Time – Wait for It

I’ll be writing more about it in the future (see what I did there – a reference to time?) but I wanted to share a couple of things about time and 2018 and how that has impacted my life.

2018 has not gone the way that I expected it would. I started out the year finishing up a long term substitute teacher assignment that I expected would last longer. While I agree on the reasons why they transitioned to substitute teachers who were experts in that field, it was still disappointing. If you are so inclined, add Mary Dornbos to your prayer list. She’s the teacher I filled in for and she’s still struggling with cancer.

The end of January, I had a medical procedure (more on that later) that I expected miight take a week or two to recover from. That was my anticipated time schedule based on what the doctors anticipated time schedule was.

God’s timing is different. As I’m writing this a number of months out, the recovery time has changed significantly. There looks like there will be long term, if any, recovery from some of the side effects.

That’s not the time frame that I wanted.

But God’s timing is not always our timing. And God’s ways are not always our ways.

So, as Laura Story wrote in her book, “When God Doesn’t Fix It” there is a time where you need to switch the question. You need to switch from asking, “Why God?” Or shouting, “Why God?” To asking, “How God?” “How are you going to use this, use this mess, use this pain, use what happened to your glory?” “What’s your plan?”

What’s your timing, God?

Waiting for God’s timing is hard. We want to be in control.

But the sooner we realize that we aren’t, the sooner we can hand that part over to God.

God’s timing is good. Sometimes it’s so good we can’t understand it.

Sometimes it’s so hard we can’t seem to stand it.

Sometimes the clock is facing the other direction so we can’t see his time.

What time is it? “Don’t worry, my son, I’ll take care of that.”

But what time is it? I just want to know!

“Don’t worry about what time it is, let me worry about that. Just follow my Iead.”

Okay God, you’re on.

Me

Time – God’s Time

This really should be part 1 of the 3 part series on time – because God comes first.

He created time. You know, the whole “There was evening and there was morning – the first day.” Yeah that.

But in telling “my story” I’m telling it as part 3 because it is kind of a conclusion to the other two stories. It’s God’s Time.

I could tell you story after story about things that have happened, things that haven’t happened, things that happen at a totally different speed than we’d like. And there’s one underlying theme to it all.

God

God’s got his plan and his time. And he knows WAY better than we do.

We try to push and squeeze and work and beg and plead to get things done according to our time. And it quite often doesn’t work out that way.

Sometimes we can see why – later.

Sometimes we don’t understand why – at least not on this side of heaven.

Sometimes we just need to trust God and say, “God, I don’t get it but it’s your time.”

Time

It’s hard to give up control of it.

It’s hard to admit we don’t understand it.

It’s hard when we hear or see God saying, “No” or “Not yet.”

Remember Moses and the Israelites? They spent 40 years wandering in the desert? Why?

The way I see it, there are two reasons:
⁃ The Israelites didn’t believe it was the right time when God told them to go take Israel back from the surrounding countries.
⁃ The Israelites didn’t have hearts that were open to God’s time rather than to their own time.

They needed to learn that God’s time was and is better than our time.

And that when we say, “God, it’s your time – use it and use me as you see best.”

Then we can really and truly be part of God’s plan.

And that’s a beautiful and a hard thing at the same time.

What time is it? It’s God’s time.

TJV

Time – of Coups and Careers

February 29, 2004 – a date that altered Haitian History.   And ours.

It is the day that a coup was staged in Haiti and the government was overthrown.

It was a big rock thrown in the pond and the ripples went out and out and out from it.  Little did we know the ramifications of that coup at that point.

I’ve got a good bit of storytelling planned about the coup and shortly after that – so I’m not going to get into great detail, but let me lay out a few important facts:
• My two youngest children, whose adoptions were still in process, we’re living in a country that just had its government overthrown by a coup.
• For 6 to 7 weeks, we knew they were safe, but we didn’t know whether their paperwork was still safe and whether the adoption would proceed or if we’d have to start over.
• Originally we were told to expect that our adoptions would be finished in either March or April – possibly into the first part of May. Our plan, at that point, was that our three older girls would stay with Grandparents and we’d go down and get them. After all, the older girls were in school.
• Since the adoptions were delayed, travel dates got pushed back and we weren’t traveling until June. The girls were done with school.

So we took them with us. And they helped with the older kids at the orphanage while we spent time with our two youngest.

Can you imagine helping 53 kids brush their teeth every morning?

