As I’m writing this blog, we are literally ‘back in the saddle’. We got home Tuesday night from a trip to Bangkok that became a trip to Bangkok AND Australia! I woke up the first morning back and thought, “I don’t know where I am, but this bed is sure comfortable!
Anyway, the saddle that we’re in now, after just 3 sleeps at home, is represented by two vans full of enthusiastic Hawaiians who have come to help us spread the salt and light in the Disaster zone. They arrived with boxes of stuff and piles of enthusiasm and are already running our socks off. Amazing since most are in their late 60’s and 70′S! Tony has found that he IS able to drive if he sorta leans into it and positions his left hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and then uses his right arm to drive like a New York cabbie, so that’s a big help.
These guys’ enthusiasm reminded me of a comment I heard while tearing around Bangkok with my best Japanese friend. With her I realized that having a good friend who shares your values as well as sense of humor, (in this case ditsy-ness) is a real gift. I don’t have that in any nationality while we live here in Japan and I realized that I really miss it. I have good ‘friends’ here, but because of their non-Christian status, everything I do is countered with the deep underlining thought of ‘how can I show Christ in this moment’. However, Kanae is a strong Christian who really ‘gets’ me. She speaks pretty good English, but occasionally her English sounds (I’m guessing) a little like my Japanese…..she gets the point across but often uses the wrong word.
So anyway, we were jabbering away in our strange language of broken English (her) and broken Japanese (me).
Upon arriving at her tailor’s to drop something off, she said, “ This lady is a really good tailor, but when I brought in 10 pairs of my husbands trousers in to be altered, she did it, but after that she refused me.”
“Oh?” I said a bit surprised, “Why”?
Then she replied with this funny answer.
“Because she said she does not find altering trousers fascinating”
I laughed in her face. There is the right word in Japanese, “omoshiori” that means ‘interesting’……I think that was what she was aiming for, but she overshot it in her English just a bit. I could picture a little old lady sitting in a dark corner under a single cobweb covered bulb, working a treadle machine and saying to herself, “Garsh, this job is just not giving me the buzz I was looking for!”
OK, here’s my point (you knew I had one somewhere, right?)
Is MY work “Fascinating”? Is YOUR work “Fascinating”? In fact, do we even have the right to fascination in our job?
I think that working for God is the most exciting/thrilling/exhilarating/fulfilling work on the planet………..except on the days (I won’t go into percentages here) where the work is dull/ depressing/ demoralizing/and just no fun.
Paul said many things in his letters to the churches, a lot of it about the ‘fascination’ of working with God. I like the one in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ, to die is Gain”
What could be more fascinating than that?
Next week a ‘disaster team’ update! Stay tuned,
Just a quick note on this Easter Morning to say “He is Risen!”
Tony and I have had a fantastic time with the kids and their famlies here at “Easterfest”, a 3-day Christian music event that takes over virtually the entire town of Toowoomba, Australia. Tomorrow we pack up and start the long journey back to Japan.
This time next week, we’ll be once again up in the tsunami zone, accompanying a lovely team of Hawaiian volunteers. My prayer request is for courage as I take on all the volunteer hauling responsibilities, since Tony’s arm is still in a sling. He says I’ll do fine, and he’ll be right there beside me, screaming enough for the both of us.
I heard a good passage in the sermon this morning, 1 Corinthians 15:14…..”If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”. Aren’t we THANKFUL that He is really risen!
I remember once going thru Europe on our way back to America for Stateside assignment (The nice thing about working halfway around the world is that any direction you go is the shortest route!). On this particular trip, our boy Trevor, was about 9 and Nathan had just turned 3. Looking back on that time, I wonder, “What was I thinking?” But we were young and energetic and the tickets were there, so what else could we do? Trevor was pretty easy to please, as long as we kept him full of food. Nathan on the other hand was still adjusting to the fact that the Woods family always kept on the move. The only way he could cope was to fix him up with a small backpack (which he called his “pacpac”). As the only consistent thing in his life while we were traveling, it always stayed within arm’s reach of him.
As we pottered here and there on a rail pass, every evening we’d start looking for a place to stay. That was 30 years ago, so there was no internet, and I’ll have to say we stumbled onto some pretty horrible places. But the wise advice of a friend carried us on: “All you need is clean sheets and a lock on the door.”
Each evening when we’d come into our digs for the night, Nathan would clutch his “pacpac”, and ask quietly, “This my home?”
These last two weeks have been a stretch even for US. It started as a simple trip to Bangkok for annual physicals, then morphed into shoulder replacement surgery and a longer than anticipated recovery time while Tony’s blood pressure got stabilized. That took us right up to the time we had already planned to begin a short vacation to see the kids in Australia, so we had to go straight from Bangkok rather than return home first to re-pack. While it’s been great to meet up with so many old friends, and to have the time to touch base with Tony’s discipleship translation team from the Japanese church in Brisbane, we’ve been on the phone for hours changing travel plans, rerouting our trip, checking with authorities (our mission) to make sure we stay within the lines, worrying about the work back home and the doctorate studies that are screaming for attention………..The Thai Orthopedic surgeon who is so lovely even offered us two nights in a 5 star hotel because he has a coupon or something and needs to get rid of it. Those of you who know us would understand that’s like gasoline on a flame, but we had to hang our heads and say, “No, we’ll just go to the mission guest house because we understand that better, and can’t do any more transfers.” At this point, we’ve lost our ‘mojo’ for intrepid traveling.
At the end of each day lately, I’ve been feeling like little Nathan, looking up to my Heavenly Father and asking, “This my home”? I sometimes wonder if Jesus would have identified with Nathan’s angst when He said in Luke 9:58, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
But then, I realize, Jesus never had any real doubt about where His home was. And according to II Kings 19:27, neither is He in the dark about MY home. Granted, the context is way different, and His words were not meant to give His listeners any comfort, but what do you think when you hear God Himself saying, “I know where you live”? Those words are most often heard today from the lips of bullies and gangsters who want to remind their victims that there is no place to hide. But just imagine it from the standpoint of a Child of God, looking for peace and safety in a world lacking in both. “I know where you live.” God knows where I am. He knows what we’re doing and where we’re headed. He knows where my home is, and when I’ll finally get back to it.
Today’s blog comes to you from Reedy Creek, Australia. Next Sunday, Lord willing, we’ll find a place to go online in the quaint town of Toowoomba. Then finally, from “home” back in Tokyo.
As we think together of Easter (this is Palm Sunday) I know Jesus faced some tough days as He entered Jerusalem. He KNEW where His home was, but He had a long road to walk before He reached it. He walked that road to His Heavenly Home so that you and I can one day lay our pakpaks down and declare, “This my home.”
The first twenty years we lived in Japan we had several missionary friends. One family had a bunch of kids that we traded off from time to time, and we watched them all grow up.
A few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of those kids had had a baby and given him a middle name of “Johan”. I commented to Daniel that it was such a coincidence because he might not have realized that Johan was our son Trevor’s middle name. They had been best friends all thru childhood in the city of Sendai, growing up where there were very few little white boys! Trevor died when he was 16 and Daniel struggled to understand the loss, sometimes even coming to our house to vent his frustrations about a God who would let his best friend die…….It’s a tough time to lose a friend to cancer when you’re only 16 and feel invincible.
Anyway, time passed, Daniel kept his childlike faith and grew up. He became a doctor and married a beautiful girl who is also a doctor! Now they explore the world with Samaritan’s Purse, that wonderful organization that really is all about being Christ to a lost world. We worked with SP (run by Billy Graham’s son Franklin) doing tsunami relief work. I especially respect this organization because they’re not ashamed to be doing what they do IN JESUS’ NAME. Somehow a lot of the other charity NPO’s seem to forget to tell the people why they are there which I think is a shame. Anyway, I digress.
