“Man…is few of days and full of trouble.”Job 14:1 ESV
Belated Easter greetings, to our beloved ones in Christ…
Anastasia joins me in sending our love and gratitude for your friendship, prayers and support over these many years and we trust this note finds you flourishing in the victorious power of the Spirit.
As we ponder the context of the above verse with all its implications, we cannot help but reflect upon our own journeys and how challenging and fleeting life really is. We would agree with Spurgeon that this verse may very well be oppressive and humbling yet it can be most instructive in recalibrating our grip on earthly things. For our sinful nature from youth tends to dig deep roots into this earthly soil, thinking we’re indestructible while giving little thought to the frail duration of life upon which we are recipients of God’s temporal mercies. If we would be more mindful that all we own and see around us will one day end up on the ash heap of life (i.e. the imminent return of Christ with a new world; Rev. 20, 21), it would give pause for digging too deep of root on this side of heaven for soon we’ll be transplanted to our heavenly garden in Glory.
The same applies to the object of our affections: our deep love for family and friends. Naturally, we should love them with steadfast devotion but realizing that these are gifts, temporal mercies, loaned to us for a period of time and then returned to our merciful Lender whose hand may be at the door even as we speak. Having three of our four children recalled by our faithful Creator, we are still learning to love with a love that is mindful of death. Anticipate separations, for they are ordained by God.
Similarly, our health is equally precarious. We both have experienced decades of temporal mercies from our faithful Great Physician. Yet, like frail flowers of the field, we’re losing our bloom as there is a time appointed by our sovereign God for weakness and sickness whereby fervent activity (not our passion for Christ) is set aside by necessity. The hopes of escaping from these sharp arrows of affliction are futile; however, having the proper perspective of life and eternity facilitates acceptance that our days on earth are determined—with no one being exempt from sorrow and suffering.
Therefore, in light of the imminent return of Messiah, it behooves us too deeply desire the things of Heaven, “to be self-controlled, sober-minded and over all of this to bathe all things in fervent and effectual prayer.” After all, have we not been raised to new life in Christ Jesus and hidden in Him with God? “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen in temporal, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Recently, we met with Anastasia’s neurologist in Pittsburgh and her diagnosis remains unchanged with a gradual decline of physical and mental faculties. In spite of blunted emotions and her struggle
to process information, her unwavering faith and love of Christ is unfettered. We continue our routine of vespers prior to her evening meal and then prepare for the “sweet spot” of the day—when she settles in between the sheets at 6:00pm for the night—with the reading of one of her poems. Indeed, I cherish these moments knowing that this specific evening will never again be repeated in all eternity.
As many of you know, my health has been in a state of flux for the past few years whereby it seems like I’ve taken up permanent residence in “physical therapy,” attempting to rehab this decaying body from the top down. Most recently I was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, March 31st, for a surgical procedure (laminectomy) of the lumbar region associated with Spinal Stenosis. The surgeons stated that the surgery was successful and therefore I was released after four days to a skilled nursing facility and finally returned home where I have had Home Health Care—nurses and therapists—attending my needs. I have progressed to the point that the Home Care is no longer necessary (April 23rd) and now will begin outpatient physical therapy for the next few months. Hopefully, I will be able to return to my cycling this summer, lose a few pounds of lard and once again enjoy the beauty of our Amish countryside.
I now have a “disabled” sticker for my vehicle with privileges that I never wanted, but I am thankful for them, along with my slick looking “walker” with hand and brake grips and a cane. All I need now is a couple of squirrel tails for the handle bars and I could possibly qualify for the “hottest old goat” in our zip code!
These past 10 years or so have been life changing for us, particularly from the turmoil of afflictions, in that our conference ministry has been put on hold along with our writing ministry and even accepting local speaking engagements has been thwarted with unexpected maladies. Indeed, everything we have ever believed and or taught inside and outside of PTAM has been vetted personally during these latter years of life. Here next to me are all my notes/messages from the various Phases of instruction given through this ministry for some 35 years, and my bottom line in attempting to comprehend these temporal mercies of God is simply this, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”
“How do you know,” you ask? Because out of the reservoir of God’s unfathomable love He sent His son, Jesus, to save this grossly depraved sinner by supernaturally transforming him into a new creature; depositing within him the Third Person of the Trinity so that he could love the Lord his God with all his soul, mind and strength, to love his neighbor as himself, to love his precious wife…Anastasia…as Jesus loves the Church and yes, to know experientially that this sinner can do absolutely nothing apart from the grace given him by the Carpenter of Nazareth! (John 15:5)
I have never recovered from that divine appointment of October 10, 1970, and hopefully never will!
To Him be all glory for ever and ever,
P.S. Please excuse the absence of personal notes, etc.; I’m still in recovery mode and swamped with administrative/parsonage details. 🙂