Coincidence? Obedience?

We followers of Jesus love clichés – we have many.

One that you’ll hear on occasion is, “With God there are no coincidences…” or “with God, nothing happens by accident” or the pithier, “Coincidences are just those times when God chooses to remain anonymous.”   Pretty clever, eh?

So, do we believe them – those clichés – whether good or bad the circumstance?

Many of us believe God is sovereign – meaning the Supreme Ruler.  (Frankly I don’t know how He could be God if he wasn’t) So, if He sees all and is in all… (as opposed to the Deist god who created everything then stepped back and said, “You kids play nice – I’m going on permanent vacation to a galaxy far, far away.”)  …if God is involved here and now – and He’s God… then I’m guessing He doesn’t miss a thing.

He misses nothing.  But does He orchestrate everything?  We love to see “the hand of God” (another of our cool clichés) when things turn out really good, but not when things turn out crummy.  Then we like to shake “the fist of man” at Him and say, “Where were You, God?!”  At least I do.

I think the key is our obedience.  And I DON’T mean the jot-and-tittle rigors of committing to the rules of the Bible, then working – striving – failing – confessing – working harder – striving harder – failing anyway – confessing again – working even harder……UGH….

I mean the obedience that applies these words:  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Here, Jesus is saying obedience means:

789px-Young_oxenResting…learning…and resting some more….

If you’ve ever seen a picture of two oxen yoked together, you get it: there is grueling work ahead.  And if they don’t work in perfect harmony, the job becomes incredibly harder.  But what if Jesus is the other ox…?

So I recently obeyed that voice.  I go to a terrific men’s breakfast twice a month.  Since I’m making little income, I told my friend Lyle I couldn’t afford to go.  He said “I’ll buy your breakfast.”  I said, “But there’s also gas, tips… I can’t afford it anymore.”  He said, “I think you need to be with the brothers.”

Sandy said the same thing.  So I laid my clothes out the night before, (attending  requires me to arise at 5:30 to get to the other side of Nashville in time for chow.)  I laid them out in case I heard God saying I should go.

Next morning I awoke before the alarm…and I hear, “Get up Den.  I want you to go…”

I went – and a new guy sat at our table.  He was energetic, funny, and we bonded immediately.  I reached out to him after, gave him a business card – I didn’t want to lose track of him. He said he’d email me.  Often that well-intended email never arrives.

His did – an hour later.  In it, he invited me to a very exclusive prayer meeting at a remote little stone chapel.

I went – and found myself surrounded by incredibly godly men – true pillars of faith in the heart of a Bible-belt city.  I thought, “What am I doing here with these spiritual giants?”  There were 12 in attendance.  So I felt like Matthias – he was the new 12th disciple, voted into the apostle club after Judas Iscariot screwed up his membership.  But they included me, we sang, prayed, had communion, then prayed over individuals and their needs.

I got prayed over – with hands laid on me, I felt the fervent prayers of eleven righteous men.

So I kept in touch with the energetic guy who invited me.  Soon after, I visited his office.  This was the man to whom I said, “You’re like me.”  Then he told me he has ADD.

Because of that encounter, I’ve read, studied, taken tests, got recommended to a shrink, and now have the meds that might help put my life back on track – and maybe I’ll even be able to earn a living again.

Coincidence?  Obedience?   I submit: both.  Because I obeyed – and attended the breakfast – all the rest happened “coincidentally.”  They would not have happened had I not obeyed.

“Coincidences are just those times when God chooses to remain anonymous, and we choose to be obedient.”   Pretty clever, eh?

 

Photo courtesy of:  Wikimedia Commons

Mic and Denny say Happy Birthday, Donald!

A cartoon icon – Donald Duck – turns 80 today – On June 9, 1934 – Walt Disney’s famous duck made his first appearance (as a bit player) on film — in “The Wise Little Hen”. Donald went on to quack his way into mischief and stardom in over 100 cartoons and features.  Here’s Mic and Denny’s “exclusive interview” with Donald and his closest buddy.

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Daddy Take the Wheel

1962 – We lived on a major highway, between Flint and Lansing, Michigan.  It’s now part of Interstate 69.  But at the time, it was a state highway called M-78.  Four lanes – divided – populated by swift 4-wheeled steel titans – some sporting fins on the back that garishly displayed the taillights; with the newer ones having abandoned those “heights of automotive fashion – for 1959.”  Yes, this divided four-lane concrete ribbon displayed Detroit’s finest products of the day – at 65 mph.

Ours was a 1960 Dodge.  The fins had already been dialed back from the previous year.  But with its big chrome bumpers and massive beige finished doors and fenders, the giant passenger tank loomed large – but didn’t exactly turn heads.

1960 Dodge Dart-cropped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And from a five-year-old’s vantage point, the Beige Bomber seemed even more immense.

Now, when you live on a four-lane divided highway, and you’re just a little tyke, Rule Number One is:  “No playing in the front yard!”  We had several ample neighborhood backyards that were safe.  So- no front yard – the front yard was dangerous – it could get you killed… by Mama.

As a good mom, she put the “fear of God” into us about playing near the road.  So it never happened.  It’s like we had one of those invisible fences – there was a “maternal force field” that kept us behind the house.  I never did find out what our front door looked like from the outside.

So by default, we learned to respect both the highway, and the lumbering semi-trucks and speeding automobiles it bore.

Now, Daddy was a professional driver, delivering a truck full of cookies each day to stores all over Mid-Michigan (Yep, my Daddy was the Cookie Guy – there’s nothing cooler when you’re five years old!)  So when we actually did take to the road in our ’60 Dodge – we always felt safe – Daddy was behind the wheel – and Daddy was a professional.

So it was more than a little unnerving when Daddy thought it would be fun for the boys to drive the car!  As she clutched baby Rhonda, Mama made it clear – she did not share in Daddy’s amusement.

That never stopped Daddy.  He pulled off to the shoulder and put Bobby on his lap.  No worries about seat belts… don’t think we had any.  With no traffic in sight, Daddy pushed the pedal and Bobby steered onto M-78, becoming the youngest driver in Michigan.

Until it was my turn.  Of course, Bobby did a great job, and now, somehow I was supposed to equal his effort.  But c’mon!  Bobby was a whole six, fer cryin’ out loud!  And knowing him, he’d probably already read the driver’s training manual and aced the test!

I was afraid… but sibling rivalry wouldn’t let me fully express it.  Daddy pulled off again and Bobby and I swapped places.  Okay, sitting on Daddy’s lap – that was cool…and grabbing the steering wheel – well we’d done that before – playing “racecar” in the driveway.  But then, Daddy pushed the pedal.

We…were…moving!  I was scared spitless, and knowing me, I’m sure I voiced my concerns in no uncertain terms.   But then…

It got a little easier… I relaxed a little.  So then Daddy sped up, and a curve was coming, and I didn’t really know how to steer!  This isn’t fun!  Daddy, I’m scared!

Ever felt like that little guy behind the wheel?  Me, too.  Even now.  Life comes at you – territory you’ve never navigated before –but you’re supposed to plow ahead, all by yourself, gripping a steering wheel with fear and trembling – because it’s all up to you.  And just when it gets a little easier, a little comfortable, life steps on the gas – and throws a curve into your path – hang on –we’re in serious danger!!!

We were never in any danger.  Daddy had just been allowing Bobby and me to sit in the driver’s seat. And learn not to be afraid.  To understand – and trust – that he was still in control.  Daddy had the wheel the whole time.  My eyes, my thoughts, my focus, my worries – everything told me that it was up to me – that I – and I alone – had to keep this all from crashing – my family’s life was in my little bitty hands.

But if I could have peeled my eyes off the road ahead – for just a second – I could have seen that Daddy had his mighty hand on the wheel, too.

Instead of being on our own while life is racing full-speed ahead, the reality is, we’re safely sitting in the lap of a Daddy who loves us.

And lets us steer once in a while.

Photo courtesy of Randy von Liski

1960 Dodge Dart Phoenix 4-Door Hardtop (2 of 9)

 

My ADD update…focus…focus

So, if you’re wondering how that whole ADD verdict went.  Here ya go.

On April 22, I posted that I’m pretty sure it’s a major player in my inability to gain traction in my life.  I have had a decent measure of success through the years, and to be floundering at this stage of my life is very difficult to admit.  But I do admit it – in the hopes that if my story sounds familiar to someone, maybe that someone will check into it for himself (or herself – though this seems to be about 3:1 guys more than gals.)

After visiting my new friend and seeing the amazing similarities in how we process information – and how we don’t – I got the book he recommended and devoured its 360 pages in four days.  My motivation SO outweighed my lack of focus, that I went into “hyperfocus.”  On a test of 20 questions, according to Sandy – I scored on 18 of 20 in favor of ADD.  Pretty much confirmed… yup.

We contacted our primary doctor – who recommended a psych clinic – who got me in on that same Saturday.  I spent an hour filling out a questionnaire, and spent a good bit of time with a doctor.  My first concern was, “How often do you guys treat adult ADD?”

“All the time,” came the response.  It seems there’s a ton of (mostly guys) my age who were never diagnosed as kids (the diagnosis didn’t exist.) So now these intelligent, often creative guys are walking into psych clinics wondering why their heads feel like human popcorn-poppers.

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I liked and trusted the good doctor.  He was pretty convinced, and wrote me a prescription for Adderall.  He told me to start with half the dosage prescribed, and see how that does.  I filled it, and have now been on the drug for a couple weeks.

For those of you who expressed great concern about medication, including a counselor friend from another state who spent over an hour on the phone with me making sure I understood what I’m working with, I say “Thank you.”  I don’t take  the use of drugs lightly.  When everyone else was indulging in the 70’s, I was the kid who was afraid of drugs.  And Sandy’s brother died at 37, much of his problems stemming from prescription drugs.  So believe me when I say I don’t take this lightly.

Yet – a part of me was thrilled – thrilled – at the possibility there might finally be an answer.

I took the first pill before breakfast.  Since moving three years ago, Sandy and I have spent our breakfast time reading faith-based material.  Some call it devotional time.  I always read aloud, for two reasons.  One, as a voice actor, it’s good practice to read aloud each day.  And two, my mind doesn’t wander as much if I’m doing the reading (uh, that should have been a clue, eh?)  As a voice actor, reading well is essential – yet it’s the weakest part of my game.  My eyes skip around, my brain gets ahead of my mouth, and I trip over the words…often.

But not that morning.  After we finished discussing the content, Sandy said, “Do you realize – that in reading this morning – you didn’t make one mistake?”

“Yeah… I sure do.”  And immediately…

To say that I wept, is putting it far too mildly.  I broke down and sobbed for probably a full minute.  I don’t ever recall doing that.  My constipated brain was releasing years of pent up toxins.  My head was throbbing when I finally caught my breath.  And then I was calm…and focused.  For the next two hours I wrote comedy – without wandering – without stopping.  In fact I’ve probably written more in the past two weeks than in the last several months.  And I’ve found a morsel of the one thing I’ve lacked more than anything….

Confidence.

My confidence has been shaken to its foundations over what’s taken place these three years.  The ADD book says that lack of confidence is a classic symptom – for with the utter frustration of constantly falling short of your own expectations, it feeds on itself – The vicious beast who says, “You didn’t – you won’t – you can’t.”

I want to kill that beast more than I can express.  And for the first time in a long while, I’m saying “I can” again.  It’s hard to write humor when you ain’t feelin’ it.  I’m starting to feel it again.  I know it’s early in the game, and there’s still much to be made up for – but for the moment…

Hallelujah.