.
When I left my church quite many years ago I started to read other books outside the God, Jesus and Christian genre. I particularly loved lawyer court room drama and murder mysteries. There was a whole new world out there I never knew existed and I devoured fictitious novels as though they would be banned at any time. Add christian writings, throw a little self-help in the mix and I had what I believed was a good balance.
Because I didn’t read when I was younger, writing was out of the question also. During a period of time when everything was free hand with a pencil or pen my writing skills were non-existent. Yuk. If you saw my handwriting you would understand why. I couldn’t even read what I had put on paper seconds after I wrote it. It was a no win situation for me.
I engrossed myself in these marvelous, well written novels by great authors. I could only envy such gifted men and women. Wait, envy is too soft a word, I was jealous of their writing abilities. If I entertained these jealous thoughts for too long a time I started to despise these writers. What did they do but write a good book. I wanted to be like them yet I wanted to keep an open mind so I could despise them at the same time.
I’m smiling now as I write this as I look back about eight years ago when I decided to write my own book. The only expertise I had on any subject I felt comfortable writing about was my me, my life. So I set out to write a novel, like the big boys and girls. I wrote every day until I finished a fictional account of my life. Over 300 pages. A first draft on my first attempt. Man, I was empowered by the whole experience. I don’t know where those 300 pages are now.
I found it was easy for me to write first drafts but I had no idea what to do after. I didn’t know anything about editing, re-writing, language structure and all that goes into the process of making a book. I was out of my league. Then I stumbled on blogging. Once I got my head around this new way to write it became my best writing friend. Through blogging I learned the basics. Write, edit, re-write, edit, hit the ABC button, correct spelling, hit the publish button, categorize, tag, read other blogs, like button, comment.
Reading blogs from writers who I knew had the education (Bachelor, Master degrees and PhD’s. Not to mention light years of writing practice under their belt and did I forget to mention that every author mentions the books they published. “I’m a published author you know” I felt like a fish out of water most of the time.
Then there are those who testify that writing has been a passion in their life since they could hold a pen. Carry a notebook or journal at all times, write stories, read them in class. Work for the school paper, learn to edit at ten. There is no doubt the passion that oozes out of these wanna be writers. These people will write until Jesus comes back no matter the outcome. Passion is passion regardless of its success.
I lacked passion for writing. It was quite obvious to me that I didn’t love writing. I kept writing hoping that someday I would fall in love with the craft. Then I would be passionate like the millions of those who make it their calling in life. Without the necessary love and passion needed to write my story how could I ever succeed.
That is why it was so easy for me to stop writing eight months ago. Not even think about writing a single line because I could live without it. Writing was not in my blood. It was not my calling.
The eight months without a word written opened up other opportunities for me. I used the extra time to read, specifically memoirs. Story of people lives, experiences and memories. I taught myself to read outside genres that resonated with my thinking. I read some fantastic books and my eyes were opened to something I never saw before in relation to writing.
One of the things that came to me while reading these memoirs is that many of these authors did not have the background in creative writing nor the passion for writing. Writing was a means to an end. A way to get their story out to the world. A way overcome their past. A way to be open and honest about life, their life. What did these memoir writers have that I didn’t have. They had a love for their own life, their own stories and they would make a way to talk about it. Writing was the way they chose to do it.
Up until this time I thought my life not important enough to talk about. Not exciting enough that others would want to read. Nor honest enough to be able to bear my soul on paper. God has give me, each one of us, for that matter, a very special gift. Life. Every memory, every experience is recorded somewhere in our hearts or mind. My life is special.
Before I was blind but now I see, if not blind then very blurry. My life is becoming my passion, my stories, those hidden treasures of experience and feelings. Those deeply engrained memories that are just bursting to find their way out of the place I have buried them.
It”s about honesty, transparency. Humiliating myself by allowing others to read about my shortcomings, mistakes and the matters of the heart. Like getting undressed in front of a stranger. They see the good, the bad and the ugly.
My blog, Surviving My Son’s Suicide is a testimony to that. It is also a prelude to the bigger picture in my life.
Writing is not my passion. At least not today.
Today, writing is a means to an end.
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, “the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) I am sure he was talking from experience. Peace in our hearts and in our minds at the same time is like taking a vacation in Heaven.
