Sermons

Summary: A personal testimony of God's faithful trustworthiness

More of Him and Less of Me

When God blessed me with the person I married she had been diagnosed with a serious illness and given the prognosis of a living a short life of just seven years. I was counseled by numerous ‘spiritual’ advisers to end the engagement because of how this would affect ‘my’ future ministry plans.

My wife beat the odds of the word curse prognosis, but still struggled with chronic and debilitating medical issues which permeated every minute detail of our lives - financially, emotionally, socially, and spiritually for decades.

I am a pragmatic realist. I don’t see a glass half empty or half full, I see a glass as it is, with liquid in it and then ask; "what do you want to do about it, fill it up, empty it, or leave it as it is?"

My wife Diane was a melancholy dreamer with streams of visionary optimism running through her. In the face of overwhelming reality and cold hard facts, she would hold strong in her determination to beat the odds. That helped her to stay alive for decades longer than her initial prognosis.

She had been through extreme physical hardship and unbearable pain – more than anyone I have ever known - and it was really, really hard for me to see the daily deteriorating effects.

I wish I could honestly say that I was instantly a cheerful and ‘saintly’ participant in all of this but my initial ‘willingness’ to endure with her was not just because I was a faithful and fully devoted follower of Jesus, but rather, because I had visions of grandeur as ‘my’ ministry would flourish once Jesus healed her and I would reap the worldly rewards – and of course God would get ‘all’ the glory.

As time moved on, her health issues increased, and contemplating those continuing were beyond my ability to consider. As months turned into years - which then turned into decades - I just didn’t have the patience or strength to deal with it all. My biggest frustration was that there appeared to be no end to any of this in sight. Things did not improve and life did not get better even with much prayer and fasting.

I do not have the nurturing thing in me so over the years I had to fight claustrophobic feelings and the root of bitterness daily as reality tore and clawed at me like a trapped animal. I tried to keep it hidden within but it would most often expose itself as anger in front of her.

It was all a vicious cycle of emotional turmoil that graphically detailed the old nature warring against the new and constantly winning the battle. The emotional calluses grew deeper and harder and bigger so that I felt less of the burning pain from the flaming fires of frustration, despair, and disillusionment.

The many constraints imposed upon me, because of the multiple health and medical issues, required constant care and time for meeting those needs. It was as if I had two full-time jobs and I was just tired all the time. I made a legion of attempts to find work that would offer health insurance and provide the income necessary for her care as well as allow me the time to be active in the church and ministry but that ‘goal’ was never fulfilled.

I found myself living in the zombie zone just getting through each day on emotional auto-pilot because that was the only way I could cope most of the time to avoid heeding the nagging desire to just run away. I wanted it over and done with - NOW! That was my underlying mantra. My feelings, warring thoughts, and reactions were extremely troubling to me and that compounded it all. I was in a persistent quandary - my true God-given ministry was my wife and I was failing miserably at it.

Although I do not drink alcohol, or partake of illegal or mind altering drugs, I did come to understand why so many people find themselves getting lost in the bottom of a bottle or at the end of a needle. I found myself intentionally hoarding and compartmentalizing emotions in hidden rooms within my mind so that I could function every day - and then the rooms would start to overflow and pour out into the hallways of daily discourse - causing me to trip and get tangled up in all the clutter the pent-up garbage caused.

The School of Hard Knocks

It is a fact that God has taught me much. I have had the honor many times to offer the ‘wisdom’ gained to help others. However, I would tire quickly of talking about all the things I was learning because I was constantly confronted with my LACK of love, mercy, patience, long-suffering and trusting-faith - etc., etc., etc…

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