A Pensive Persistent Melancholy

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up… To more than I can be.
Josh Groban

Today, I am a little sad. Not the kind of sad that looks like the beginnings of some deep dark depression, but sad nonetheless. Maybe a pensive persistent melancholy is a better way to describe how I feel today.

Moving back to Vicksburg was about coming home. About coming back to the place that was so much of a tether, at least in my mind.

I was going to be grounded here.
Being surrounded by old friends, old surroundings, and familiar haunts was going to make this a safe place–providing a security I wanted and needed.

I am so glad I came back. I am glad Becki was here. I am grateful for the sense of being important and loved she gives me. She is a constant source of strength and encouragement. She has made this house we live in a home for all of our boys. Truly we rise up and call her blessed. That this town is a safe secure place is largely due to her.

But today, I am a little sad, a kind of pensive persistent melancholy.
Mourning a little bit.
Grieving just a tad.

Mostly today, it is about me.
The loss of me.
The loss of purpose.
The loss of friends, circles, and fellowships.

Don’ get me wrong. I am not without friends. I have a group of buddies scattered about–mostly in the South–and we communicate as a group every single day of the week and have for years thanks to the internet. Preachers mostly. We are all save one connected by the now defunct Magnolia Bible College. Most of these guys I have known since I was 18 and three of them from an even younger age.

Those guys are my friends and brothers (one of them is my little brother), and I love them unequivocally–even the one whose politics are way outside anything I can understand and appreciate.

But today, I am a little sad. Once again, a pensive persistent melancholy, if you will.
Rebuilding a shattered life was going to be easier here.
At least until I figured out it was going to be hard anywhere.

Life has a funny way of moving on.
People change.
Life happens.
Time rolls on.
And relationships have to be nurtured in order to be sustained.

In the meantime, please understand it is not nearly as dreary as it may sound.
I know good things are coming.
I know they are. I believe that with all my heart.
I do, however, get very frustrated when God’s timing is not in line with my I-want-it-now perspective.

So.

Here’s to new friends and new situations…
Here’s to moving forward and growing stronger…
Here’s to building a new life on stronger foundations…
Here’s to God as the cornerstone and architect!

Today, I am a little bit sad and yet very determined to face the challenges of a great new adventure with the God who raises us up.

How about you?

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Have You Forgiven?

Paul Buckman.

There is a part of me that hates hearing that name, seeing that name, or remembering that name.

I don’t know if I have completely forgiven him. I don’t know if I ever will be able to do such a difficult thing.

His evil actions have lifelong implications not just for me, but for my children. And if we are completely candid, his actions will have a multigenerational effect.

So what do we do with that?

I remember saying early on in this grief journey that I hated his whole family tree. That’s a little bit harsh, but I do have some righteous indignation for whomever in his family (or friends for that matter) who might have known of previous offenses and kept quiet.

All that being said, I have had to let so much of that go. As long as I continue to harbor bitterness and rage, he is still causing pain and heartache. For the most part, I have had to make peace with some things in order to find peace in new directions.

Have I forgiven Paul Buckman? Clearly he was an evil, wicked, sin-sick man. But what he did is in God’s hands.

I intend somehow to find the place in my heart to let him go completely. I need to. Not for him, he’s beyond anything I can think, feel, or do. I need to for me and for my family.

And based on that, maybe you too will find the words of my friend, Royce Ogle, to be important in your life as well. Thank you, Royce, for allowing me to share them here…

Have you ever heard someone say, “I just can’t forgive her (him)”? Maybe you have said that yourself. I might have said it myself. It’s a purely human response when someone has cause you pain, disappointment, or broken a trust. All of us have been violated in some way by another and have known the pain that ensues. That is true!

What is untrue is that you “can’t forgive” another, no matter how, and to what extent, you have been wronged. People who hold firmly to that position probably do not understand what forgiveness is and how to do it.

Many people, even many Christians, believe they only need to forgive those who ask for forgiveness, or those who apologize for a wrong. That is false. Forgiveness rests solely with you. If you will forgive another is completely your call, no other person is involved.

