Sunday, March 12, 2006

Grinding Flour


Big, heavy, deep, sobs shook him, making it difficult for him to pray. Each word came gasping out, pulled laboriously from deep inside. My wife and I held his hands, guiding him, helping him find the words.

My heart ached for him, and it grew a little larger.


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I wasn’t really in the mood for church today. I got there early, as usual, and went in the prayer room. I lit a half dozen candles. I sat down. I prayed. I waited.

It was a good service today. Before the service there was an invitation to come forward and pray. I did. It helped a little.

The worship songs were well chosen. In singing them I felt my heart lift a little... but not like I usually feel.

The message was good (I'd already read the notes before hand when I posted them here).

Even at church I am busy. Tasks to do between services. Set up for a Sunday School class... There were a number of people I needed to speak with. A woman who wants me to do a small painting for her son, a state legislator who is going to appear on my students’ tv show, a buddy who agreed to repaint the prayer room, my spiritual mentor to verify tomorrow’s meeting, a guy who can help me with a wood surface for a painting I am starting after Easter... and... Oh, I almost forgot... Jesus.

My life is too busy. It is getting busier.

I have an interview tomorrow with the district’s superintendent and the personnel director for a team that will design the philosophy, pedagogy, and curriculum for our school. Important stuff, plans that will affect our school and thousands of children for a very long time. Worth the time and effort. Very exciting. But it is one more task. My life gets so busy I feel like I am on some sort of treadmill.

I’m too busy. Aside from work and my prayer times I have three after school programs, and more importantly, a family that needs my attention.

Frankly, though I try really hard, I don’t understand women. Sometimes I wonder if some people are gay just so they don’t have to try to live with the opposite gender. (Fear not, I'm not going into a battle-of-the-sexes frustrated-male monologue today.) But I recognize that I need to slow down, care for her as the most important human in my life, because she is.

She is a good woman. I love her very much. I wouldn’t hesitate to give my life for her, do almost anything to make her happy.

The house needs my attention. That is a whole other treadmill. The bedroom door needs fixing, the floors are peeling, and the toilet plugged up yesterday. Even when the plug seemed to be cleared it still wouldn’t flush properly. The water was draining, but the bowl wouldn’t fully refill. I finally pulled the toilet out and dragged it into the back yard to see if there was something still stuck somewhere in its innards. I tried to run a plumber's snake through it, and a garden hose...

My mother in law was here, sick because she had spent a couple of days last week watching Jeremiah when he was sick. She needed to use the only other restroom every 20 minutes. That was a frequently occupied room.

And Brenda was having a bad day.

In the most positive moment of the afternoon I reminded her of the evening out we had the other night and how she was having a good day. She said: “A good day is when I’m not screaming on the outside.”

It made me feel sad, and tired, and old.

So I was at church with a heavy heart. I slapped on a plastic smile. I prayed fervently. I tried my best to think of others and how I love my Lord.

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After church I fed the kids and went back to wrestling with a toilet.

While I worked I got to thinking. I was thinking about bread.

We had communion this morning and I was thinking about the last supper, the first communion. I was thinking about that loaf of unleavened bread.

I was really thinking about the donkey.

You see that meal, the Last Supper, happened in Jerusalem during passover. In a city like that, and for travelers such as Jesus’ group, the bread was probably purchased from a professional baker. The flour for that bread would have come from a source of wheat able to feed a city full of pilgrims.

Wheat was ground at a mill, a donkey walking around a tight circle, rotating a mill stone.

That donkey probably worked there for a long time. It would spend most of its life there. A lot of grains of wheat poured between those stones while it ground those kernels into flour.

Most of that flour fed regular folks regular meals.

But that week something unusual happened. During that particular week it produce a sack of flour that would be touched by the hand of God. That loaf of bread was broken before twelve close associates and passed around in a symbolic meal that would multiply itself through the ages, like a timeless feeding of thousands from a few loaves, until I reached this morning to pick up a small piece of cracker and place it in my mouth to consider its dryness and how I am far less than my Lord wishes me to be.

That donkey walked around in circles for a long, long time, working, working, working...

Sometimes that is all I can do. Even when I am weary, I need to just keep moving in the circuit He has placed me in and pull that stone.


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This afternoon, born of the frustration of unresolved plumbing issues there was a break through with Jeremiah.

Something gave. His heart cracked in a way I have not seen before, and the fears and grief and anguish he has been feeling since the fire came choking out, sobbing out, in a prayer before his mommy and his daddy.

We are tired, and the work is often tedious. But in the mundane work of our lives something unusual can happen. So we are surprised when the result of our labors has a divine purpose.



22 comments:

see-through faith said...

wow.

oh thank you for this :)

God is good even in the toil and trouble. God is good

jel said...

hang in there CS,

GOD loves ya!

Hikingalong said...

CS, I'm praying for you and for Jeremiah. God is softening his heart. I pray that all of the pain that needs to flow out will begin to be released and healing can begin. Thank you once again for your thought provoking posts. Bless you, my brother.

Vicki said...

God bless you, CS. I couldn't even get to church yesterday--nor the week, month, before that.

Joash Chan said...

yea, being in church all my life now and half the time Sunday feels like a work day to me. But somehow it's still my favourite day of the week. Somehow God still gives me His joy and strengthens me. I'm sure He's doing that all across the world, for people like us, CS.

Pia said...

God bless you always, CS. May you find rest and comfort in Him everytime you need it. =)

MMM said...

Truly Jeremiah was called "The Weeping Prophet".

Tell YOUR Jeremiah that somewhere in the Desert of the Real, a woman has read his tears, and her heart is moved.
Thank God for the breakthrough, and you take a generous helping of my empathy for yourself. You have hoed a long-ass row. :) Sorry . No other way to put that one.

Africakid said...

I just want you to know that your words encourage me to keep on in the midst of my own weariness--which has been often, the last year and a half. God is good, in all times.
PS. Found you via See-through Faith

curious servant said...

She's a great sis!

Thank you.

hanni said...

wow oh wow...you are an incredible testimony CS...your endurance and commitment to God and your family is inspiring~Heaps of Blessings on you and yours.
Heavenly Father, I lift up Your curious servant to You now and thank You for the blessing he has been in my life. I thank You for his testimony of faith and his heart. I thank You for his commitment to You and his family and the way that he strives to do right and be understanding. I pray that You would bless him by opening his eyes even more, especially when it comes to understanding his wife and her pain. I pray that he would not take it on himself, but rather continually commit her to You for healing and strength. Grant him wisom and patience. Grant him rest Lord. I pray that You would be ministering to his heart continuously. I pray for a hedge of protection around and over that house Lord and I ask You to protect all hearts and minds, especially as they are falling asleep and waking up. I pray that anything that is not of You would be held at bay by Your angels and that You would guide and direct their thoughts and dreams as they sleep. May they find real rest in You Lord. I pray for an increase of You Holy Spirit in their midst, that they would tangibly fell You with them and I pray that they would always rely on You for strength for the day and the moment at hand. Bless them Father. Restore all that has been taken. Heal the broken places and make them whole. I commit them into Your hands this day. Amen.

curious servant said...

That was a wonderful prayer. I am grateful for it!

Tamara said...

Oh CS, my friend, I'm both grinning and feel like crying. I'd just gotten over laughing right out loud here at my desk picturing you in the backyard (sans facial hair) putting a garden hose down a toilet! You are a good man...I'm rejoicing with you in the breakthrough with Jeremiah. (What a fabulous name - my favorite verse - Jeremiah 33:3 - "Call up on me and I will show you great and wonferful things you do not know." I say, show me Lord!

~m2~ said...

another incredible read, cs. you have a way that brings faith to the real. it is not contrived, it is what it is.

thank you.

Lillee said...

Unfortunately, I can relate to the issues with your wife. I would like to say that I've been in your place, but I haven't. I have been in your wife's shoes, dealing with an addiction and the despair of it. Not being able to concentrate, wanting and desiring what you know dissipates stress, but still hanging on to what you know as right. It tears up marriages and families in the worst ways...but that's Satan's plan...right? To tear us up? Destroy us? rip us apart? I know it's hard for both of you, but hang on, ok?

