Back to School

-Written by Stan-

Writing from a miserable Roman prison cell where he was probably chained to the wall while he awaited an unknown future, Paul wrote about a life transforming secret he had learned: he had found a way to live over the circumstances rather than under them!

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:11-13).

Writing from a room in the rehab facility where I sometimes feel “chained” to Katy’s bed while we await an unknown future, I so desperately want to learn that life-transforming secret Paul was talking about.  This is no prison cell and I am no apostle but Paul’s words speak deeply to me, calling me to an experience of grace I don’t yet fully know.  I find myself under the circumstances, discontent, and grumbling in my spirit about our situation more often than I want to admit.  For eight weeks now, my life has been turned upside down and redefined.  (Though this is certainly true as well for Katy and our daughter Anna, I’m writing my story not theirs.  Perhaps they’ll tell more of their story on another day.)  For me, Paul’s words are deeply challenging.  Meditating on these verses is making me wise to how ignorant I am!

I am slowly learning how much learning I need to learn:

– God never intended for contentment to be dependent upon outward circumstances but
rather on an inward reality: the indwelling Christ who gives me strength.  Paul may have
been in Nero’s prison but he was not Nero’s slave!  Imperial Rome in all her power could
not rob Paul of his inner peace and joy.  He lived over his circumstances not under them.

– Contentment must never be confused with happiness or having a good time.  There is
nothing fun about watching Katy moan in pain, gag in nausea, or struggle to sit up straight while her left arm (Wilson) dangles limply at her side.  It is precisely in
circumstances such as these that God’s children are promised a “peace that passes
understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

– Contentment is learned.  It is not the result of a supernatural zap that suddenly makes
me bubble over with happiness.  No, real contentment has to be learned.  That means it
requires time, energy and lots of hard work… like school.

– Learning contentment is a secret.  Sssshhhh.  Not everyone knows this hidden truth yet
so be careful who you tell.  But why is such a marvelous truth a secret?  Biblical
commentators may wax eloquent on such questions but for me, the answer is simple.
This truth of contentment is a “secret” because most people wouldn’t believe it even if
you shouted it in their ears with a megaphone!  Upon hearing about the possibility of
contentment in tragic circumstances, most respond with a visceral “That’s preposterous!”

OK, Lord.  You have my attention.  I’m smart enough to know that I’m not smart enough and I’m discontented enough to know that I desperately need contentment.  I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Can you help?  Can you enable me, even me, to stop living under the circumstances?  Can you teach me the secret?  Can I learn it?  Will you be my Teacher?  With your help, I’ll claim the truth that is promised all your children who find themselves in deep difficulty:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Amen.

Advertisements

35 thoughts on “Back to School

  1. Thanks so much for your honesty and sharing. Vulnerability, courage and accountability are high marks for learning to grow in Jesus, experience contentment in Jesus and knowing that in all things I can be an overcomer because Jesus has overcome. You and Katy and your girls are demonstrating those qualities, my Brother, That is why I am believing that you will have peace and contentment in Jesus even in the midst of all of this.

    Like

  2. Stanley so many thoughts came to my mind as I read this entry. Scripture that might comfort, hymns that were written by people in horrible life storms. But they pale in comparison to the depths of your pain. I am truly sorry for this circumstance. I do not
    Understand the why’s and why nots. But I can pray for His mercies that are new every morning.

    Like

  3. Stan, This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    I am not forgetting to pray for all of you. Jeanne Kelley

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  4. Stan, your humility and candor teach us all a lot about how to live through such circumstances. This reminds me of the song, “God Has Not Promised.” Prayers continue for all of you, especially Katy.

    Like

  5. Stan-

    We are praying continually and holding onto His promises tighter than ever during this most challenging time.

    We love you.

    Like

  6. My heart cries out with you and for you in learning to draw from His supply of GRACE that makes the learned contentment a possibility. It is only in and through HIS GRACE that we can learn to be content…it is a continual process of learning, drawing from HIS SUPPLY OF GRACE and CONTENTMENT….I have never found it within my self but in learning to DRAW from HIM…I’m still learning and have SO MUCH MORE to LEARN but I am a long way from where I use to be in my relationship with JESUS, in contentment in JESUS! It tears the heart out of one watching their MATE/LOVED-ONE SUFFER! JESUS is the Only ONE who really understands your pain, the depth of the hurt. He is the only One through the Holy Spirit that can reach deep enough to bring relief/healing to your heart. He Understands and HE CARES!

    Praying for you all. Love in Christ, Mary

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Stan

    Thank you for your honesty. Yes, you all have a strong faith. But your faith is being refined in this furnace of affliction. In your honest pursuit of contentment, grace, peace you are reminded of your humanity. I like the song The Human Side of Me by Ryan Stevenson. Though we don’t want to be stuck in or use our humanness as an excuse to walk away from the ‘school of His choosing,’ it reminds me that life is hard sometimes and without the face of Jesus and the power of His Holy Spirit we would have no hope of being overcomers. But He understands our human frailties and walks every step of the journey with us.

    Praying for His strength to be overcomers. My love to each of you.

    Sandy Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  8. Pastor Stan,

    Your words are so powerful as the words of Apostle Paul. They speak to all of us grambling in discontentment knowing there is contentment. Job cried out, “”I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; I stand up, and You turn Your attention against me.”
    ‭‭Job‬ ‭30:20‬ ‭NASB‬‬
    http://bible.com/100/job.30.20.nasb

    Praying for Katy continually and for all of you!

    By His Grace,

    Tatyana

    Like

  9. Stan….years ago, we were in Rome and had the opportunity to see the actual cell in which Paul was imprisoned while he was there. Did you know that the actual cell was more like a coffin….maybe 8 feet long and 3 feet high? Paul would have never been able to even stand up inside that structure or even to roll over if chained. That is when that “contented” scripture really took hold of my heart and began to mean more to me than it ever had before. Circumstances in my (our) life have not always been such as to fill me with the contentment Paul talks about but I have learned, as I am getting older, that it is, indeed, a choice to be made when life hands us what it does. The Lord (through my husband quite often) reminds me of that truth….if I am to be content in my circumstance, then I have to make that choice. Then…suddenly, when I do find myself making that choice and praising God for what I am learning through it…I am able to thank Him, eventually, for the trial. I am exhausted with life far too often…just like you. That’s why Paul struggled with how much better it would be to go to Heaven….It is not my time for that….or yours…or Katy’s yet. Hang in there, Stan…you can do this and the Lord knows you can and that His strength is sufficient for the process. You and Katy are loved by the multitudes who are holding you before the throne every day….hang on to that and all of God’s promises that you have stored in your hearts. You stored them for a time such as this….Praying for you….jean

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your honesty spoke to my heart as you shared how this scripture is where you are and also where you want to be. Thank you for not waiting until life is normal to share how you cried out to God in the midst of this journey. We continue to pray and believe. We love all of you.

    Like

  11. Stan. You communicated very clearly where “you are at”. It would be so nice if being a follower of God presented us with pleasant situations all through our earthly life. Ironically, I think the more God wants us on his team, the more he refines us. Being refined is not pleasant. I will earnestly pray for a miraculous new chapter to be opened in what seems to be a horror story. For selfish reasons, I want you to keep moving toward God. We all need you to do that. Please find amazing contentment and keep us posted. I know you are being tried way beyond anything ever before. Carl

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Dear Stan and Katy, I understand truly and concur with all you said Stan. Three years ago this Tuesday, my dearest Ronnie went to be with Jesus, and since then I Have suffered not just from the grief of losing him, which is still monumental, but of being in the midst of an ugly legal situation, losing my Mom’s companion, caring for my elderly Mom, having open heart surgery, losing my Mom and still being ill from the surgery almost 5 months ago. I, too, am having trouble with being content in all circumstances! I watched Ronnie deal with his pain and discomfort in such an admirable way, and I cannot say that I am dealing well with my pain at all! I am sensing, in some ways, that my faith is very shallow…but my Savior is all I need…I have to be reminded of that. When I read you and your family’s posts, I am reminded of that and how you all, including , Kary, cling to,Him. I pray for you all,daily, especially Katy and think of all you are having to deal with… May you feel His supernatural peace and presence. In Christ’s Love,
    Rena Doran

    Like

  13. Continuing to pray for you all. I know that you are leaning on Jesus and I know that His arms are strong enough to hold you. Love to all.

    Like

  14. Stan, I am blessed and inspired every time I read one of you or Anna’s updates. I am continuing to pray for all of you on a daily basis and think of you often. It is heartbreaking what you are all going through. It is my prayer tonight that our Father hears the cries of your heart and even those prayers that are too deep to speak. He knows your pain and is carrying you even when it may not feel like it. I will continue to pray!
    Brenda Dixon

    Like

  15. Stan. thank you for this. It really hit the mark with me this morning- and I don’t have anything to be discontent about but woke up that way anyway! May the inward reality of Christ in you, giving you all that you need, bring comfort and strength. Thank you for being honest so that Jesus could remind me to choose Him again today. Love to you all and praying daily.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Philippians 4: 11-13 alone is a realization we can only TRY to comprehend by reading your story ( I mean you, Katy & your daughters )…. Of whom I do not know personally but feel have made an indelible mark on my heart for where I should be in my walk with Christ Jesus. I am more humbled, grateful and stirred by your powerful story. I pray that you know your words do more for the Kingdom and that your reward in Heaven be the “Most Glorious Unfolding” ever! Thank you.

    Like

  17. Hello Stan,
    Thank you for bring the Word to me. As I read your message I’m being reminded how much I do not appreciate. As we grow older we should be more appreciative of each day.

    We are praying for Katy, you and the girls.

    God bless.

    Like

  18. Pastor Stan, you are so amazing, so transparent, so beautiful inside and out; I continue to stand with you and your precious family in prayer!!! Love you guys.

    Like

  19. Stan, Your words resonate with me. I know God will answer your heartfelt prayer — I’ll be praying for you, since I want to know that secret, too.

    Dan

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  20. Stan,
    Your words of humility and transparency in this post and while you were at LCC are what made me so thankful to have found LCC when I moved to Latham. You and Katy and the girls present yourself as real people. I pray daily for all of you. For a fresh indwelling of the Holy Spirit daily to help you through each day and then for peaceful rest at night. Your faith is a witness to all who read these posts and who come in contact with you daily. Fall into His arms each day and He will hold you up as Aaron and Hur did to Moses. Love to you all. ❤️🙏🏻

    Like

  21. thank you,stan,for the wonderful teaching on contentment and thank you for being transparent-you all are in my prayers everyday- you will be able to present many crowns to Jesus in heaven!

    Like

  22. Dear Stan- Thank you for sharing your raw feelings of discontent and the effect they have on every aspect of who you thought you were. (I find myself under the circumstances, discontent, and grumbling in my spirit about our situation more often than I want to admit.) I have just come through the first year+ of staying home full time with my husband who was diagnosed with dementia (probably Alzheimer’s type). Being thrust into the ‘caregiver’ role is life changing. I pray you are not too hard on yourself (same for your daughters) as the highs and lows seem to dominate your days. This may sound kind of ‘simple’ considering the circumstances, but “let go and let God” rule each waking moment – and your sense of self control and fruit of the Spirit will return once again. This adjustment is not easy, but God promises His presence if we allow Him to lead. Praying miracles of mercy for all of you- especially dear Katy. Acts 17: 27-29 “so that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising….”

    Like

  23. Stan – reply to your comment – I have been there. You are correct in that you just have to choose, by an act of your will, to trust God and wait on Him, believing that He will meet your needs as He has promised. It’s no fun, I agree, and the most difficult thing you’ll ever do. It’s not the “natural” way, but it’s His Supernatural way. It makes you understand Paul much better. My prayers are with you all. I’m putting Jesus right in the middle of the whole thing!

    Like

  24. Thank you Stan for choosing to be so honest. May God give you the desires of your heart – to teach you contentment, and to bless you with His wisdom.

    Like

  25. Pastor Stan, it is very painful when we witness the pain and suffering of our love one. We feel helpless when we lose control of the situation. The feeling of hopelessness was so overwhelmed to me that I had bad dreams and called the name of Jerus when I woke up, it was about four years ago when my son had concussion and had eye surgery. But I remember in one of the sermon that you preached about Jerus calm the storm, and God said to me ” STILL- because I am the God”. Then He sent a brother to pray for peace for me, since then, my anxiety was gone. I learned to let go and trust His plan for me. My son still in disability plan in college but he is slowly recover and doing well in the first semester.
    Will keep my prayers to you, Kaity and your family. Amen.

    Like

  26. Your rational mind has spoken well, with eloquence. Yet it is your heart that is screaming out. It is your heart that I hear and my heart is as speechless as yours. All the heart can do is groan. And so mine is groaning along with yours. I just re-read God’s reply to Job an it is all so true and just and right , yet the heart is still groaning. Yet the song lyric that fills my head constantly in my own circumstances may be a balm for your groaning. “Trust and Obey” and the real kicker is, “for there’s no other way” Blessings and hugs from us both………………..

    Like

  27. Stan, Thank you. Thank you for being real. There are no superheroes that can sweep the pain away; there is no amount of talking yourself into a better place. You have done the one thing that can bring you contentment and that is to cry out to our God who completely gets your pain. I remember one night wrestling with this very thing — feeling my reality saying one thing and my heart crying out to the Lord to show Himself in my circumstances and begging for peace. I woke early in the morning exhausted and crying, literally shedding tears as I awoke. I reached for my Bible and the Lord took me to the passage where Jacob wrestled all through the night (Gen. 32) What struck me was that Jacob said “I won’t let go until you bless me.” He was exhausted, weary beyond measure, but He stayed in the battle. He was face to face with his Creator and the Lord blessed him — marked him — because he overcame. He carried the battle wound for life, but it was a testimony to his clinging to the Lord. Stay in the battle, my friend. Contentment comes, not in knowing what all the next steps are, but knowing that you are clinging to the One who knows. Know that you are not alone in battle, we are consistently battling with you on our knees. God’s got this and He’s got you and Katy — go ahead and wrestle through the discontentment. You will be forever changed and your testimony will be stronger — one that reflects a deeper clinging to the Savior– it’s a precious wound to carry.

    Like

  28. Brother Stan,

    First) Both I (Jeff) and my wife, Susan have been praying for an instantaneous healing of your dear wife Katy through our Healer, Jesus Christ. We met her sister, Beth, at “Come to the Fire” in Nashville, TN in November 2009 and were much encouraged to see that so many were seeking to give up their former life as Christians and enter into the promise of much more, through the the Holy Spirit’s baptism with fire. We have that same calling, proclaiming that people can be HEALED IN EVERY WAY through the power of Christ. God is amazing! Give Beth a hug from us. She is near and dear to us, as are you and your family, though we have never seen you face-to-face.

    Second) The reality is that these are uncertain times for both Katy and you. The truth, however, is that our God is able to do the impossible both physically and spiritually, irrespective of the real circumstances you face together. I am grateful that you are writing “your story” for all the world to see, in a most vulnerable and transparent way. We all read and empathize with your pain, concerns, and anguish, especially some of us who have gone through similar circumstances. My heart goes out to Katy and her whole family.

    And my heart goes out to you, especially. In 1996, Sue was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). We were relieved that we finally, after far too many tests, had a diagnosis, even though we knew disease was incurable. At least we had a name, MS. Little did we know that every office, hospital, therapy or consultation visit brought nothing but more bad news. Her condition just kept getting worse and I was a helpless bystander. She was too quickly becoming paralyzed. Our life had been turned upside down. We attended an MS support group at the hospital, and the other MSers sat uncomfortably watching Sue each week getting worse and worse, wondering if that would someday be their fate. I could do nothing! Absolutely nothing! I could only watch my wife, my best friend, my confidant, facing death daily.

    So I put on a facade with a forced smile on my face, trying to hide my inward sadness and hopelessness; trying to be strong and cheerful outwardly and telling all my church family that, God will give us grace to cope … mere empty words.

    When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did. The neurologist’s report, “make plans for a nursing home within five years.” The neuropsychological tests confirmed that MS was not only paralyzing her whole body but was also taking away her mind. “Executive function gone.” No longer could she add or subtract, and one of her former jobs was a statistician for a federal hospital. I was able to take over her check book. Well, at least I could help there, if nothing else. But I was losing my wife before I was going to lose my wife. How cruel. With absolutely no help from me at all. Sue went on this journey herself, in spite of her sickness and circumstances. I would like to send you a book that my wife wrote so you could read for yourself what Jesus Christ has done, in an instant, in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping. Jesus healed here completely in September 2001. Five years of despair, pain, agony, with and unknown future vanished in an instant. I don’t want you to buy the book. I’m not here to sell you a book. But to let Sue tell you of her journey. Just as you are writing your journey to us. Praise God! Give me permission and I’ll send you a copy.

    Third) Stan, you need as much encouragement as Katy. I hope this is encouraging to you, and I will be transparent also and say, “Honestly, Jesus is the answer for you!” To help you on your journey, here is what I believe, Contentment is learned, yes, but after the fact. After what fact? After being filled with His contentment. I learned more about my salvation AND THE MUCH MORE OF BEING FILLED WITH HIS SPIRIT after I was saved! God’s work in Paul (salvation and entire sanctification) allowed Paul to be content in all circumstances, and to boldly live out the words he was speaking — not only at that moment when he was writing to the Philippians, but even in the situations he was going to go through after he wrote that letter. He had learned the power of “God in him.” God was His Sustainer. I pray that makes sense to you. The word I humbly give you is this — Jeremiah 33:3. The answer to your question is unsearchable by means of the human mind. But, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and unsearchable things which you do not know.’”

    In the love of Christ be encouraged.
    Jeff

    P.S.The best thing that happened to me was that my wife was afflicted with MS. Why? Because, Sue informed me there was something missing in her life and wanted to attend church. Since she couldn’t drive anymore, out of love for Sue, this atheist drove her faithfully to the church and was saved through the amazing grace and faithfulness of God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

    Like

  29. Stan, you have the makings of a great book to be written one of these days after things shake down. It wold be a blessing to many who need to learn the same lesson. Writing books is a lot of work, as we know. But you can do it.

    Like

  30. Dear Stan,
    Thank you for sharing your heart and your willingness to be open and honest. I have been there in my own discontentment and groaning. I am ashamed to say I have been there to many times to count In my own circumstances. Praying with you and for you as each day brings its own challenges. Keep clinging as you are to His promises. I read how Katy is still in pain and feeling the effects of the stroke, I just want to cry. Sending my love to you both.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s