Monday, October 27, 2014

Truth is not an idea, theory or opinion. Truth is a Person and His Name is Jesus

40 years and a generation has passed since ‘I’ve given up the pursuit of knowledge and found the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ!’ This sudden turn in my journey made all the difference. Without it, I would not have gone to Bible School, met and married Erica, together raised 3 kids, pastored, or helped STC eagles get their wings.
And more: 3 grandchildren! and then, the last year’s events: Erica’s disappearance, discovery and dealing with their aftermath.
How well have I dealt with these? How far along in this stage of my journey have I come?
Sometimes my heart cries out like the proverbial kids in the back seat: ‘Are we there yet?’
I don’t know how much progress I’ve made. I have nothing to compare with and I don’t think there’s a measuring stick. Can you measure grief in miles or pounds, let alone days?
But this fall I did know one thing: I needed to get back to my Kootenay roots where this all began.
So my friend and I took a few days and drove back into the mountains, to relive memories and perhaps discover new ones?
And this gem, hidden in BC’s south-eastern corner, up against the Rockies, opened up in all its splendour! The autumn sun shone warm and strong throughout our trip as we retraced familiar routes: the Slocan Valley Circle, our former mail delivery along Kootenay Lake (Canada Post actually paid us to travel daily along what has to be one of earth’s most beautiful drives!) and revisited our old $30 per month Blewett house with the million-dollar view of the valley below.
Not much had changed. True, my log sauna house’s roof had caved in, so it’s potential as a ‘fixer-upper’ was pretty well finished. But it seemed like the same people still frequented the same places on Baker Street; some hotels and pubs had changed their names, but The Savoy was still there: the scene of my one and only bartending stint, where I got hired and fired all in the same morning just because the redneck owner ‘don’t want your kind here!’
Memories reawakened on Nelson’s streets: There’s the corner I stood all one day, giving away the rest of the litter so I could keep one for myself: Musk, a ½ wolf, coyote, and Shepherd pup. Quite the mix!
Or that’s where I painfully sold my prized collection of LPs to get some cash, but also joyfully gave away my greatest treasure: personally autographed Roy Orbison albums to someone who said he was a true fan. My cabin didn’t have electricity, so what good was my record player any longer?
That same ‘laid-back’ peaceful atmosphere I’d cherished from many years ago still remained on the city. We could almost tangibly touch it as we looked out from the park’s central viewpoint over its homes and beyond to the distant Kokanee peaks. Those vistas seemed locked in time. Little appeared changed. Life here seemed comfortably secure in its sameness.
But I have changed. I am no longer the same. Winds have blown through and torn at my branches and it was good to rediscover that a tree’s roots survive even when its branches have been wrenched away.
But I could only stay those few days; I had to head back home.
I had hoped I might meet an old friend who’d be driving back to the Coast and want some company… but that didn’t materialize.
And then I considered the bus… but 12 hours and $100 weren’t that appealing.
I even thought of trying that cheap, reliable way of travel: hitch-hiking… but who would pick up this old guy with a suitcase?
That’s when my friend suggested RideShare. Being technologically challenged, I wasn’t even aware of this modern, glorified community hitch-hiking service, but I checked the web-site: possibility became probability and then reality when my RideShare drove up on Monday morning in not too bad a car and we started off back to Abbotsford.
Steve introduced himself: a DJ who worked the concert circuit so well he only had to work 2 or 3 days a month! I gave him the agreed $50 and climbed into the empty front seat. Steve said we still had to pick up a few other passengers – turned out he crammed 3 more into the back seat: an Aussie snow-boarder, a Montreal forest fire-fighter, plus a senorita from Barcelona. Quite the international mix! I did the math: 4 X $50 = $200! and figured out Steve was perhaps more a transportation entrepreneur than DJ artist? Not bad pay for a day’s drive, eh?
It was just like going back 40 years in time: here I was riding through the mountains in the sunshine with a bunch of young, ecology-minded back-packing long-hairs, sharing their stories with rock music blaring. The only one who seemed out of place was me, the token (not tokin’) old guy with the touristy suitcase.
How things had changed! How I had changed! How had I changed?
For one thing, I now know prayer changes things. So I prayed. And God did His thing.
A couple hours into our trip, the conversation shifted to sharing their journeys’ encounters and favourite exotic places. The Aussie told us about his adventures in Cambodia and after he’d finished, I piped up my agreement, ‘Yeah, I’ve been there too; it was great!’
Then the Quebecker recounted his travels across North Africa and, I again chimed in, ‘I found that there too!’
Then I complimented our Spanish friend on how beautiful her city was: especially its Gaudi architectural fantasies and she was so pleased she blushed with humble pride.
Steve’s curiosity got the better of him and he blurted out, ‘How’d you get to all those places?’ What do you do to get to travel to all those lands?’
‘Oh,’ I replied, ‘I became a believer here in Nelson 40 years ago and ever since I’ve been giving out good news. At last count, I’ve been to about 67 nations!’
‘Really?’ he responded with a mix of amazement and incredulity. ‘Yeah, I’m into spirituality too…’ and he then related a virtual magical metaphysical mystery tour of Bhagavad Gita, yoga, meditation and experiential relativism. I’d been there before, so I let him talk until I figured he was pretty well out of ideas.
And then I felt the Holy Spirit tug.
‘So I see you’re a truth-seeker,’ I threw out the bait.
‘For sure!’ he concurred.
‘So would you mind if I share something?’ (always best to ask permission first… creates openness)
‘Please’, he agreed.
‘Well, I am too. And in my journey I’ve discovered something really essential:
Truth is not an idea, not a theory or opinion. Truth is a Person and His Name is Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life!’
An immediate silence fell and filled the car. I waited for truth to sink in.
Steve swallowed hard and I saw the light come on!
‘I’ve never seen it that way before!’ he exclaimed, as if the revelation was suddenly his own.
Then he lowered his voice and confided, ‘You know, ever since ‘The Passion’ came out, I have to watch it at least once a year.’
‘Really? Once a year!’ I replied, astonished at his confession. ‘Do you know why?’
‘No, just got to!’
‘I know why!’ I offered, not even sure why or how I could be so bold to presume.
But then the answer came,
‘The Holy Spirit’s drawing you and you want to know the meaning of life’s mystery in your search.’
‘You really think so?’ Steve questioned.
‘I know so; it’s His job!’
And from that point, the entire journey changed.
Steve no longer spoke from his head, but his heart overflowed through his mouth with question after question while the other 3 sat captive to our conversation in the back seat. 4 hours passed like moments and soon we arrived home. Steve even dropped me off right at my door and thanked me for coming!
I was left marvelling at what God had just done!
It was quite evident I had not been just along for the ride.
I had been privileged to hear the heart of this generation open up, partake in its spiritual quest, and witness God once again at work: calling the hungry and thirsty to life.
And I again awoke to a fuller revelation: I’m not just a spectator in this journey, but His passenger and messenger of His Good News, amazed at how adeptly He can shine His light in the midst of darkness and confusion to reveal His incomparable love.
Makes me want to sign up for another RideShare and see what He’ll do next!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

One Year Ago Today

Today marks 1 year since Erica went missing and my life changed in a moment!  
I’ve wondered: How can I best mark this time?

1) With a greater appreciation of God’s faithfulness:
I am so very thankful that we finally had closure concerning her whereabouts.
We had 88 days to endure: each day one day more than I thought I could yesterday.
Many times I felt Him ‘bearing me up on His eagle’s wings’, and I am so thankful for His Presence walking me through the pain. Truly ‘Thy rod and staff comfort(ed)  me’ and have brought me through to this day.
Our Father has given us signs following, dreams confirming, and testimonies witnessing to His glory in turning what the enemy meant for evil to good.
I know Erica loved Jesus and so she is now in heaven, at peace, rejoicing with the angels and countless others in that great cloud of witnesses, worshiping around the throne of the King of kings.
She is partaking in Christ’s Resurrection glory.
Our faith reveals she has finished her race and the torch is now passed to this generation.
Some families have not been so fortunate: they still seek some sign of their missing loved ones.
Please continue to pray for these who still seek answers to these mysterious disappearances.

 2) With still mixed emotions: 
A life journey takes twists and turns along the way and sometimes there just aren’t words to describe what’s perceived or truly going on.
I am sorry you haven’t heard much from me during these last months: words have felt insufficient.
During those 88 days when she was missing, I often posted my thoughts and feelings. In the midst of all the confusion, when everything seemed to make no sense, I sought God-sense to clarify the non-sense.
I had to literally put my emotions down in words, sort them through, sift out the negatives and hold fast the truth.
It was virtually therapeutic for my sanity and well-being.
I tried to rein in my emotions, align them with God’s Spirit + Word, mount up with both wings.
How else could I keep on going?
Even when I didn’t feel like it, I felt I needed to be simultaneously honest, transparent and faithful to God and those of  you with us.
David provided my role model here: his psalms gave me faith and guidelines of trust and God’s abiding Presence, even in the darkest times. He wrote most of his psalms in times of crises: whether chased by enemies or betrayed by ‘friends’, and I related to him and drew strength from his new songs. The words were already in the Bible and  the Holy Spirit gave me His melody, so I found His songs here in my heart, on my lips, washing, sustaining, infusing me with life when all hope seemed gone and me empty.
 ‘Deep calls unto deep at the noise of  Your waterfalls;  All your waves and billows have gone over me.
   The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
   And in the night His song shall be with me –
   A prayer to the God of my life.
   Why are you cast down, O my soul?
   And why are you disquieted within me?
    Hope in God;
    For I shall yet praise Him,
    The help of my countenance and my God.’  Ps 42: 8, 11

I felt compelled to share these times with you, even though it was confusing, painful, and traumatic.
We had no choice: we’d all been drawn into this vortex together, caught up in this maelstrom, this search and then loss, and we had to keep walking through the waters.
With Erica’s discovery and funeral, I truly cherished your many prayers notes of encouragement and acts of love and kindness.
Thank you!
Some of you even took time to be in my company when I wasn’t very good company to be in.
You showed me your care and love, sat on my couch as I wept and didn’t say a word. You just felt my pain and helped carry me through those darkest times when I felt alone, abandoned, with little hope left.
You did not abandon me, but came alongside and have walked with me through this wilderness.
The Body of Christ is truly a healing body!

 3) With a thankful heart:
Am I through yet? Hard to tell; I haven’t found a scale to clearly measure this yet.  
How do you know when you’re healed?  I guess when it doesn’t hurt anymore… and that’s still in process.
But through the grace of God and your love and encouragement,  my family and I have come through many waters so far, been lifted up when we felt our faith failing, and look upward and forward to  the One who continues to be here for us: Jesus, our Way, Truth and Life.

Thank You!