Praying....

Ame said...

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

It's nice when our waiting proves this verse to be true :) Keep plugging along focused on the Goal; though sometimes romanticized, the alternative is not.

I am understanding in my divorce why God instructed us to stay with the wife of our youth.

bornfool said...

I'd never thought of the donkey before, plodding on day by day, but the Lord used his labor for something special.

If I wasn't a couple of thousand mile away I'd give you a hand with the toilet. (Former licensed plumber here.)

curious servant said...

I appreciate the offer.

It is still acting up. I reinstalled it andthe water does not keep running so the mechanisms in the tank are ok. Yesterday afterwork I got on the roof and fed a garden hose down the vent. The water stated backing up in the toilet and sink. Therefore I am thinking that there is a plug in the main line running through the back yard. Today I will open up an access to that line and see if I can shove a pplumber's snake through. After that, I reckon it's Roto-rooter!

And this is a good example of the point of the last post. Life is messy, and tedious, and even in the drudgery of life the Lord can touch us.

Here is a blog about the difficulties of life seen through the lens of scripture and faith and I'm writing about sewage.

The work needs doing, and we all do it, and the Lord is always near, even now.

Felisol said...

Dear Curious Servant.
How hard are the times you are going through. It seems to me like a never ending story.
You are saying all the right things, you acknowledge what is wrong, but you don't break this circle of more new tasks, more responsabilities and less time for yourself and your family.
That's the problem of being both clever and well meanning.
Some day you have got to learn to say no, sorry, but my family needs me, I need me, Jesus wants to get in touch with me, but I'm always busy.
It is Martha and Maria all over again.
One thing is necessary, Jesus said, not thousand.
The day you smash your scull against the wall there might not be many there to pick you up, I'm afraid.
Been there, done that.
My physiotherapist always demands me to listen to my body. It has its way of telling when it's had enough and need rest or exercise or whatever.
You are your body as well as your spirit and mind. You need to be kinder to yourself, that's for sure.
That's the clear message you are sending in your blogs.
Thank you for sharing, message understood.
May be it would help to set up an account over hours spent between Jesus, your family, yourself and your job.
Even Jesus got tired and went away to get some rest.
Should you been asked to do more than him?
It is fullfilled, he said.
It is Lent and passover. Time to slow down and reflect.
Oh, I know you are a well aware and conscious man.
You just need some time to let your shoulders hang down. You are not supposed to serve a sentence either for your son nor for yourself.
That's why you have the cross to remind you, every day:
"It is fullfilled."
From Elise

curious servant said...

Wow! Thank you for such an honest comment!

Hmmmm...

You may be right.

I need to think some things through.

Felisol said...

So sorry, Curious Servant. Least of all I wanted to sound rude or hurt a man who is so devoted both to the church and his family.
I just read your letters and hear that you are toiling hard at the moment, at the same time as the creator in you wants to do more.
You are an eminent painter and writer as well.
It may be a good idea to sell some of your paintings on the internet.
It may also be a good idea for you to make a book of your "writings and drawings".
In my opinion not a coffetable book though, but more like the new millenium's "Pilgrim's Progress."
So many of us have already found that you are able to give words to our thoughts, feelings and essential questions.
A book might reach even more.
But, because there is a but, you'll then have to consider which of your ongoing projects
must be closed down.
There is a limit that should not be crossed. From your own word it seems like you are very close to reaching that very line.
Wishing only the best for you and yours.
Warm hugs from Elise

Cinder said...

Thanks so much for this post CS...it's such a blessing and comfort to know that no matter what the situation, He's with us.

Something which was passed to me by jollybeggar, which I thought I would pass to you...our first ministries are to our partner and our family! Life is a balancing act, but with His help, He shows us how to balance things His way.

I pray He'll continue to bless you and your family...I hope you'll be able to rest and find comfort in Him this week!

pecheur said...

I know about plumbing problems