The Fragility of Life

...the hair of his head began to grow back after it had been shaven Judges 16:20

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”  James 4:13-15

As I sat down to write this blog entry I was surprised to see that it has been almost 6 weeks since my last writing.   I will do better going forward with making these more regular again as I have come to see that the subject of finding God in and through times of suffering is something that is an ongoing need for all of us.  I realize that much more than I did just 6 months ago.  

After the crazy first half of this year I have been anxious to try to get back to living life and doing things that I have not been able to do.  The month of August was a bit of a blur in the best of ways.  As the month progressed I found myself able to get back to a much more "normal" life.   My work was busy and I had the energy and for the most part the mental strength to do what I needed to do.    I was able to get out in person and lead a manager training session, go to our corporate office a couple of times, and attend an in person training with some of our contract workers.  On top of that I got back in the pulpit.  I ended up preaching the last four Sunday's (in a row) in August.  That is more than I preached between Easter Sunday and the beginning of July!   Oh, and my hair has finally begun to grow back, don't know yet the color or the texture but I'm glad to see some peach fuzz is coming in!

As much as I have wanted things to go back to "normal" I am realizing that whether I like it or not life has changed.   Two weeks ago on the way to a meeting I stopped to get gas and laid my wallet on the roof of my car to get my debit card out and swipe it to pay at the pump.  When I drove off my wallet was still on the roof of the car.  I didn't realize it till about 3 hours later and when I retraced my steps I only found my health insurance card on the side of an interstate entrance ramp.  Everything else was gone.   My wallet and it's contents had been scattered and lost along the side of a busy highway.    I spent a good part of the rest of the afternoon calling to cancel & replace debit/credit cards as well as my drivers license and other items.   It was frustrating, but as I thought about it I realized that the scattering of the contents of my wallet was a good illustration of what happened to my life over the last 6 months, although putting the pieces of a wallet back together is definitely a little easier than a life.

This past week we took a family vacation and I am so grateful to God that we got to have one.   A couple of months ago we weren't sure if a vacation would even be possible.    As much as I loved spending the time away with family, I found myself fluctuating between joy and sadness.   I would see one of my daughters with a big smile on her face having a good time and the next moment I would feel a wave of grief sweep over me.    I found myself thinking that if something happened to her, I would miss the happiness I feel now.    It's like my mind wouldn't let me just enjoy the moment.    I think the trauma of the journey I have been on this year from the loss of people close to us in addition to the cancer I was faced with has caused me to see much clearer than I wanted the fragility of life.    My wife used to say to me that I never worried about our kids, I was always just so confident that they would be fine.   Through this year's journey I have become acutely aware that everything in life is temporary and can change in a moment.   I don't like that awareness.  But... as much as I would like life to just go back the way that it was, I can't undo what I've experienced.   How I see life has changed for me.

So... how do we find hope for the future in a world where life suddenly becomes fragile?  I want to spend some time sharing over the next few blog entries what I have been learning about the identity of God that is helping me through the uncertainty that I suddenly feel.   I am more aware than ever of my need to learn to live more in the moment, which is the heart of the scripture from the book of James at the beginning of this blog.  I'm finding if I don't the sadness of what might be tries to steal the joy of the present.  In a few days I have another CT scan followed by a visit to my oncologist.  I am expecting good results but I know that anything is possible.   I'm continuing to learn to live in the moment.  Today I went for an hour walk with my daughters and our dog.  I played (and lost) a game of Monopoly against my 2nd oldest daughter (she was very proud to finally beat me).   It has been a good day and that is enough.

Before I end this blog entry I wanted to share something that happened a couple of days ago.  I was talking with someone who I didn't think I knew.  He told me that he had been reading my blog and that he and his wife had been praying for me every night for the past few months. It completely blew me away.   It was a reminder to me that so many of you have been continuously praying for me and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.    I do believe it is all of your prayers that have brought me through this very difficult time in my life and I want to say thank you with all of my heart.   The best I know to do in return is to continue writing this blog to share what I can that may help someone else through whatever struggle in life they may face.    The one thing I have learned this year is that so many face tragedy & trauma in different ways and we all need God's strength and grace to bring us through.    Knowing that we are not alone is a big help and praying for one another makes us all stronger.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and for being on this journey with me.  I am forever grateful for your love and prayers.


Beth Hamm - September 14th, 2021 at 7:28pm

So glad to see you doing so well.

Jean Chapman (Mum) - September 14th, 2021 at 8:00pm

This really touched my heart and moved me. God moves in the most mysterious ways, His wonders and ways to perform. After all, He is God...all by Himself. God has a wonderful plan for you and in the words of my Dad, “He will show you something no one else has thought of”. Just watch and see, and get ready. I love you, Matthew. Always have, always will.

Kim - September 15th, 2021 at 4:23pm

Love this…we need to live in the moment, it is hard when you are a planner, but it is also necessary to live EVERY single moment…so thankful for you, your family and these words of Kim

Naenae - September 19th, 2021 at 9:36am

😭😭😭😭😭but God. God is so good.

Sonya - September 22nd, 2021 at 9:57pm

Thankful this journey is not over , just beginning. Your strength is encouraging and your candid blog is refreshing to say the least. Thank you for sharing the good and the topsy turvey of this journey . Love you

Simeon Chapman - September 28th, 2021 at 4:26pm

So pleased to read of your progress. Glad that you had a family holiday and are feeling stronger. I read recently that we are transformed by either great love or great suffering. Seems to me that you have experienced both. It’s transforming. Love you Matthew

Donna Kesling - September 28th, 2021 at 11:17pm

So glad to hear that you are doing much better and that you are living life again by God's grace. Enjoy every minute of it! God is good!