Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

On Being A Christian Without Thinking

For the past ten or twelve days Ginny and I have been traveling or recuperating from our trip for her father’s funeral so I have hardly made a note in my supposed daily journal.

I’m almost back.

A few random observations occur to me:

First, I realize that for the past two weeks I have hardly thought of God. Other than a few sentence prayers, no thought of Jesus has crossed my mind.

That’s cool.

It shows the importance of daily walking with Him so that when a crisis strikes, He carries us through without our straining to be religious. He controls from the background without conscious effort on our part.

The just shall live by faith …

and all that jazz.

Even when the only thing we can see are those thousands of white lines down the center of the highway, He keeps us in His mind and that’s the important thing.

Another thing I’ve realized is that when news came of Jack’s sudden death, I did not even pray about what to do. My knee jerk reaction was to immediately begin preparations for the trip. I didn’t pray about it or think about it or consider options or do any of the mental things I usually do when faced with a decision.

I began packing, borrowing a car, scraping together money, securing our house, rescheduling appointments.

Sometimes God guides us simply by making us aware of the right thing to do, letting us react. Agonizing in prayer over a decision or action is not always necessary.

I suppose if I had thought this out before hand, we may not have gone. We did have other responsibilities here in Florida. We did not have the cash to make a sudden unplanned trip. We have health considerations — all factors I would have considered if I had considered anything.

But I didn’t.

I just got things ready to go and we went.

Blind albino salamanders dwell in deep sunless caves. When you take one from its cave and expose it to sunlight, it shrivels, dries out, and dies.

I feel like that salamander when I contact Ginny’s family.

My feelings of shyness and inferiority well up inside me and all my hang-ups magnify themselves — my discomfort at being touched, my aversion to eating in public, my general unease at being around successful people, my awareness of being a failure.

Besides Jack himself (see my previous post) all the others in Ginny’s family are extremely successful, wealthy, decisive, competent individuals.

Ginny’s sister is a retired teacher. One brother is an aviation electronics expert; another is a physician; another is an attorney; two are computer consultants; one, an accomplished musician — and here all I am is a dabbler at writing, one step removed from the welfare line.

I do not do well when removed from my cave.

New environments scare me.

I feel ashamed.

But none of this was about me.

I swallowed my discomfort and did what I could for Ginny and her mother and the others as best I could.

Another thing I observed is that I made some bad, or at least questionable, decisions related to this trip to Maryland.

Topping that list is that even though my two older sons live in the area, I made no effort to contact them. Just system overload. We only had three days to stay and I chose to limit my contact. Once, the thought crossed my mind to contact Sweetie and her husband (She produces Shakespearian plays in Accokeek; I follow her blog) but I felt the time constraints too keenly to contact anybody.

Another observation: our kids here in Florida are troopers!

They came together immediately and without question to help their mother and me make this trip.

Patricia became our house sitter feeding the fish and Fancy bird, letting Rex in to repair our air conditioner, and landing a job of her own while we were gone. Donald and Helen loaned us their car and cash to make the trip, helped settle Patricia, and minded my website. Eve and Jennifer traveled with us. Jennifer drove the whole way there in a day and a half (It took me and Ginny three full days to drive back by ourselves). She assumed a professional stance as a registered nurse and cared for her grandmother’s bandages and a host of such medical details. Eve keeps in contact with the extended family so she assumed the role of hostess remembering which wife goes with which brother and the names of children and dogs. She and Jennifer cooked for 8 to 18 people for every meal. (Because of times schedules Eve and Jennifer came back separately from Ginny and me).. It was all an inspiring effort of support on the part of the kids. I’m impressed.

Two more observations:

One: Even in crisis situations, normal life goes on uninterrupted. Even with our traveling away bills remain to be paid, grass still needs mowing, sick people visited, furniture moved and dogs rescued (long story). Life swirls ahead. Ginny and I had been parked in our drive for less than five minutes on our return before three different neighbors rushed over with three different personal problems that needed attention.

Two: Important things are not as important as they seem. To drive to Maryland meant my abandoning my work on those 16th Century Puritan diaries that were so important to me… Anybody miss those?

They faded to insignificance — at least for a time.

Maybe I can resume work on them next week.

Before we left on this road trip, my three most recent biopsies occupied my mind to a certain extent but there was no way I could learn the results while we were gone. But during the trip I just did not have time to mull over such things. (The day we returned I called the lab and learned that those three were benign).

That means I only have one cancer and this nerve thing that gives me the shakes to deal with at the moment. (Thank God the shakes did not bother me much during the trip).

I’m scheduled to see the oncologist and neurologist next week… I have a great joke about the nerve thing but it is unsuitable for younger, more tender, readers so I’ll not tell it here — yet.

(I’ll save it at least till after I’ve seen the neurologist).

I suppose my bottom line in all these observations is that faith is what’s left when we’re too busy, too flustered, to enmeshed in daily life to give Christ a thought.

The good news is that He holds us in mind, even when we neglect Him.

Thanks be to God.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 7:02 AM


At 5:49 PM, Blogger jellyhead said...

Glad you're home safe and sound. I enjoyed reading the address you gave at Ginny's father's funeral (previous post) - it was just perfect.

I wish to (respectfully!)contradict your assessment of yourself as a 'failure'. As I see it, we succeed when when become honourable and good people. Success is not about how much we have, but who we become.

To be sure, you have accomplished many things in your life, many of which I would not know about. I do know that you are a loving father of 6, a devoted husband, a writer of many books, a historian and researcher....the list goes on. Yet it is your kind and good heart that makes you a success, to my way of thinking. Hold your head high next to anyone - you are every bit as worthy.

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Val said...

John, I too want to echo Jelly's assessment of you. I clicked on the comment button with that very intention and saw that she had beat me to it.

I find you very inspiring in what you've done, how you've handled yourself (in the short time I've come to know you through your blog) and your approach to life and your faith.

And may I say that you provide a wonderful model for what believers should be - and that's coming from someone who would be considered an unbeliever by those caught in the narrow confines of dogma.

At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear John,I 've always struggled with feelings of failure and low self esteem as a result of phyical handicaps and defective parenting, but by God 's grace i 'm coming out of it, triumphantly. You are a wonderful person John, you have touched many lives.

Success is not about money and recognition its about being the salt of the earth and the light of the world which Jesus wants us to be. Amrita


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