Category Archives: autobiography

A Strange Tale of Mystery

There is a great mystery which is far beyond the understanding of mere men. Why we are here? Where did it all came from? Well, yes, that too, but I’m talking now about the DSCN5069mystery of a woman’s purse.

In its mysterious depths such a purse contains whatever it is that lesser mortals such as men or children are looking for. Chewing gum? Why yes. An extra pen. Of course, 10 or 11 reside there. What about paper to make a note? No problem. Kleenex? Indisputably. A little bottle of stuff to clean your hands before a meal. No need to ask. Sunglasses, lipstick, rouge, comb, brush, wallet? Of course. Keys? Just a minute, which one, the lady asks, for she has assorted keys from several previous incarnations.

“I’m peckish.” To which, the lady of the house responds, “No problem, just a minute, I have a candy bar in here somewhere or at least some throat lozenges.”

I’ve just scratched the surface of what is in the mysterious depths of a woman’s purse. I could go on describing the contents of this enchanted piece of leather, but you get the idea.

However, there is a great danger here as well. Things get lost in there. It’s as if the purse has a mDSCN4962 (2)agnetic field that attracts assorted flotsam.

At an appointment a few months ago, I lost my watch. Strange. Did I leave it behind? Two or three weeks later when I was about to buy a new one, presto, out it popped from my better half’s purse. Wow. Magic.

Then more recently, I lost my bifocal glasses. Oh, no! Expensive to replace. But the other day they just appeared from the depths of this mysterious hold-all. This could be positively scary, but I’m determined not to be anxious but just accept the mystery of the handbag. And make my needs known.

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What I’m Learning From Unanswered Prayer

For 62 years, prayer has been an indispensable part of my life. Admittedly, it has often been either formal or hurried, weak or stumbling. I’m no model of a praying Christian. But like many believers I’ve often pondered the mystery of unanswered prayer.

After all, Jesus said, “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24). But Lord, why didn’t you answer my plea for X’s salvation or my healing? Oh, I know the standard answer; “God always answers, either yes, no, or wait awhile.” I believe there is at least another reason.

Let me give you some personal background that has led me to this conclusion. Five or six months ago the date was set for my knee surgery. We immediately began to pray for results that did not include complications, as surgery on the other knee had been accompanied by problems. The surgery took place. The surgeon was pleased. Everything seemed good. But shortly we realized that it was infected. Dealing with the infection delayed healing for some time. Why Lord did this happen? Was the answer to our prayers a simple, no? And why did you not answer our plea?

In the months that followed, prayer for ability to sleep at night was also put on the unanswered prayer pile. What’s going on Lord? Do you not want my joy to be full?

Let me be clear. As a couple, Mary Helen and I have no right to complain to God. He has blessed us in abundant and unusual ways. And my quibble about pain and sleeplessness is minor compared to those who suffer with cancer or debilitating diseases or deal with a tragedy. I’m just trying to understand the many invitations in Scripture to bring our requests to our heavenly Father with the assurance of an answer. So what am I learning?

PATIENCE: God has laid bare my impatience. Why do I have to keep relearning lessons about patience? Have I taken my supposed maturity for granted? Unfortunately, for most of us, patience is something we have to keep relearning. And we can’t develop it without going through trying situations. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:3).

EMPATHY: I’m also learning empathy for others, especially those who suffer. This will be a hard lesson. I’m not a very empathetic person. I don’t like hospitals. I don’t even want to go near them. But many in my age group have to visit doctors and hospitals often. And each of us need encouragement, comfort and love. I’ve got a lot to learn about compassion and without it I’m not much use in the kingdom. Paul reminds us of a related reason God sends tribulations into our lives. “The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3). We face troubles so we can understand and empathize with the troubles of others.

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP: I’m also trying to remember that I should lean on God for help more than on my own grit, experience, gifts, and abilities. During my missionary and pastoral career, I often faced tasks beyond my ability. During those years several key verses encouraged me to believe that the very unlikely could happen. One was, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). Another pointed me to the source of help. “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). God has worked in wonderful ways down through the years. But I wonder today, how much was His work and how much was me trying to accentuate my own efforts and abilities. I’m realizing more clearly, that when Jesus says, “you can do nothing,” He really means it. We may be able to build a chicken coop or send a man to the moon, but we cannot accomplish anything positive for the Kingdom without His help. And before we realize that we have face to situations where nothing we do works.

FAITH: Christians know that faith is foundational. In the case of a leper and a centurion (in Matthew 8) who came to Jesus, their faith led them to trust him for healing. But faith, as in the case of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, does not always lead to healing. Abraham and the other patriarchs trusted God’s promises of a glorious future—not for them but their descendants. I wonder if for many of us today, faith requires us to trust God in the dark. Trusting God even when our requests are not met. Walking with God in apparent darkness, sure of our ultimate destination. We are to, “walk by faith not by sight.” We need to be able to say, “though He slay me, [doesn’t answer my prayer] yet will I trust him.”

Trusting God during periods when He seems distant or silent is not something unusual. Think of slaves trusting God in their misery. Think of Christians wallowing in foxholes during wartime. Think of Christians waiting for healing in cancer wards.

Why doesn’t God always answer our prayers? Often it is because He knows that we will learn more about Christian living and walking by faith if He doesn’t respond to our every request. When He seems silent, He is probably working to make us more Christ-like in patience, faith, compassion, and a host of other godly characteristics. Lord, help me to learn more and grumble less. Help me to accept these tough but necessary lessons in discipleship.

How do you respond to this blog? Do you agree or disagree? Do you have something to add to this meditation?

