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Monday, June 15, 2015

VBS, Kansas and the News...

I took a respite from the blog last Friday in order to take my wife to a morning appointment with a Physical Therapist.  Because of the time it takes to get my wife ready for the day with breakfast included in the mix, I had tried my best to reschedule to an afternoon session, but the particular therapist that we were to meet with only has morning appointments.   So I was up with the chickens and put it into high gear as we prepared to make it to Durham, NC by 11:00 AM.
The appointment was actually at a Duke University Children’s Hospital in their Physical/Occupational Therapy Department.  The gal that we were to meet with was said to be the best resource for Piper’s particular needs.  I must admit that I felt right at home as we walked into the brightly decorated building.  I commented to the receptionist that it reminded me of some of the church Children’s Activity Centers that I have been in! 
To make a long story short, I felt satisfied with the results of the appointment.  The therapist seemed to know her stuff as she demonstrated and taught me different stretches that will help keep Piper’s joints supple and strong.  We also discussed safety equipment that would assist Piper as well as me in her care and scheduled another appointment to meet with a supplier in order to get Piper a custom chair that will better support her back and neck… and possibly include bigger wheels so that we could expand our walks beyond paved sidewalks and trails.  (After all… Piper always liked her vehicles to have big tires and mags… so this would be kind of fitting I thought!)
So, all in all, I thought that we came away from that meeting with good news…  Although I had forgotten how emotionally and physically draining these medical visits can be, especially when we have multiple such appointments in one week.  When Piper was lying on a bed so that the PT could show us the stretches, I couldn’t help but reflect and share with a few tears, of how different she is now compared to the vibrant and vivacious individual she was designed by Papa God to be. 
There were five college students from Duke University shadowing the PT and I commented to them how much Piper would have normally enjoyed being with them since we worked with children, youth and College/Career students over our thirty plus years in the ministry.  By the time we sat down for lunch after we had returned home, I was pretty wiped out… and didn’t have much energy on Saturday as well!  On Sunday morning we rose up a little later than usual and after participating in two different online church services, I felt refreshed and ready to go!
The headline in the Raleigh “News and Observer” newspaper caught my attention as I picked up the Sunday edition from outside our front door.  The headline read: “Vacation Bible Schools try whimsy, faith to draw kids” and was accompanied by a large color photo of a group of young teens dressed in period costumes performing a Bible based play.  I slapped the paper down on the kitchen counter and laughingly remarked to Piper, “Toto, I’ve a feeling that we’re not in Kansas anymore!”
From our experiences growing up in northern California, that was NOT a headline that one would expect to see in the local newspaper!  You might see a paragraph or two about summer VBS’s in the area on the “Religion” page hidden in the back of the Saturday edition of the paper, but definitely not worthy of the front page!  It instantly reminded me of Dorothy’s exclamation to her dog after she awakes to find herself in the colorful make-believe world of OZ after leaving the bleak gray of a thunder storm and tornado on her family farm in Kansas in the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz!”
That line of thought brought me right back to my continued study in Jeremiah 29:11.  By personalizing and combining multiple translations I read the verse as saying: “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, Jim and Piper, declares the Lord.  They are thoughts and plans for your welfare and shalom peace, and not for disaster, evil or abandonment.  They are thoughts and plans to give you two a future filled with Godly expectations and for My expected end for you.” (Personalized from God’s Word ©, The Message, Moffatts and Amplified versions)
“Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible” explains the King James’ translation of “An expected end” as referencing the people of the nation of Israel’s earthly future and not that of their place in eternity.  As a type and shadow of our future as spiritual Israel, we the members of the Christian church today can take it to mean the same for us!  Romans 8:2 informs us that we are now set free from the adverse convictions and sentences of the law of sin and death.  I John 4:17 lets us know in no uncertain terms that “as he (Jesus) is, so are we IN THIS WORLD.”  And Jesus Himself talked with the Father and stated “They (Christians like you and me) are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
My point being that just like Dorothy’s revelation in the Wizard of Oz movie and mine when I saw the Sunday headline, we Christians are not in Kansas (ie; the world!) anymore!  Yes, we may be here physically, but we are not subject to its rules and dictates anymore!  We answer to a higher authority, to a better plan!  And His thoughts and plans for us are for good and not for disaster, evil or abandonment!  Verses like Jeremiah 29:11 have special significance to me because we have tasted the bitter waters of abandonment by those close to us.
I readily admit that I had different expectations for or from them, but they didn’t react like I expected them too.  In fact it was QUITE the opposite, but you know, we have a another source that has only good things and positive reactions for us and we can KNOW exactly what to expect from Him because He has given us the ability to find out His specific thoughts, plans and reactions in His Word!
So yeah… we may not physically be in Kansas (or the world) anymore, but we do get to live this life under another whole set of peaceful, care-full, Godly expectant rules!  Kind of makes you want to stand up and shout doesn’t it!  Think on that for a while this week and have a great day.  Stay in tune and expectant to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s thoughts and plans am I expecting today?”

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