In the early years after the death of my son, peace of mind went missing and my heart was a constant raging sea. Months could pass before experiencing peace that I am sure I had taken for granted my whole life.
Watching my 36-year-old son suffer with bipolar I have failed to understand his pain. When he writes from time to time on his Facebook page that he had a great day and was enjoying peace I started to realize what was important to him.
When my good blogging friend, from Missing Peace struggles to find meaning to life the title of her blog tells it all.
Through my own experience I have learned that peace of mind and heart are as important to the soul as is water, food and sleep to the body. Without them we will not be at our best.
All Paul pointed out, the peace that God gives passes all our understanding. Like turning on a light switch. Most of us don’t understand electricity and how it works but we know we can see when the light is turned on. Peace is a similar necessity of life.
Peace comes more regularly these days although the visits are usually fairly short but I have learned to appreciate and be grateful for when it does come.
So, if you want to ask God for peace of mind for yourself or for someone you know who really needs it just claim Philippines 4:7 when you pray, “Lord bless my loved one with the peace of God which passes all our understanding knowing that our hearts and minds will be protected by Jesus himself”
Peace of mind? Oh what a feeling.
Last week I received an unexpected call from a dear friend. I hadn’t heard from her in almost six years. Our families had been friends years ago and as it happens when we moved cities we lost contact with each other. We chatted away for a few minutes going through all the politically correct conversation when two people haven’t talked or seen each other for some time.
I finally had to say, “Janice (not her real name), I know you didn’t call out of the blue to talk about the weather, what’s on your mind”. She laughed as she knows me too well. Get straight to the point is my middle name.
“You’re right” she said, and went on to tell me about a self-help program that she had been using for about a year and how much it had helped her and her family and even friends that I also knew well. She was adamant it could be a blessing to me also. She reassured me that she still believed in God and Jesus but this program helped her so much she just had to share it with others and thought of me.
If you know me you would know that I should have chosen to be a detective or prosecuting attorney as a career path. I opened up my investigation by asking, “what’s in it for you Janice?”. She told me nothing. She just wanted to share some good will. The next ten minutes she must have felt like she was before a grand jury or worse under the spotlight being coerced into a confession to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I know Janice and her husband and I know the type of people they are. Honest, of good character and I know she would never offer me something if she didn’t think it would be good for me and Rhonda (my wife).
I have had my own experiences with self-help programs, one I was fully into for a year. AT the time I felt this particular program could help me in certain areas I was having difficulty in so I made the decision to commit to the program lock stock and barrel for one full year. This I did and I threw myself into reading, learning, researching, listening and watching everything I could get my hands on and it wasn’t cheap.
When I completed my year, precisely to the day I had a good look at my progress, where I was at in my life compared to a year ago and I had to admit this particular program had been a blessing and had helped me in areas that I had been quite weak in. It hadn’t changed my life radically but I got enough out of it to feel satisfied that the year was well spent.
Weighing up the pro’s and con’s on deciding if I should continue the program was a blessing in disguise. It made me look at what I had in my life that brought me to where I was before committing to this self-help program and where I could go if I continued.
The scales seemed to be evenly balanced but I eventually decided to let the program go and not continue. What tipped the scales for me was this; I had realized that this program was so much like a religion in itself. Everything outwardly was working some good in my life but I was becoming dependent on this programs doctrine. I knew it was starting to become like a religion to me and I had no room in my life for two religions. My beliefs and commitment to the Lord over the past forty years of my life were in jeopardy as I could see that this program albeit very good outwardly was eroding some of the basic fundamentals of my relationship with the Lord that I had painstakingly built up over the years since I was a young man.
I had to think about why I felt I had to commit to this self-help program in the first place. I wasn’t happy with my life, too many ‘bad things’ were happening to me, my personal struggles seemed like they would never go away and I felt God was not working for me any longer. God seemed distant and unapproachable. I was starting to doubt God’s place in my life and my place in the world. I was looking for another way to find truth and purpose.
It was a wakeup call, I decide against continuing the pursuit of happiness with this new way of thinking. In plain english, there was no room in my life for two religions, two beliefs, two God’s. The one who had worked well enough throughout my life, He could just as well work well for me the rest of my life. I just needed to get back to basics.
