Well… March 17, 2013

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It was June 1995.

I got really sick. I didn’t know how to “do” sick. I had never been sick. I had the occasional colds, flu and some bad Chinese food that ran through me quicker than Genghis Khan‘s army, but I had never been check-in-the-hospital sick.

Although I never believed in macho, I certainly strove for strong. I needed to be strong. I liked to be the guy who picked up equipment and carried it in the door, sweating profusely and panting to the inspiration of surrounding admirers. I liked playing tennis on a 100-degree day in Shreveport, Louisiana, drenching my clothes with perspiration as people walked by shaking their heads in disbelief that anyone would be outside doing anything but trying to breathe.

It wasn’t an issue of pride–or maybe it WAS an issue of pride, but I was too prideful to see it. I don’t know.

Suddenly I was sick. Not only sick, but the doctor informed me I had diabetes. In the brief time I had known this gentleman–my caregiver–we had struck up a friendship. So when he came in to talk to me about the disease, he looked like he had been sucking on lemons for a week or had just attended a foreign film. He told me that diabetes was serious, that it would be with me all my life–certainly with me when I died.

It was depressing.

So on October 8th of last year, when my legs disappeared overnight, replaced by the lower limbs of a 92-year-old nursing home patient, I was torn between sensations of gratitude that it was just my legs and not a stroke or heart attack, and feeling cheated of the ability to lift heavy burdens and sweat like a pig.

It got me to thinking about the word well. I was always thrilled at the prospect of feeling well–I liked it.

And tonight when I went to the United Methodist Church in Lumberton, Texas, to set up, and I needed to climb into a wheel chair to make it into the building to do my sound check, I temporarily felt robbed of the sensation of wellness. Yes, I wanted to feel sorry for myself.

There was this wonderful gentleman, about my age, who helped us carry in the equipment. He was so strong and capable, and here I was, wheeling my way around from place to place. But as I took a moment in the lobby of the church to reflect before I went up to check out the sound in the room, I considered that there are two ways to be well: you can FEEL well and you can DO well.

And even though physically I am still pretty fit and healthy, the ability to impress with my stride, strength and the sheer sense of muscular prowess is not in my grasp. But God has still given me the blessing of DOING well.

I have not lost my mind (unless you want to include sharing so candidly in an essay openly and publicly on the Internet). I have not lost my talent, such as it is. I have not lost my anointing and the touch of God on my life.

I asked myself in that lobby tonight, can I be happy doing well without feeling well?

I wheeled myself up the ramp onto the stage to practice my latest song. I don’t need an answer–just enough life to give me opportunity.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Adventure … August 7, 2012

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I go where I’m wanted and it ends up being what they needed. After arriving, I seek out reasons to want to be there and when all is said and done, my needs are met.

Adventure. An adventure is when life, circumstances and people have thoroughly demolished my plans and what is left to me is the true essence of my faith. No one ever signs up for such a calamity. It’s why God, in His great wisdom, surprises us with them–because we would never be willing to go into training for the mission.

Nine days ago, I finished up doing a program in Knoxville, Tennessee. I was prepared to fall into my normal pattern of calling ahead and scheduling lodging for a week in the location where I would next be sharing. I discovered that all the motel possibilities in Akron, Ohio, were closed off to me because of a golf

Official seal of City of Akron

Official seal of City of Akron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

tournament and the Hall of Fame football game. So even though I was heading to Akron, I couldn’t go to Akron. That could be enough right there to send you into a tizzy for a while. But experience has taught me to hold off on my festering fussiness long enough to see if there might be an alternative to the chaos.So I decided to stop off in Lexington, Kentucky, for a couple of days, to do some of my business and inch my way up to Akron, Ohio, hoping that by Saturday, a motel might become available. At first the process was filled with inspiration. The first blessing of the adventure, (which, as I pointed out to you, is an interruption of our brilliance in planning) was that I didn’t have to drive as far to get to Lexington as I would have to arrive in Akron. That’s nice. When I was much younger, I used to brag about how far I drove to get from one place to another. Now, as I get older, I like to brag about how little I’ve moved.Lexington was fun. We found some great lodging, got some swims in, did our work, and then headed off for another stop on our way to Akron, Ohio, in Columbus. I was all ready to go north of Columbus to be in striking distance of Akron, when I-71 clogged up with traffic because of the Ohio State Fair, and rather than sitting in my hot van and stubbornly pursuing a now-defunct plan, I turned around at the next exit and drove back five miles, to Grove City, and sought out lodging.

Janet had located a coupon for a motel at that particular exit, and due to the kindness of an innkeeper, we were allowed to have the same coupon rate for two nights–a real surprise.

Here’s a clue: it is impossible to enjoy surprises if you’re not willing to be surprised. If everything in your life must be planned out, approved by your sense of normalcy and radiating with the effects of previous experiences, you probably will end up in repetition and bored with your own existence.