I don’t know how you have been wronged but you feel that something has been taken from you, an offence has been committed against you, and you deserve something…

To forgive someone is to release the offender from his debt, whatever it may be. The idea is that a compassionate lender tells the borrower he does not have to repay the balance of the loan. He is released from the debt.

To forgive someone is to release the resentment and bitterness you have stored up inside you. You visit there often and feel an emotional rush every time. To forgive another is to gather that garbage and throw it out.

To forgive someone is to treat the offender as if you have forgiven them. It means to sincerely desire the best for them, not the worst.

Forgiveness is a choice! But, it is not an emotional choice, it is an intellectual choice. If you wait ’til you “feel like it” you will never forgive someone who has wronged you. The reason you have decided to wait for an apology is that you want to “feel” better. The problem is you can’t “feel better” until after your forgive, not before. You must make a decision. You must tell yourself “I am tired of being bitter and resentful and I’m going to do the right thing and forgive“. Is it that easy? No, it isn’t easy but that’s the way to do it.

You see, all of your hateful thoughts, all of those things that fuel your hatred and disgust, make you more and more bitter, will not leave you unless you decide they have to go! You make the declaration to yourself “This moment I am forgiving _______ from every wrong against me. I will no longer harbor and encourage bad thoughts about him/her. I have set him/her free from the debt owed and I will experience peace where bitterness and resentment have lived.”

If you can’t seem to do this, start praying for the offender. You can’t pray for someone long and resent them at the same time. If you will to forgive soon your emotions will catch up to your thinking and you will experience peace instead of turmoil.
You don’t necessarily have to even tell the other person. In many cases the other person has gone on with life and has no idea you have been bitter for years. Maybe the person is deceased that you have had ill feelings about so long. Or, it might be an ex-spouse better left alone. You see, this forgiveness thing is all about you, not the other person.

Just try forgiveness. It is like a cool drink of water on a hot day, or a deep breath of fresh morning air. It’s so good for you. Bitterness and resentment can’t live in the same space with forgiveness.

I didn’t tell you that you must forgive others, Jesus did.

Thanks for reading–I love and appreciate each of you!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

A Little Blog Competition

Not competition with other bloggers, but a readers competition!

I know this is not the promised blog mentioned on Facebook.

Patience, grasshopper.

It’s coming–hopefully by 7:00PM Tuesday. That’s my self-imposed deadline.
Lots of stuff going on this week. This afternoon I am trying to sell a little real estate–sitting here in an open house wishing somebody would show up–and writing while I am waiting. At least there is air conditioning and a bag of contraband potato chips to munch on. Maybe Becki won’t read that part…
Back to school night is Monday night for two high schoolers–and a court of honor for our Jr. High guy in Boy Scouts. Don’t ask how we are going to be in multiple places at once. It’s a secret only known by us super, high achiever parents… LOL!
Wednesday night I am speaking at the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, LA. I am looking forward to seeing some old and new friends and maybe meeting a famous TV character or two.
We shall see.
In the meantime, I am working on my hope-to-be published book (it’s gonna knock your socks off, guaranteed–how’s that for confidence?) as well as a short ebook (or two) that will be offered here on this blog.
I have been brain storming with my buddy and blog platform provider, Brad Palmore, about some ways to use my writing other than a book to generate some income and security as well as advertise speaking opportunities.
However, let me be clear. I am a true believer! I believe God is shaping, molding, and transforming me for a ministry that is needed–you readers are my earliest and best forms of support in that regard. Your encouragement is so greatly valued and appreciated!!
So here I am. Thankful for you. For reading, for commenting, for sharing, for subscribing, for liking! You guys (and gals) are the best.
Let’s have a little fun. Below you will find some old song titles from popular radio in days gone by. One of them is the title of the next blog post. The first person who responds either here in the comments or on my Facebook page or DWTBA Facebook page with the correct song title (and artist) along with the closest possible reason for my using it gets a prize.
A Starbucks Gift Card…
starbuck
We will leave the competition open until midnight, Monday.
Here are your choices:
I’m Bringing Sexy Back
 
That’s the way, un huh, un huh, I like it
 
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
 
Don’t Stop Believin’
I am having fun with this–I hope you will too!
Blessings to you and yours!
Les Ferguson
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Hampered By Fear

I wonder sometimes if I am the only person with my unique worries and fears.

Most likely since I am the only me, I am unique in that respect.

But I doubt very seriously that I am alone in having the worries and fears I do.

Nor doubts either.

Can’t forget questions as well.

But sometimes, I find myself plagued by fears–the kind that keep me from doing what I know I should and could do.

I am writing like crazy. Almost two chapters for my proposed book have been completed this week. I have talked on the phone this week as well with two different people about what I need to do in order to get published.

And that makes a total of four who have now given me some direction. Two have actually given me a format to use in writing a proposal.

As crazy as it seems, I am terrified about writing a proposal. To my credit, one set of directions wants me to write things I have no concept of–no understanding. And, I am wigging out about even asking what those things mean. I am trying to write a book, so why would I want to highlight my ignorance in bright green and red neon?

But one proposal instruction are simply a one page affair with a few sample chapters attached. Still I procrastinate–I am even afraid of writing a bio my own brother wants for a speaking engagement where he preaches.

Failure.

Appearing stupid.

Not wanting to toot my own horn.

Those are all very real things for me (and some of you too–I’ll admit it even if you don’t want to).

Why is this so hard? It should be simple. It should be something a climber can climb with no problems. And I am a climber. My life is all about climbing out of the abyss and building a new life.

Attacking mountains is the name of the game.

I am not afraid of hard work. I am not afraid of looking at my deepest emotions and finding them wrapped in the harshest of realities.

But.

I. Am. Terrified.

My friend Cecil May III helped me figure it out today. He called to check in on me–to see how things are going. In the course of our conversation, I told him about the fear of writing these proposals.

And in his inestimable fashion, he nailed the issue squarely. Sending a proposal means putting my work in the hands of somebody who is just as likely to reject it as accept it.

That scares me to death. Who wants rejection? That has frozen me into a certain inactivity or avoidance.

So, I have given myself a self-imposed deadline. I will write a bio and a one page proposal before Monday morning. Or sooner.

I owe it to my family that was lost.

I owe it to my family that survives.

I owe it to all who suffer, question, struggle, wrestle, doubt and fear.

And you can take that to the bank!

So back to work all of you who are reading this and avoiding something you need to do. Life is about challenges and we can face them together…

What are you afraid of? What are you avoiding? If it is fixing a broken relationship, please don’t wait another day.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

From My Perspective: What Real Faith Looks Like!

Faith.

We sing about it.
We talk about it.
We pray about it.
We throw it around as if it was somehow easy to have or easy to grasp.

We tell people they need to have faith.
We tell others they need to keep the faith.
Or maybe we ask them, Where’s your faith?

We describe faith as pure. Or simple. Maybe basic. Or even elementary.

And sometimes we describe those who might be struggling as losing or having already lost their faith.

I know
Believe me, I know.

I have been accused of not having enough faith.
I have been pigeonholed as one who has lost his faith.
I have heard how he’s (that’s me) lost his way, bless, his heart.

Or better yet, what kind of a preacher gets mad at God?

As it turns out, this kind.

And the truth is? My faith has suffered some hard, hard days.
Try having your family ripped asunder.
Try seeing your whole world unglued.
Try losing a whole circle of friends.
I bet you’d also find it hard to sing about having an awesome God…

Not that He isn’t. Not at all.

But when people are hurting and wanting answers, it’s not a simple matter of just having faith.

I never once stopped believing in God.
Not once.
Never.

But if you reframe the question, then I had trouble seeing his goodness. I had a difficult time finding His mercy. I struggle even now with seeing His purpose for my life. Lots of things are still topsy turvy upside down. With no end in sight.

Still want me to have faith that everything is going to work out alright?

Let’s be real. Somethings will never be made right. Not on this side of eternity.

But in a funny way, I have found strong hope in the strangest place.

My hope is wrapped up in faith.
A faith I wrestle with.
A faith that has left me without near enough answers to satisfy my anger, fear, and frustration.

You see, I think we have the concept of faith all messed up. We see faith as something concrete, fixed, unmovable. But that’s not necessarily true.

