Everybody faces tough times and difficult circumstances in life. For some, the pain seems deeper and more severe than for others, the episodes more frequent. But discouragement, disappointment, and pain—whether physical, financial, or emotional—visit us all at one time or another. Bad things happen to good people as well as to bad, the rain falls on both the just and the unjust, and the only constant in all of this is that nobody is immune.
After a lifetime relatively free of trauma, apart from periodic bouts of near-debilitating depression, things changed for me in 2007-08. The bottom fell out, and it was my turn to walk through some dark valleys. They were horrible, awful, painful years filled with one bit of bad news after another. Continue reading →
I bumped into Arthur at Whole Foods yesterday. I was studying the label on a loaf of flax-meal bread when I heard his familiar voice. “It sure costs a lot to eat healthy, doesn’t it?” he asked, smiling.
“Yes,” I replied. “I have a buddy who refers to this place as ‘Whole Paycheck.'”
We both laughed, then Arthur said, still smiling, “That line would be a lot funnier if I actually had a paycheck.”
“I hear you,” I said. “Still, you look like you’re in a good mood.”
“I am,” he said. “I got a couple of emails yesterday that positively made my day.”
This coming Sunday, May 12, 2013, my wife and I will celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary. If you were to ask me to identify the single most significant evidence of God’s unfailing care and concern for me as a Christ-follower and a minister of the gospel over the past four decades, I would answer, without hesitation: “Three words—Shirley Lorraine Clairmont.”
That may not be the most romantic paragraph with which I could have begun a post in which I reflect on forty years of marriage, but it gets to the heart of the matter as pointedly as I know how. I have devoted my life to the service of Christ and His Kingdom. Forty years ago, Shirley joined me in that endeavor. It has been a team effort since then. She has been my greatest asset in all these years of ministry, and I am grateful to God for His faithfulness in bringing her into my life.
Yes, you read that correctly. No, I am not so addled by senility that I don’t know what year it is—at least not yet. And no, this has nothing to do with the Mayan calendar prediction of the end of the world in 2012. I’m just looking ahead, with eager anticipation, the way a college student looks forward to homecoming weekend just before a Western Civ exam on Friday. There’s a big uncertainty immediately ahead, but there is also a promise of something really great beyond that.
I am making some plans for 2013. Yes, I’ve heard the old saying that, if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. I try always to follow the injunction in the book of James…
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15 ESV)
And so, I readily concede that my plans for 2013 will only come to pass if God wills. Still, what I have in mind will require considerable lead time for preparation, so it is not at all too early to begin planning and preparing.