Monday, April 7, 2014

The View From My Bookcase

Occasionally, I come across books I really, really like! My friend Wendall (“Windy”) Woodall just published one such book titled Shuffle: A Way Forward, Whatever the Challenge.

It's an excellent book about Windy dealing with an unexpected diagnosis of early-onset Parkinson's. At times he experiences humorous moments as he confronts the difficult issues of chronic illness and depression, and finally comes to profound truths rooted in the Word of God. The book encourages readers, through one man's journey, to spur our spirit to move forward with all of our strength despite any hurdles we encounter. The principles and truths Windy chronicles can be applied to any difficult and unexpected life-change. The book is well written and comfortable like your best friend is having a heartfelt conversation with you.

Here’s an excerpt from Windy’s book:

The day I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s … I spoke with my wife first. That was a no-brainer. I called my parents and then spoke with my three daughters. We talked with teary eyes and cracking voices, but no one lost control. That’s just not our family.

From there, the news spread rapidly, and that was OK with us. Many well-meaning friends and family members began to contact us. They wanted to show their support and express their condolences. I was grateful for each one. I really was. As you can probably imagine, in my circles there was a lot of talk about prayer and healing and miracles, all of which I am highly in favor of, just for the record. (Did you hear that, God?) I can attest to the fact that I have already greatly surpassed the Apostle’s Paul thrice-prayed plea asking for God to take this away from me. If the total number of prayers has anything to do with getting an answer, I’m quite sure I’m in the running.

Yet, as a pastor who has visited the sick and the dying throughout decades of ministry, I have seen both sides of the coin as far as answers are concerned. This person was healed, and that one was not. God seemingly listened to his prayer but not hers. One dear friend got the miracle while another friend was not so blessed. Why the disparity?

The truth is: I have no idea. How’s that for a theological answer? Anyone who says they do is deluded or a fraud. Is that too much openness and honesty? I know that my “I have no idea” is a very unsatisfying explanation for anyone struggling through the disparity question. Believe me, I know. But the answers that I’ve been given over the years are just as unsatisfying.

One person says, “It’s because you don’t have enough faith.” But I think even I could come up with faith the size of a mustard seed. (Google that phrase if you don’t understand the reference.) Another says, “It’s because you have sin in your life.” Guess what? We all do. If perfection is the prerequisite, then none of us should expect an answer to prayer.

I think the reasons are much more complex than the feeble ones we tend to offer. My suspicion is that it has something to do with the tapestry of history that God is putting together and the appointed times in which we were all destined to live.

Perhaps Gandalf the Grey, one of my favorite philosophers, said it best in “The Lord of the Rings.” Frodo lamented to him: “I wish none of this had happened.”

“So do all who live to see such times,” Gandalf wisely responded. “But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

It’s what the Apostle Paul said in Acts 17:26: “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

It’s what King David wrote in Psalm 139:16: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” I’ve come to believe that God is orchestrating the details of my life, “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health.” I know which three of those pairs of ideas I would prefer for my life, but that’s not for me to decide.

Maybe Jesus said it best: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). Life brings us both. My part is to choose how I will respond and live out the time that is given to me.

In my mind, I always come back to Paul and his thorn in the flesh. He asked for healing, but he was only promised grace: The grace to endure it; the grace to complete his mission in spite of it; the grace that was sufficient enough to see him through to the end, without his health restored. I know some of my friends who don’t believe in God would say that I’m merely explaining away the unanswered prayers, and, quite frankly, I have to admit that they certainly have grounds to believe that. But for me, it was not that Paul’s prayers went unanswered. On the contrary, God does answer—Paul even quotes it—but it just wasn’t the answer he had hoped for. He asked for healing, but he was only promised grace. Is the latter not God’s answer, as well?

Hope you enjoyed reading the excerpt. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever been overwhelmed by the circumstances of life.

You can purchase the book at or from Highway 51 Publishing at

Robert Parlante
April 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment