As Christian people, we are not supposed to allow the things of this world to get "in the way," of our greater journey of eternity, but the last few weeks have been filled with events that have certainly caused us to stop, listen, and wonder what the future may hold for our children and grandchildren.
Some may say that we are living in "uncertain times," but time is the only thing that we seem to be certain of, and once again I find that I am wanting to remind others that we are Ecclesiastical people and that these "uncertain times," will be met by a new season at some point.
Ecclesiastes opens with these words, "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven."
I really am beginning to wonder if we will look back at this time in our lives and history and ask, "Why did this happen?"
I don't feel like it's something that any of us has not experienced. A relationship ends. A job comes to a close. Another wave of a virus that has produced a pandemic seems to appear. Another month of the calendar is torn from the wall. We are filled with Ecclesiastical moments.
I remember a few years ago when I suddenly found myself without a job, without a home, and unsure as to what my next step would be.
As I sat in the office of a dear friend, she reminded me of this verse in scripture and said, "Okay, so this chapter of your life is over. It was specific for a time and purpose and now it is complete."
I must have looked lost, but then she said, "But don't worry, and don't think that your life is over. You have a new chapter that hasn't begun to be written."
I know I felt relieved, but also overwhelmed at the same time. For me it meant I would have to rely on God to lead, for me to follow, but most of all, be willing to step out and start creating the new chapter.
I wonder if the tree of the field feels sad when winter begins to approach and it must watch as the leaves change color and fall to the ground, exposing itself to the harsh reality of winter? Then in the spring, feeling the warmth of the sun, stirring something from deep within, that brings forth buds and a burst of life that once again creates shade and new limbs that the birds of the field may rest upon.
Each day is an unwritten page in the chapter of life. If you have experienced loss, or simply can't imagine another day like yesterday, then perhaps a new chapter is in order.
I'm grateful for the words my friend shared. They seem to be helping me to remember that this season will some day end. The blessing in all of this is that a new season will be created. To me, it is not just the reminder we are Ecclesiastical people, but that God's grace and mercy are pursuing after us in a far greater way than that of David when he wrote in the 23rd Psalm, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
Stay in God's grip!
(c) 2022 G. Todd Williams ~ stayingodsgrip.com
It has been months since I have been able to just sit and write. While I often will post on my personal social media page, for some reason, this blog has sat silently... waiting.
It's unlike me to ignore something that has been a source of reflection and meditation, but it happens.
COVID has been the source of many changes for many people. Having had the virus twice now, I must admit, I seem to be this "other" person than what I once was. It doesn't mean that I don't have many of the same feelings, thoughts, or disciplines. It means that I am learning to live with new conditions that seem to guide me in ways that I struggle to understand.
The "cough" that doesn't seem to have a reason to exist. The struggle to sleep at times, while other times, rendering me sleepless for nights on end. The times that I feel anxious for no reason, while experiencing agitation when I become impatient about how something is going.
I know that we encounter seasons in our life that are simply "there." This one has brought me into a new season that I'm not sure I want to be a part of, but here I am.
While I don't understand "why" this season has entered my life, I still have a sense of gratitude for being offered another season to live.
I remember those first years when I first moved to the Gulf. The summer flowers I once planted in Indiana, were now the early spring flowers that I planted here. Back in Indiana, these flowers would be the amazing colors of our summer, while where I lived now, the flowers could not withstand the heat and humidity, and would soon fade and die.
I didn't understand why the summer flowers of my childhood were now dying. It was as if everything I knew about "what to plant," and "when to plant," was all wrong. It would take a few seasons before I began to understand what worked well for me, and what didn't.
I needed to learn how to live in these new seasons. I had to adjust, while also asking questions from those who lived around me.
I suddenly learned how to adjust the soil, by digging out the existing soil that would become like concrete in the summer heat, while acting like shifting sand when it became wet, often uprooting plants and leaving them exposed.
Now after twenty-three years of living along the Gulf, I know when to plant, what to plant, and what to expect when spring turned to summer, and summer to fall.
I guess it's the same way with this season on my life. As I live out my last year in my 50's and prepare to enter a new decade next year, I am also realizing how quickly this season will soon pass, even with these new living conditions that I seem to be encountering.
As least I am thinking ahead. There was a time a decade ago when I had an extended health crisis, that I had forgotten how to plan for next year, or even the next day, because I wasn't quite sure what my body would be "like."
There is a part of me that "wishes," that I could be, or even remember, what I was like prior to the pandemic that stopped the world for a short time. That somehow I would remember how to keep pace with a world that changes so quickly, while I struggle to learn what some new emoji means, or a series of letters typed in a text that seems to embody emotion and thoughts.
I suddenly wish to be back in the "Holler," where I grew up, struggling to use the phone, waiting until a neighbor hung up, because we shared a party line with others.
I seem to want to sit on the bridge that crossed the "crick" where my stepbrother, Jimmy, and I found stones that we could use to create dams that would then cause the "crick" to flow in different ways.
The days when my arms would itch from picking green beans for hours at a time, and then use the hoe to clean around the mounds we created for potatoes to grow, while sweat would pour over me, as a hawk would watch from the top of our corn crib for the small mouse or rabbit I might scare up.
So funny how in those days, as the sun beat down upon me as I worked soil that was often dry and full of dirt clogs that would require me to hit them multiple times with the sharp edge of the hoe before they finally surrendered and broke into pieces, all I could think about was getting out of the "holler" and beyond the hills of Southern Indiana and the farm that seemed to confine me and my desires.
Now all I think about is leaving the traffic, miles upon miles of concrete, violence, headlines, and chaos that has become the life around me, along with the struggles I now encounter with my body and emotional self.
I continue to look to a God that I have known since I was seven years old. The God that I was told would always love me, no matter what, and that I believed to exist.
The words from Jeremiah fill my thoughts, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) And I stop where I am and begin to write this morning.
This post, which would once take me 20 minutes to produce, now has taken me hours, as I write between visits with the hospice patients I care for, the texts that I have received from members of the church I pastor, and a few texts from a support group that I attend and seem to lead at times.
I want to plant petunias again in the summer, but yet, I know where I am now, they will not survive.
So it is with where I am in my life. Those days are now a part of a past that will remain, "in the past." Perhaps as I enter what many refer to the "golden years" of my life, that I learn that the gold is a metaphor. Something that has value, but only among those who see it as worth. I have never been one who valued gold, but I certainly know how much I value the memories of those days, and truthfully, the life that I now live. All of which, have been a gift.
Stay in God's grip!
(c) G. Todd Williams 2022 StayinGod'sgrip.com
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.