Now jump forward with me a few years. We’re in the van (a 7 passenger since, well, you do the math) and we’re coming home on a Friday night after having gone out to eat. Up pops a voice from the back seat……

“I know what I want to do……”

“What?” (Thinking – go to a friend’s house, watch a movie, make ice cream sundaes……)

“I want to go to school and become a nurse and go back to Haiti and help the kids.”

Gulp. Swallow hard and try not to get too choked up.

“That sounds like an awesome plan and I know you can do it.”

In April, that daughter graduated from Grand Valley State University with her Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree. In August, she will be going back to Haiti for her umpteenth time (I’ve lost count) to work with kids who need medical care.

In August, she will also be leaving her position as an RN in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where she has been for I believe 4 or 5 years and starting to work as a DNP in a large pediatric office on the other side of town.

Now you tell me……

Did the delay in paperwork –
Because of the coup –
Which made it possible for our girls to come to Haiti that first time-
Have an impact on Dr. V’s career plans?

I like to think that when she walked across the stage to become the latest Dr. Vanderwell, God (and the other Dr. Vanderwell) were looking down and smiling and God said to Grandpa, “See, my plan all came together. Now just wait and see what I’ve got planned next…….”

TJV

My Dad was a Wise Guy

Many of you know my dad.  Some of you don’t.

He passed away on March 23 of this year after a 15 month battle with pancreatic cancer. Ironically, it was side effects of the treatments that brought him to glory, not the cancer itself. The fact that he had cancer 4 times was a lot of chemo and radiation……

My dad was a Christian Reformed minister. But he was also a teacher, counselor, friend, author, mentor and many other things. He was a wise man.

Okay, and sometimes he was a wise guy too. He had a sense of mischief and a sense of humor that kept all of us on our toes. I could tell you stories for a long time, but that’s not for now – maybe later.

You know how every child goes through the stages of thinking about their parents? First, their father knows everything. Then as they get to be teenagers, they think that their Dad knows nothing. Finally, when they grow up, they realize that yeah, guess what, Dad was pretty smart?

There’s another stage beyond that. Not everyone has a good enough relationship with their dad to get to this stage. It’s the stage when, you’re an adult, and as you are discussing things, often deep things, tough things, important things, your dad admits something to you. “I don’t know.”

Yep, my Dad didn’t know everything. He knew a lot. He made a lot of people’s lives a lot better. I love him dearly, I miss him dearly and I’m grateful for the role he has played in my life and the lives of my family members. I’m also grateful that he was free to admit he didn’t know everything. Why?

When you admit you don’t know everything and encourage discussions with others, you are all better off. You might learn from him or from her.

When you admit you don’t know everything you are providing others with the opportunity to share their opinions. That shows them respect and value and we need more of that in the world.

When you admit you don’t know everything, the person you are talking with is encouraged to discuss and search for truth while feeling important. There is so little of that trust and respect these days.

Admit you don’t know everything. Not only everything about EVERYTHING, but also admit that you probably aren’t the one who knows the most about the subject you’re talking about.

Admit it but keep talking.

And listening.

Really listening. Listening to learn.

You might be surprised what will happen.

Tom

Getting Smart

In the previous post, we talked about how it is important to push back against confusion and misunderstanding. We talked about how it’s important to push back against those because if we can clear up confusion and misunderstanding, it’s easier to push back against evil.

Why? Because evil likes to create confusion.

Evil likes to use misunderstanding to hide from the light of day.

Now I want to make it more personal. I don’t want to talk about government policies that are confusing. I don’t want to talk about how the motives behind what so and so does are being misunderstood.

I want to talk about you. I want to talk about me.

I can’t speak for you, maybe you do. I don’t.

Don’t what? I don’t know everything.

Not even close. Actually, so far from close that it’s funny to even think about.

But I know that if I get smarter, I can make more of a difference. If I ask questions, I can learn more. If I read about things, I can learn what is going on.

Most people are more afraid of what they don’t know about than what they do. If they don’t understand what is happening or why, that can create fear. It can create contempt.

I don’t understand your music – so it must be bad music.

I don’t understand your language – so you must be talking nasty about something or someone.

I don’t understand your religion so I don’t like you.

I don’t…….

The list can go on and on and on.

But if I do understand, then I can see you for you, not for what I didn’t understand.

If I do understand, then I can see the reason behind behaviors and not be afraid of the behaviors as evil or hostile.

If I understand your history, then I can appreciate your cultural festivals and respect them and you better.

If I understand the reason behind events in history, then I can see them for the impact they have on you and on me.

Most people are afraid of things that they don’t understand.

Many people will, when they understand things or people or traditions or habits or whatever, respond in a way that furthers communication and relationships.

And that makes the world a better place.

Tom

Tom