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A Day and a Life

May 2, 2012

This is a revisiting of a day from my past which spawned a flury of cogitation over what qualifies as a life of tribulation as opposed to a life of relative ease. In the course of this particular day, I was granted a glimpse, not only into the worlds of other people in my ambience, but also a viewing of my own situation from other angles. It’s not a day from long ago, wherein the course of my life was adjusted in accordance to increased revelation. It was…..yesterday…..the 1st of May, 2012. The primary scene is a department at work which I have been temporarily assigned to. Most of the people in this department are relatively new and, with one exception, I didn’t really know any of them until last week. 

This report begins, not in department 86, but at a local retailer which I had visited earlier in the day. It was a normal outing with Matthew which concluded at the Meijers store in Three Rivers. (for any who are not familiar with my situation, Matthew is our 17 year old son who hs autism) As we fulfilled the routine which has become a part of Matthews “requirement” (for lack of a better term. Anyone who has dealt with autistic people will understand what this means.) we passed by Brook; a co-worker from my temporary department. After a casual exchange of greetings, Matthew and I headed for the checkout counter. This is where the adventure begins.

Usually I can tell when Matt is becomming agitated, but on this occasion, I missed it. Without warning, he grabbed me, had me on the ground, and began attempting to drag me through the store. For a few seconds an incredible disturbance in the normal flow of life at Meijers transpired and, as is always the case, folks in the near vicinity were in total shock at what they are witnessing. I didn’t know it at the time, however, from a distance, Brook also witnessed this event. The situation finally reached a conclusion (when Matthew finally decided to end it) and I was able to get back up. The usual bewilderment of the onlookers was interrupted when an employee came up and asked “is there a problem?” I finished our business at the counter and quickly exited the store with a Matthew, now returned to his normal happy state, following 6-8 ft behind.

That evening, Brook inquired further about what had happened. Autism is not something that can be summed up in a sentence or two. Subsequently, my attempt to give a brief answer turned into…..a book…..on the history of Matthew and the general perimeters of low-functioning autism. It truly is a world which, unless one has a similar set of circumstances, they cannot possibly fathom its consuming nature. It influences everyone in close proximity. At the conclusion of the discourse, Brook offered the common, but well intentioned reply of “it has to be really rough; dealing with this.” I can fully relate to Brooks amazement because….I don’t fully understand it. Matthew does things that completely defy logic, such as intentionally destroying things that he likes. We have had to stop replacing the Nintendo 3DS because he loves playing it….for hours on end….he’s very skilled at most of the games…..and then he suddenly snaps it in two. The most recent one lasted less than 96 hours and our budget simply doesn’t allow for the purchasing of a Nintendo 3DS every four days.

The contrast between one who has a relatively normal life and one who has an incredibly complex one was played out that evening. But this was just the beginning of the observations that night. (It’s interesting that I had been pondering what was to be the next post; a visiting of the lessons found in Psalm 73) Later in the evening, I was working in the vicinity of Brittney and Jay, who were engaged in nearly endless dialogue with each other. Seeing no inroads to the conversation, I resorted to just performing my duties and listening from afar. I learned much about both, but more about Jay. Jay is a full-time student and for him, this is little more than a “filler job.” He’s 21, and engaged to be married. His fiance is also a full time student, working on a double major in….something. He loves to drink and thingks nothing of spending $400 or more on alcohol in a given weekend. The wedding will cost over $25,000 and they plan to honeymoon either in Hawaii or Rome.

His fiance inherited a home in San Jose California which was purchased for $80,000, but because of its location, is now worth well over a million. They are contemplating the selling of this property. Both Jay and his fiance have seemingly fail-proof careers plotted out. In fact, as the conversation unfolded, I witnessed the inner thoughts of one to whom money seems to be no object and life is smooth sailing on every possible front. As I was listening to the amount that he spends on “expensive alcohol” (forget the cheap stuff; he likes a high-end stupor) Psalm 73 came to mind, followed quickly by a……vision? For a brief second, I saw, as it were, a calculator. The old kind, that has the roll of paper in the back. The roll of paper was flying out the top of the calculator as an unseen operator was feverishly crunching numbers. It was a reminder to me that “Gods recordkeeping is perfect and he knows what every division of resourse is spent on, and by whom.

After work, I was sitting in the truck for a moment….prayerfully taking it all in. I wasn’t even remotely envious of the normal life; nor was I discouraged that we seem to have chaos on every front, coupled with more uncertainty than I can wrap my mind around. I thanked the Lord for giving us Matthew and reaffirmed the truth that “I wouldn’t trade situations with Jay (or anyone else) for any amount of treasure or benefit. The drive home became a time of rejoicing in God my Savior who changes not. A time of focusing on eternal things and savoring another victory over the enemies attempt to lure me into a “woe is me” session. Without a doubt, the peace of God “does” surpass every obstacle, circumstance, uncertainty, and trial. I reached the house, thinking that the days allotment of meaningful ponderings had run its course. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Matthew was still awake and…..agitated. I grabbed a quick snack and headed to the bedroom. When Matthew is agitated, the best thing to do is just retreat to a safe room and let him unwind on his own. As I was about to get into the scriptures, I noticed the large, still unopened envelope containing this months newsletter from Voice of the Martyrs which had arrived a few days ago. With so much going on lately, I had yet to open it, and so this became an opportunity to do so. This months focus is on North Korea and what the saints in the “hermit kingom” are subjected to. The testimonies of Jo Chung Hee and Yang Hea Woo presented a glimpse into the real world and were sobering reminders of how incredibly easy my life is. I have never had to fight for sand because it was the only thing to eat. I have never been in a hard labor camp where the only way out is death. (Camp 14 is located 45 miles northeast of Pyongyang. It is a complete containment camp with an average prisoner population of 50,000. People sentenced to this camp are simply worked until they die)

It was after midnight when I went outside for prayer. “Lord I have just seen some glimpses into various worlds. You see them all at the same time. At any given moment, you know which of your children are literally eating sand and tree bark to survive, and which of them are spending hundreds of dollars on a new gaming system. You know who is being beaten by shovels until their entire body is black and blue (this has happened to Yang and untold others) and which ones cannot wait until church service is over so that they can run to the restaurant and feed their true god. (Philippians 3:19) You know who is serving you, and who is putting on a show. I feel so foolish. I have wasted so many years and squandered so much resource on things that do not matter. This foolishness on my part has to end now.”

Psalm 73:16-19 “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me.
Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down to destruction.
How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.”

Psalm 73″22-23 “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
Nevertheless I am continually before thee: thou hast holden me with thy right hand.”

Well I have to go for now. Matthew was awake all night, but is now finally asleep. I don’t know how the day will unfold. I don’t know if I’ll still be breathing by nightfall. Seriously; none of us have a promise of time which has yet to arrive. But I do know; that some adjustments in my life are demanded. It’s time to give much more diligence to the issues of eternal significance instead of focusing on the distractions. The enemy will do whatever it takes to get us off the battle field. To get us mired in self-pity, buried by endless campaigns for acquisition, lost in a maze of runaway foolishness, or consumed by a form of godliness that lacks power. (but gives one the illusion that they are doing God a great service) To keep us from assaulting the kingdom of darkness and sharing the words of life with the captives. We oftentimes live casually; even treacherously. Satan never wastes a moment in this manner. He is continuously seeking to devour with an unabridged hatred of God and hatred of the precious eternal ones who are created in Gods image.

May we all be about our Fathers business with renewed urgency and resolve. Blessings always in Jesus name.

Psalm 90;12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

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