After There’s Nothing Left: Digging Through the Dirt

Shovel in Dirt

         Scrutinizing who you are as a person will create a richer point-of-clarification of who you are to yourself and to those around you.

        This point-of-clarification happened to me somewhere between ages 38-40. My wife and I had just gone through some of the most devastating experiences of our lives— the loss of a pregnancy, the loss of a livelihood, the loss of close friends and coworkers. Add to that my impending surgery for TMJ (Temporo-Mandibular Joint Disorder), which turned out to be very painful, and you can imagine our distress and discouragement. We were at the bottom of our lives. It became apparent that I had given up on living any kind of productive, useful, (let alone) creative life ever again.

      But, somewhere in the latter portion of my 39th year of life I got mad, really mad— at myself and at the world around me. I fought every corner of myself, and a few other nay-sayers, to make a difference in this world. Again. What happened next astounded even me. My wife and I founded NEEDinc. Initially an evangelistic ministry that “tailor made” an evangelistic approach more suitable to our New England environment and culture.

      I was alive again! My soul refreshed, my vision clear, my purpose rising ahead of me. I committed myself and all that we had to this new venture of training Christians to make sense of evangelism in the new, emerging postModern/postChristian world.

      Soul Confession behind me, I began digging in the dirt clarifying what I was all about. For Soul Clarity involves a focus on a future path, of how and where to expend energy. It asks questions like—

What am I designed to do in the next phase of my life?

Where does God want me to spend my strength to make the most difference?

      Everyone will come to a point in their journey where the question of what NOT to do is as important as what TO DO. Options DO change as wisdom increases and strength diminishes. Again, seeking the perspective of others who know you seems an advisable path.

      Having founded and incorporated NEEDinc, we next constructed a Board of Directors. From Day One, NEED’s Board of Directors has provided me with consistent guidance that has kept me on the straight & narrow. Ok, not so straight, definitely not narrow, but definitively on a path which fulfilled the Mission of NEEDinc, and suited God’s design upon me, my strength level, and a course of action that kept me on track. Thank God for the critiques, criticism, caring, and cautions of friends!

      For the only ways to clarify what you are designed for is—

  1. To take risks, in fear & faith.
  2. To listen carefully to the advice and criticism of those who know you best. (Including testing.)
  3. Assess whether what you believe about yourself is proven accurate in the evaluations of your efforts.
  4. In the affirmation that comes directly from the God who created you.

      Soul Clarity works in two ways: first, to wash clean all the junk that has clouded your vision for so long; and, second, to grant you clear vision and long range sight. (2 Peter 1:11). Still, I must add that you will not continue to see things clearly if you clutter your purpose or cloud your vision with peripheral projects. There are many good and great things you can do. But what is the ONE THING you MUST do, no matter what? THAT is the question. Or, that is THE question we all must answer if we are to have a purpose for our existence.

      Some lingering depression may still be there; but it will be couched in a revitalized purpose.

Digging deeper,

Gary

Dr. Gary Davis, President

NEXT— After There’s Nothing Left— the incredible lightness of being.

Christmas Future Past

chrstmas future pastChristmastime changes as we grow up. My childhood Christmas’ were filled with model cars, trains, wooden airplanes, & cookies! My mom could make the bestest Christmas cookies ever!

As I approached my teens took on the shapes of bikes, guests around the dinner table, and spending Christmas day with friends of my parents, or relatives who were terrified of children. They were the days when I felt like an afterthought.

My College days remedied that as I would spend much of Christmas at home, but not with my parents. Rather, with my own friends. As I look back, this was quite selfish and insensitive of me.

Marrying Starr was probably the best gift God ever gave me. We built a home together and then celebrated Christmas after Christmas in lavish insanity! They were wonderful days of cutting down our own tree (which we still do), hiding presents at neighbor’s homes, and, of course, baking more cookies. I would never have imagined that my wife could outbake my mother; but she did.

Now, our children are growing their own Christmas traditions with families of their own. They “visit” us at Christmas. It feels weird. We who shared so much together as a family are divided between Christmas Past, and Christmas Future. Letting go is hard to do. Starr and I miss our traditions and our times together. But all of us go through this, don’t we.

So now we are turning the page to a new saga of Christmases in our lives. New times shared, multiple Christmases, blending and separating new & old traditions, celebrating together sometimes; mostly, with all our children somewhere else on the map. Back to just us again…, but different.

