Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Do I Feel Discouraged . . . . ?

I spent a couple hours in a cemetery yesterday morning as I needed privacy for a telephone appointment. This may strike you as odd, but I spent five of my teenage summers mowing that cemetery, so it's not such a foreign place to me. It is quiet and it's on a hill, so it has better cell phone service than much of my home town.

After the phone call, it was an appropriate location for some self-reflection. I've been discouraged lately: I'm living temporarily with my parents, I'm not seeing great success in support raising, I'm questioning how long it will take to raise the needed support, I'm worried that I'll go through all of my savings during this process . . . .

Walking around the cemetery, I saw the grave stones of many people I knew as a child -- many more than when I worked there. Some I knew because I had delivered their Sioux City Journal. More of them I knew as members of my church for as long as I can remember. Some of them always were old people to me, but a growing number were friends of my parents. I even went to school with a few of them. Many wonderful memories came back to me: neighbor ladies whom I would visit knowing they would offer candy, fishing with my "adopted" grandfather, church picnics, road trips, multi-family vacations, playing in these peoples' backyards with their kids. A few "other" memories came up as well: people who were not known for their kindness.

I noticed a new trend in grave stones as well. Many still are inscribed with a Bible verse or Christian sentiment, but a growing number are choosing to engrave a hobby, or something else that the person valued. I saw antique tractors, pianos, fishing, needlework, farm scenes, mountain scenes, Kiwanis Club, masonic symbols, and even a large engraving of the church where I grew up. Epitaphs for a new day? This caused me to wonder what considerations went into these monuments. Do the engravings reflect what was MOST important to these people? I don't think so -- not in most cases. I'm sure most of them valued their families more than their hobbies. But in death, as in life, it sometimes doesn't show what we most value. I pray that they all valued their relationships with Jesus Christ most of all.

Back to my self-reflection . . . .

What do I value most? In my current discouragement, I'm valuing ME the most.

"I'm living with my parents . . . .
I'm not seeing great success . . . .
I'm questioning how long it will take . . . .
I'm worried I will go through my savings . . . ."

It's all about me! Am I really trusting God to provide the means for me to serve in Japan? What if I do end up going through all of my savings during this time of raising support? What happens then? Is it of eternal consequence? NO! I'm on this earth for a very short time -- most likely not more than 90 years. (My mom does say that Koois are too stubborn to die.) Eternity is . . . eternal! Will it matter what my bank account was, or my retirement account? Of course not! I've never really been all that concerned about finances before. Why now -- when I've put my finances in God's hands and out of my own (like it was ever really in my own hands in the first place)?

A good friend of mine at Belhaven College says, "If you're gonna worry, don't pray; if you're gonna pray, don't worry." That's good advice.

My scripture reading yesterday brought my mind to an old hymn, one that my church choir loves to sing:

Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart feel lonely?
And long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion;
A constant friend is He.


  1. Brent, I love that quote about worrying/praying, praying/worrying.

    Trusting (AND PRAYING) that the LORD is providing all that you WHEN you need and that this time of waiting is also a time of preparation for you.

    His eye and his hand are on you my dear cousin and brother in Christ.

    Love, Janelle

  2. Obviously I meant to say that I'm trusting that God is providing all that you need WHEN you need it.

  3. Brent, I really appreciated this post. I will begin praying for your fundraising task. Hang in there.

  4. Great reflections and reminders, Brent. Thanks for sharing