I Need Guidance

I’m at the hospital hanging out with my father-in-law. He seems to be doing better.

I’ve been up here a few times and am a regular at Starbucks, the cafeteria, the crappy coffee machine in the ICU waiting room, Robert’s ICU, and the Emergency room.

Navigating the halls between all these is not intuitive. I usually cut through the Emergency room for a little people watching on the way to ICU. The only way I can make it to ICU is by following the signs. On a few trips around the building, I did’t pay attention and ended up going past my turn. When things don’t look familiar, I have to go back to check the last sign to get back on track, and sometimes even remind myself where I was going in the first place. Even if I don’t pay attention, as long as the signs are there, who can be against me?

Similarly, my mobile phone and Google can answer most questions and find directions to just about anywhere in the world in a few seconds. I can draw my phone in seconds and leave my brain in energy save mode.

Life events tend to wake you up!

“You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

Life in the Raw

As my father-in-law slows down to the end of his life, I have conflicting thoughts. This may tie into my lack of compassion post; maybe not.

I’m sitting beside Robert as he struggles to stay alive. My mind wonders. When will I be on the beach again? I’m watching Modern Family, pretty funny. I took Hattie home because she felt ill. I would like a beer. I miss my dog. We haven’t got to hang out much this week. But then, here’s Robert dying.

I think I struggle with compassion but I’m not sure what I’m struggling with.

As my mind wanders, I worry about my wife and the rest of the family. Everyone will handle the end differently.

I’m sitting in my car taking a break and listening to the Eagles Desperado.

My struggle is that this is a man that has modeled life in a fashion I’ve never experienced. He was steady and never excitable. He was always focused. His attention to detail was amazing to me. I felt like a bum in the presence of a master.

But here we are in ICU watching the clock. Outside of the miracle I’m praying for, there’s just time.

My wife is sleeping in the waiting room and I’m in my car now listening to the Eagles. “There’s Gonna be a Heart Ache Tonite”. My comfort for the moment.

There are very few people I’ve learned life lessons from: my ex’s father John Reaves, my dad Billy Murray Sr., and Robert Gatlin.

All lessons from these days forward are unforeseeable.

A Random Story with no Compassion

This is a story about my lack of compassion. There’s usually a situation that causes me to be compassionate. But from time to time, I have brief life lessons that show me how uncompassionate I can be. I try to be compassionate but is an extreme effort. I think I’ll write a book…”The Uncompassionate Christian”. The struggle is real…random people are hard to like.

I’ve visited my father-in-law in the hospital the past few days and I’ve found that hospitals and malls have similarities. Upon arriving at the hospital you have only one thing on your mind: getting to your acquaintances room and see that they are doing well, then leave after a minimal amount of time. Kind of like at the shopping mall. Men at the mall: get in, get product, get out. Accomplishing these goals even require similar steps. -First there’s the parking lot, the lobby, elevators and halls to get to the target. You have to find a parking spot, walk to the hospital main hall past Starbuck’s and then work your way to the elevators and down the hallways until you reach your final destination.

It’s just plain common sense that when you go to a hospital you should be on the compassionate side because you just don’t know what everybody you come in contact with is going through. You are passing friends and relatives of people who’s children are sick, parents are dying, major surgeries, cancer, etc…You just don’t know. So lets try to make an effort, huh? The problem is it resembles a mall where it’s hard to give a damn about anybody’s wellbeing.

Lack of compassion building up:

Hospital parking lot: people laughing and taking their time crossing the street. Don’t they know tragic things are happening. After giving them the evil eye for slowly crossing the street, I pull in to the garage.

Parking: Parked next to a family getting ready to go party in the hospital. Collecting items from their car, like they were going to walk across the lot to the beach. Fun, fun!

Lobby: Starbuck’s aroma through the lobby. People are dying here and these guys a slinging caffeine like it’s going out of style. Might I make a suggestion? Full server bar.

Now the people…..

Walking in the lobby behind a family that either didn’t know where they were going or were lost. Attempt to go around is blocked by Big Mama who stopped in the middle of the crowd to ponder which direction to take. I’m able to maneuver around her and her family toward the elevator.

At the elevator, me, a nurse with a wheelchair patient, and a lady. I hit the UP arrow and two or three other walkups get on. Clearly enough room on the elevator but we had to adjust to allow the persistent others to get on. I made a funny joke telling a dad he has a monkey on his back(his daughter). They look at me and feel sorry for the old man. Little girl buried her face in her dad’s shoulder.

One lady almost got off on the wrong floor. I joked that it’s always fun getting off on a random floor and then try to figure out where you’re at….she wasn’t amused.

End compassion.

I need some practice.

The Greatest Man That Ever Lived!

I don’t want to be a naysayer but after reading a few passages I believe I have been corrected about something that I hear frequently. It’s not something Jesus said or something Paul wrote but it’s something John the Baptist said. You know, the guy of whom it was said “among those born of women none is greater than”.