I did look at the material Janice gave me via the programs web site but I already knew my answer. I communicated with Janice that this particular program was not for me. She understood and we promised to keep in touch. We said our goodbyes and I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to reaffirm my faith and love in a God who although sometimes seems distant and unavailable is always there either right next to me, walking in front leading the way, a step behind to make sure I don’t stumble and fall and then there are times when He even has to carry me because I am to weak to make it on my own two feet.
Trusting God has a lot of merit, its been tried and proven over countless years by millions of men and women of God. It’s the old fashion way and it suits me just fine.
(Footnote: I want to make it clear that self-help programs can help in areas of our lives that need work on. Medication can help, it takes away the pain, even if for only a short time to give us rest and peace of mind. A good movie helps keep our mind off our troubles if only for a few hours. Helping those in greater need than us is also rewarding. Laughing is a great way to feel good. Talking to someone who understands is encouraging. Reading a good book takes us out of our world for a short time. The list goes on but most of these things do not cure or heal the greater need. Trusting God does.)
My relationship with God is the most important factor in my life and my growth as a Christian and as a human being. I’m not sure God had a lot to work with when I came out kicking and screaming. I was determined from the git go to ‘do it my way’. So God had His work cut out for Him. Fortunately for me God got ahold of me early enough (twenty two yrs old) to try to make something out of nothing. The next forty-four years was always going to be a work in progress.
As in the physical realm it takes time, experience and lots of failures and hard knocks to form the type of person we are going to be. Fortunately most bad habits and defects in our physical makeup can be overcome as we try to better ourselves, especially when we get to an age of maturity when we realize that unless we make certain adjustments we could find ourselves in a place where it is very difficult to change.
It’s not easy to make these adjustments especially when bad habits become imbedded in our life, even addictions which as you may already know are very difficult to overcome.
There seems to be a million ways on the market to help us in our growth areas. Good diets, exercise programs,, coaching for success or being a better person. Therapy in all forms, even medication to help with our mental defects, pills to make us feel better, think clearly, to lose weight, to slow us down, to speed us up, to help us sleep.
Then there is God, a spanner in the works. Those of us who at some time in our lives, whether it be as a young child, an adolescent, teenager, middle age or senior citizen, something unexplainable overcame us. At the best of times is difficult to put into words for those who haven’t experienced it. Being born again is a term used and best describes what I consider a phenomenon.
An overpowering spiritual experience for some, for others a growth and learning process and even for others like the apostle Paul a good slap across the face.
At what ever age this occurs we must then learn how to live a spiritual life in a physical body and somehow try to keep both happy and walking hand in hand. Not an easy task.
I heard it said we are spiritual beings in a human body. That may be so but we need to give due respect to both sides and keep a good balance between the two.
Easier said than done when all you can think about is how you are going to pay the bills, find a girl or boy who likes you for who you are, staying up all hours of the night for a newborn who is intent on being number one in your life. At the same time trying to give due respect and attention to God.
This new relationship with God in a spiritual realm is not always by choice, its something that grows in you whether you like it or not.
So how do we obtain this spiritual maturity and how does it differ from the natural maturity we find from our normal human life.
To use king David in the bible as an example. Here was a man who was chosen as a young boy to be the king of Israel. He was given the power to take down a giant to save Israel from defeat in war. He led the armies of Saul so the people praised him as the greater warrior than the king himself. He pissed off Saul who was suffering from his own mental distresses and David had to run and flee for his life living in caves in the wilderness and mountains. He had to look non stop over his shoulder for those who would bring him harm and had to deal with his own personal demons. He constantly prayed to God for deliverance not only from his physical enemies but also from fear that overcame him to the point of near defeat and giving up. God helped him out of all this but in my opinion these trying times is not what made David a great leader or spiritually mature.
We all know the story of David and Bathsheba, what David did to get his hands on the most beautiful women he ever saw. He had one of his most faithful soldiers and servants, the husband of Bathsheba sent purposely to the front lines to put his life in danger and hopefully killed so David could claim rights to the women he wanted for his own.
His plan worked, he got his woman, they married to live happily ever after and had a son.
Now it was God’s turn to help David grow in a way that he couldn’t possibly do on his own. God sent word to the prophet Nathan that David needed to be paid a visit and be confronted with the truth. God was not happy with his anointed king. Nathan confronted David, told him a story about a man in his kingdom that did a very bad thing. David was furious and demanded to know his identity so he could bring this man to justice. When Nathan revealed that it was David himself who had done this wrong the king crumbled. Now facing his own demise David repented and God forgave him BUT, God wasn’t finished, he wanted to make sure David got the point. He wanted to make sure that David would not ever do it again but help him grow into spiritual maturity.
He took something very valuable from David (and Bathsheba), their only son.
It sent David over the edge and when he came out of his depressed state he became the man and king that God knew he could be from the beginning. He grew into spiritual maturity through broken-ness. Now God was ready to bless David, not as a the great warrior king but a man who now knew what it was like to lose something so valuable that for a time did not want to live on. This was the beginning of spiritual maturity on David’s part and from there it’s all history.
In the first thirty odd years of my spiritual walk with God I was blessed. Full of life, faith and trust in Him. Together we were a great team, but God knew that I needed to grow in a way that I was not willing or able to understand without the proper nudge.
I am just starting to understand the importance of spiritual maturity myself. Over the past years I have suffered some devastating losses. It broke me in so many pieces I thought there was no hope in every putting me back together again. But God did and He knew what He was doing with me and my life and used these times to help me mature in ways I never thought possible.
Spiritual maturity helps to redefine what is important in life, it helps to put priorities its proper place but most of all it keeps a more natural balance between the physical world we have to live in and the spiritual world that awaits us.
Proverbs 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (KJV) I have learned that being broken is not a weakness but a stepping stone for what is most important in life.
We live in a do it now generation and christians have fallen into that trap wanting God’s blessing now, get me to the mission field now, make me a leader now, wanting the trials to stop now, heal the hurt now. I have learned that there is no fast tracking spiritual maturity but when it does start to manifest itself in one’s life it brings “a peace of God that passes all understanding.” (the Bible)
From time to time my wife will bring home some clothing given to her by some of her clients. Most of the time they don’t fit, the style and color doesn’t match my personality or I just don’t like it. But on this occasion we struck oil. A polo shirt that was a good color for me, a style I would be comfortable with but most importantly it fit over my every growing midsection.
I was pleased with the find and as my wife straightened the collar and smoothed out the wrinkles she told me how good it looked on me.
As we looked in the mirror together I couldn’t help myself. I said, “ugh it makes me look fat”.
My wife replied, “I don’t care”, and so the deal was done. I got myself a new shirt.
As I was taking some time this morning to reflect on my day for some reason I was reminded of the polo shirt and replayed the mirror scene over and over in my mind. So what was the big deal, what was I not seeing or why was I being reminded of a seemingly ordinary encounter between my wife and me.
Then it dawned on me, it was what she said when I told her I looked fat in the shirt. She could have lied and said, “no honey, you don’t look fat, it’s a perfect fit and I love that 8 pack you’re working on”. She didn’t say this and I know she wasn’t even thinking it.
But she did say, “I don’t care”. In other words, sure you’ve gained some weight over the years and its difficult to find shirts that hide the obvious but who cares, I don’t. I love you just the way you are.
I couldn’t help but think it’s exactly how the Lord looks at us when we come to him, head down, repentant over some glitch in our character or personality. He tells us, ‘I don’t care, I love you just the way you are, after all I made you and I am quite pleased with how you are turning out.’
We Christians love to carry our own cat-o-nine tails around with us to give ourselves a good flogging when we need it, but really. As my wife looked at me in the mirror and said, “I don’t care”, I knew she loved me in spite of me. She sees me differently than the way I see myself.
And so does God, he looks past our physical imperfections and looks at our soul. He is more interested in how we are progressing and growing spiritually.
Jesus encourages us ‘to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and to love those we come in contact with in the same way we would love ourselves’.
This is difficult to do when we are always picking on ourselves and seeing the physical imperfections in others.
Like my dear wife, we need to learn to say, ‘I don’t care’ and mean it.
I was a relatively quiet spectator on the sidelines. I very rarely took my eyes of my own kids as I wanted to capture every move they made. Of course I wanted their team to win. It’s a great feeling but most importantly I enjoyed going through each experience with them from a far.
I felt their joy when they scored a goal, I felt their pain when they got injured. I felt their disappointment when they made a mistake. I felt their loneliness when the coach wouldn’t put them into the game. I felt their humiliation when it was their mistake that cost the game. I felt their pride when they got man of the match.
I only had eyes for my boy. I don’t know if all parents are like that but I was. Of course I wanted them to do well and inside I was jumping up and down when things were going well and my heart ached when they seemed despondent and discouraged. I may not have been able to help much from the sideline but they knew I was there.
At the end of the day, win , lose or draw I was proud of them.
As I write this I can see God standing on the sidelines in the game of Life cheering me on. Not caring if I win or lose or draw. He just enjoys watching me play the game. He feels for me when I am happy, He feels for me when I am sad, When I get injured or hurt He feels the pain.
When I win a game of life one day we rejoice together. We I lose on another day I know their will always be another game, tomorrow. If I get hurt I know He feels my pain.
On our way home he always reminds me that we get to play the game again tomorrow.
And tomorrow He will be on the sideline watching my every move.
I read where someone had asked Stephen King why he chose to write horror. He answered, “who said I had a choice”.
I just finished reading a back and forth conversation with an atheist and a christian. When are we going to get it through our thick sculls that we do not have to prove our belief. If I believe in God why on earth do I have to prove that to anyone.
It’s the atheist who has to prove to himself and the rest of the world that he chooses not to believe in God. Ironic isn’t it, that a person has to choose not to believe in God but a believer does not have to prove the existence of God.
Yes, I concur, one chooses to be a christian, one chooses to be a missionary, a minister, a Baptist or Catholic. We choose to ask Jesus into our life, we choose to obey what we believe is the right way or we choose to disobey what we have been taught.
We don’t choose our parents, we don’t choose our family, we don’t choose God.
In retrospect I can see clearly that God was always there for the taking. He was just waiting for me to wake up, open my eyes and become aware that He was right there all the time.
No, I didn’t choose God, he chose me. “Ye have not chosen me by I have chosen you ….” John 15:16
I believe many are under the misconception that we chose God. We are his children from the beginning so how can we choose the one that made us. We may choose to believe that He is our father and his son is our saviour but we do not choose God.
So go ahead Mr Atheist, ask me why I choose to believe in God.
I will answer emphatically “who said I had a choice”
Then my friend turned serious. He asked, “Do you remember my son Tony” (not his real name).
Yes, I remember him when he was very young.
My friend continued to tell me this story, At 14 or 15 we realized that we were going to have a problem on our hands with Tony. He started getting into trouble at school, running with a bad crowd and before long the police were involved. During his juvenile years he was in and out of court on all the little stupid things kids do to skirt the law.
When he turned 17 things got serious, drugs, break and enter offences. We were at wit’s end. We tried everything we could within our grasp to help him and sometimes he showed glimpses of wanting to change.
Going to jail for short stints broke our hearts but we hoped for the best, that he would come out realizing the road he was heading down. He seemed to try hard but his addictions and friends were too much for him to overcome even if he wanted.
One night after what looked like days of drug use he broke down. He couldn’t take any more and was looking for a way out. He asked Jesus to help him, come into his life and take away all the bad that was going on in his life.
I could see my friend looking deep inside his memory trying to put the right words to the pictures in his head. He took a big sigh and continued.
I really thought the lord had taken hold of him that night. It seemed like he was so genuine and the peace that came over him was supernatural. We had high hopes and were so thankful knowing that He was now in God’s hands.
But it didn’t last. After a few days he seemed to become more distant toward us, you could see him struggling to keep things together. I even took him to church thinking that maybe he could meet someone his age that could help him through the teething process. But he just wasn’t interested.
He was 20 years old by this time. He went off the rails, again and his drug use and illegal activities went into over drive. He was already out on bail waiting a court case for previous offenses. So he gets caught on a number of break and enters and charged with a string of offenses. His bail was revoked and he was sent to remand to wait his day in court. He pleaded guilty to all charges and going to court was a formality. He spent 4 months in remand.
My friend told me that he and his wife took off work and went to court to support their son. Since he had pleaded guilty it was just a matter of how long a sentence he got and how much longer he would have to stay in jail.
My friend continued his story.
We were somewhat nervous going to court as we didn’t know what to expect. When he was brought in he acknowledged us with a smile. I nodded, his mum blew him a kiss.
The prosecutor read out the charges which seemed to go on forever. We were dumbfounded by all that he had been caught doing. At one point I bowed my head wondering when it would stop. And these are just the ones he got caught for. I really wanted to know where Jesus was in all this as I knew that Tony was in God’s hands but it seemed like he had deserted him somewhere along the line before he even had a chance to change.
Tony, got 18 months. He has to serve 6 months of that time before he can get out on parole so we waved goodbye once again as he was taken away to spend another 3 months or so incarcerated before being let out again.
Our fear was that when he did get out he would go right back to his old ways. I am embarrassed to say this Sammy but I had doubted that Tony had actually received the Lord and if he did Jesus wasn’t doing anything about it.
I actually decided not to visit him in jail. There was nothing to talk about as our conversations were nothing more than me asking him questions that he didn’t want to answer. I think 30 seconds was the longest one-sided conversation I had with him for many years.
Then something changed in him. In his phone calls home we noticed something different. He was able to string two or three sentences together that actually made sense. He was going to spend his 21st birthday in prison so we decided to visit and see how he was doing. In some ways I was happy to go and see him but I thought that the one hour visiting time was a very long time when there is no communication.
The rules of the prison allowed only non contact for the first three visits so we were sitting behind a thick glass window. As much as we wanted to hug him the best we could do was talk and that we did.
It was the best hour I had spent with Tony since he was a child. More importantly his countenance was different, he was talkative and we were both amazed at the wisdom he was showing concerning what he was learning in his life. At one point, Kathy asked him if he was seeing a counselor in prison because what he sharing with us was so profound. Very un-Tony like.
He even told us that his mind and heart are now synchronized.
My friend continued, On our way home we were almost speechless as we tried to process what just happened. We know it’s just a start and our son has a long way to go but we were encouraged.
My friend looked at me and smiled, before he added, “the best part Sammy, was when Tony said, “I pray for you both every night”.
As we said our goodbyes I told my friend that I would keep Tony in my prayers.
I thought about the story of Tony for quite a few days after as it left quite an impression on me.
If I may add to Tony’s epiphany, when the mind and heart are synchronized, the body and soul work together in harmony.
(Footnote) My good friend gave me permission to tell his story in hope that it could be helpful to someone else.
God put us on earth for a reason. Each one of us with a special task or anointing, calling, mission or purpose, however you want to tag it.
As two snowflakes are not alike so is our relationship with God. If you have been blessed with many children like I have you understand that although your parenting may not differ from one to the other if for no other reason than making an effort not to show favoritism.
There is a special place in your heart for each one. You may not be able to manifest this openly but as we love all our children with all our heart so God loves each of us with all His heart and has a special place in His heart for you and me and every other person who sees Him as their father.
In growing up spiritually from a babe in christ, to a young adolescent, a young man or women and then a mature adult we strive to do our best to please our God. We make a life for ourselves on earth only wanting to please Him.
He gave us life, he presented us with a mission or purpose and even if we don’t fully understand our place in the pecking order of our Christian world we want our Father to be proud of us and to be able to look down and say, well done good and faithful servant (child) enter into the kingdom of God.
So we strive as children of God to please our father so he can accept us “again” in His kingdom or house. It is easy to lose sight of the overall picture. We tend to make our stay on earth the most important factor in our relationship with God.
So why is it that we continue to struggle and never seem to be content or completely fulfilled?
Paul stated …”If in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable.” (I Corinthians 15:19) In other words if we put all our eggs in one basket in our life here on earth and view our calling or mission in this life as the most important thing in our lives and service to God we can be assured that we will end up feeling “miserable”.
In all our good works, our faithfulness and desire to make our life on earth a legacy to be remembered we must keep an eye on eternity.
So how do we do that? How do we keep a good balance of doing the best we can and pleasing our God with the gifts and talents he has given us and keep our ultimate goal of always moving toward our eternal home?
In Heb 11 we are told about Abraham who God blessed richly while on earth.
God gave him a massive promise that his seed would inherit the earth, a promise that was clear Abraham would never see in his lifetime or the life time of his immediate heirs, Isaac and Jacob.
In fact “these all died in faith not having received the promises but having seen them afar off, were persuaded of them and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth”. They knew the promises were real and yet they understood that their reward was not in this life, they lived on earth as continual gypsies, strangers and pilgrims just passing through to a better place.
That is how we keep a proper balance, by not let the cares of this world and our mission and calling in this life consume us so much by trying to please our God on earth. Keep an eye on eternity while doing your best on earth and your life will take on a balance that will ensure more peace and happiness.
This world is not our home. This we must accept and live our life accordingly.