Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The End of the Beginning of the End

I’m not a big one for things like Christmas letters or New Year’s Resolutions or end of the year summaries.Lets clear the table of that one right up front, shall we? Good! I’m a writer, poet, photographer, chef, musician, student of the Bible, teacher, father, grandfather, husband, Christ Follower and stroke-survivor going on seven years. That last one has had a profoundly negative effect on all of the others. I’m less mobile and less motivated because I’m less mobile. I spend more time correcting typographic errors then I spend writing the original text to begin with. I’ve dropped from touch typing 72 words per minute with 96% accuracy to whatever I can hunt and peck one handed.
For the record, I’m grateful for the life I have, but I often find myself having small bouts of whining the likes of which you’ve just read because the expected physical deterioration has advanced as promised, and it’s plunked me down smack in the middle of a world that is so busy being politically correct, it’s PC-ing itself into oblivion.
I have been blessed, make no mistake. I have a wife who loves and supports me both absolutely and  unconditionally. She is not my first wife but she loves me and makes me feel loved, respected, and appreciated more than anyone with whom I have ever had any kind of romantic relationship in my life. She is not just my wife, she’s my best friend, and in return, I don’t just love and appreciate her, I like her.  I have two great children and my wife has two great children. Between us we have eight great children because we both think of step kids and in-law kids as just our kids minus the 'step' and 'in-law' labels. From them we have six grandchildren who range in age from six to seventeen; all boys but one of them.
I had two strokes. Slow-motion aneurisms. The first one was a bump in the road but the second one left me paralyzed on my left side. No movement – no feeling. I have recovered almost all of my major motor skill, which is to sat that I am fully ambulatory, although I walk with the assistance of a cane, but my fine motor skill is as good as it is going to get. What that means is that I can do limited finger things with my left hand, but that’s all. This essay, for example.  Prior to the strokes, in the time it has taken to write these four paragraphs and just under three hundred ninety words, I’d have written more like four pages and a couple thousand words.
 I have been blessed with a good education and a good mind, the latter of which was not fully understood until I took a seminar on training trainers when I was forty years old when learned why I think the way I do. Not to mention why I could get 100% on the answers to algebra questions and still fail the class in seventh and tenth grade because the grade is 50% showing the work and what I did show was Klingon to my teacher. I understand now that the culprit responsible is a geodesic pattern of reasoning in a world designed for linear thinking. I don’t give much stock to IQ scores because I know what mine is (168) and I know what it’s supposed to mean. I also know there’s no way in creation I’m that smart. As I said I have a good education, two multiple emphasis undergraduate degrees and one graduate degree. I like to refer to my education as having crammed six years of college into fourteen. I worked my way through college and apart from one Pell grant, paid my way through college, and I’m proud of that. I’m also sick and tired of apologizing for my education, my vocabulary, my work ethic and my willful determination to seek the truth. Yes, I admit to trying to be right – to an almost compulsive need to be, not right in the "oh you always wave to be the one who's right about everything" kind of way, but rather in the sense of being true to the truth.
I abhor tradition for tradition’s sake in certain circumstances. For example, I am a Christ Follower. I am NOT religious. I DO NOT belong to a denominational church. I do not believe in church practices ‘because we’ve always done it that way.’ I DO believe that the Bible is the 100% inspired Word of God and as such is the ONLY source of authority for a Christ Follower. Not the church elders, not a denominational committee. Sola Scriptura - Only the Word.! I believe Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture, and that if the church is engaging in a practice that it cannot support from Scripture, then it should discontinue that practice. For example, Jesus Himself gave the church, which He identifies as the body of Christ Followers irrespective of denominational ties, two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord’s Table or Communion. He also said that He, Jesus, is the only mediator between humankind and God, and that His believers are to address no human as ‘Father’ in the spiritual sense.  These things are spelled out clearly in the Bible. The Bible also is very clear that Jesus is the only means to gain atonement from our sins and entrance into Heaven. There are many celebrities who tell us otherwise. They are wrong. There are preachers who tells otherwise. They, too are wrong. We have a practicing Muslim President who quotes from the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an and selectively misquotes Scripture out of context from the Bible, as does his Secretary of State. They are also both wrong.  Why? Because Jesus said so. When my church declared that studying self-help books by Christian authors using or referring to Bible verses was the same thing as studying the Bible, and that music was a mediator between man and  God, elevating it to the level of a sacrament, I left that church. Why? Because they were/still are wrong because the decisions and practices they were engaging in have no Scriptural foundation. For the Christian, there can be no other source of authority but God’s Word.  He said that.
I would love to say that these are all my original ideas. They would be easier to dismiss - or defend -  that way. You could just write them off as Dave’s arrogance or Dave’s pride or Dave’s got to be right about everythingness. I know this because those are among the things of which I am regularly accused. Here’s the problem with that. I’ve already dismissed the possibility on the grounds that I’m simply not that smart. You bring that guy up and you're introducing me to a stranger!  I’m just fortunate enough to have answered the call of the Holy Spirit when He convicted me of my need for repentance and a Savior. And I have tried to spend my life learning as much about the Lord and the Bible as I can given my limited intellectual capacity. I’m not saying I’m stupid. Far from it. I’m just not the rocket scientist people think I think I am.
But I am getting tired for apologizing for being who I am – who God created me to be. Whatever IQ, smarts, intelligence, memory capacity, writing ability, desire for the truth, absolute abhorrence of everything politically correct that there is to me, I am he of whom the Bible says that before time as time as we know it was, He who spoke the universe into being already fearfully and wondrously created me in my mother’s womb. I was a known entity to the God of all eternity even then.
I entitled this The End of the Beginning of the End. Mostly, I think, because as I write it the year of 2014 is ticking slowly to a close; riding the crest of a wave that will read 2015 when it crashes along a slowly revolving elliptical beach called planet earth. When the circuit is complete, it will carry with it the completion of my sixty-second year of life, and mark the beginning of the sixty-third, and with it a new beginning of sorts. I’m not going to care about the pettiness of others. I’m not going to apologize any more for the gifts I was born with – gifts God hard wired into my DNA. What I will do is endeavor to be more of the man God wants me to be – who I can only be through the grace of God. It’s going to be a cool year!