Day 504… February 24, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2160)

Day 504Seems like an odd landmark, doesn’t it? Day 504.

But it came to my mind, and when I counted up the days, that’s the number I ended up with.

It is exactly 504 days since I woke up in Fremont, Ohio, with my legs so stiff, sore, cramping and aching that for all intents and purposes I was not able to walk. Therefore I thought it was time for an update.

Let me start with one of the greatest statements that can ever be made by a human:

It’s not worse.

After 504 days, that original cramping and debilitation did not place me permanently in a wheelchair, unable to move, travel, interact with human beings or even dress myself. I think we miss a rare opportunity in life when we don’t celebrate the absence of things getting worse.

Because quite bluntly, my friends–they can. There are diseases, problems, afflictions and habits that are avalanches toward disaster. It did not get worse.

Secondly–it’s better.

How is it better? I’m walking more than I was before. The stiffness is not as bad. The knees are still achy, but somehow or another, the beautiful construction of my human anatomy has enabled me to get accustomed to it, and I am able to perform all of my tasks with the same vigor I had in my twenties. Now for a third thought:

I am better.

Here is something I want you to consider: we are temporarily blessed in pleasure but perfected in pain. Why is that?

If we don’t feel a sense of our own mortality and are unaware of our own weaknesses, we begin to think that everything that comes into our minds is valuable instead of in need of a good interrogation.

I am better because complete mobility and self-sufficiency is not at my fingertips–or in this case, my toe tips.

  • It makes me appreciate everything more.
  • It makes me plan more efficiently.
  • It causes me to be sensitive when I look across the room and see someone with a cane, a walker or nursing a limp.
  • And finally, it has transformed my meager thinking into the understanding that life is about “better.”

Although I hear both religious and secular people lamenting the condition of the world around them, our thermometers should be set to notice the slightest change in degree of improvement.

Those who have the sensitivity to peer through the darkness and find one candle of light are the souls that sustain us to a better tomorrow.

So on day 504, I am happy to report that my condition is not worse. It’s better.

And because I have gone through it, I am better, converted to the philosophy–and powerful it is–that life is about better.

Donate Button

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

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

I Have My Own Doubt… October 16, 2012

(1,670)

Live from October 1st filming

“No, thank you. I have my own doubt. I appreciate you thinking of me and offering me a fresh dose of disbelief and uncertainty, but I am a human being so I already come with a lifetime supply.”

One of the most difficult things to learn is that if you run across any child of God, that encounter has been entrusted to you in order to edify him or her, and if you, for some reason, find yourself unable to accomplish that task, please leave that human alone. If the only thing you have to offer people are Bible verses, the law of God or doctrinal positions on social issues, then you might want to spend more time at home, in personal consecration and self-improvement programs.

Human beings require encouragement. Even though we’re convinced that it may be our mission to discipline others to our particular brand of Spartan programming, God will snip the bud of your little flower of evangelism the minute it stops making people reach out and grow.

It’s hard to learn. Maybe it’s because we all go through the phase in life of being parents, attempting to instruct young earthlings in how to subsist and survive on this planet. Maybe it’s because most of us go to jobs where a supervisor is looking over our shoulders, scrutinizing our efforts. It could be the residue of an educational system which gives us grades on everything we do. Or maybe it’s just because we’re all a little obnoxious due to our own insecurities and feel the need to lord it over someone else. I don’t know.

But whatever it is, the more you abandon your self-righteous, pious, schoolmarm persona, the better off you will be–the more friends you will procure and the more God’s grace can be extended in your direction.

As I am in the midst of a personal pursuit for a little piece of God’s heaven to be brought into my earthly situation, I realized yesterday, as I drove from Fremont, Ohio, to Indianapolis, that there are only three things necessary to make life work. Let me not mislead you–it does take all three. But they hang out as buddies as a unit, so it’s difficult to imagine having one without seeing the other two. What I’m saying is, you probably have all three of these or you have none. Shall we take a look at them?

A good human life consists of faith, work and humor.

Faith: “God can.”

Do not be deceived. The majority of the agnostics in this country are not professors at Ivy League schools. They are pew-sitters in the local church congregations in small towns all across the nation. They are people who have a form of godliness, but privately deny there is actually any power for their personal lives through that system.

What is faith? Faith is God can. It doesn’t mean God will, which uses presumption and rhetoric. It is not God did, referencing Old Testament stories and trying to make them relevent three thousand years later. It is not God should, which is some sort of aggravating lament because life doesn’t work the way we want it to.

God can. That’s where my faith is right now. God can give me the ability to stand upright and walk about. I am not telling you that He must. I’, also not saying it’s a deal-breaker for our relationship. My faith is that God can.

To be around people who do not hold to that conviction may be totally inevitable, but at this particular phase in my journey, should be infrequent.

Then comes work. In other words, it’s my turn.

And work is very simple:  I will.

Once again, it’s not I plan. Nor I sure would like to. It’s not if I get the money together. It’s not if I can acquire some help.

Take your faith–the belief that God can–and find one or two little things you can do without anyone else’s help, and attempt them. Today I will leave my motel room on my own in my van and four times I will try to walk a few steps to regain my strength. Why? Because I need the work–and I have found something that I will do.

