Sunday, November 1, 2009

Healing and Church

I am with my dad - I no longer really know what to write on this blog. I have been keeping it geared toward updates on Jake the last few posts, and I don't want to just go on some random rant... but I have this resolve in me to keep putting stuff up here, even though I often sit down and don't know what to say.

To start, I heard from Jake that his back did a little better yesterday after he tried sleeping in a different bed. He's going to keep experimenting with things like that until he sees some change. He typically does not sleep well through the night either, so that could be one more item for the prayer list.

After talking to my family on the phone the other day, I was a bit overwhelmed with thinking how much God could still take and use this situation to help others in the years to come. Something I have said before goes something like: "Comfort is all about PRESENCE, showing someone that they are loved by YOU despite the outcome, that you are on their side, that they still have something to live for." It is not about the words that we say or the things we bring or the prayers we pray - it is about our hearts and attitudes toward that person. Are we like an aloof hospital chaplain who comes and prays and offers counsel without simply knowing what is truly going on, or getting to know the hearts of the people, or listening? Or do we show that person that we are purely there for them, not for our own agenda of trying to console them or tell them that God is still good or make sure they are still right with God. Bringing the healing that Jesus talks about, the restoration, is all about bringing his presence of love. To do this, we need to LISTEN, ALLOW SPACE, and simply BE WITH. Let the other person dictate the vibe of the time; it is the role of the healer to simply love, even if that love is never verbally expressed.

The reason I say this is I feel like this is a practical lesson that people can learn from our situation and will learn in the future. Also, it is so strange to me how God has been using the internet, using the blog with this very purpose. Throughout the whole summer I was skeptical because of how impersonal blogging seems. Yet we have heard numerous stories of people being deeply affected by it. In our day and age, (especially here at Biola :), media resources, computer, internet etc. are talked about as distractions and as things we need to detox from in order to have a better relationship with God. While this might be true in a certain sense, what a blessing to see a practical way in which God has truly used these to do his restorative work in this world! Like I said, there have been numerous stories. The most recent one really struck me - as this person was sitting in the hopsital with a loved one going through a medical crisis, feeling exhausted from being in the hospital for most of 24 hours, they thought: "Well, the Kirkendalls know all about being this tired!" This so resonates with what a just wrote above - somehow, we were able to be that presence to this person. What a huge blessing.

I have had conversations with many friends about the state of the church in our age. How the old models of "doing church" are slowly crumbling. They aren't working for the new generation. We will need to explore creative ways of "being the Church (big C)" in the future that goes far beyond the typical church structure. I feel that this journey, the relationships forged this summer, this internet community, etc. have opened my (our?) eyes to many of these creative ways, about what the Church really looks like, how what we are truly comes out in times of crisis. I encourage you to explore what some of these creative ways of being the Church will look like in your respective communities. Think and pray about it, and ask God for the courage to act out in what you discover. That's the part that is really hard for me :).

-Rob (Jake's brother)

p.s. Again, please email any stories you would like to share with us to


Tim Aagard said...

"and like my dad I have begun questioning who really reads this anyway…but I have this resolve in me"

Keep walking by faith, and rejecting the natural urges to rely on sight. We're not going to see with our eyes much of how God is working.

"Comfort is all about PRESENCE, showing someone that they are loved by YOU despite the outcome, that you are on their side, that they still have something to live for." It is not about the words that we say or the things we bring or the prayers we pray - it is about our hearts and attitudes toward that person."

I don't think it's accurate to say that comfort is "all about presence" and "not about words… things…prayers." It's all of the above. Real presence is all of the above. I would be careful not to discount the smallest offering of comfort that God may prompt a person to offer. A cup of water offered in Jesus name is a big deal with God.

"How the old models of "doing church" are slowly crumbling. They aren't working for the new generation."

The old models aren't working (doing what God asked for) for the old generation either, they just aren't willing to see or admit it. The old model has a subtle way of neutering believers abilities to compare what they are doing with what God's Word actually says. Most believers know Heb. 10:24, 25 and think that sitting in a pew listening to a lecture and casual socializing in a Sunday School room obey these instructions. I was stuck in it for many years all the while struggling to act on what God was showing me.

"We will need to explore creative ways of "being the Church…"

Luke gives us the starting point. "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11) Creativity comes second. Rediscovering what God has really designed in "the scriptures" comes first. I've read many books complaining about traditional church (cell, seeker, emerging, virtual) but their creative solutions all rebuild with the same old system at the foundation and wrap new lingo and decorations around it. Little of substance is really changed. Start with scripture. It will be a light for your path. It will produce faith instead of presumption.

"...ask God for the courage to act out in what you discover. That's the part that is really hard for me :)"

Yes, ask God. Yes, act. Yes, it's very hard. It involves agonizing before God. It involves being completely misunderstood by relatives and friends in ministry you have served with for years, but give thanks in all of it.

Anonymous said...

Like myself, there are probably a number of people who don't formally register as a "follower", nor comment on the postings, but read the blog daily and then pray for Jake and your family when we have prayers as a family. I.e., there are probably more people who read your entries than you think.

Anonymous said...

I am humbled everytime I click on the Jacob's Journey saved on my computer...I'm a Mother, wife, daughter, sister, and a follower of Jesus. Sometimes I feel that my seemingly small prayers for Jacob are not worthy, yetI know that our Father hears every prayer, and that His Will be done was all I had for a time of turmoil in my life. The faith your family has is such an inspiration, you are in my prayers.

Christi said...

I have read every single entry posted and I am so thankful for your entire family. My own family is struggling right now with my husband being out of work for nearly a year. I constantly get encouragement from your authentic and raw responses to what you are facing daily. I am praying for Jacob every day.

Anonymous said...

Like others have mentioned, there are many out here who are following your journey and praying for your family. You are inspiring and help me to embrace my healthy, young children daily recognizing what true gifts they are. Thank you.

Debbie said...

Robbie & Tom,

I cannot imagine maintaining a blog and writing 1 or 2 a day in the midst of all you are facing. And yes--it can seem impersonal, however...I used to be a "very active, hands-on, involved in as much as possible" kind of person until I became chronically ill 8 years ago and have spent the last many years in bed.

There are so many of us that would love to be able to be at church every weekend, or to be in the company of friends or loved ones often, but health or circumstance doesn't always allow it. I have found reading your blog everyday (I haven't missed one) has given me an unexpected outlet of connection & life & hope. Reminders of truth. It has been a season of "weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice."

So, it may seem "impersonal" but in a way, for me and I believe for others--it can be one of their only opportunities for daily instruction/connection/hope. Hope that is reaching out to them, when they are unable to get it for themselves. So, keep writing and believe that God will use your words to whisper hope and healing to others!

John Hixson said...

Dear Robbie, just as Debbie said, your blog is my daily opportunity for instruction/connection/hope. Most of your readers, such as me, don't always post a comment, but we ALWAYS read your blog and pray for Jacob & his entire family. As I have told many friends, the Jacob's Journey blog has drawn me so much closer to God. I pray that God will give you a picture of the huge "congregation" who's listening to yours & your Dad's words, nodding with agreement, and then praying for you all. Be filled with God's comfort and encouragement for all you're doing. Be filled with God's hope for a miraculous "happy ending" to the story....

Anonymous said...

We were just four of us, waiting holidays to go back to see the family. Now you are our extended family here. A family that allows us to stay with them thanks to this blog. We are here for all of you if you need us. We are here waiting with you for the day that Jacob can go back to the beach, for the day that Jacob can drive again. We are waiting with you, we are praying with you. I am waiting for the day that Jacob come back to my house to visit my kids and see his beautiful smile again.
You can not see us, but we are here for you. We are here thinking of you, feeling your sadness, your happiness. We are here waiting for the next step in OUR journey, we are together. Please, keep us with you.

Anonymous said...

I know it has been said before... but just so you know it is true. There are more people than you know about that haven't registered as followers that read this blog and gather inspiration from your story.

Anonymous said...

So thankful for this blog and for your family. Your family has been touching lives long before the internet. Sometimes we dont know how much we truly impact the lives of others, we just have to keep asking for the heart/will to do Gods work.
Sending prayers of healing..xox

Anonymous said...

Hi Robbie,

You say you are questioning who reads this blog. Let me just honestly say that I think I have read and reread almost every word ever written on the blog. Everything you say helps me pray for your brother and your family, and it is thought provoking, too. You have helped me begin to think through lots of issues, from how to comfort to how to be the church. I am deeply appreciative even though I am so sorry about the incident that birthed the blog.

Thank you,

Rene Schlaepfer