The other day, I got a sweet letter in answer my answer to my ‘coincidence’ comment. Here’s what Eliel Johan’s mother, Priscilla, wrote;
Johan: meaning, “God is gracious.” In honor and memory of Trevor Johan Woods, Daniel’s best friend and a young man after God’s own heart… who was such a blessing and gift to Daniel growing up (and to so many more!)… who didn’t have a biological son but, we trust, many spiritual sons… now including Eliel. He died at the age of 16 from leukemia, loving Jesus. I never met him, but his picture hangs on our study wall and I think about him often – and I look forward to meeting him in Heaven someday – to thank him for what he was to Daniel and now to Eliel. Daniel said he would laugh at the thought of Eli’s name – what a joy!
Doesn’t it cause us pause when we think of the influence we can be on someone while not even knowing it? This morning as I was reading in my Bible, I came across the verse in John 12:24-26, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
When Trevor died, naturally we were devastated, but we selected an urn for his ashes that had a sheaf of wheat on it. We believe to this day that Trevor’s “untimely” death had meaning, even though we’ll never know it this side of Heaven.
Today we received word that some friends who are missionaries in China that their 10 yr old son has been diagnosed with leukemia. In an instant we’ve been transported back to that valley of despair with them. Please pray that they will have the strength to walk this road, still showing Christ through it all.
On a happier note, if you’re still reading this rather long blog, I can report that Tony went thru shoulder surgery with flying colors. Perhaps better than me, who worried when he didn’t show up for hours and hours. All I could get from the nurses was “Steer in sur-ja-lee.” A bit unnerving. As it turned out, they did some ligament repair and the like while there were in there anyway, making the 3 hour procedure a lot longer. He is recovering well ….. who wouldn’t in this 5 star Bangkok hospital with nurses flitting around in starched uniforms (and HATS), 5 choices of several things each on the menu, with categories like, “Oriental, Western, Vegetarian, Japanese and our personal favorite, Halal…..” Sigh, we check out today to move to our mission guest house for another 4 days, so that Tony can continue physical therapy. There will be no nurses, maids, menu selection……. Alas, I may actually have to take care of him! ha.
According to our adjusted schedule, this Thursday night we’re flying to Australia to pick up our long-ago-scheduled vacation with the kids and grandkids. We’re excited and just hope there aren’t too many crash tackles from little 4 yr old Isaac or 2 yr old Ezekiel!
Thanks for all your prayers and for being with us thru thick and thin. Remember you never know who you might be influencing right now
Tony has an aunt who is always saying, “At our age it’s just patch, patch, patch.” I quoted this cute phrase to a nurse as we walked Tony into shoulder replacement surgery a number of years ago (Australia, no gurneys there, you are tough and just walk yourselves into the ‘operating room’……….). When I said this, the nurse smiled and quipped back, “And add to that a couple of ‘dodges’ as well!”
As I’m writing you this tonight, I’m happy to report that we’ve both ‘dodged’ the bad stuff successfully for another year. Earlier in the year, I’d had a couple of week scare with the prospect of stomach cancer, but was told after extensive tests that while they didn’t know what was wrong, I was alright. Tremendous relief and praise to God.
We’ve just completed our annual physicals here in Bangkok where we chose to come for ‘vacation’. (you know you’re getting old when your vacation involves probes and needles) They examined the test results I brought with me and determined that they were illegible, but did everything over again and decided that I just have a ‘tricky valve on my parathyroid gland’ and that everything ’should be fine’, so I am once again grateful.
Now Tony wasn’t quite as fortunate. While he’s in robust health, he continues to battle with his inherited arthritis and it appears that the other shoulder will have to be replaced if he wants to go back to moving his arm.
To that end, he will have surgery about 12 hours after you read this. It’s in one of the best hospitals in the world so we’re confident both in the doctors and the care. We’ll let you know how it turns out. I will have another week to enjoy all my Japanese friends here in the city, while “rooming in” with the patient, at least until one of us can’t stand it. Our mission has a guest house that I may use if necessary, so I feel blessed.
We would certainly appreciate your prayers, for thanksgiving that we’re both healthy, and more specifically for surgeons wisdom as well as a speedy recovery. We NEED to be back in Japan as soon as he can travel so that we can again leave the 13th of April for a much anticipated visit to all of you (and especially our kids and grandkids) in Australia.
Talk to you soon, Marsha
This last week has been a busy one. When I sent out the blog last Sunday, we had just returned from several days in the north.
Probably an ‘unusual’ few days in that we visited the Oshika peninsula, showing my visiting sister some of that which was most hard hit by the tsunami. I commented to Tony that just ‘remembering’ what all had happened and everything that we’d been involved with made me tired again……….
Then we went from that sadness directly for that we perceive to be ‘one last visit’ with Noguchi Sensei, our friend who has the bad cancer. He will preach his last sermon to the combined churches of Sendai on March 30th and then return home to his roots and remaining family in southern Japan. His new bride also has family there, so while we understand the wisdom of the move, it still makes us sad to see him leave the place where he enjoyed so many fruitful years.
After that gut wrenching time, we visited two of the churches we had, over the years, some influence in starting, Taitomi and Yoshioka. Unfortunately Yoshioka will have to be ‘retired’ for some time because Noguchi Sensei was the pastor and there’s no one at present to fill his shoes. Taitomi, on the other hand is looking forward to calling a new pastor and starting a new chapter, as everything in Japan rotates around an April New Year.
Then we went on to Chomei ga Oka church where the pastor is the best friend of our son, Trevor. We all held Trevor’s urn, took some pictures, then after greeting several old friends, took one in particular to lunch.
Keiko and her husband were saved right after we got to Sendai 35 years ago. They’re about or age and some of the best lay leaders we know, and have always been good friends. Last October he was carrying some folding chairs upstairs in his home, lost his balance and he fell backwards the entire set of stairs. It was the same weekend Tony fell and broke his ribs, but Tsutomu wasn’t as lucky. He literally ‘broke his head’. Now after 5 months, his body is healthy but there’s nobody home. He doesn’t know his wife or kids……….nothing. Just sits and smiles. A few weeks ago he had a few dramatic enough seizures to land in a specialist hospital 70 miles away indefinitely. Our heart breaks for Keiko, his wife, who says she’ll be strong and doesn’t blame God…….Please pray for her.
So much sadness around us. So many things we don’t understand.
But on a ‘happier note” as you are reading this we’re boarding a plane for Bangkok for a week of catching up with friends from the Japanese church, and while we’re there checking in for an annual physical that’s worth going 5000 miles for. Unfortunately no one pays our way to go there, but since we’re both due for that little examination that civilized countries anesthetize you for……….(not Japan who considers pain to be character building)…..we’re happy to use our frequent flyer points! ha. The other reason we’re going so far to see a doctor is that Tony’s ‘other’ shoulder (he had the right one replaced years ago) is really acting up. One friend described the pain and immobility as ‘becoming a T-Rex”). Depending on what they find, he may have to have surgery, so I hope you’ll be praying about that as well.
After we get back from that trip, we’ll run around here getting Tony’s discipleship course up and running in several churches, and then in a few weeks head for 10 days in the “land down under”……again touching base with churches and Japanese friends but most importantly bouncing my baby boy grandsons on my knee. We haven’t seen them in the flesh for 14 months and that’s WAAAY tooo long.
Tony has just read this and said it’s ‘way too sad’…….But in my defense, as we think about this season of Lent, I wonder if some of our life isn’t a teeny bit similar to what Jesus went thru. I realize that’s a bit presumptuous to compare ourselves with Christ, because I don’t plan on dying on a cross or anything, but really…….How busy was Jesus in those days leading up to the Crucifixion and Easter? He must have been happy to fellowship with His disciples at the last supper, or perhaps was encouraged while explaining to them the future of things, etc. But on the other hand wouldn’t He have had a feeling of sadness as He knew they would betray him and run away, and of course this is not to mention the whole physical horror of dying on a cross. Such mixed emotions.
That’s the analogy I’m trying vainly to make. We are wracked with sadness over the eminent death of Noguchi. He is so ready it humbles us……Tony told him we are still expecting a miracle to which he laughed and replied, “If I live it’ll be a little awkward… I mean, everyone has said goodbye so thoroughly!” We also grieve in advance about the ‘death’ of our friend Tsutomu’s existence and happiness with his wife and family. Such heavy hearts we have.
But as a famous pastor from yesteryear once said, “Friday’s here but Sunday, she’s a comin!
Bless you all as we prepare to celebrate the joy of Easter, even though it may be busy and complicated right now.
Till next week, Marsha
I was reading a book the other day about tipping. Yeah, I should probably be reading more important things, but it’s something I picked up on Kindle for 99 cents, and hey, since there’s NO tipping in Japan, and not much in Australia, I figured I should be ‘informed.’
It was an interesting read, and one particular passage jumped out at me. The author (Steve Dublancia) is talking about a bartender he encountered in LA at a restaurant called “Musso.” Apparently it’s famous, catering to the rich and famous. Maybe that’s why I don’t know about it! ha
The bartender’s name is Manny, and he’s been working there for 25 years. Here’s what the author writes:
“As I sat there sipping my drink, I realized something: while Manny was talking to me, I was the only person in his universe. Even though I was fresh off the street, he was lavishing as much attention on me as he would have on any movie star. He had a great gift: the gift of being present. And this is an ability not too many people have.
“We’ve all talked to people who pretend to listen to us only so that they can think of what they will say next. They might be right in front of us but mentally they’re checked out. Not Manny, He was all there. Two men walked into the bar, and Manny went over to take care of them. For just a moment I was jealous that he was being taken away from me. But after he set them up with their drinks, he came back to me, fully present again. In the center of his world, I felt surrounded by a warm sense of well-being.”
Now don’t get worried, I’m not going to write anymore about bartenders, but Manny reminded me of two individuals that I know.
The first one was a missionary to Japan, Evelyn Owen. She died last year in her 80’s I believe. She had quite a story; from what I can piece together, she was a bit of a modern day “Lottie Moon” who left riches and a sweetheart to go board a boat for the mystery that was Japan. There she labored for 40+ years. Granted, she could be a bit spacey, as in the time she was driving on a Japanese freeway and forgot to bring any money. Having to deal with a foreigner in the first place was particularly daunting, then add to that the challenge of filling out all the forms required for such a situation, the poor toll taker was turning apoplexic. Seeing his shaking hands, Evelyn offered to collect the tolls for him while he did the paperwork, and before he could protest, she stepped up to the window and began taking money from the shocked drivers!
But her 65th birthday had to take the cake – literally. She had a simple retirement ceremony at the church she started, and the next day, with a different dress and flowers, she married her sweetheart from college (now a widower) who’d come to Japan for the occasion. They served together as missionaries for another 10 years before finally returning to the States.
Among her many talents, Evelyn had that gift that the bartender did. She was ALWAYS tuned in to you, and ALWAYS AVAILABLE. If you caught her in the middle of something, she’d drop everything and sit down with you and listen, as if you indeed were the only person in the universe. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons she left behind so many who had found the Lord when she finally retired.
The other “Individual” with that gift is (you guessed it) Jesus. Wasn’t it He who said, in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” And later in Matthew 28, “and surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
That’s what I’m thankful for today… people, and a Savior, who listen to me as if I matter. There is so much “healing” that takes place when you find a genuine listening ear. I pray that I can be that kind of friend to everyone God sends my way today.
And speaking of answered prayers, a good friend of ours who has been battling cancer has just gotten some encouraging reports. Good on ya, Babs! Good on You, God! Thank you both for your hearing ears.
Last week I mentioned our friend and mentor Noguchi Sensei (if you’re confused, the word ’sensei’ just means Rev or Teacher, but somehow I can’t say his name without this moniker). Anyway, I told you the sad news that he’s sick; but today I wanted to share something with you from his book .
Many of you have read his story in the book, ‘Sacrificed” (buy it on Amazon today, don’t wait! It’s written by Noguchi himself but Tony did the English bit so it’s under Tony’s name). This is the tale of how he was commissioned into the Japanese Imperial army at age 15 to become a Kamikaze pilot. There were many twists and turns in his story, some quite noteworthy.
Last year while we were in the States, I had a chance to talk with the Executive director of our mission. He commented on how impressed he was reading Noguchi Sensei’s book, and then having the privilege of meeting the man himself. I stood back with a prim smile, getting ready for him to recite some of the better passages my husband had written. “I’ll never forget one section,” he continued.
“It’s the part where they taught Noguchi Sensei Morse code,” he said. My face fell, as that was a rather boring part. I thought to myself, how could that ‘impress’ anyone?
“You’ll remember that they only taught him to RECOGNIZE the bips and beeps,” the leader continued. “We would naturally think that he should learn to send messages as well, but when he asked, Noguchi was told, “Oh no, you don’t need to answer back. Just obey what you hear.”
My jaw dropped. Why was my boss of all bosses impressed with this small passage? Fortunately, before I embarrassed myself with the question, I understood.
This man is a leader. He gives ‘orders’ all day long. In his perfect world, we would be the ’soldiers’ who take his instructions and don’t talk back. Unfortunately (for him especially, I’m guessing), our mission is a democracy and there’s all manner of feedback to be dealt with.
I remembered a familiar passage in Matthew 8:8-9 where Jesus had some interesting things to say about the Centurion who came to Him and asked for just a ‘word’ to save his servant. Jesus was impressed with this soldier’s authority, and the faith it gave him to accept the healing without insisting that Jesus go personally. Maybe our boss was so touched because he longed for us missionaries to be so confident in the chain of command that we’d stop whining!
I realize my nature is to beg and plead, argue and cajole when I don’t like my ‘marching orders’. I would have made a lousy Kamikaze. Right now as I type this, I’ve had several unsolicited conversations with God about why it’s in everyone’s best strategy to let Noguchi Sensei live another 15 or 20 years. I find it hard to bow my head and say, “Of course, Your will is my command.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could abide in Christ and trust in His decisions, with no sass back?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if just once I could impress Jesus with my unquestioning obedience?
Y’all stay warm. We northern hemisphere folks are finding that hard lately, what with all this ‘global warming’!
This last week we were saddened to hear of the passing of Jackie Sherwin. Many of you who read this blog know who I’m talking about. She was my father-in-law’s Godly widow ‘lady friend’ who lived next door, first while Mom was alive and for about 16 years after Dad became a widower. I believe, if I’m correct, Jackie was almost 98 when she died.
She and Dad had a little routine: every morning about 10:00, she’d call if she was “ready” (That’s southern talk for your hair is done and your makeup is on). Then Dad would splash on some MORE “Old Spice” and toddle across the path for coffee, which most mornings would linger on well past noon. This conversation may have been a bit one-sided. If you knew “Uncle Buddy”, then you know how he loved to spin a good tale. But Jackie would sit and nod and smile, always edifying him about whatever he was going on about. I think they enjoyed the chance to share each other’s company, so much so that I think she may have even ridden in the car with him…….but only once!
When we were in the States for furlough, that 10:00 coffee date became all consuming for myself, Tony and Dad as we would hop skip and jump over there most mornings just to see her smiling face and break the monotony of the three of us living together. When she was able to get a word in edgewise, she shared about her life as a musician, painter, airplane pilot and a tough and Christ-committed Oklahoma farmer’s wife and mother. What an interesting woman! Reading her obituary today I realize that I left off, “Real estate agent, and wood carver!” What a legacy she left………..37 grandchildren and another 37 great grandchildren.
I guess I can best describe how Dad felt about her one morning when I was out shopping and called back to the house from the grocery store. It was about 10AM and Buddy answered the telephone with all the sugary syrup and adulation he could muster, “Helloouu?” he crooned.
I was surprised, but said, “Oh! Hi, this is me”, to which he responded with a crisp and perhaps a bit embarrassed, “Oh! It’s YOU!” I laughed all the way home to find him over there next door regaling her with yet another one his stories. They really did ‘love’ each other as two old friends, lost in a world that once was. I remember a song by Simon and Garfunkle about “old friends, who “sit on their park bench like bookends.”
Actually when I think about it, that song is sort of sad, while Jackie and Buddy were anything but forlorn “bookends”!
When Buddy died in 2012, Jackie said to her daughter with some agitation, “When I leave here (the aged care facility she had gone to) and get home, who will I play with now?”
I know what the Bible says about there not being husband and wife relationships in Heaven like we have here, but aren’t we SO THANKFUL for each others’ company here on earth: those priceless commitments that make our days so rich and happy.
Rest in Peace, “Jackie” Ruby Mae Sherwin……..Thank you so much for making our ‘journey’ so much more pleasant.
Tony and Marsha, and of course Buddy, who I’m sure she’s catching up with now.
Many of you have figured out by now that husband Tony has gone and started a Doctor of Ministry degree. He went off to the States and came back with piles of notebooks, flash drives, dates scrawled on calendars and a glazed look in his eyes. Right now he’s so into this ‘project’ that I fear that I may be filed somewhere and forgotten.
We’ve been asked the obvious question by friends, “Why now? Tony’s 66, his brain ain’t what it used to be, you’re retiring soon, so what’s the point?”
This morning we were reading from “The Road Rising” (Is it OK to read your own devotional?). Anyway, look at what January 19th has to say, or if you have the Kindle version, it’s day 50. Below I’ve copied what it says, and even though Tony wrote these words years and years ago….. I think it pretty well sums up what we’re feeling as we enter into this project:
The trail continued through orchard country today, and although no one seemed to live here anymore, there were signs of their work everywhere I turned. Then as I descended a hill and approached a stream, I came upon a sight that made me stop in wonder: a covered bridge stretching over the water. The roof was covered with shingles made of cedar wood, carefully split and laid so that not one drop of rain water could find its way into the interior of the bridge. The road bed sat upon two monstrous logs which must have been felled some distance away. Along each side of the bridge was a railing of three rows, set in an “x” pattern which required much more wood than a single rail, but sufficient to prevent even the smallest child from accidentally falling through. Each end of the railing was anchored to a hardwood post, buried deep and showing no signs of loosening it’s grip on the soil. The top of each post was covered in copperplate to prevent water seepage, and into the plate had been engraved a series of intricate designs.
I crossed the bridge in awe of its strength and beauty, and then had to turn around and cross it again, just to fully appreciate it. Pausing in the centre, I leaned on the sturdy railing to look down into the stream and was puzzled. Why was such an elaborate structure built over such an insignificant river? I appreciated it, to be sure, but, looking at the placid waters below, realized that I could have gotten over it without too much trouble. Even wading across would not have been a major ordeal. Building this bridge must have taken months to complete and I could only guess at the expense.
Running my hands over the engravings, I began to feel something of the heart of the builder. He was more than a practical person. The copperplate alone would have ensured that the posts never rotted, but instead he chose to add a touch of beauty. This bridge was for him much more than a means for crossing a stream. It was an expression of his soul; a desire to make something beautiful as well as lasting. In a way, isn’t that like God? This world is full of things that work; but moreover, they work beautifully. Like a master Craftsman, He produced His pride and glory, made in His own image and imbued him with a love for all things beautiful. And here at this stream, a long time ago, a man poured his heart and soul into this bridge, and then stood back and said, “That’s Good!”
Please pray for us as we tackle this huge job, yes, as a couple. We hope the result won’t be just a means to get to the other side, but that it will be a blessing to many. We’re trusting God with the results, and will keep you posted. We just want to do our best!
And all the best to you,