Friday, May 28, 2010

Moments in Life

Do you find there are watershed moments in life that stand out beyond the others? There are several in my life, for different reasons.

There is that moment when I fell to my wife's knees, weeping, the day I moved the last of my things out of the house, but unable to say the words "I was wrong - forgive me - can we begin again?" and find the long way back, through repentance to some semblance of life. It was the end of a 10 year marriage.

There is was moment, in West Texas, late at night (I had been out drinking with my fellow comrades-in-arms) when I came back to my quarters and happened on tv program of a pastor talking to teens about Jesus' great discourse in Matthew about the Sheep and Goats, and I was terribly convicted, and remained convicted, to this day - though my condemnation is more pronounced since I have done little since then.

There is a moment when the nurse hit the red button on the wall and we did not know whether my new baby boy would live the night and I had to walk down the hall to tell my wife the news [she was trying to get sleep as I went to watch the boy get what was a somewhat routine blood draw], as the crash cart came in and they rushed him to the pediatric ICU.

There is a moment when my first child was born, and lay in the crib, looking at me with dark eyes and holding my finger.


Over the last 24 hours a series of moments have reminded me, in no uncertain terms, that my life is forfeit to my Master, and my plans and stratagems and ideas are but dust. Among several other little things, we have learned that we have but a few months to schedule a series of precarious but necessary surgeries to avoid paralysis and other permanent damage to joints, bones, and spine in my son. My vehicle, at a venerable 132,000 miles, has broken down for the 4th time in as many months, and my tractor sits broken as well, beyond my ability to repair (little enough things, but even on a small farm, truck and tractor are essential since I don't have the animal and equipment for horse-powered work). My self-employment, whilst barely keeping us afloat, is not yet generating enough to keep us going into the winter.

I say these things, not to ask charity, or sympathy or pity. I still live like a great lord compared to most of those on earth and those who have ever lived. I will eat tonight. I have seen the sad faces of the men in the Middle East, forced to build buildings in the blazing sun and waiting, waiting, each day for day labor at slave wages [1-2 dinar/day, no different than in the scripture]. I have seen the orphans in cities in Mexico, and the hungry, the mentally ill, and the destitute on the streets of our own cities. No - it is not that.

But I realize that my plans and ability for a new barn, to plant some certain crops, to get the brush removed from the fencerow, to simply make the mortgage or ever hope to pay for my son's medical bills; even my son's very life and all that I call "my family" and "my household" are forfeit to One and such petty dreams and aspirations may never come to pass and yet I am commanded to die to that and live to Him.

The little things of the past 24 hours make me think of Job and wonder - could I stand it? If the house were knocked down by earthquake; if tomorrow the wrong nerve were pinched and my child were paralyzed permanently, could I stand it? Would faith hold? What sort of faith do I have? Any?

It is exceedingly hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. God help me.

There is much more - more that I wish to put out on a blog; but my realization finally is that I have not put to death the old man every day as I should, and nothing that I have done amounts to much.

I stand hearkening to the whirlwind, but unlike Job, I have no claim to righteousness. My sufferings (such as they are) are well deserved, even if my child's are not.

Adsum Domine

Here I am, Lord

All I have is Yours, and nothing worth. Take my mite, forgive my transgressions, and heal me, if Thou wilt.


I will be taking a break for a while. May you have a memorable Memorial Day, remembering the fallen. You do remember them, don't you?

I think I see a valley,
Covered with bones in blue,

All the brave soldiers,
That cannot get older,
They're asking after you . . .


Blogger Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

"…my realization finally is that I have not put to death the old man every day as I should, and nothing that I have done amounts to much."

We all could say this, if we had the right, but not all of us do, because not all of us ever intended to.

You know a little of what losses I have had to endure, but I know very little of yours. Today I know a little more.

How hard it really is to put the old man to death, when we try. In an odd sort of way, when we don't try, it sometimes happens.

To die to self, even a little bit in this life, makes you feel ready to die to the world, yet that too is not easy, because though you may feel ready, He delays taking you.

I expressed it recently this way, and you have probably read it, but now I'm telling you this is what I was getting at, especially in the last two stanzas, save the last two lines which, for me, are the reason I do not just end it all myself, without His permission.

I wouldn’t call them beautiful exactly,
but these few lines inscribe my life,
a life that it’s easy to hate;
but then I heard it said to me,
‘the man who hates his life in this world
will keep it for eternal life.’

‘Remember to breathe,’
I tell myself each morning;
‘Cast your eyes ahead,’
that voice within me calls,
and like you, brother,
though I light no candles,
my vigils take the place of sleep.

Lying flat on my face,
no pillow drenched with tears,
I watch for dawn’s hint of light,
and then pray I expire
before the sun rises;
no other answer to despair,
except a kiss whispered in my ear,
‘keep my commandments.’


I don't know you well, brother, except by what you write in this blog, but I know for sure, your life is not that of the average Orthodox (if there be such a creature), but thanks to your struggles, the life of a follower of Jesus.

We know ourselves to be always unworthy, and it is no mere negative boast, but the truth about us, making it doubly more shameful. Yet the deeper we fall in whatever way, we keep finding the Lord already there, waiting for us. He has become sin for us, He has become our unworthiness, He has exchanged His righteousness for our filthy rags, and yet we do not know how it is we can wear them, wear Him, be clothed in His very flesh.

We only know that He has opened wide His wounds to let us inside, and there, if nowhere else, we are safe.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...


1:23 PM  
Blogger s-p said...

My family is in the trenches with you, brother. Pray for us as we pray for you. If the ash heap is our lot, may we trust Him to the grave.

10:23 PM  
Blogger Hilarius said...

Romanos, Mimi, & Steve - thank you!

7:42 AM  
Blogger Jim Swindle said...

Wow...a difficult 24 hours! It sounds like the Lord has been breaking you in order to do something very good with you--though, of course, I don't know what. At all costs, hang on to the Lord and hang on to truth. I'm praying for you and your family as I type these words.

6:32 PM  

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