The very idea of having faith means also having doubts, fears, worries, and questions to go along with it. Without those things, faith wouldn’t really be faith, would it?

Honest and pure faith is full of unanswered questions. It is a wrestling with God and the answers we crave.

I confess: I don’t always understand. But my hope is in a God of faith who recognizes the validity of struggle, who acknowledges the doubt, who understands the heart behind the questions, and who helps me take a step forward, even when it seems so counterintuitive to do so…

Faith.
It’s hard.
It’s difficult.
And sometimes it seems like the last thing we ought to hold on to.
But it gives me hope.
And I am glad.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Relentless

Destin, FLorida is beautiful. We have enjoyed our stay, but the trip home is fast approaching.

Vacations can be fun, should be fun, but I often find it hard to really relax. I am normally a fairly driven person (ok, so maybe intense is more accurate). And it seems like there is always something that I could be doing to get a leg up on the competition–to make a sale, get a listing, new marketing, etc. it is hard for me to let it all go for even short periods of time.

To say I have huge security issues is quite the understatement. I am not all gloom and doom, but I am afraid far too much of the time.

Whether it be fear, worry, grief, or pain, life can often be like the waves pounding the seashore.

Relentless.
And sometimes the waves come in so fast you can hardly catch your breath.

I try hard to believe God has good things in store for me. I try hard to trust life will not always be difficult. I try hard to hold on to the hope that one day pain will not be quite so intense.

In so very many ways, I can see what I just wrote as being my reality.
I have a loving and compassionate wife. We have children that are amazingly good kids. And thus far, nobody has ever gone hungry or without. Crippling pain and grief still rears its ugly head from time to time, but not nearly as much as it has in the past.

This vacation as been a little bit of a chance to catch our collective breaths. To get ready for the waves to come again…

I don’t know what God is always up to. I try to trust Him even though it is very hard for me to do at times.

Long ago I learned a saying that may be familiar to you…

God is good all the time.
All the time God is good.

I want to believe that.
Do you?

Dying…

I remember writing the article below. I don’t know if it was for my old blog or if it was a bulletin article… Or at some point, both.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian famous for his stand against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. His beliefs and convictions ultimately cost him his life in a Nazi concentration camp.

While we might differ with him on a number of theological issues, he does have some interesting things to say about God and the role of the church today. One particular quote that has been ascribed to him is enough to give one significant pause:

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

Mr. Bonhoeffer managed to encapsulate Romans 6 in a very concise way. The call of Jesus Christ has never been to join a religion. The plea has never been to accept a certain package of beliefs and espouse them. The message has never been about the lack of passion or the rote ceremony that has often characterized mankind’s approach to God.

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It’s not about changing an area or two of our lives. Instead, it’s all about death and dying. No amount of fixing and repairing can ever restore men. We are beyond fixing.

I think that’s what makes this so hard for us to accept. We are fixers and if it’s broke, we want to fix it. We want to change it. We want to do what we can do to solve the problem. But it has never been about our own ability or desire. However, it is about God killing the old man and bringing a brand new one back to life.

Take the time to read Romans 6:1-7.

1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

It is one thing to submit to the imagery of baptism, to accept the teaching of scripture, to be immersed in water and to immerse our individual lives in the life of the church. Yes, it is one thing to do those things and yet quite another to truly submit ourselves to the death that Jesus offers: the killing of the old and the raising of the new.

Too often, we want the blessings of rebirth without all of the consequences of dying. We want the privilege of relationship without the sacrificing of the things that hinder relationship between men and God. We want the comfort and security of “church” without ever really accepting and paying the real price we must pay.

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. Can you and the world see a clear indication of your death by the priorities you choose, by the friends you keep, by the values you profess, by the life you live? Have you really died yet?

I have preached and taught the New Testament concept of dying to sin, dying to self, and the rebirth of being immersed into Christ. I still believe that.

I just never quite got it like I do now. Dying is a hard business, especially when we keep resurrecting that which has supposedly died.

What I am learning is simple if not revolutionary: dying is a continual process. Just because I died to something yesterday doesn’t mean I won’t die to it or something entirely different tomorrow.

My relationship with God has been shaken to its foundation. And then some. But, religiously, relationally, I am beginning to experience a new kind of freedom.

While I still desperately want to believe (trust), I am grateful for the opportunities before me…

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Big Fat Hairy Deal

Remember the old cliche about a monkey on your back?
It’s often associated with some kind of addiction or character flaw.

I asked this question on Facebook yesterday: Everybody has a monkey. What’s your monkey’s name?

Some of the answers were serious.
Some were funny.
Some were flippant.

If the shoe was on the other foot, I’d try to answer with something funny or flippant too. If you are like me, your real monkey is serious, painful, and seemingly best ignored.

But, this thought leads us to some funny imagery… In a room full of people, or better yet, a church auditorium or sanctuary, we all walk around seeing the monkey on others while trying to ignore our own. And lest we forget, the readily available righteous indignation when someone happens to get a glimpse or fix on the monkey riding our back.

As it turns out, monkey business is never very funny for very long.

My monkey wasn’t/ isn’t alcohol or drugs. There was/ is nothing about mine that would suggest some kind of aberrant behavior. It wasn’t/ isn’t a family embarrassment. Nor the kind of monkey one shouldn’t talk about in polite social situations.

But, he was/ is a big monkey. Ape-sized. Bigger even. I think he had a previous life as a body double or stand-in for another famous Hollywood chimp type. You might remember him? The one who climbed the Empire State Building and swatted airplanes from the sky?

Did I say he was big?

Huge.
Hairy.
Strong.

Have you ever heard the term BHAG? It stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I am beginning to develop one, but more on that later.

In the meantime, what I have had riding on my back was a BHFD.

Big
Hairy
Fat
Deal.

That wasn’t (isn’t) necessarily my monkey’s name, but it sure describes his importance, or at least how hard a monkey to shake he has been.

My Dad has a color-pencil drawing in his office that a sweet lady did for him many, many years ago. It is a caricature of Dad sitting at his preacher’s desk with piles and piles of different kinds of hats. The drawing symbolized all the different hats–jobs, roles–Dad had to wear in doing ministry. Every preacher should understand that.

Likewise, my monkey wears a lot of different hats too.
Or rather, outside of the things he isn’t (see seventh paragraph from the top), my monkey (otherwise known as a big fat hairy deal) is a multi-talented creature.

He weaves an unbelievable tapestry of fear, doubt, worry, and lack of self-confidence.
The resulting picture is demoralizing, paralyzing, and capable of producing a self-sustaining debilitation.

He is pretty gifted like that.
I should know.
After all, he is my monkey.
I have owned him for a very long time.

But yesterday, he took a major blow. I heard him shudder. I felt his weakness. I sensed his grip losing its hold.

For years (even during the good ones) he has told me I am not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough. He has painted me with fear, soaked me in doubt, infused me with worry, and convinced me that nothing I did would ever matter.

Add to that potent mix Satan’s mighty evil blow, and my monkey could have, should have had it all sewn up tight.

But contrary to my strongly held monkey belief, God wasn’t/ isn’t finished with me yet. He surrounded me with encouragers, provided the right opportunity, and helped me take the first step forward.

Yesterday, I shared my new found, hard won faith. (Thanks Meadowbrook!)
I preached.
And it felt better than it ever has before.

I am learning to never say never while my monkey is fighting to hold on.
I doubt I would ever be a full time preacher again, and yet, if the right place or people came calling, I would have to ask God what He was up to.

In the meantime, the big fat hairy deal is giving way slowly but surely for the big hairy audacious goal. I am daring to dream–really dream–that I have found my new ministry role/niche/voice to fill.

Thanks to those who have believed in me, found patience to share, and otherwise supported me. Your strength has made a difference.

The road ahead–though with plenty of setbacks and struggles still to encounter–looks brighter still.

Here’s the best part: If God is willing to work in my life, He is certainly willing to work in yours–and through all of our worries, doubts, fears, and perceived inadequacies.

You gotta like that!

If I can help you or your group/church, etc., please feel free to contact me.

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The Great Adventure

Sunday is my day of reckoning.

I am excited.

I am scared.

I am worried.

I am full of doubt.

I don’t say these things to engender sympathy, comments, etc. After all it’s my blog and I can be just as honest as I want to be.

Sunday is my day of reckoning and I am afraid.

I want this new ministry of writing and speaking. I want it badly.

I want a new voice. I want the ability to share with the hurting, validate the questioning, and encourage the struggling. I want the ability and opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

I keep saying I… as if it is all about me. It isn’t. I know it isn’t. I am glad it isn’t.

And yet, I am afraid of failure.

I am afraid of success.

I am afraid of not being in control.

And that’s funny considering one of the biggest lessons to have learned–forcibly–was how little I or anybody else really does control.

But we try.

We try hard.

We go to every imaginable length to control or at least feel like we are in control.

Often it is a grand illusion. Until it turns out to be not so grand.

So this Sunday is fast approaching. It’s been a long time since I have preached. It will be the first time to speak in as large a setting as this.

I used to have lots of confidence. These days? Not quite as much. But, I have prepared the best I can. I think God has given me a message. I pray it will be of benefit. I believe it is a message every church, every believer needs to hear,

I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant. I hope it doesn’t seem as if I am high on myself. To the contrary, I feel as if I am the least most likely person in the world to have a message others need.

Until I remember my pain.

Until I recall my doubt.

Until I am faced once again with all of my struggle and questioning…

And then I remember. Then I reconsider. Then I know there are untold numbers of people who are also in pain. Who wrestle with doubt. Who question and struggle with deep, dark things.

Then I remember.

I remember from whence I came.

From where I still am.

And I know others need the same message of hope and recovery.

Sunday is my day of reckoning.

And I am afraid.

But I will face the future as boldly as I know how… and ever thankful for second chances and new beginnings.

Saddle up your horses we’ve got a trail to blaze

Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace

Let’s follow our leader into the glorious unknown

This is a life like no other – this is The Great Adventure…

 Come on get ready for the ride of your life

Gonna leave long faced religion in a cloud of dust behind

And discover all the new horizons just waiting to be explored

This is what we were created for…

Steven Curtis Chapman–The Great Adventure

Are you ready for yours?

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Saturday Night’s All Right! (So Sue Me For liking Elton John Songs)

I have been busier than ever imagined or hoped with real estate.
Did I say busy?
Yes, busy.
Very, very busy!

It is at times exciting, fun, and frustrating.
I think it will eventually pay the bills.
That’s even more exciting for reasons obvious.

But, working is seriously cramping my style.
My writing style, that is.

I have planned to take a day off once a week to devote to writing for the past four… it hasn’t happened yet. But, having speaking opportunities (the more the merrier, hint, hint) ensures I will make time to write, think, and study. We are working at creating an absolutely fabulous place here at the house for that very purpose.

Still I am grateful. (And convinced a sermon will get finished somehow, some way in time for June 30th… and that’s pretty funny considering in my old life, sermons were always done by Tuesday evening–always).

I am not complaining. I am, to the contrary, joyously happy for the distractions of life that mean we are still living. Learning to be in the moment is to relish those moments as they happen. There is immeasurable riches and richness in that.

So, from that perspective, stolen moments to write–like now, are relaxing. We are sitting on a bench at the outlet mall. Becky is shopping. The other boys are doing whatever teenage boys do in a place like this. Casey is sitting beside me eating a scoop of rainbow sherbet in a waffle cone. And I am fully relaxed and amazed at the sunset spread out before me (while valiantly fighting the urge to get my own ice cream cone).

I still wrestle with God.
I mourn the relationship I thought I had with Him.
My spiritual limp is pretty evident.
My prayers are fraught with doubt and questions.
I long for the ability to trust once again–for the knowledge that my trust is not in vain.
I crave the experiential presence of God.
I often feel a weird disconnect (which is probably more in my mind than anywhere else) with friends and acquaintances from the past… like I don”t quite fit in.
On occasion, I am surprised and overcome when least expected with powerful episodes of tears and anger. I still hurt. Badly.

But, in spite of it all, God has managed quite nicely to help me find more peace than frustration, more tranquility than anxiousness, and more joy than sadness.

Who couldn’t be happy with that?

Les Ferguson, Jr.