Saturday, July 01, 2006


Difficulty so dominates the horizon of life that is hard to see, feel, hear, touch, and experience anything else. Difficulty is the tatse in your mouth when you awake and it is the last thought in your brain before you crumble into sleep. It steals your emotions and corrals your concentration. Sometimes it leaves you broken , discouraged, and overwhelmed and other times numb and staring into space. Difficulty leaves you leafing through the pages of a book with no memory of what you read. It cause you to escape into the television with little care for what you have watched. It robs you of activity, vitality, and creativity. Difficulty makes you feel weak and controlled and, in so doing, reduces you to passivity and reactivity. It whittles you down to living for your next meal, your next medication, and for the day to end. Difficulty makes you count the days instead of living them. It makes you while away the time instead of investing it. It makes you fight for one thing rather than creating new things. In all of this, difficulty tempts you to run, hide, quit or at least to give into the passivity and learn to be comfortable with cascading days of nothing.

At the same time, difficulty is an opportunity. In the midst of incredible pain and suffering, in the midst of the deepest of questions, difficulty gives you the gift of a fresh start. Since it calls you away from what once was, it allows you to jump back in, in new and different ways. Difficulty calls you to reassess, refocus, and recreate. It challenges you to require the pain to produce and the suffering to build. In shattering your daily routine, it really does give you that rare moment when you can redefine your life. Difficulty gives you the freedom to pick up new commitments and give yourself to new values.

In difficulty, passivity collides with purpose and it is a scary thing to watch and wonder which will win. Motivation has been an issue for all of us. I try to read and I have to reread what I read because, in my mind, what I read still lies unread. Luella has had to fight distraction to give herself to her work. And Nicole has found it easier to do things to escape the day, in the hope that days will pass quickly so motivation has been a concern.

Last week a friend from years ago, Agnes, called and said she would like top stop by on Thursday or Friday and drop something off for Nicole. We thought it was sweet that she was thinking of Nikki, who she knew as a little girl. When she spoke of dropping something off, we thought of flowers, candy, a game, etc. (all of which have been greatly appreciated). Another friend, Jody, was with Nicole for the day, as Luella and I were out for the day preparing for our son Justin's wedding on the 8th of July. Nicole hinted in a couple phone calls that she had been given an amazing gift, but until we got home we really didn't get the full idea.

Agnes only visited for a few minutes, but the "something" that she dropped off for Nicole was a digital piano with a set of professional earphones! Nicole is a vocalist and a composer! It's as if God was reaching down and pulling the creativity right out of Nicole. She was blown away and so were we. What an amazing invitation to create! What a clear call to fight discouragement and passivity! What a physical demonstration of God's love!

So pray for us and for Nicole that on the otherside of the encouragement, when the boredom and distraction of the difficulty hits once again, that we will fight passivity. Pray that Nicole (and we) will turn difficulty into creativity. Pray that we won't feel that life has been taken away, but rather an opportunity for a fresh start has been given.


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