But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out.Ecclesiastes chapter 12, verse 12; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
But regarding anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy. There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else.Ecclesiastes chapter 12, verse 12; from The Message (MSG)
Please forgive me, but today’s thoughts are just a bit lengthy. Just in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t written anything lately. And truthfully? I don’t have a single good excuse. Heck, I don’t even have a bad excuse. But there is a reason why. Of course, there is always a reason why for everything. And, as painful as it is for me to admit it, it wasn’t a good reason; not in the very least. It’s no where near the level of what some consider to be a justified reason! I have been, and continue to be overwhelmed by a lot of thoughts. Some related. Others unrelated. My thoughts have been and are still looking like mashed taters. Not the kind you measure out of a box or pack, but the real thing. You have to be from the south to get that image.
After a short time at home, we departed Wednesday morning at 2:20 a.m. to return to Florida. Before you get images of white sandy beaches and splashing waves, we are in Bartow, which is over an hour to the nearest beach. We came back for our family. Debbie’s “cousin-more-like-a-sister” died January 18 and according to her wishes was cremated. This past Saturday was her Celebration Of Life Service and Michelle’s husband, Ken, asked me to lead it off. Ken and Michelle are more like brother and sister to me, and honestly I struggled with what to say.
Then we received word that a great friend of ours, Ben, was near death. Apparently he had a heart attack which led to a wreck as he was heading to work. He has been on a ventilator since January 31 and today, they will be removing that ventilator and allow nature to take it’s course. His mother, Donna, had asked if I would do his service. And of course I said “Yes”. And one day after one service, I was trying to put some thoughts together for Ben’s family.
And, now I will explain today’s title. Saturday morning it all boiled over. I went out on the back porch with another cup of coffee (I can’t remember which number it was). The sun was up and the lake in front of me was beautiful as usual. And though I should have been thinking about and focused on Michelle’s Celebration, I noticed my brain was thinking of a lot of things. Though Daddy died a little over a year ago and my sister, Jackie, had died nearly a year and a half ago, I found myself thinking and grieving all over again. Then I had thoughts about the garden I wanted to plant. About plans for next year’s deer hunting. A repair to one of our vehicles. About the church. About this, that, and the other, and that other thing, oh, and that other thing. And one other thought: I’m so tired to doing funerals and even celebrations!
And that last thought just ain’t a nice thing for this Preacherman to say; or any other pastor/preacher to say as far as that goes. These words started to roll off my tongue: Why are all these thoughts running wild like kids leaving school at the end of the day in my mind??? But I didn’t finish them before The Spirit said, “Because you’ve given them permission to be there! Duh!” I failed to heed The Sage, Solomon, and his words: constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else. (MSG) Yes! Preacherman who advocates, preaches, and teaches that we control what we think–had given permission to my thoughts to run wild.
I know that the translations use the word study, but what is thinking but studying? Or what is studying but thinking? And I was thinking/studying about a lot of things; too many things. And I was worn out and no good for anything else. So, what did I do? I admitted my problem! I needed to change my choice of thoughts. Did that solve my problem? Absolutely NOT!!! But it did move me back in the right direction. It’s still a struggle. No, I take that back! It’s a war going on inside this skull. So I fight–not with my strength or my weapons. I’m heeding the admonishment of Paul found in Ephesians:
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.Chapter 6, verses 10-13 (NLT)
Today, they will be disconnecting Ben from the ventilator. Today I will be finishing up the words that need to be said. Today I will begin waiting for that call from Donna. Today I will be packing up to leave early in the morning to head back home–and to another funeral service. Today, well, it’s today. And all those thoughts that are like mashed taters? To be truthful, that tater masher is still at work. But I am now relying on HIM to help me in this battle. And the ebb of this conflict is now going in the right direction. With God’s Grace and help, and with my surrender to Him, things are getting better. I still don’t like it–but it’s still getting better. And The Spirit who has got me this far–will get me through this, too. Oh, and if you don’t have anything to do, will you say a prayer for us?