Posted by Terry 2-1-12
It Hurts, but I’m Not Hurting …
For several months I have planned to be in Guatemala this week, hoping to share the love of Jesus alongside other men—some good friends, the others new acquaintances. Instead I’m at home in southern Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY. I’m in my regular routine, working part-time during the day, spending some good time with my wife Julia at night, and seeing some of our grandchildren in the middle of the week.
Nine days before our scheduled departure, some little foreign creature began jabbing pains in my abdomen. I decided to take two aspirin, drink plenty of fluids, and drive on. But the inhospitable intestinal visitor had perseverance; the pains persisted. Following a visit to our family practice doctor, some lab tests, and a CAT scan, the diagnosis was diverticulitis, an infection in some hide-away pockets of the large intestine. Feeling a need (and hearing the doctor’s advice) to be near home and known medical care as I embarked on a ten-day course of multiple antibiotics, I cancelled out of the trip to Guatemala.
A couple of days ago I pulled up this blog site for the first time since the departure flight and right there in broad daylight was a picture of the five ‘other’ men on the trip. Standing in front of the Bethel Ministries International van at the Guatemala City airport, the group was missing my silhouette from a year ago. That hurt. I wanted to be a part of the group. I really enjoy being around our son-in-law Scott—he has a huge heart; his father Gary is in the group—we go back a long way and this would be a good time to catch up; John is a wonderful person—we almost think alike and I was so looking forward to sharing with him; Brad has become a great friend—he is wise beyond his years; and I had heard that Jeff has an infectious enthusiasm—I could certainly learn from him. But … my wants and God’s plans are not always the same. As our men’s Bible study leader, Tom Tollefson, sometimes says, “that’ll preach,” or “there’s a sermon somewhere in that statement.” Still, I did not understand why that sermon nugget needed to appear in my life this very week. You know, God, there are 51 other weeks in the year.
The phone rang; it was our daughter-in-law Ellen calling to say she has decided to take a major turn in her career. She explained that this is one of those changes in direction where the car’s headlights shine only so far out front. The driver must keep moving forward at a controllable pace while God illuminates a little more of the road—a faith trip. I surely was glad I was able to hear her sincerity, tell her that I love her, and share a prayer over the phone. But I was supposed to be in Guatemala….
Bell’s invention of the telephone was world-changing; we can communicate instantaneously over long distances. The more recent answering machine just added to the phone’s capabilities. I arrived home from work yesterday and the red light said, “you have a new message.” It was from California—a half-niece, if that’s a correct term—saying my half-brother, older by a decade, had died in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Sad, but not a heart-wrencher, because we had experienced no contact in over fifty years (that’s material for another story). My feelings were more nostalgic about childhood memories of him. I returned the call and obtained some details; then phoned my younger sister in Tennessee who later called back to talk some more following our first visit. It was good to make those telephonic contacts in a time of a family member’s death. But I was supposed to be in Guatemala….
Email was an even better (I think) invention than the telephone. An odd message header popped on the screen at my part-time retirement job; it said, “Please call me.” The pain of the diverticulitis kept me at home most of last week, but the medications have allowed me to put in some time at the office this week. I am no longer hurting. I am blessed to have retired 20 months ago at age 65 and then last year be asked to return on a part-time basis to the same type work in two different offices with the same employer. The work is not a necessity, but it does keep me thinking, provide some extra spending cash, and probably prevent Julia from going crazy with me at home every day of the week. I did as the email author requested and called her, a lady I previously had supervised when still working full-time. “Will you come help me on a part-time basis for about six weeks while one of my assistants is out on medical leave?” It’s a nice opportunity, so we talked awhile about the details and then reminisced a little about “the old days.” Glad I was at work to check the email. But I was supposed to be in Guatemala….
I was not able to experience again this year the excitement of interacting with some of the residents of Tecpan, Guatemala and developing some deeper relationships with those five special men who traveled from here. But I surely am glad I was available here at home to take those phone calls. Oh, I would have eventually gotten the messages had I been out-of-country. But it was meaningful to be able to answer and talk right when those three persons wanted to communicate. Could it be that’s what God wants from us—to be immediately available and communicate with Him?
It hurts that I’m not in Guatemala this week, but I’m not physically hurting anymore from diverticulitis. Rather, I praise God that He is sovereign in our lives. And I’m confident that’s what those five special men are sharing in Guatemala this week!