I am not a great advocate for surprises, but I have been surprised enough that I am no longer afraid of them. We spent a couple of days at this motel, which was perfectly situated, and accessible to all sorts of businesses and opportunities.

When we were ready to leave on Saturday, it occurred to us that Ohio State Fair traffic was still going to be just as severe, so we selected to circle around the town on the west end–on the outer loop. The outer loop on the east side of town was much longer, so we felt very intelligent in choosing the westward, shorter path. Another cool thing about the adventure was that our motel was only two miles from this outer loop. But as we drove towards the outer loop, there was a flashing sign telling us that the west bound section was closed–curses, foiled again–so we ended up going on the east bound circle, which was longer and might have caused us to become grumpy if it were not for the fact that I just refused to lose my cool over nine extra miles.

It’s not because I’m special or hyper-spiritual. It’s just that sometimes the only way God can bless us is by eliminating our stupid choices, of which we have grown to be  fond.

We zoomed right around that east side loop and headed off to Akron, Ohio, with no idea on where we were going to stay. Worse, when we got on the outskirts of Akron, we did not actually eyeball any lodging whatsoever. All the calls we had made to Akron in the previous week had informed us that the accommodations were all full. Finally, someone directed us to Kent, Ohio, home of Kent State University. There we found a motel where they charged us twice their normal rate because of the special events in town, but we bit our lip, paid the price, settled in, and prepared for our weekend.

While I was sitting in the van waiting for Jan to check in, I got to thinking about Kent State. I was a senior in high school on May 4th in 1970, when four students were gunned down by the National Guard during an anti-war protest. What crossed my mind was whether four students being killed at a university would even make the news today. I suppose it would be included in the cycle, but back in 1970, it was a national tragedy on the caliber of 9/11. Amazingly, when I got into my room and turned on my television, the first thing that came on the screen was a report that after forty-two years, the case on the Kent State shooting of the four students had finally been closed. It was chilling and weird that I had been thinking about it while sitting in the same town, and was watching the report in real-time.

Coincidence? No–it’s an adventure. And to experience an adventure, you have to be willing to have your plans demolished and live on your faith.

The next day was a fabulous one at the church–great people. We had decided to drive on towards our next destination in Lansing, Michigan and cover some miles before settling in for Sunday night. To do so we had to traverse on some back roads in northern Ohio.

After about forty minutes on the road, we realized we were both hungry. I asked Jan what she wanted to eat and she said, “Some Chinese food would be nice.” Well, finding Chinese food in northern rural Ohio on a Sunday afternoon would be similar to finding a red barn, a field of corn and an American-flag mailbox in Peking.

But we pulled off on a side road and there was a little town a mile away, so we decided to go into the village and find out if there were any egg rolls available. It was a wide space in the road. It had a town square filled with fresh fruits and vegetables being sold by local farmers, but stuck in the corner on a side street was a little restaurant called The Great Wall.

Chinese.

We rolled up in front of it and there were two lovely people from the mainland, sitting there, just waiting for us to place our order. The food was delicious, the day was beautiful, the back roads were filled with story lines and gorgeous scenery, and we arrived exhausted, in Fremont, Ohio, to settle in for the night. The motel we selected was located behind a Denny’s restaurant so we didn’t even have to get in our van to acquire dinner.

It was an adventure–seven-and-a-half days of the unknown, where our faith was exercised and our hearts grew.

It was not where we wanted to be, but we found a way to enjoy it and in the process, our needs were met.

 

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

The First Time… March 22, 2012

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The first time I saw the ocean, I cried–a bit of marveling mingled with the saltiness of the air.

The first time I saw a bee, I giggled–bouncing from flower to flower, suspended yet animated.

The first time I kissed a girl, my heart stopped; then every sense accelerated into high gear, yearning to race to the finish line.

The first time I got sick, I wanted to die, but was later thankful for the prudent delay.

The first time I heard applause for my work, I smiled all over, refreshed by the wave of appreciation.

The first time I made love, my body briefly left my soul, to revel in its moment of acceptance.

The first time I was baptized, I opened my eyes under the water to view the cloudiness that was my heart.

The first time I heard a choir, I rejoiced in knowing that harmony in the masses was not only beautiful, but possible.

The first time I saw a mountain, I wanted to perch at its peak, minus the climb.

The first time I made people laugh, I felt like God–right after He created the sun.

The first time I was granted a miracle, my soul gazed at the heavens in wonder, as my head remained bowed.

The first time I held my son, I was in Eden, dancing around the Tree of Life.

The first time I failed, I was in awe that the rising dawn was unaware of my inadequacy.

The first time I drove a car–honestly, I favored the brake.

The first time I ate Chinese food, I resisted thinking about our family cat.

The first time I sang, I felt as if I were whispering into God’s ear.

And every first time I have a first time, I am grateful for this time … to discover The First.

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Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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