So as you celebrate this Christmas season, enjoy the memories of the past. But keep your pen on the paper to write new customs to celebrate Christmas in the future. God gave us this time of year so we could shift gears from the everyday routine of living, to be with family, families, friends, past & future, and to thank God for giving us a baby who would change the world forever.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

  Gary

that ringing in my ears

Stop! Listen! You can hear it if you think about it— that delicate ringing in your ears just below the surface of your conscious thought. Normally, most of us tune out its persistent ringing (although some of us are unable to silence it). Most of the time it is a background noise; that is all. But it can be a distraction. And in those quiet moments of self-conscious thought, it can be heard below the din of our ruminations.

Our ears tune into all kinds of ambient distractions. For some, music beckons like the Sirens of ancient lore, disrupting us from completely engaging in present conversations. For others, music provides a soothing underscore enabling us to focus more fully on the tasks at hand. For still others any ambient noise, the whirling of a fan, the clicking of a keypad, the laughter of children playing, distracts us from focused engagement. Distractions all!

So why is it, then, that too often we choose to focus on the distraction rather than the present undertaking? Could it be that some tasks put to us are too complex or immense? Then, the distraction becomes so much more appealing, drawing us to its fancy. Or might it be that we simply choose to not think too deeply, too hard, about anything. It’s just too much work. We’d rather tune into anything else, even that ringing in our ears, than give ourselves to proactive, difficult thought.

Dare it be said? The modern mind is no more. It has been supplanted by a simple mind, a lazy mind, for a mind poised for mediocrity. Rather than rising to the occasion we choose to wait to see what happens. Easier to respond; more difficult to initiate. So?!?

If a majority of us continue along this path we will be absorbed by the postmodern mindset of rejecting past wisdom simply because it is from the past. Instead, we will grasp the dribble of postmodern/postChristian philosophies that merely reflect majority sentiment and leaning. Brilliant!

For example, do we really believe that human nature and morality are mere societal constructs for the safe perpetuation of the human species?!? REALLY!?! Then evolutionary theory has degenerated into mere human mechanics. Human decency has descended into no more than what each individual thinks they can get away with. Individual commitments become mere conveniences.

You can believe whatever you want. I choose to learn from the past, live graciously in the present, and risk our futures on faith in a personal God and human integrity rather than on a closed universe and humanistic mechanizations. There may be ringing in my ears, but I still choose to think.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

spring cleaning

Chuck Marean

After much perpetual prodding from my wife I was guilted into facing the greatest challenge of my life— cleaning out my Study. Mind you, this is no small matter. Centuries of books line the walls like added insulation. When I gave myself to address the volumes of history I found copies of the US Constitution, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and papyri from the Library at Alexandria. In the dust collected I discovered micro-organisms which linked directly to the Big Bang. Together, my wife and I even found strands of hair from “the Missing Link.” (She mused if I might be shedding.) We decided that attempting to complete the task should be stretched out over a couple weeks to protect my delicately imbalanced psychological structure.

As I inhaled dust particles from before the last Ice Age it became apparent that a great battle was taking place. Deciding what should go and what could stay was hard enough; but it was more than that. I was at war with myself. I had to decide to let go of history, of meaningful parts of my very life that at one time were my very essence. Never mind that I held captive some of the most influential books ever written, even rare books! Some had to go: some could stay. I was re-experiencing The Agony and the Ecstasy as I dug deeper into the ancient manuscripts to determine if they held any significance for my present life-situation.

Letting go. Why do we have such a hard time with it? There’s safety in the past. Really!?! Do you know the saying—

Nothing is more responsible for the good old days

than the passage of time and a bad memory.  [Franklin Pierce Adams]

We hang on to our past because we fear the future. We neither want to live up to the demands of life NOW, nor face the challenges of an uncertain future. Uncertainty is frightening. No argument there. But what if…, what if, we could face it with less baggage? What if we let the past lie there, in the past? None of us can afford to rust on our laurels or go back to the way it used to be. The only choice before us is to learn from the past, to live in the present, and to plan for the future. We can do it with either anxious fear or anticipation and excitement.

Enjoying the present and trusting God for the future is a great beginning! But, unless you are an archeologist, hanging on to the past will only weight you down. It’s gone. Time for a little Spring Cleaning.

Have a nice week,

Gary