Disruption, Disappointment, Disilusionment – December

For followers of this blog – and especially for those who knew of and followed my previous blog – the past few months have been uncommonly quiet for me. It’s not that I have not wanted to write, its just that when I get an idea that seems to be important, and when I sit down to explore that idea, it just all seems to vanish. That which seemed so valuable and so worthy of a blog post seems to become so trivial. I guess I should say the same thing about other blogs that I read. I come across a catchy title, but by about the third or fourth paragraph I think, “And I wasted the past few minutes of my life on THIS?”

2017 has been an especially unkind year for me and my family: three hospital stays, two surgeries, CT scans, PET scans, more doctor visits than you can count, enough physical therapy to rehabilitate a football team. Through it all we have been extraordinarily blessed by family and friends. But it has been a brutal year, especially that last 4 months.

Emotionally and spiritually the last few months have taken their toll on me as well. I guess I am at that place in life where so many men (and maybe women do too, I don’t know) ask themselves about what they have accomplished and what meaning their life has, and what difference they have made. Looking back I have not accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, I have not been where I wanted to go, and I am not now fulfilling the role that I feel I was most gifted and called to do. It is all so singularly depressing.

Someone once described life as the contents of three buckets. When you are young you have a bucket full of dreams, and two empty buckets – one for precious memories of dreams accomplished and one for the regrets concerning those dreams that go unfulfilled. The goal is as the dream bucket gets emptied, for the precious memories to be full, and the regret bucket to stay empty.

I now realize that I have many, many dreams that I will never achieve. One reason for that is that when I was young I could REALLY dream up some doozies. Another reason is that as I get older I realize that many of the dreams just really were not all that important, and so technically while the broken dream goes into the regret bucket, it really does not fill it up that much.

My hope is that in January I can return to writing in this blog again. I hope I will have something more constructive to set forth in this space,  and I really do not want my readers to feel like they have wasted any precious time reading what I do offer. I truly appreciate all the “likes” and “follows,” and I will do my best to present thoughts worthy of your consideration.

Until that time, my prayer is that all of us will continue to climb higher by descending lower. I pray we will learn the message of John 13 – there is nobility in humility and we reign by serving.

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, and may you and yours have the best and most prosperous of New Years.

Author: Paul Smith

Paul Smith was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He holds the Bachelor of Science in Youth Ministry, Master of Biblical Studies and Master of Divinity, all from Abilene Christian University; and the Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Paul's passion is in teaching and preaching the gospel. Beyond the study of the Bible, his main academic interest is in the life and theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is an unashamed mountain-goat, and longs to spend his time with his feet in a cold trout stream.

3 thoughts on “Disruption, Disappointment, Disilusionment – December”

  1. Paul, thanks for posting. You’re in a storm of life and have been for some time now. I’ve been in a few myself. But God is with us even though we have our doubts and questions. I have asked many questions. As you know, the principle “wait upon the Lord” is taught throughout the scriptures. Waiting is a part of life and the hardest part of hope and I have found myself changing plans many times in my seventy-six years of life. Putting our trust in Jesus is the only sure-fire thing we have!

    Here is a lengthy quote from the writing of Zack Eswine in his book “Recovering Eden, The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes.”

    “When readers in the early 1960”s first perused the book ‘A Grief Observed,” many found comfort but some felt troubled. The troubled ones were accustomed to hearing solid strength, strong faith, formidable apologetics, and credible worship from the pen of C. S. Lewis. Suddenly now, to read his doubts and questions so raw and transparent was unusual, strange, and befuddling. This widower’s voice, like his aging head, his dripping nose, and his heaving shoulders, leaned heavy onto the chest of the page, and some who held him there as they read his grieving words became restless, frightened, and disconcerted.

    ‘It doesn’t really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist’s chair or let your hand lie in your lap,’ Lewis wrote, ‘The drill drills on.’

    ‘Talk to me about the truth of religion, and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolation of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.’

    ‘Meanwhile, where is God? …. Go to him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.’

    Lewis’s readers did not expect someone like that to talk like this. The book sat on their shelves net to ‘Mere Christianity,’ ‘The Great Divorce,’ ‘The Problem of Pain,’ and ‘The Weight of Glory,’ but some felt less certain about their desire to read it and how or if they were meant to use it.

    Many people who cherish the Bible express a similar reaction to the book of Ecclesiastes. We do not expect the words we find there. What many of us have come to expect from the Bible is general and this messenger in particular, doesn’t match. Yet, the same God who inspired words which disturb us reveal aspects of God too often neglected by us. If one has only driven a car with automatic transmission, driving manually will take some getting used to. What do we need to know in order to ‘get used to’ the way this book functions in its attempt to get us from one place to another?”

    *********************************************************************************************

    “Love is a fruit, in season at all times and within reach of every hand.” ~ Mother Teresa

    “He who has a WHY to live can bear almost any HOW.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

    ~ SC Morrow

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  2. Some measure of frustration with unfilled plans and dreams haunts many of us. The lives of those who continually seek God often become a story which reflect His purposes rather than one’s own dreams. The routes taken reflect the sense of His desires as well as one’s own desires. Paths taken in His service may seem to have led to nothing special, or seem to have been overly circuitous or even seem to have been a dead end – but unbeknownst to us it may have met God’s purposes fully. The measure of accomplishments is more subjective than objective for those who give their lives to God. Thinking about it reminds of what Jesus replied to the 72 who returned amazed and somewhat prideful of those things they had been able to accomplish in his name. Luke 10:20, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
    I know little of most of your life, but have benefitted from watching it closely for the last 13 months. Just a hint of the frustrations that come inherently with working with such a small group have shown. The frustrations of helplessness with the medical issues for you and Susan have been much more visible. The outward show of those medical frustrations has not hindered the work in the least. In fact, your sharing of both the frustration and the resolve may have served to strengthen the group spiritually beyond what could be done otherwise. That is not to suggest that it was God’s will that Susan be sick or that you break a leg. But sometimes He does use things that happen to work out good of others. I won’t attempt cheerleading or suppose that I could say anything to help the frustrations you express disappear. But you should know that the work done with our little group is greatly appreciated by us, and that you and Susan and Kylee are the subjects of our deepest respect. We wish the very best for all of you – may it be in fulfilled dreams, but if not, then certainly in a recognition that your names are written in heaven.
    Dave Settles

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