Be patient.

From Michelle.  October 5, 2011.

Dear friends and family,

We have now been in the Philippines for two months.  The tide of details that inundated us has now receded.  Directly following my last update a virus took me in its grip and would not loose me for almost four weeks.  Ironically, it provided perspective.  I simply could not accomplish the things that needed to be accomplished and quickly what was necessary became merely optional.  I was miserable and exhausted which quickly led me to the feet of Jesus.  As the illness dragged on, compassion arose for those I know struggling with cancer, old age, and prolonged hospitalization.  I knew myself to be fortunate.  I “practiced the presence” and “put on perspective”.

I was struck by how often I would busy myself and forget that God was there.  Never intrusive, it is easy to shut him out.  When I allowed my imagination to embrace what was real, I knew limitless grace in the room.  And yet even in my pitiful, inconsequential suffering, I rarely availed myself of the riches a mere heartbeat away.  It was the treasure hidden in the trivial, the bread for my hungry hours.  And yet I often did worse than to refuse it; I forgot it.  This humbling realization alone was a gift fashioned from those weary hours.  I am stumbling into a deeper, heartfelt desire for the experience of Brother Lawrence: “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.”

Steve and I have both pressed deeply into God these months.  Yesterday, our worst fears were confirmed when a physical therapist noted that Steve’s walking ability has deteriorated.  As if to punctuate this discovery, Steve suffered his first real fall that evening.  The children and I were hiding and giggling, planning to surprise him as he walked through the door, only to hear a thud and find him lying on the floor.  Fortunately, he was not badly injured, but such falls present a real danger.  Steve is unable to catch himself the way an able-bodied person would, and so he falls with great weight and little protection.  An injury would present a significant setback as it would hamper deeply needed therapy.

In ways both large and small, we are living the verses Steve will be preaching in coming weeks: “Be patient, therefore, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.  You also be patient, for the coming of the Lord is at hand…  As an example of suffering and patience, brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Behold, we consider those blessed who remain steadfast.  You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”  James 5:7-8, 10-11.

Among still unpacked boxes, when my illness dragged on, and most notably in Steve’s setbacks, I have heard the whisper: be patient.  It is spoken with all compassion.  It is spoken with promise.  It emanates from love and light.  And yet it requires something of me.  To surrender to the moment, though I want it to pass.  To trust for healing, though healing is unreasonable.  To hope for the future, though hope might hurt.  To still my soul though it clamors for resolution.  Be patient.

The wheelchair still sits in the driveway.  We have often debated getting rid of it.  But the reality is that we have not yet been able to rule out the possibility that Steve will need it again one day.  I do not believe this to be so.  And yet it is a fresh and daily reminder of our need, as well as of his mercy.  The verse commands patience.  It applauds steadfastness in suffering.  But it ends this way: “The Lord is compassionate and merciful.”  Grace and love are always here.  Water pours out unendingly to quench our thirst.  If only we can pause long enough to drink.

An old hymn says it best:

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.



» Click here to enter your well-wishes for Steve in the Guestbook This entry was posted in General Updates. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Sistertelemark

    It is strange, sometimes, how our Lord directs our thoughts. You don’t know me, nor I you, but I’m a long time UPC member and I’ve been following your posts here since the beginning.
    This morning I woke at 6 a.m. and I immediately thought of you and Steve. It’s been a long time since an update had been posted and I was acutely aware of that in the darkness of my bedroom early on this rainy Seattle morning. I lay there and thought about you guys in the Philippines (my husband was born and raised in the Philippines, a missionary kid . . . ) and I prayed for you all.
    And then, when I turn on my computer tonight, there is this message from you.
    Please know that my small group prays for all of you regularly (you might remember Kelly Lunda, she is in my small group) and we all think of you guys often. You are on our hearts.

  • Shehuy93

    I haven’t met you, but have been praying for you since the accident.  I feel I know you, and I love how that “knowing” happens so often with our spiritual family in Christ.  We’re also serving in the Philippines.  We’re here in the States for several more months.  I hope to meet you next year when we return. 

    I pray that you’ll be reminded often by the Spirit to simply “remain” in the Vine.  Just remain.  Let His life and peace flow in your veins.  It’s so hard to continually, over and again, let go of our own thoughts, dreams, and time tables…and just remain.  Thank you for sharing your heart and journey.  We are much richer because of you all.  In Christ,

    shelley merritt.