It has to do with work. Our jobs. I used to blame Adam on the days I felt overworked or didn’t want to work. I think we would still be working if Adam hadn’t slipped up but we would have liked it. Sinners working alongside sinners can be aggravating. We try to make the best. We try to get the jobs we like and do things for a living that we love, but even the best jobs get boring and turn painfully routine. They have their temptations and moments of…how shall I say it…lack of desire.

We know that Paul was a tentmaker during his ministry. I assume he was a good tentmaker but I don’t know how he had time going from town to town sharing the gospel. Peter was a fisherman even though the recorded excursions were terrible without Jesus’s assistance. What about that Proverbs 31 woman?? She was no slacker and her model is held up to women worldwide. 2 Thessalonians says “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat”. We have to work, and Colossians says “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” We’re not supposed to work to impress those around us but to impress the Lord. We should be dedicated employees.

Over my 20 plus years as a believer I have heard countless messages from pastors warning us about spending too much time at work, or being a witness at work and being a good steward of our money from our labor. These are the predominant messages; I’ve never argued or questioned for a minute even though most of these messages made me feel like I couldn’t possibly measure up to what was expected.

Then came this exchange between John the Baptist and those following him(Luke 3):

“John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.”

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

When asked by these people what they should do to flee from the wrath and keep with repentance, what did the greatest man to walk the face of the earth say?

Compare that to what a good, evangelical Christian might have chosen to say.

What about not spending too much time at work, or being a witness at work and being a good steward of our money from our labor? Instead of give your money to the church, dedicate more time to your wife and family, honor your parents, follow the Law, etc….John addresses the struggles directly related to each person’s job.

If you are blessed with clothing and food, share. Tax collectors, don’t collect any more than you are required. Soldiers, don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely.

In this day and age, our jobs define who we are because our character is revealed in our jobs due to the amount of time we spend there. Work eight hours, sleep eight hours, and squeeze everything else into the other eight hours. Jesus spent much of his time preaching in the marketplace where people were working.

I think we should consider John’s advise and pray about wherever and whatever work we are involved in and not downplay that third of our life as something we must suffer through. It is a ministry and a testimony of Christ at work in our lives.

 

 

Dealing With My Past…again

Ok…crazy time. As I was sitting quietly I was reminded of the most obscure memory from childhood. It is a recurring memory but I’ve never think much about it other than I was a stupid kid. Today it had a surprisingly different meaning.

I was around five years old and had a plastic gun that I loved. It wasn’t one of those cheap plastic guns. It had a little weight to it and had a good solid CLICK when you pulled the trigger. Well, I lost it. Or I should say, it disappeared. I had three sisters and was convinced someone knew where it was. Days and weeks went by and I never found it. Eventually I gave up on ever finding it.

Then, late one night while everyone in the house was sound asleep, I woke straight up and knew where it was. I flicked the light on and started dumping toys out of the toy box onto the floor. Me and my sisters slept in bunk beds in one room so everybody woke up. Eventually my mom came in the room to see what was going on. My mom was trying to get me to go back to bed but I wouldn’t be stopped. I remember everybody just looking at me. The thing is I had never seriously looked in the toy box because the majority of the stuff in it belonged to my sisters. I kind of kept my select toys separate. And, there it was. Like gold in the collection of dresses, dolls and stuff animals.

Now it makes sense. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. There are things in my mind that need closure or understanding. They’re always hanging out there in the unsolved mysteries part of my brain waiting to be processed. They are constantly recalled and reprocessed by my brain to see if there’s any new relevant information. Here’s an example…

My wife and I will have a conversation. I will make one up. Let’s say we’re talking about the Disney cruise we took a few years back. We went to Cancun and the Grand Bahamas. In the Bahamas we hired a boat and went out site seeing. The young guy that rented the boat came from a family with a long history of boaters. I couldn’t think of the guys name right now for a million dollars. My wife has a steel trap brain and I’m sure knows the guys name off the top of her head. But let’s say in this instance she can’t remember either. We try to think of it but eventually give up and go on in our conversation.

Fast forward to a future date where me, my wife and maybe others are hanging out talking about the Bahamas. Later, everyone’s moved on to talking about their kids. But I am stuck on the Bahamas because there’s some unfinished business there. I don’t remember immediately what it was but then I remember…what was that boat guy’s name? I will look at my wife and say out loud, in the middle of the kid discussion and say “His name was John”. I don’t realize what I’ve done until the table goes quiet and everyone looks at me. Then I know I’ve done it. I found it! In the pile of soccer feats, birthday parties and 6th grade graduations, I found John!

These don’t happen too frequent, but I have many similar internal resolutions in the middle of random, unrelated thought processes.

So what? Sometimes I feel less human when I have these episodes. I feel like something is wrong with me. Today, making the connection with the gun makes me feel better because I feel like God made me that way. I’ve always been that way and won’t change. There are a lot of characteristics I have that frustrate me but I am comfortable knowing that God made me completely unique and no one else needs to understand, nor do I have to feel guilty because others don’t understand.

Another connection made!