Friday, November 02, 2007

Notes from "A Wondering And Very Distracted Man Of God"

In brief ...

I showed up in this town on a Saturday evening 24 years ago. Some new friends unloaded my truck, dumped my belongings in the living room of a roach infested apartment and left to go play volleyball. My confused bride and I did our best to get our kids into makeshift beds and then get up and arrive at church on time the next morning. We pulled it off.

Since then we have loved on thousands of teenagers. About 20 of them are in ministry themselves tonight. I got to baptize hundreds of kids after leading them to faith in Jesus Christ. We raised 3 incredible kids of our own that I would not trade for any I have ever met. Tonight they teasingly gave me a "living funeral." It began as a joke by "Bella," my youngest son's precious girl friend and, hopefully, my final daughter-in-law someday, and morphed into a fun evening of pizza and puns at Bellacino's and Kelli's house. I held my amazing granddaughter and quietly gave thanks as I spent time staring at each and every person in the room, giving thanks for all they are in my life. My family helped me "count down" the moments to "a new day" in life and ministry. Bella read a two page long letter that left me with tears in my eyes and no words in my mouth. (Thank you, my dear Laura.) Did I mention that Scott caught a train from Chicago and took the time to come and enjoy this last evening in Bethalto with me? Tonight I sat up with he and Christopher until after 1AM watching TV and laughing. Joe, Jim and Alisha rounded out the perfect evening. Debbie and i are overwhelmed by the love of our immediate family. We miss our Amanda who could not get away from work but we know her love for us runs deep and we can't wait to see her at Thanksgiving.

And so it is over. There is a "For Sale" sign in my front yard. I will end this part of my life on a Friday. Tomorrow at this time my former home town will be far away in my rear view mirror. My future hometown will still be half a days drive from my windshield. There are no roaches in our home anymore. No babies. Everyting has a place and fits well in it.

To think that after tonight ... TONIGHT ... I will never again have one of my own kids as a permanent resident in the house I am living in just boggles my mind. I got up about 3AM last night and just walked through the house with no lights on. Obviously everybody was asleep. I walked the entire house (which isn't THAT big!) without a light and without having to do anything to orient myself. 14 years in one place will do that to you. In my mind there were birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, Thanksgiving dinners, quiet evening around a pizza ... going on in every room. Ghost memories. Then I walked to Christopher's door and put my hand on it and prayed for his wisdom, safety, protection from evil ... you know ... all of the things that we pray about for our kids. I prayed over Debbie.

Why does life have to be such a jumbled pile of good and bad. Fun and painful? Full and empty?

Well. Because God says so. And the end of the day ... that's all we've got. Because God says so. I've been "clocked in" on this planet for 52 years and I know that "because God says so" is enough. It's just that it does not remove the hurt. It only promises the pleasure. And the greater the obedience and faithfulness in the midst of the pain (the war) the greater the pleasure when we see His Face.

I'm typing this while sitting back in my huge-mega-chair in the living room. Cold orange juice by my side. And I know that after I hit "send" my next job is to sleep and then actually finish packing. Like ... clothes. Books. Office stuff. Computer stuff. Pack it and sit it in the middle of the garage floor so that I can throw it in the Explorer and drag it 560 miles and pull it out again. Then I'll go find a laundry mat, a grocery store, a cleaners, a "Hit 'N Run Vanilla Coke" replacement. And if there is enough daylight left I'm going to drive the 1 1/2 blocks to the lake, find a bench that faces water, and watch the sunset. I don't plan on asking God "why." I'm going to do my best to say "thank you." Not sure I can pull that off but it's my plan. Life is a blink. Yesterday my mom was handing me my pajama's and today I'm packing for Cleveland. Tomorrow? Cremate me and do whatever you want with the ashes. Makes no difference to me. I'm going to be Home. HOME. I figure in the game of life I'm about mid-way through the 3rd quarter. There are a lot of snaps left to take and a lot of yardage yet to be gained. I'm really, really tired of playing "defense." It's been about 5 years of "the big D" now. Tomorrow I get to go on offense again.

Charles Spurgeon once wrote, "Some people want to live within the sound of chapel bells but I want to run a mission a yard from the gates of hell." After these last years I smell sulfur on myself. That mission a yard from the gates of hell isn't really over ... not really ... until I am out from under the shadow of the building down the street and around the corner. It started at 2:58AM on November 19, 2003. It ends tomorrow around 4PM. Perhaps that was too blunt of a statement. It is the first and only time you will read it here. Forgive me if it offended you. That was not my purpose.

I gave it my all. I left everything I had on the playing field. I rested and healed for one year minus four days. I have neither sorrow nor regret for the decisons I made and the plays I ran. I did my best. "He" knows. "He" surely knows. "He" knows my thoughts and intent.

And as the old season ends and the new one begins ... that is more than enough.


Laura said...


Nicole said...

There are tears all over my keyboard! That was amazing.

Anonymous said...

Godspeed Ron. Bethalto's loss is Cleveland's gain.

Anonymous said...

This was another amazing post. I've lived just around 15 years in my present home. Both of my girls were born here (and still live here!).

I can't imagine leaving it and I have no intention of making a big move to another city, but your sentiments perfectly sum up everything that goes through my mind when I think of moving on to another house.

This was supposed to be a "starter" house, but I doubt I'll be able to bear leaving it. All those memories...

You are taking such a bigger step than just moving homes, I can't imagine - though thanks to your post, I believe I feel all the emotions.

For Pete's sake, I teared up today when I threw away a backpack that I used all through college and beyond. I've had it for 22 years, it was worn out and I have no additional use for it. If I could dig it out of the trash truck (landfill by now) I probably would!

I wish you the best of luck in your new chapter and I'm looking forward to more of your inspired writing!

Anonymous said...


I've been reading your posts for about 2 years now and have turned several friends on to your blog. I am so glad that the internet knows no boundries and that I can continue to read the posts of this friend I have never met, who has prayed for me and I for him. And though we may never get to do that lunch (I was planning on buying.) I can still share with you your experiences and thoughts.

I wish I could be as faithful in my blog as you are on yours.

Godspeed my friend. And great success!

Zookeeper said...

What a beautiful post! I am moved by your emotions, and wish you all the best in your new life. Hope you keep blogging!