Monday, February 01, 2010

Is January Already Over?

Whoosh. How the first month has flown. It looks as we’re ending the month at Woodsong with an accumulation of seven or eight inches of snow and it is lovely. I started blogging last night and it turned midnight, and I decided to finish the blog when I got up on the first day of February.

Many churches in Kentucky were closed yesterday morning, but I don’t think too many here in Southern Illinois were other than some on rural roads. I didn’t even listen to the closings on TV because I knew our village church was gathering or we’d had a phone call. I had not been off the farm since Thursday, and neither had my sister and husband from their house down in Amarillo. They were grateful for a warm house and plenty of food, but they were getting cabin fever. Their son-in-law and grandson-in-law had cleared their driveways and they were ready to drive the few blocks to their church. They were disappointed when that service was called off. I was glad ours was not.

However, I was surprised when Gerald chose the car for our transportation, but I soon saw that even our country road was quite safe and the highways were totally clear. Of course, he had been to town and back as well as taking his lawn mower with snow blade not only down our lane but also clearing the near neighbors’ lanes. So he was aware that we were not really snowed in at all.

Two helpful men had brought their equipment and cleared our church parking lot; yet there were still occasional slick spots. That was not a problem since we were greeted by a cadre of young men who were ready to grab our arms and escort us into the building. The sure-footed, such as Gerald, did not need their help, but I appreciated it.

After we came back home and I enjoyed a quick chat with our daughter Katherine, I fixed tilapia, which I had thawed, for our lunch. I tried to fix it the best I could remember from seeing Rachel Ray do it the other day. It was good. Cleaned the kitchen while I watched a program on Book Notes, checked email, Red Room, and Facebook, and read a bit before it was time to fix us a sandwich for early supper so I could go to 6 o’clock evening service to hear a guest minister.

Darrell Chandler turned out to be an exceptionally inspiring speaker, who simply shared the story of his last decade with us. Ten years ago he had finished his seminary degree after years of taking classes while working full time. Confident he had followed the Lord’s will, atlast he felt ready to have more time for his ministry. Shortly after that he was in the pulpit and almost through his sermon. Everything went black. Quickly closing the service, he had his wife drive him to the hospital where they decided he must have appendicitis and they operated for that.

Problems continued. A six-week coma followed with an atypical near-death experience in which he briefly experienced a perfect place and peace he knew was Heaven. He woke up on his wife’s birthday and she told him of the middle-of-the-night call she had when the hospital staff thought he was dying. After continuing troubles, it was discovered that his problem had not been the appendix but rather two tiny holes in his colon allowing poison into his abdomen. It took seven more surgeries to solve the problems. He was faced with a mountain of hospital bills and unable to work. Then his wife, who had the health insurance, was laid off. He did not explain how other than through the Lord’s provision, but he rejoiced that they kept a roof over their head, one car to drive, and food on the table for the next year and a half. Finally after a nine-hour surgery with two surgeons, he was better
and returned to pastor a church.

Then bad health returned. After nine years, he had had 18 surgeries to take care of the original problem and the first misdiagnosis with it resulting problems and a final botched surgery. After an intense time with pain so great that he begged, “Let me die,” a final surgery took place that allowed him to eat foods he had not eaten in years and to be well enough to preach again.

Standing before us was a man who looked the picture of health and whose voice was strong and clear. Now he is teaching in a college and his preaching is done on weekends where he ministers to those who have serious pain in their lives—psychic or physical—and that means all of us. For Chandler has learned that all people have some sort of painful trauma or desperate problems in their lives that can better be survived once the burdens are turned over to God.

He had a simple story told in a straight forward non-emotional way, and yet our emotions were deeply touched and I knew I was not the only one with tears in my eyes. He had persuaded us with scripture and story that God loved us and was suffering with us even as we suffer with our children. It feels very good to be loved.

Driving home through the snow-laden landscape that 89-year-old Lela had praised for its beauty in morning worship, I walked into Woodsong expecting to retell the story I had heard to Gerald. But he was engrossed in a television movie about the life of Jackie Robinson, and I quickly joined him. That movie was followed by a history of racial relations in the baseball world that foreshadowed and greatly contributed to the radical change in race relations throughout the nation. It is hard for even those of us who lived trough those times to really remember how utterly silly and cruel white attitudes were in those years. The courageous clear thinkers, such as Branch Rickey, who stood against the entire culture and called it out on its wickedness was again enormously inspiring and brought tears o the eyes.

Altogether is was an inspirational day to start a new week. Now it is a new month.
Welcome, February.

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