  • Linda

    Michelle and Steve,
    Following your journey over these last months there have been many times when I considered responding to your posts. In the transparency of your hearts, I have been challenged and often touched in those parallel tender places in my own life.  Thank you for the gift and privilege of sharing in your journey. 

    Regardless of the circumstances – lingering illness, long struggles with paralysis, the limits of life with chronic pain, or just plain doldrums of everyday living, your realization of the ease with which we can ignore or fail to avail ourselves of the merciful graciousness of our loving Father rings with recognition in my own soul.  It is unfathomable to me that one would choose the parched and brittle existence of near dehydration when a pool of deep clear water stands at the ready, and yet I too often repeat that very action within my soul even as the Lord waits with the refreshment I so desperately need.  He is the Living Water for which my weary soul is longing.

    My heart resonates with yours in the words of the hymn “Be Still My Soul”   It is a forever struggle to trust the purposes of God in our places of discouragement and weakness, and yet we can live in hope and faith as we continue to live in conversation with the One who is determined to take what is hurtful in our lives and turn it toward our good and His glory. 

    I do not know who these words should be attributed to, but find them haunting me almost daily as I learn to dance in trust, stillness, and patience.  In the face of disappointment, pain, and human suffering, I do not know how to do this dance very well, and my efforts are not a thing of beauty, but I am determined to learn.  I pray they will be an encouragement to you as well.

    “Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future.  Faith is the courage to dance to that music today.”

    God’s blessings be yours in abundance!

  • Baby

    Michelle, God has sent you and Steve back for a reason.  We shall be with you in prayers.  Just seeing you and Steve in church magnifies God’s presence in my own circumstance.  God bless you and Steve.

  • Bonnie Stalter

    The Lord in the midst of thee is mighty…. sharing your joys and sorrows to benefit others. You request prayers and help others see that we are more than mind, body and spirit.  We have emotions.  I have continued to pray for you as your last post mentioned your need for health insurance and your health issues.  Forever is a long time  kind of like we imagine in fairy tales.   Tomorrow  is uncertain for each of us. Love practicing the presence like Brother Lawrence.  God walks with me and talks with me… throughout every moment and you also.  God is a God of Now.. with this breath, this thought, this reaction, this action. Savor the seconds as they come only once and are fleeting. the Lord is carrying you through the times of weakness. Relax and let Him
    lift you up.  His banner over you is Love. He has strength and confidence. Now about that wheelchair sitting there..  seems like a baby crib unused.   If you give it away.. then Steve may need it again.  Is it a test of faith
    and empty throne/ pulpit from which Steve preached?  Loan it to someone who needs it now being good stewards and sharing. The joy of the Lord is your strength.  He will provide all your needs according to His riches in glory.. in His time and in His way. Trust in His love.. He has brought you so far.. 

  • Margotowen

    Praying that you rest in the hammock of prayer pouring out from brothers and sisters around the world.  God can restore the movement that was lost. We pray you are able to make time for the PT work that needs doing—-are thankful that God has found someone who’s skilled.   

    Delightful to see your smiling faces yesterday.  Missing them so much. Also thankful that you seem to have reached a place where you can settle into routine as opposed to just surviving. Praying that the walking will return with grace and stability. A skill that requires attention, just like Z holding up 3 fingers to happily show his age.

    Loving you from Vermont,

  • Peg & Paul Stuckey

    Hi Steve & Michelle,

    Hang in there – keep fighting the good fight with all your might – trusting in God’s promises and power – keeping the faith and being faithful. We’re continuing to pull for you and pray for you.

                                                                                                                        Peg & Paul Stuckey

  • Barry

    We pray not only for patience, but reversal of thdeteriorating trend.  God is and will be with you in this – as will our prayers and support.  Blessings, Barry deShetler, Christ UMC, Dayton

  • Holly (Hutcheson) Wolf

    Our daily prayers continue for your family.  Your letter is such a precious reminder of God’s love, patience and mercy.  Know you are being lifted up by many who love and care for you.  Holly Wolf and family

  • Deb Meske Thompson

    My thoughts are with you, here in cold, gray, rainy Seattle.  I’m praying that God will show you clearly the ways He is working his purposes for your good.  Blessings on all of you, Deb

  • Shari Scharrer

    Thanks for gently reminding us of God’s everloving, everlasting presence!  This was so well written.  Shari Scharrer

  • Fred Davis

    Dear Michelle and Steve, as always, we give thanks when we pray for you. Though God has done miraculous things in your lives, we know that life is difficult and that for every step forward with Steve’s continuing recovery, there seem to be steps backward – or a discouraging fall.  I remember falling the first few times (which would become the first of many) and it was so discouraging.  May you always have the courage and strength to get back up from disappointing setbacks and run with perseverance the race before you.  My wheelchair is at church for others to use. Sometimes when I look at it or my crutches or my orthotics, I wonder why I kept them. But for me they have become the altar of remembrance, much like Jacob’s at Bethel – that remind me I have wrestled (and continue to) with God but he spared me.

