Friday, May 30, 2014

A New Normal

Those who regularly read this Pastor’s devotion blog know that, the past few months have been quite difficult for me.  My dad’s illness and subsequent passing became the focal point of my life—and, in some ways still are.  One of the side-affects of his illness was that my regular routines and daily and weekly schedules were thrown into disarray.  For the past few months, I didn’t eat the same, go to the office when I normally do, or maintain my exercise routine.  I didn’t even write this devotional blog as regularly as I normally do.  It was quite difficult to do life as usual as long as I was in the midst of the crisis.  At the time, my dad’s care was all that mattered, and rightfully so. 

It’s now been about three weeks since my dad went to be with the Lord.  And, with the passing of time, life is starting to get back to normal—although one might call it a “new normal.”  The routines and patterns are starting to reappear.  The daily, weekly, and even monthly cycles are falling back into place, albeit with some adjustments.  I have begun to exercise again. I’ve gone back to most of my regular work schedule.  And, I am once again writing this blog on a Friday morning—my usual time to do so.  I must admit, it feels good to be back into some sort of routine. 

Life seems to be a precious balance between the routines and interruptions, the normal and the crisis, the expected and the unexpected. For the most part we live our lives in the regular routines of life. Yet, we know at any moment a crisis may occur that turns our life upside-down.  When the unexpected happens, our lives are thrown off balance and our routines quickly dissipate.   That which was normal is forced to become a “new normal. ” as we attempt to readjust our lives and create for ourselves some sort of stability.

As hard as it can be to have our lives turned upside-down, I have found that, with God’s help balance can be regained. The old routines of life, along with some new ones (and probably better ones), can reappear.  The grace of God at work in one’s life, is able to help create a “new normal” that is, in many ways, better than the old one. Life will never again be the same, but it is not meant to be so. Rather, through the crises and pain, God works to bring about a strength and character and hope that we may not have known before. He leads us into a “new normal” that is far better than the old one. 

“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5 – NIV)

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Holding Hands With Dad

I don’t remember the last time I actually held hands with my father.  I must have been very young—probably crossing a street or walking through a store or in a park.  Whenever and wherever it was, it was surely a long time ago…that is up until this past month.  Of course, through the years we would shake hands and give each other a kind of awkward father-son hug.  It wasn’t like we never touched each other. But, to hold hands is different.  I’m talking about putting your hand in your dad’s hand, palm against palm and fingers wrapped around each other’s—and keeping it there for a while.

Over the past few weeks, as my father became more and more ill, I found my hand in his much more often.  As he drew closer towards his final breath, it was as if my hand just gravitated towards his; as if I could find some comfort in feeling the palm of his hand in mine; his fingers maybe wrapped around mine.  And, I think I was hoping that he was finding comfort as well in feeling my hand against his.   

On the night of his death, when I saw his breathing begin to change, I instinctually went to his side and before I knew it, had slipped my hand into his. I looked down and there was my hand, looking so much younger than his; I was holding a hand that seemed to have aged decades in just a few days.  I wanted to hold onto him, maybe hoping that I could rescue him—or at the very least lead him through his journey. Maybe my hand would be of some comfort to him.  I didn’t want to let go.  But, then came the final breath and I knew it was time to release him—release him to his new home; release him from my world and from my grip. It was time to release him into God’s hands—hands that are so much stronger and much more comforting than mine.  On May 7, 2014 at 9:05 pm my dad let go of mine and took hold of his heavenly Father’s hand.    

In the end, the best we can do is entrust our lives and the lives of those whom we love, to God, believing that he is a good Father who holds us in his hands both now and on into eternity.    

“Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.” (Psalm 31:5 – NIV)

Thanks for your prayers.  

Pastor Tim Harris

www.pifnny.org

Friday, May 2, 2014

An Ever-Watching God

For those of you who have been following my Pastor’s Devotion blogs for any length of time know that I am pretty regular about writing and posting.  For the past month, however, it has been very difficult for me to write, both in terms of time and my emotions.  Even as I write this blog I am sitting in my father’s room at the nursing facility, hearing him struggle with his breathing.  When I come into his room in the morning, I never know what I will face.  On top of my dad’s decline, my mom now needs round-the-clock care, only making the situation much more complicated and difficult for my siblings and me.  Needless to say, at this moment, life is not the way we would like it to be. 

I guess that’s the reality of life: it doesn’t always turn out to be the way we would like it to be.  Yes, there are the joys of life—e.g. the graduation day, the wedding, the birth of the baby, holidays spent with family and friends—joys we must never forget nor take for granted.  But, we cannot escape the fact that there will be the difficult times in life—the loss of a job, times of illness, times of financial strain, the loss of a loved one. 

This week, as my mind has been mostly set on the difficulties of life, I came to Psalm 121 in my devotional reading.  It is a psalm in which the psalmist repeats the thought of an ever-watching God. His point seems to be that, no matter what we are going through, God is watching. Although it may seem as if God has abandoned us, he has not. Although it may seem as if God is far away, he is not. Although it may seem to us as if God has fallen asleep and left us on our own, he has not and does not. In fact, he not only watches, but watches over us as a good, loving, and caring father does. 

Whatever we may be facing today, we can take comfort in the knowledge that we have an ever-watching God—a God who continually watches over those whom he loves. 

“…he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand…The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
(Psalm 121 – NIV) 

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris