Our New Home!

Our New Home!
The sun sets on our first full week in Oklahoma!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Long Distance Relationships...

As most of you probably know, I began writing this blog several years ago as an outlet for the things that I have been learning through the journey we have been on with the attack on my wife’s health.  And talk about a road trip! I can hardly even consider all the spiritual miles I have traveled since those initial tests that my wife took late in 2007.  During this adventure in faith I have experienced some of the darkest times in my life!  On the other hand though, I have also taken a path that has drawn me closer to Papa God than I ever would have imagined before all this began to unfold.

Through it all I have found myself questioning just about every morsel of Biblical truth and understanding that has been deposited into me during my Christian walk and over 35 years of pastoral ministry.  And you know what?  It has been good!  Most things I scrutinized came through with a greater and more comprehensive understanding.  I will also acknowledge that there have been a few areas… some you might consider crucial… that I have begun to interpret through a different set of glasses, with a deeper revelation of God’s love and grace!

One of the most important lessons that keeps reappearing throughout this entire chapter of our lives, has been the overwhelming importance of our ever-growing, personal, intimate, experiential knowledge of Papa God and the Lord Jesus Christ in cooperation with the accompanying direction of the Holy Spirit through spiritual discernment.  This type of communion cannot be lived through a long distance relationship.  It is not something that we can experience without personal connections… as some might say, through ‘hands on’ interactions.

I will freely admit that I find it almost impossible to keep my hands off my wife!  Now please don’t take me wrong here.  I am talking about visible and proper signs of mutual loving affection.  I joke with her all the time about how God must of perfectly designed her hands to fit into mine!  If I could possibly count the number of times I have held her hand over the past 45 plus years of our relationship, it would most likely go into the hundreds of thousands!

I have had some good examples to follow.  I remember even as a kid, being moved by the sight of my maternal Grandparents holding hands when they went out together.  My Mom and Dad did the same thing and I guess it is just in my personal chemistry to follow in their footsteps!  I noticed the other day while shopping at Walmart that I am constantly reaching out and touching Piper’s shoulder or hands as I push her around in her wheelchair.  We have always had a special ‘oneness’ and I just can't help but want to show my affection and connect with her through my touch.  Over the years she also made it very clear to me that she expected me to hug her and tell her how much I love her multiple times a day… and believe me husbands… that is the BEST request that I have EVER sought to fulfill in our relationship!

I have learned during the difficult times the importance of that same type of ‘oneness’ with Papa God.  That is the reason I have begun, over the last few years, to address God as Papa God.  It demonstrates the more personal and intimate relationship that is continuing to increase between us.

The differences between a long distance type of relationship and a close one have become very apparent to me with the different family and friends we have interacted with throughout this journey.  I’ve noticed how the ones that chose to stay at arm’s length have had difficulties in communicating with and assisting us.  There have also been numerous occasions when things were said or done that were based on incorrect information or personal conjecture.  Incidents that could have been avoided had these individuals been in personal contact with us and personally witnessed what we were really doing and why.
Then there were those who seemed to think nothing of extending themselves to get close to us and assist us whenever and however possible. 

 At times it was like they just ‘knew’ what we needed at that particular moment.  A good example being the delicious spaghetti dinners that one of my cousins dropped off on numerous occasions at our door just when I was thinking about one of our favorite meals but had not the time nor the energy to prepare it!  Then there were those who sent (and still do!) impromptu phone calls, text messages or Facebook shout-outs!  What does the Word say about “a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23 KJV)

We also had great Christian friends who thought nothing of adding personal visits to Piper in the midst of their busy schedules.  I still have some of these same folks from California calling or texting me on a regular basis to inquire of Piper’s progress and to encourage me.  I can’t tell you how much that ‘personal touch’ means to me!

That is exactly the same kind of relationship that I believe I am cultivating with Papa God.  Like I have said a million times (okay… maybe that’s a slight exaggeration…), I could NEVER have done all that I have done for my wife and continue to need to do for her without the daily increasing, intimate, experiential knowledge of Christ’s love for Piper and I.  His Word has literally been our life-line!  I may go to bed dog tired, sore and fighting the temptation to give into discouragement but wake up refreshed as I joyfully and excitedly anticipate my early morning Bible Study and communication times with Him each day.

I also see the visible changes in Piper’s countenance and the light and ZoĆ« life that sparks in her eyes as I speak the Word of healing to her in the mornings and afternoons and when we sit down after breakfast and lunch to read from the current study book on healing we are reading at the time.  I have come to witness that Alzheimer’s is the great thief of a person’s identity.  I remember reading an article written by one of Ronald Reagan’s children who recalled her father’s bout with the disease and reported that it was the first time in her life that she ever saw fear in her father’s eyes. 

I can recall a similar incident with Piper when I first noticed, during the final months of our stay in Oklahoma, that she was losing that confidence that to me, was a hallmark of her strengths as an individual.  But you know… when we delve into the Word, I see that confidence as well as many of the personality traits that set her apart being rekindled in her eyes!  Piper is the one that introduced me to the possibilities of an upfront and intimate relationship with Jesus… and she has not lost that connection.  I believe part of my responsibility to her is to help her regain the mastery of her closeness to Papa God through the saturation of the Word in our midst.

Believe me when I say… The last thing we need is a long distance relationship with Papa God at this time in our lives… or at any times as far as that goes!  How about you?  Does your long distance phone bill overwhelm you?  Or are you enjoying a close, personal, intimate and ever-increasing experiential relationship with your Father God?  Do you really know that you know what His personal opinion is on any matter that confronts you… or is it just your opinion of what you think His opinion is?

Maybe it is time to reach out and touch someone (namely Papa God) today!  Have a great hump day and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How intimate am I expecting my relationship with Papa God to be today?”

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