Our Home; Castle, Idol, or God’s Provision

dscn3692Being homeless must be one of the most difficult experiences humans can endure. Imagine wandering from place to place with no expectation of adequate shelter let alone a place to call home. Divorce, illness, or unemployment has caused many to lose everything, casting them onto the street. Many have seen their hopes rise only to be shattered again and again. They are left in despair, self-respect gone.

The despair of the homeless is compounded among refugees forced from familiar homes by war. They gather with others in camps and erect plastic shelters against rain and dust and cold. One month. Two. A year. Two. Five. Again and again they’ve attempted to flee to a congenial country only to be rebuffed. Despair must corrode all their expectations.

By and large most people, be it ever so humble, have a home. Whether constructed of concrete, stone, brick, wood, or mud; most have a place to which they can go to find shelter and warmth. A place where they feel safe and at peace, a place they can decorate dscn3925with their keepsakes.

In many places in the world, including Canada, we take having an attractive house for granted. It is our basic right. Our houses become a mark of our “success” as measured by their size and luxuriousness.

It is almost impossible for us to feel with those who are homeless. Indeed, the description of Christ sounds unbelievable. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58) Then Jesus said, “Follow me.” Clearly, being a disciple who follows Jesus wherever He leads has priority over having a comfortable place to call home.

Baby Robins, 2012In truth, we idolize our homes or take them for granted. It’s extremely hard not to. During the last four or five months, God rocked our world. He gave us a little—very little—insight into being a homeless disciple. The apartment where we planned to spend our twilight years was sold. We were given notice to leave with no certain place to go.

Frantically, we beat the bushes for another apartment to rent or a reasonable condo to buy. We quickly found that those migrating from Toronto’s super-inflated real estate market had bid up house-prices and filled available apartments. Our offer for an adequate condo was instantly submerged by much higher bids. For a month or two extreme anxiety stalked our lives. Would we be forced to go far afield, join a new church, find a new doctor? Would we be able to find anything?

Fortunately, memories of how God has protected and provided for us over 56 years of marriage kept smothering our worries. Our daughter and others in our loving family kept reminding us of God’s care.

God also used Scripture during that challenging time. “Lord you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (PsalOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAm 90:1,2). He, not bricks and mortar, is our eternal dwelling place. Cannot He who created the world and continues to govern it provide for us?

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I
will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’” (Psalm 91:1,2). Oh, Lord, are we resting in you as our shelter and fortress, or in a condo or house? Deepen our trust.

Finally, under God’s marvelous providence we found a condo amenable to our limitations and within our price range in a nearby town. But even at the last minute, complications arose that almost sMovingcutled that provision. It was as if God was saying, “Do you really trust me?” His provision has been so amazing and so timely, we still shake our heads in awe.

Yes, we are very fortunate in our housing but we try to remind ourselves daily not to idolize our home but to rest in the Almighty who is our real, and eternal shelter.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca –Follow him on Facebook: Eric E Wright; on Twitter: @EricEWright1; on LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

 

Musings of a Short-term Nomad

Have you ever seen pictures of Tuaregs or other nomads going from place to place with a string of camels? Their tent and its supports, bedding, rugs, cooking pots, pet dogs are all tied to the back of their camels.

dscn3926Well, for five weeks now, our car has been our camel. Everything we might need has been stuffed into the trunk, back seats, and even under the front seats. Bedding. Foodstuffs. Clothing to adjust to both warm and cool weather. Important documents. Books to read. Our computer. Too much stuff.

We’re homeless. Okay that’s not quite accurate. We’re between homes; waiting to get into our little condo. Meanwhile, we’ve been traveling from place to place, staying a week here, five days there, two days another place. In rented locations we had to provide our own bedding and cooking paraphernalia. We’ve been to some wonderful spots. It’s been great, yet quite stressful.

Friends and family have been phenomenal. The opportunity to visit different places has dscn3925also been great. But after four or five moves and sleeping in different beds, we’re tired of the gypsy life. How do they do it? How do nomads handle having no fixed address? Where do they get their mail? What address do they put on their camel-driving license? What if they can’t get email or log into Facebook?

When I was young; much, much younger, I thought wandering all over God’s creation would be cool. But now, I long to settle down, to have a fixed address, to be able to ease into my favourite recliner. I blush to admit I can almost empathize with the wandering, grumbling Israelites. I guess I’m grumbling a bit and after only six weeks. Yeesh. As to Syrian refugees. I can’t even begin to imagine their trauma.

dscn3950I think there is something in us that yearns for stability. A place to put down roots. A home. A roof over our heads. A connection to stable family and friends. A country to call home. A citizenship.

Fortunately, one constant reality during our frequent change of location has been our connection to the changeless God. “I am the Lord, I change not” Malachi Of course, we know that, unless the lawyers abscond with our money, we have place that will be ours very soon. But more important, we have an eternal home that is not subject to taxes, the whim of landlords, nor the wear and tear of use and weather. “In my Father’s house are many mansions if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1,2).

Spiritually, we are strangers and pilgrims on a journey to our heavenly home. But! No real estate transaction can secure this glorious home. Our sins estranged us from God, our heavenly home-builder. Someone must mediate between us and God, whose gracious laws DSCN1326 (1)we have thwarted. Ah, there is a mediator—only one, Jesus Christ who has for us a hearing with the Builder. How did he do that? He bore our sins in his own body on the cross. He rose from the dead and who has gone on ahead to mediate our forgiveness from God and prepare a heavenly home for us.

How do we inherit this home? No money changes hands. No lawyer is involved. No commission must be paid. We receive this home freely. But first, a transaction must take place between us and God. We must from the depths of our hearts cry; “Lord, we believe in your Son, Jesus Christ. We confess our sins. We trust in his sacrifice on our behalf. We believe in the salvation He offers. Come into our hearts. Be Lord of our life!”

Are you sure of a heavenly home?