When I went back to college after a five year hiatus, I quickly began to realize that I had bitten off a little more than I could chew with my original timing plan. During the first semester I carried 16 units, began a new job working swing shift at Hewlett Packard, continued on as the Youth Minister at our church and on top of that, my wife and I were expecting our first child! To say that things were a bit crazy would be a vast understatement.
So, after that semester I began to make some adjustments to my completion of College schedule. Originally I had hoped to finish my senior year of schooling in one year but the circumstances of life forced me to spread out the classes and extend it to two! Needless to say, those two years of dedication and effort took a lot of communication and coordination between my wife and I. There were days when I would leave the house around nine in the morning and not return until around eleven in the evening.
I think this was a time when Piper’s uncanny ability to keep a great attitude and multi-task shined its brightest as she cared for our new born son, made our new house into a quaint, comfortable and warm home for our family (did I also mention that we had just moved into my Grandmother’s house after her passing?) and diligently made sure my needs were met during the few hours I was home each day! I can’t recall one time that she ever complained during that period of time in our lives. She always met me at the door with a smile, a hug and words of joyful encouragement.
Needless to say when I walked across the outdoor stage on June 3rd 1981 to receive my diploma, I felt relieved, satisfied at a job well done and bubbling over with astounding love for all that my wife had done in order for me to get there that day! (After everything she put up with… I ended up with a 4.0 average!)
The school had a long standing tradition that had the graduating students march down from the stage in twos, across the front row of the audience and then proceed to a double line of all the professors in order to spend time with them before being released to be with their perspective families and well-wishers. As we marched away from the all those in attendance toward the professors, I suddenly had the revelation that there was no one that I really wanted to speak to in the assembled group of professors.
The two professors that I had gotten to know and had gone to for assistance at various times over my two years at the school had both left the school during my final semester and the one that I really wanted to be with and thank was sitting back in the crowd with a baby stroller at her side! So… I decided to break with long standing tradition and stepped out of line and made a beeline back to the crowd.
To this day, I can still remember the cute and shining smile glowing from my wife’s adorably freckled face as she stood next to our son Josh in his stroller and my Mom and Dad at their side. I can also recall the long and tight hug that ensued following our coming together. If it hadn’t been for her constant giving of herself, the Word of God she freely shared with me and the empowering life of Christ that radiated from her being over that long two year stretch, I would never had been able to complete that goal!
I think that Jesus may have been thinking of situations like that as He spoke to His questioning disciples saying: “The Spirit is the one who gives life! Human strength (or effort) can do nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are from that life-giving spirit.” (John 6:63 CEV) He knew that we Christians would not be able to persevere through all the situations of our lives without our dependence on His Word and the Spirit and Life that they invigorate our lives with.
Once again, don’t get me wrong… Human effort and dedication are a good thing and at times very necessary, but they tend to work much more successfully when they are infused with and led by the Spirit and Life of Christ. After we returned from our three year stint in Oklahoma in 2009 (so I could attend Bible College this time...) I continued working for The Home Depot in a traveling position, supervising an in-house merchandising team. After a year of this, it became quite apparent that we needed to make some changes as Piper’s health needs were getting more pronounced.
As before, we faced a situation where we could continue to follow human tradition and keep working at the same job and possibly hire someone to come in and care for my wife, or seek the Lord’s direction and go with His plan that we knew would bring the Spirit and Life into our situation. Well… as you most likely know already, it was pretty much a NO brainer for us.
We began to seek the Lord and at the right time I quit my outside job, and became Piper’s full-time caregiver, with the ability to take her on yard and garden care jobs with me in order to keep an eye on her and help in stimulating her awareness and slow the process of her rapidly decaying senses.
As I have reported in past blogs, we received a lot of constant negative reaction for our decision. I didn’t realize how much that pressure was until we moved across country to our new home here in North Carolina. As I thought about it the other day, I saw that it was almost as though these different individuals were doing their best to keep us focused on natural things like finances, doctors, natural remedies or very limited aspects of God’s healing for my wife.
Once I left my job and went back to my own business so we could endeavor to follow God’s plan for us, we both felt the presence of the Spirit and Life of Christ in greater depth and detail in our lives. At that time we needed His Life to infuse our situation. It was time for us to leave the traditions of man behind and throw in our lot with Him and His Word. Looking back now, I can see that it was the right move to make as all the miracles that followed our obedience to Him confirm it!
So… some seven years later now… we continue to follow His plan for our lives. In many respects it has gotten easier, but in other respects it has gotten a lot harder, especially as I look upon my wife’s physical countenance. But now more than ever I… make that “WE” need His Spirit and His Life constantly invigorating us in every part of our lives.
We need His love, His power, His wisdom and His strength as never before. To us, the traditions of men have all fallen to the side in our quest to be smack-dab in the middle of His perfect will for us. I am SO GLAD that we chose to follow Him instead of man’s advice… How about you?
Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s advice are you expecting to follow today?”