And finally, every human being needs humor. And what is humor? Humor is the profile we take when it temporarily appears that God has gone on vacation and our efforts fall short–more comical than profitable. Humor, to me, is the wonderful, laughing proclamation to the world of: Whoops! Next time. In other words, “My faith is still growing, my work fell short, and rather than denying my weakness, I shall be the first one to giggle over it.”

When you combine these three things together, you get the seed for human achievement. Yes, the seed. Do you remember Jesus challenged his disciples to pursue a small piece of excellence? Their response to him was, “Increase our faith.”

He just smiled at them and said, “Folks, all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed.”

And what is my mustard seed? The same as yours.

It’s just faith. In other words, God can.

It’s work, which translates into: I will.

And when I need it, it’s humor, which is the jocular admission: Whoops! Next time.

I don’t need your doubt–I have plenty of my own.

But if you’d like to bring your faith and your work and your humor … together, we might just change the world.

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

I’m Really Not Sure… October 15, 2012

(1,669)

Live from October 1st filming

I do believe that the Apostle Paul was mistaken.

He insisted that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Instead, he contended that the earthly journey is more or less we humans being stuck in a comic battle between good and evil. You’re welcome to agree with him if you so desire. I don’t.

My discovery of life on terra firma is that we are dealing with flesh and blood issues. Bluntly…us. Appetites, genetics, weaknesses, insecurities, frustrations, indignities, victories, defeats… and of course, worst of all…pernicious apathy.

For about fifteen years I’ve been struggling with leg and knee pain. There are times when it’s been worse than others, but for years, I have been the chooser of the closest parking space at the shopping mall.

I am not lazy. I have crisscrossed the country at least a dozen times, shared thousands of shows in front of tens of thousands of people and marched through airports to get to those destinations–most of the time, in some sort of pain. It’s a flesh and blood issue–and it happens to be mine.

Since January and the passing of my sixtieth birthday, the problem has settled in as a permanent occupant of my daily schedule. In the past two weeks it has gotten even worse than that. Finally, I found myself basically unable to walk–cramped up and with the dark notion that I was finished and would need to seek other ways to express my mission, my message and my heart.

You see, that’s more of that flesh and blood problem. It doesn’t matter how many times we have seen miracles, God move, or the universe tip a little bit to the right to our advantage. For some reason, we all tend to go a little dark whenever anything lands in our toy box and we don’t know exactly how to play with it.

Matter of fact, I was ready to cancel all of my dates last week and “nurse myself back to good health.” Can I tell you something truthfully? I have never gotten over any ailment by lying around. Even when I have a cold, I am better off getting up, moving and redistributing the mucus than I am by letting it settle into my chest, as I pretend to recuperate. I have sprained my ankle, iced it and rested it–but the first time I stepped down on it, it still felt sprained. I don’t know how long it would take to get better laying down on the job.

So I woke up in the middle of the night–early Thursday morning, actually–and realized that my calling is not to sit in a motel room, prop my feet up and lament not being able to go out and share. I decided to rent a wheelchair. I had no idea what I was doing.

I really wasn’t sure.

Now, some people, when they’re not sure, feel they have walked into a deep, dark cave and they’re frightened of the attack of blood-sucking bats. I don’t feel that way. Matter of fact, sometimes I think it’s impossible to know what you really have until you lose what you don’t need.

When I went to the church in Fremont on Sunday morning and was rolled in in my wheelchair, I was convinced that everybody in the world was turning his head to peer at the freak. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I have never been embraced, loved, assisted, confided in and included as part of a family the way I was yesterday. In both the church in Fremont and the church Sunday night, in Port Clinton, the folks rallied around me and helped me do whatever it is that I do–and never were they ashamed of my lacking.

I’m really not sure. You see what I mean? If I had not come to this crisis in my life, would I ever have set in motion a plan to try to rectify my chronic pain? Would I ever have gone on a food regimen again–now in my eighth day–which is already helping both my energy and my blood sugar? Would I ever have made myself vulnerable enough that my needfulness gave me the space for humanity to enter without apologizing for intruding? Would I ever have planned every step of my day so meticulously because I was learning my wheels?

I’m really not sure you can live a successful human life if hell is your fall guy and heaven is your only safe place. Sometimes the best way for God to love you is to allow you to reap the fruit of your labors–and see if you can’t grow out of your pain instead of just miraculously relieving it.

I’m driving to Indianapolis today. I feel absolutely great–except my legs just don’t want to balance and help me walk. I’m not sad; I am not looking for demons which have caused this interruption. And I certainly am not blaming God for failing to deliver my latest care package of grace.

What I am doing is stopping to realize that there is nothing happening to me right now that isn’t better than if I were still hobbling along, pretending I was all right, but wracked with pain.

  • How can God express His love if He’s not allowing circumstances to generate a better world for me?
  • How can God be God and not honor the principles of His own creation?
  • And how can God be God if the resolution to my situation is not improving my station?

It’s a powerful day, my friend.

I’m really not sure–and in the midst of that unsureness, I find the origins of my joy.

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

Adventure … August 7, 2012

(1,600)

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

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: