Welcome To My Journey

I have tried many times to select a blog to “stick” to the front page and act as an introduction to my blog and the reason I started it. ( stick refers to the post that is seen first when someone goes to the blog site. All the other posts fall in line based on date posted. The sticky one stays first ). I never felt I had the right one. So I thought that I would write one just for that purpose. 

Some time after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I felt a desire to write. I had never felt the desire before, so it took me by surprise. My first thought was, what will I write about? At that moment, there were two primary thoughts in the front of my brain. The first has been my primary thought ever since I was 6 years old. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. The second thought was new. I have Parkinson’s disease. So I started thinking about what it will be like being a Christian man with Parkinson’s disease. I knew it would be a journey. Everyones life is a journey. My life had been a journey up to that point. Making choices and living with the consequences, good and bad. Having things happen to me, good and bad. But this was big. This one would impact every facet of my life for the rest of my life. I had no map for this journey. Something had happened in my brain that would alter how my body moves. It was permanent and it would continue to get worse as the years went by. I decided I would write about this journey so anyone that was interested could travel along with me down this new road. My hope was that I could write about how God enabled me to deal with the challenges I encountered along the way and that could help someone else deal with their challenges. 

Parkinson’s affects every person differently. There are many common challenges but there are thousands of variations and combinations of symptoms. I try to be clear about what I am feeling and about the tools I use to make the journey less hard.

One of the key tools I use to cope with this Parkinson’s life and all the other aspects of life is my Bible. I rely on what it says in the Bible to direct me in every area of my life and my dealing with Parkinson’s would be no different. 

The Bible is not an easy read. We need the Holy Spirit to help us correctly understand what God wants to say to us. We also must use our intelligence and common sense. The word for what we do when we read and decide what the Bible says is interpretation.                For thousands of years, there have been people that believed the common man did not have the capacity to understand what the Bible says. They thought only they were qualified to tell us what God wanted us to know. They kept the Bible from us. They kept it hidden from view. They hid it by language. They kept it from being translated. They knew that if the Bible ever became available to everyone, they would lose their power. Many people suffered and died making the Bible available and understandable to everyone. 

When I think about Bible interpretation, pictures of old scholars and monks laboring over large tables comes to my mind. It was their job to look at each word and letter and determine what the writer of the original words intended to say when he wrote it. The truth is that everyone that reads the Bible is automatically an interpreter. When a person reads anything, they must interpret what the writer wanted to say when they wrote it.

The difference with reading the Bible is that when a Christian reads it, they have the Holy Spirit to help them understand what is being said. The Spirit is never wrong, but sometimes the person reading the Word misinterprets what they are reading and gets it wrong. It is important to consider everything we read in it’s correct context and how it fits with the rest of Scripture. It is also important to be sensitive to the Spirit to correct us if necessary. The correction may come directly from the Spirit or through a spiritual brother or sister.  

The posts I have written in this blog were written by a man that reads the Bible. I have read it cover to cover twice. I have read portions of it regularly ever since I learned to read. Everything I have written, wether it’s a writing about Parkinson’s or a retelling of a Bible story from a different perspective or something that is important to me, I write what I think is true. I would not write something I thought was false. But I am human. I could be wrong. I could have written something that is totally not true. I have really tried hard to follow the Spirit, my spirit and my heart. I must rely on the Lord to correct me. I also must rely on those that read the posts I write to tell me if they think I am wrong on some point and show me how I am wrong. The alternative is to not write at all. I don’t think that would be the Lord’s choice. I think his desire and intention when He wrote the Bible was for me to read it, understand it and live my life by what I think it says. That’s what I have tried to do. I think that’s what He wants everyone to do.

As you read my blog posts, please remember, they were written by a Christian man with Parkinson’s disease. It’s an account of my journey, trying to always apply what the Lord is telling me as I seek what is true for a man living in this day and age, trusting in God and the Holy Spirit.

Welcome to my journey.

  

Ambassador in Chains

When Jesus saved me at the age of 6, I ceased to be a citizen of this fallen world and instantly became a citizen of Heaven. I continued to live in this world and was responsible to live my life here as an American, with all the privileges and responsibilities that goes with living in this country. But my stay here is only temporary. My real and permanent country is Heaven. This is the reality of everyone that chooses to follow Jesus, no matter where they are born and where they live while they are here.

I also understand that while I am alive in this world. I am to be an ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven. I have the responsibility of representing my future home and telling those I come in contact with about Jesus and the opportunity he offers everyone to become a citizen of heaven and avoid an eternity as a citizen of hell.

Throughout my life, I have tried to be a good ambassador. I know that I haven’t always succeeded and I could have done much more. As I look back on my 57 years as a Christian, it’s difficult for me to judge how successful I have been in representing my King and His Kingdom. All I really know for sure is that He saved me and any success I may have had is due to Him.

In Ephesians 6:20, Paul refers to himself as an “ambassador in chains.” He said this because he was imprisoned. I am also an ambassador in chains. I am in chains due to an illness, Parkinson’s disease, that restricts what I can do. Paul was restrained by literal chains and bars that confined him. I am restrained by my bodies inability to move and function normally. 

As the days go by, the chains that are restraining me are getting shorter and tighter.  My ability to be an ambassador of heaven is decreasing. My ability to speak is diminishing. My ability to write is increasingly being compromised. My ability to even leave my house is waning. 

So how does one remain an effective ambassador without the means to communicate and whose ability to move stops? How will I continue to have a positive impact on those around me and remain an ambassador of heaven? Prayer. If I can continue to think clearly, I can continue to pray. Even if I lose my ability to communicate, I can still pray. 

I believe that an ambassador of heaven that can pray can be a powerful citizen that can still represent Heaven effectively.   

Punishment To Fit The Crime

I believe all humans have a sense of justice. It started with God. Then the sense of justice was passed from generation to generation through thought and experience. What form it takes and how it is applied has changed over the centuries. Without justice, man would not have survived on this earth for very long. Justice has been distorted, neglected and misapplied countless times, but the fact that we are still here testifies that it’s still at work.

One of the fundamental aspects of justice is that punishment should be applied so it is as close to fitting the crime as possible. If there is an imbalance, it’s not justice.

In the old testament of the bible, it says, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” That was the definition of justice for a long time. Justice requires that payment be made for an offense that costs the offender close to what the offended has lost.

I have been thinking about heaven. Heaven is the dwelling place of God. Heaven is a place of untold joy and love.

When God decided to create this universe and man, Satan had already rebelled and had already been thrown out of heaven. God made the universe perfect, but Satan had access and the ability to influence what God had made.

Satan lost little time before he interfered with God’s perfect universe. He used as his instrument of interference God’s perfect man. Satan convinced the man that God was holding out on him. There was something he would want that God was keeping from him. All he had to do to receive this thing was to reach out and take it. Man listened to Satan and did what God had told him not to do.

Satan had already committed a crime against God. Justice was required. Justice required punishment. The punishment was throwing him out of heaven.

Now Satan had committed another crime. Justice had to be served again. Not only on Satan and his fallen angels, but also on man.

Because of man’s disobedience, all of mankind was now subject to every pain, perversion, violation, sickness, disease, atrocity, genocide, humiliation, and depravity that man and Satan could conjure up. For this crime, Satan and his followers, including man, would be punished.

Punishment fits the crime? Justice?

As far as Satan and his demons are concerned, the punishment is described as being thrown into a lake of fire and burning for eternity. This feels like justice to me… Justice for everyone we have lost to sickness, disease or accident… every child we have lost… everyone that has been the victim of someone else’s cruelty… every victim of a crime.

Everything in this world that is bad can be traced back to Satan. Eternal torture and writhing in a lake of fire forever probably describes a punishment that fits the crime.

What about man? His crime was disobeying God by taking a bite from a piece of fruit God told him not to touch. By that simple act, man became aware of the difference between good and evil. Before man disobeyed God, evil did not exist in the perfect universe. After he disobeyed, evil became a reality. Evil entered the universe and was free to spread death and destruction.

One man committed a crime that would subject all future men to evil. This crime required justice. The punishment the man received for his crime was that now he would die. All his family after him would die. After he and all those that came after him died, they would be sent to a place of fire and torture to share in Satan’s punishment forever.

A punishment that fits the crime?

Because of Gods grace and love for man, He provided man a way to escape the punishment justice demanded. This escape is not available to Satan and his fallen angels. Justice could be satisfied by the sacrifice of a man…a son of man…without any evil in him…a son of God. This sacrifice would not only restore man to a place of perfection, but every man that accepted this sacrifice of God’s son would be released from the eternal punishment and fire that was going to be their future. When they died, they would go to be with God in heaven.

By the act of one man, every man is subject to punishment. By the act of one Man, every man can avoid punishment.

Punishment to fit the crime?

The act of one man caused all men to be punished, no

matter how bad or good they were. The act of another one Man has provided a way for some men to avoid being punished. Is justice still served?

When Adam sinned, every man that came after him would be punished.

When Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross and rose from the dead, some men could avoid being punished. Those that accepted Jesus would not be punished.

After Adam, just being a member of humanity meant that, when you died, you would go to punishment.

After Jesus, if you accepted what He did, when you died, you would go to heaven. If you didn’t accept Him, either by choice or lack of knowledge, you would go to punishment.

Is justice served by punishing people that don’t know God?

The bible seems to indicate that God can be known by everyone.

In the bible, Romans 1: 18 says this;

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

The punishment fitting the crime.

The punishment that awaits Satan and all his followers is called hell.

Hell is described as a lake of fire. That sounds terrible. Hard to imagine. Your body burning for eternity. That fate sounds appropriate for Satan and his entourage. But for people that made the choice to ignore God and His Son to suffer that kind of fate seems inappropriate and extreme. It doesn’t seem like the punishment fits the crime.

As I thought about that, some lines from a play came to my mind. The play is called,” Doctor Faustus.”

In the play, Doctor Faustus is a man that has reached the summit of knowledge. He has spent his entire life on the pursuit of knowledge and now he is very old. He decides he will now abandon the search of knowledge and pursue the pleasures of life. He makes the choice to expose himself to the dark arts. Soon he discovers a way to conjure up Satan. He says some strange words and before him appears Mephistopheles, the agent of Satan. After some conversation, Faustus tells the demon he desires a few things. He wants to be 24 years old again and live another 24 years. He wants money and power. After a few more requests, Mephistopheles agrees to give Faustus what he has asked for. There is just one condition. It will cost Doctor Faustus his soul.

Faustus thinks about it and decides the price is worth it. After signing a contract in blood, Faustus finds all his wishes have come true. He is young again. Everything he asked for is there. He soon discovers that the pleasures of life do not satisfy for very long. He begins to question his decision. He finds he has made a terrible mistake. He wrestles with himself, going back and forth. One minute trying to justify what he has done, the next minute trying to find a way out.

At one point, he questions the demon about hell. The demon responds with some hollow answers. Faustus pursues the question further. Faustus reasons, “Hell cannot be so bad. Here we are, talking and reasoning together. You are free to leave hell and come here as you will.”

Suddenly, Faustus notices tears begin to roll down Mephistopheles face. He looks at Faustus with an expression of despair and utter hopelessness. He tells him,

“This is hell, nor am I out of it.

Do you think that I, who saw the face of God

And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,

Am not tormented with ten thousand hells

In being deprived of everlasting bliss?”

It may be that this punishment that he describes is more terrible than an eternal lake of fire.

I believe that every person will meet God, both good and bad. The ones that accepted the free gift of Jesus will be ushered into heaven and be with God forever. Those that did not receive Jesus will see the truth about who He is and what He is. They will get a glimpse of the true love and joy that they will be separated from for eternity. They will realize all that God has done to pursue them and save them from an eternal hell. They will realize that they turned their back on Him and ignored Him. They will get a taste of just how much God loves them and how close they came to an eternal paradise with Him and disregarded it as carelessly as if they were throwing away trash. After seeing and feeling all that they could have enjoyed, to then be ushered out of God’s presence, with no possible way to see and feel the joy of heaven again forever sounds like hell to me.

I don’t know about the punishment fitting the crime. I just know that God loves us all and either we will realize it and embrace what He has done for us and discover all He has in store for us, or we will ignore Him and suffer the consequences forever. Whatever the consequences for ignoring Him are, it will be hell.

What Does One Do?

What does one do when your left arm refuses to swing when you walk?

What does one do when you lose your sense of smell?

What does one do when your left hand starts to shake when you try to use it?

What does one do when your left wrist starts to hurt and never stops hurting?

What does one do when your right wrist begins to feel like your left?

What does one do when your back starts to hurt and never stops hurting and the pain constantly travels from one side to the other?

What does one do when you are not able to take even over the counter pain relievers due to terrible side effects?

What does one do when you regularly lose your sense of balance?

What does one do when you don’t have the strength to stand for more than a few minutes without needing to sit down?

What does one do when you can’t walk for more than a block before you are too exhausted to walk anymore?

What does one do when you do not feel it is safe to drive anymore?

What does one do when you lose the ability to work?

What does one do when you lose the ability to speak loud enough and clear enough so that others understand what you are trying to say?

What does one do when you are not able to pick up your one year old grandson?

What does one do when you lose much of your ability to communicate your ever-growing love for your wife, either by soft or passionate touch or the subtle expressions of love made by a face and hands and body and soul unencumbered by limitations of the brain?

What does one do when you find yourself spending much of your time alone?

Here is what I did.

I started to write. I had never had a desire to write before I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I discovered that writing helps me cope with the challenges of living with this disease. Describing in written words helps me communicate to myself and others what I am feeling and experiencing. I decided to start this blog. It gives me a place to record and share my Intentional writing and my random thoughts and stories. Whenever I write, there are always certain things that I keep in mind.

First, I remember that I am never alone. God is my Father, Jesus is my brother and the Holy Spirit is my guide. They never leave my side.

Concerning my physical challenges, I have asked for and wait for healing. I trust God and I know He knows what I’m feeling and facing every day. He told me His mercies are new every morning. Whether my pain and physical challenges continue or not, my every moment is in His hands. I will either be set free from these momentary inconveniences in this world or when I reach home.

As far as how my limitations affect everyone that touches my life, whether it’s family or friends or strangers, I will do my best to fulfill my God given responsibilities as a Christian man. I am part of a family and a member of the human race. My limitations do not excuse me from showing love, kindness, mercy, patience, forgiveness, generosity, and all the other attributes required as a person that loves God.

And every minute of my life, I remember the greatest gift God has given me, besides Himself.

He has given me my wife. She is the author of everything good in my life here on earth. She is the one that has made my life worth getting up for every morning. She promised me she would stand by me through everything. The good and the bad. She has kept that promise and continues to keep it every day, even though the bad is overtaking the good. My love for her is forever.

So, at least for me, this is what one does.

For Everything There is a Season

I have been on a rollercoaster the last few days. January, it will be 2 years ago that I was forced to retire because of Parkinson’s Disease. I was employed by the same real estate investment / development firm for 33 years. When I was hired I was 29 years old. I am now 63. That is a long season. I loved almost every second of my time there. When it became evident that my PD body and brain were no longer up to the task of performing at the level required to do a good job and safety became an issue, I decided I had no choice but to retire. Initially, there was some adjustments to work through. A person can’t do something and have your mind fixed on something for that long and not feel a void. Fortunately, it was not as difficult as I had imagined it would be. My PD symptoms were still relatively mild and I was able to find things to occupy my time. It was also kind of novel and nice to not have to wake up and go to work with all the pressure and anxiety that’s a normal part of everyday life, amplified by the challenges of Parkinson’s. The last 2 years have been relatively uneventful, each day staying busy coping with the ever-changing challenges of a life lived with this disease. The last couple of days I have had to deal with some feelings that are new.

The company I had worked for has a Christmas party every year for the company owners and employees. It is always very nice. It has usually been held at a very nice restaurant or at one of the company owners’ homes. Even though I have not worked there for two years, my wife and I were invited to this year’s party. It was held again at a very nice restaurant. We sat at a large table in a cozy corner of the room. Our seating locations were marked by cute cards with our names on them. When everyone arrived, we all sat down and the conversations began. As we all talked, the waiters came around and took our orders. As the conversation continued, the different meal courses were brought out and we talked and ate.

Because Parkinson’s has taken away much of my ability to speak loud enough and enunciate my words correctly, it was a struggle for me to speak so I could be heard and understood. Conversation is also exhausting. As the night progressed, I found myself feeling increasing pain in my back and legs from sitting in an uncomfortable chair for that long of a time.

Every year, one of the owners will stand during the meal and say a few words. They are always kind words about their appreciation for us employees, always mentioning how grateful they are having us on the team. They will usually highlight some accomplishments and successes we had as a company over the preceding year. They have always been very generous with their words of praise and gratitude for us employees. It has always been a very enjoyable evening. That is why I was so surprised by the emotions that I felt during the evening. The best way I can describe what I was feeling was I was mourning. Mourning for my place with these people I had spent so much of my life caring about and for. Mourning the accomplishments and successes the company had achieved and that I had played a part in for so long. Mourning the loss of daily connection and relationship that I no longer had with these people I had spent so much time with. Because I truly loved what I did and was proud of what I had contributed to all our endeavors over the years, I was mourning my loss of connection to something I had been a part of over half my life.

At the end of the evening, I was physically and emotionally spent. With the little strength that remained, I said my goodbyes. It felt like we were saying our final goodbyes.

My wife and I made it to our car. I realized what was probably making things worse was it was time for my 10:00 pills. We got in the car and drove home in silence. I didn’t have the strength to talk and felt to numb to even try to figure out what I was feeling. When we arrived home, I made it to my bedroom, took off my clothes and just fell into bed.

The next morning, I got up and joined my wife in our living room. She had noticed my struggle the night before and asked how I was doing. During the next hour, I was able to explain to her some of my thoughts. She was able to tell me her thoughts and perspective on what I was saying. Thankfully, I was able to work through and understand what I was feeling and why.

She told me it was perfectly natural to feel the loss of something I held so dear as my life’s work. The part of me that felt the loss of connection with the things I had done and the people I had done them with and for was also natural. A time will come when all of them will probably feel the same things. And as far as the work I had done and the things I had built. In 50 years, it will all probably be dust. So just be happy you had this season and go on to the next.

I thank God for a Godly wife with perspective

Time Wounds

You have heard the saying, “Time heals all wounds.” And you have probably also heard the saying, “Time wounds all heels.” I have been thinking about time. It’s a reality we all live with. Time can be on our side or time can be against us. We can have either too much time on our hands or not enough time. We can waste time or we can save time. Time can be of the essence or we can take all the time that we want. We use time as a measurement. We can lose track of time. Time is something we must contend with all the time.

Time is something God created when He created our universe. It is said that a day is the same as a thousand years to God. He exists in time and out of time. Our time is measured out by the sun and the stars and the seasons. By nature, and our bodies and the many different cycles of the earth.

Time can be a tyrannical task master or a comforting friend. In my life, I have found that time changes all the time. One moment I can be relaxed enjoying leisure time and the next be under the pressure and stress of needing to be somewhere or do something important and not having enough time to get where I need to go or do what I need to do.

Time has dramatically changed for me since the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Before PD I was someone with a job and a family and a normal life of a man living in America the first part of the 21st century with all the demands and responsibilities that goes with that kind of life. The demands for my time changing all the time. Now, after PD, I’m finding it a challenge to fill up my time. Time has become something I have too much of. A person has a need to feel like the time they are given is being used productively. When I was working my time was almost always filled up with profitable endeavors automatically. My main job was allocating the time I had wisely so everything I was responsible to do got done on time. Now, my brain and my body will not allow me to do most of the things I use to do that filled up the time. I must create things to do to still feel I have value, even though I’m free from the tyranny of the immediate. Most of my time is free to do what my brain and body will allow me to do. But I have to force myself to do almost everything. I know that a multitude of evils awaits someone that has too much extra time and doesn’t find productive ways to fill that time. Boredom, sadness, depression, sin, compulsive behavior and addictions like gambling. All these and more awaits the person that doesn’t fill their time with things that not only fill the moments of the day but gives them the feeling of accomplishment and purpose that comes from using time wisely. Even if that accomplishment and purpose is only seen and appreciated by the person themselves. Maybe the saying that time wounds all heels is referring to the person that does not use their time wisely. Whether they struggle with not having enough time or they struggle with having too much time.

Whenever I think about time, the words written by Solomon come to my mind.

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

These occasions of time will be with us as long as we live on this earth. Once we are gone, time will no longer be something we will need to concern ourselves with. And If the saying, time heals all wounds is true, once we cross over, there will no longer be any wounds for time to heal.

Lament for a Paradise Squandered

 

I miss the moments that were given away.

I yearn for the walks in the cool of the day.

I hunger for the fruit that’s out of my reach.

Guarded by a strength no one can breach.

There was a brief moment when everything was good.

But that moment ended.

I miss the feelings that I’ve never felt.

I miss the sights that I’ve never seen.

My heart breaks for unbreakable hearts.

Tears fall down my face from eyes that were not meant to cry.

My body feels pain it was not meant to feel.

I move through a world that was not made this way.

Moving through a space that was given away.

I’m aware of so much that I should never have known.

Knowledge that was acquired through selfish intent.

Knowledge that once acquired cannot be unknown.

Relationship lost, friendship destroyed.

Replaced by loneliness, in the midst of a crowd.

Purity soiled, love hidden away.

Treasures given freely, now there are prices to pay.

It was meant to be different.

We were meant to be different.

I yearn for a place no man has been.

A place that was not squandered as was where I am now.

A place that cannot be given away.

It’s where this world and its brief moment of good was created.

By the One I yearn to walk with in the cool of the day.

I now remember, a man has walked in that place.

He came to this squandered paradise to retake what we lost.

Now He’s back with his Father and they are waiting for us.

When we arrive,

Nothing will be missed…

Nothing will be yearned for…

There will be no unsatisfied hungers…

There, everything is good.

Paradise Squandered will be long forgotten.

I’m Jealous of Air

I’m jealous of the air. Moment by moment she desires it unceasingly. The air doesn’t care if she desires it or not. The air doesn’t care.

I’m jealous of the sun. Day by day she desires its warmth and light. The sun doesn’t care if she desires it or not. The sun doesn’t care.

I’m jealous of the rain. She misses it when its gone too long. The rain doesn’t care if she misses it or not. The rain doesn’t care.

I’m jealous of water. She regularly desires to have it touching her body. Every part of her body. Parts of her body that have always exclusively been saved for water and me. Water doesn’t care if it touches her or not. Water doesn’t care.

I’m jealous of a piece of glass. Glass that she touches many times a day. Glass that encourages and strengthens her relationship with others. The glass doesn’t care if she touches it or not. The glass doesn’t care.

The reason for the jealousy is not due to her. The reason is me. Something that is a part of me neither of us wanted or asked for. Parkinson’s disease.
All these things I’m jealous of are due to my inability to show her how much I need her and desire her. Relationship, especially marriage relationship requires subtle messages being communicated between the two people. Parkinson’s has robbed me of that ability. Without those subtle messages from me, she has no idea what my desires and wants are. Parkinson’s has also taken away most of my ability to physically express my ever-increasing love and desire for her. Limitations in my body due to rigidity and pain and my voice and communication challenges make it almost impossible to romance her the way she needs to be romanced by her husband.
Having Parkinson’s disease is hard, both for me and the one that promised herself to me forever.
I’m sure that there may be a small amount of jealousy when she sees another happily married couple that are not burdened with this hideous intruder invading their lives. But that’s ok. My hope is that she can still enjoy what we do have together and not mourn to much the things we have lost. And I hope she will always know of my love and desire for her, even as I lose the ability to show it.

Words and Music

Everything that exists in the physical world is made out of the same stuff, from a butterfly to the universe. Atoms, protons, electrons, neutrons arranged differently to create what they are and do. And what they are and what they do is determined by the laws God set in place to govern their behavior.

Everything is not everything. What we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell is just a minor fraction, a microscopic part of what really exists. Everything we can experience through our 5 senses is a mere grain of sand on the beach of reality that is out there within and beyond our universe. Again, we know this because we know this. The fact that we can think and dream and love proves this is true.

Two examples of there being more than everything is music and writing. Both music and writing use a specific number of characters. With music, it’s notes and with writing it’s the letters of an alphabet. Just as everything in our physical universe was created by God from the same elements, the music that is played is created from the same notes and everything written is from the same letters and ruled by the laws that govern each.

Mankind has the mistaken idea that we can be creators. All we can be are assemblers. We can take the things God created and form them into the things we use. We have the raw material and form it into anything the laws that govern that raw material will allow. We take musical notes and arrange them in an order that can be played on an instrument we have constructed from the same material we are made of and play a song. We take the letters of the alphabet and punctuation and write a story.

The ability to do this lets us know that we are more than star stuff. We take letters and form words and arrange the words in an order that when someone reads those words, it changes the readers heart and allows them to understand something they did not understand before. It’s magic. Real magic. The same magic that happens when someone takes musical  notes and arranges them in such a way that causes a listener to cry. This did not happen by two atoms coming together by themselves and then other atoms coming together over and over until a universe is built, built by the atoms that it’s made of. And these little atoms did this all by themselves? Spontaneously? Without any help? That would be something. That would be like the atoms of a space shuttle deciding to gather together on their own and form a vehicle capable of blasting into space, circling the globe a few times, and then landing safely back on earth.

I like music. I like it because of what it does to me. It makes me happy. It makes me cry. It makes me remember times in my life, both good and bad. When I was falling in love with my wife, the song “Maniac” from the movie Flashdance would come on the radio and I would think of her. Even now, years later, when I hear that song, I think of her.

When my first wife left me, I remember certain songs made me feel that I wasn’t alone during this time of heartache and made the pain tolerable. I discovered when the heart is abandoned, it comforts itself by believing that a time will come when the one that abandoned it will regret it. I was drawn to songs like ” If the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me ” and ” You’ll think of me.”

I like to listen to music. I don’t ever remember wanting to learn the notes and the laws that govern them enough to want to play music. My wife is a classically trained pianist. Not only did she learn the notes and the laws, but she was born with something more than most people are born with. She was born with what’s referred to as a gift. It is the extra ability that some people have that goes beyond learning to do something. A gift in music is the ability to not only learn the physical process of playing the notes, but the learning is usually easier for someone gifted. They also are able to express the notes in a way that moves the spirit, soul and body of the ones that hear it. This is not something that is learned or can even be achieved through practice. I believe it is one of those things that goes beyond the stuff we are made of. It shows us we are more than the sum of our parts.

I think writing is the same way. Everyone, (unless they have a physical or mental challenge that prevents it,) can learn to write. We learn to take the letters of whatever alphabet we know and put them together applying the laws that govern them and express thoughts. These thoughts can make others laugh, they can teach, establish or change what people believe, share feelings, pass on things that need to be remembered. Words also can be put together to express hatred, tell lies, cause people pain. The greatest thing words can express is love. As with music, I believe people can be gifted in the use of words. They are gifted with the ability to use the same letters everyone uses but put them together in such a way that they speak to the human heart and spirit. I have no idea why some are gifted and some are not. I am sure there are millions of people in the world that are gifted, but they and the ones around them never discover what they have. Millions of people are living in poverty and isolation under oppressive governments having gifting’s but never being able to discover or share them.

As I said, I like music. I also like to read. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that I discovered reading. Up to that time, I had never read a whole book, ” except for See Spot Run” in kindergarten. Then, in high school, I was required to take a class in literature. A requirement of the class was to read a book from a list of books. I remember putting the list on my desk, closing my eyes and allowing my finger to drop to the paper and whatever book title my finger landed on, that would be the book I would read. When I opened my eyes, I saw that my finger had chosen “Out of the Silent Planet”, by C.S. Lewis. I had never heard of it before and hoped it wouldn’t be boring. As I started to read, I found it to be surprisingly interesting. It was about a man on a walking vacation in England being kidnapped and taken to the planet Mars to be sacrificed to the inhabitants. Soon after they landed he was able to escape his kidnappers. He wandered around for a while until he came across a Martian. At first, he was afraid. Then he realized the Martian was not only intelligent, but civilized and even friendly. After some time, he learned to communicate with the Martian.

Then my world changed. It was like being struck by lightning. I discovered the Martians not only knew God, but they knew His son, Jesus. (although they called Him by a different name.)

Being saved at the age of six, and being a Christian almost all my life and having no interest in reading did limit my exposure somewhat. Going to church a couple times a week, having mostly children’s bible stories read to me growing up and then from time to time reading portions of the bible, my experience with other forms of literature was very limited.

But now, at the age of fifteen or sixteen, to be reading a book that was not a bible story or the bible, but it expresses my Christian beliefs in a creative, mature and imaginary way turned out to be life changing for me. I knew I would never be the same.

(The reason the book is titled ” Out of the Silent Planet”, is because, in the story, it turns out that the entire universe is filled with inhabited planets. They all went through the “serpent and the apple”, garden of Eden test. Only one planet failed…. earth. All the other planets chose to do what God asked them to do. This meant that the Martians had a free and open relationship with God and His Son and with all the other planets, except the earth. The earth was a blank spot in the universe and silent.)

That’s how I discovered the joy of reading.

A Strange Question

The story is told…. a man that had a movement disorder for many, many years maintained a spot on the ground next to a pond of water. It was widely known that from time to time, an angel would come by and stir the water. When the angel did this, the first sick person to enter the water was healed. The man could never get to the water fast enough. Someone else always got there before him.

One day Jesus walked up to the man with the movement disorder and asked him, “Do you want to be well?”

What a strange question to ask a sick person. Of course he wants to be well. I didn’t understand why Jesus asked the question until I got Parkinson’s.

For a year before I was diagnosed, most of the time I was miserable. I had gone from a very happy, content person to someone that felt depressed and filled with anxiety all the time for no reason. Many years before I started to feel like this, I had gone through two terrible life events that would make anyone feel this way, but that had been long ago. Now life was great with a wonderful wife, three beautiful children, a job I loved, and a beautiful home. Life couldn’t have been any better, but I was miserable. I prayed and asked God constantly for relief, but none came. Then things started happening in my body. My left arm stopped swinging when I walked. My left hand would shake when I used it. My left wrist started to hurt. I lost my sense of smell. My voice started to change. I continued to ask God for relief, but none came.

Then one day I went to my doctor for my yearly checkup. Casually, he asked how I was. I told him about the things I was feeling. When I had finished, he looked at me and said,” It sounds like you have Parkinson’s Disease.” I walked out of his office stunned. Then I had a strange feeling, a feeling of relief and happiness. I had been suffering for no reason….  now there was a reason. All of the things that had tormented me turned out to indeed be the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. A week later, with some new knowledge and some pills, I was my old self again. Yes, it’s true I was my old self with Parkinson’s, but the suffering had stopped.

Now back to the strange question Jesus asked, “Do you want to be well?”

It’s been more than four years since I was diagnosed. I started out feeling like my old self, but over time the symptoms have changed and the Parkinson’s has progressed. The main way I have been able to live happy with this fact is to accept it. I try to do all I can to slow the progression, but I know it will continue to progress. For me to deny this would be much more difficult than acceptance. Also, I have been developing defenses to cope with this uninvited intruder. Right or wrong, with acceptance comes familiarity. Although, I fight to keep Parkinson’s at bay, it has become one of the things that defines me.

There is a story of a man that spent almost all of his 60 years in prison. One day a parole board told him he was free to go. They opened the prison bars and released him into the free world. He spent the next week trying to find a way to get arrested again. He had come to the place that life behind bars was all he knew.

I don’t think I’m saying that if I wake up tomorrow without Parkinson’s Disease, I won’t know how to live without it. But I have adjusted to having it. A large part of my acceptance is that even if I am wrong and I am supposed to be healed, God still loves me and is my provider. He will never abandon me.

I do know that if it did go away, something else, maybe even worse, would eventually get me.

One more story;

A group of people were sitting on the floor in a circle. God told them to throw their biggest problem in life into the middle of the circle. They did. Then he told them they each must choose a problem. They could take any one of them. Each person took their own problem back.

Re: John 5: 1-15 (Bible)