    We think of you often and wonder how church, family, household and all other aspects of your life are so thank you for continuing to write these posts. Indeed, a good word for me this week – BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. Thank you.

  • Richard, Gabriele, Anya Power

    Dear Steve and Michelle, We are so blessed by your ever advancing life story, as the Lord continues to reveal new paths and comfort. Our faithful prayers continue for all of you, the congregation, and all of those touched by your ministry in Manila, and around the world. If we could, we would fly there to hug you in person. God’s richest blessings on you all! Richard, Gabriele, and Anya Power  PS  We secretly pray, that at some point in the future, the Lord will use your great gift of writing and inspiring Michelle. Without wishing to embarras you, we think of Catherine Marshall when we read your posts. We envision a future time of publications, books, articles etc., when you have passed enough time for reflecting back on all you, Steve, and boys have experienced. We hope we will still be around to get that first copy!  

  • Pam Bryant

    Dear Michelle, Steve and Boys,

    As always, Michelle, your words and struggles, renew, encourage and deepen my faith.
    I pray for you often, knowing that He is providing and protecting you all.

    My hope and prayers are for good health,continued healing, and progress for you and Steve.
    Your witness and preaching have a major effect on the ones you serve and all your audience around the world.

    Thank you,
    In Christ’s amazing love,

    Pam Bryant 

  • Roger & Helen Bartholomew

    Dear Michelle and Steve:

    I read your latest post with a feeling of poignancy and possibly a twinge of guilt. When you were in the States there was nothing we could physically do to help – so we prayed and prayed, every single day. When you returned to the Philippines the thought was – well, you’re here now, the situation has changed and Steve is obviously better, and the daily prayers stopped. There is an immeasurable difference between God’s response to prayer and our individual efforts to help, which may in fact hinder, because of time, focus and priorities.

    Reading your epistle again, has made Helen and myself committ to daily prayers again for another 12 months and the realization hit us that if you and Steve and the family are no longer being brought before the Lord for his remembrance on a daily basis by all those who love, how can things possibly get better…..

    Our prayers are with you.

    Roger and Helen – UCM

  • Ally Coyle

    I continue to pray for Steve and you. In addition, where I hear the song, “Amazing Grace”, it brings me again in prayer for you both as I remember the many times I have heard Steve sing this hymn.

  • Nate Bunting

    I am praying for you all!  I’m praying that Steve will have the time and stamina to do the therapy he needs to do.  We’re looking forward to seeing you again in the New Year!

  • Daisy Serrano

    Daisy Serrano

    I lift up Pastor STeve in earnest prayer that our Father in heaven will heal him completely. I don’t always understand God’s ways but I trust you completely. Nourish Pastor Steve’s spirit and soul in this time of suffering and comfor him with your loving presence. In Jesus name, we pray.

  • Daisy Serrano

    Daisy Serrano

    I lift up Pastor STeve in earnest prayer that our Father in heaven will heal him completely. I don’t always understand God’s ways but I trust you completely. Nourish Pastor Steve’s spirit and soul in this time of suffering and comfor him with your loving presence. In Jesus name, we pray.

  • Daisy Serrano

    Daisy Serrano

    I lift up Pastor STeve in earnest prayer that our Father in heaven will heal him completely. I don’t always understand God’s ways but I trust you completely. Nourish Pastor Steve’s spirit and soul in this time of suffering and comfor him with your loving presence. In Jesus name, we pray.

  • Lolaray3

    We love you – I think and speak of you often!Hugs to you and your wonderful boys!!  Jana

  • Anne

    I thank you for the update you are in my regular prayers….die you remember what fr vadim said to us?…when tradgedy visits it is He who visits. Many are longing for He to visit. Not easy to hear but your Faith creates Faith in me.