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Steve’s Story

During Easter weekend I began to feel out of sorts and experienced some unusual symptoms. On Monday morning I went to the doctor, who did tests and made a preliminary diagnoses that I was having gall bladder issues. He sent me for a ultrasound, which turned out to be negative for gall stones, and then a CT scan, which revealed a small mass on the head of my pancreas. On Wednesday I was able to get in to see a wonderful surgeon at Emory who was 95% certain that I had a malignant tumor. Because of the location, the tumor was blocking the bile duct and causing me to become jaundiced, but it is also operable. The decision was made to do a Whipple procedure  which is a complex, but effective surgery.  That surgery is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 6.

My wife, Sharol or I will be posting updates under the "Journal" tab of this page on a regular basis. We will also be monitoring comments in the the "Guestbook" section.

Latest Journal Update

November 26 - Am I wasting my time?

STEVE here:

Recently I've been plagued by questions about how I am using my time.  Knowing that my time on this earth is limited is a strong motivation to use the days I have left to the fullest.  Some days, of course, I have little choice because I don't feel well enough to do much.  There are natural, health-related limitations. But on the days that I feel relatively good, I do have options.  I look back some days and wonder whether I have been as faithful as I could be in how I have used my time.  Have I accomplished enough?  Should I have written more email messages or made more phone calls?  Should I have been willing to see more people or worked on more projects that are on my list of possibilities?

I wonder some days how God regards my time. I'm sure that just being busy isn't the right criterion. Yesterday I was taking a little rest and found myself wondering whether resting was the right thing to be doing when I actually felt good enough to do more.

As I have said before, discerning and pursuing God's "call" for any particular day seems to be an important goal. But discernment isn't easy. Sometimes giving myself to little things, or simply to periods of thoughtful reflection may be more important than my activist spirit will approve.

Internally I find that I am developing questions to help me in my discernment.  They include, for example: 1) Is this activity something where my joy intersects with my perception of what brings joy to God?  2) Am I living into this activity with gratitude for the opportunity given to me?  3) Am I able to receive the time before me as a gift, or does it actually feel like a waste or a burden?  4) Does this activity play into old patterns of procrastination on the one hand or overwork on the other? 5) How does this activity express love--for God, for each other, and for God's work in the world?

Woven into this whole process of discernment for me must be a clear perception of grace, otherwise all of this fuss does little more than encourage me to worry. If there is no joy in my life, then I am not listening to God's voice but only to my own perfectionism. I truly believe that "joy is the business of heaven."  C.S. Lewis made this important point in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer  (1964).  Lewis pointed out that it is far too easy for us to assume that only the very serious things of life are approved by God. But in God's economy, where so much is upside down, even things that look frivolous, unimportant, wasteful, or playful can be important when they are attached to the joy found in the heart of God's character. 

So the real question about my day is not "how productive was it?" but rather "how much joy did my activity bring, and how much love and gratitude did it express?"

Wishing each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!
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Comments

51 Comments

Greta Reed
By Greta Reed
What would the world be like if we all approached our time with the question of how much joy, love and gratitude can I bring through my interactions this day?
Nancy Sellars
By Nancy Sellars
Hi Steve, I remember you from my days at UW when you led the INN. I am grateful for that leadership and bless you for your impact on my road of faith. Kay Broweleit shared your situation with the congregation at Sammamish Presbyterian Church last Sunday which prompted me to write. Thank you for blessing my life and so many others.
Laura Crosby
By Laura Crosby
Such valuable questions and reflection! Thank you so much for sharing, Steve!
Bruce Kreutzer
By Bruce Kreutzer
Dear Steve: Thank you for your thoughtful questions that can help any one as we seek to know how to spend our time. May God richly bless you!
David Williamson
By Dave Williamson
Steve, again, so honest, so helpful
James Speed
By Jim Speed
You always inspire - thanks be to God.
Mary Elva Smith
By Mary Elva Smith
Steve, you are your own spiritual director and are offering each of us who checks in to hear from you wonderful questions for our own reflection. You continue to bless us with your wisdom, wondering and insight. I am thankful for the gifts you offer your friends and family.
Fred Prudek
By Fred Prudek
Steve, I read your recent comments and felt that they were truly inspired from the Holy Spirit. I have since passed them onto some of my good friends and prayer partners, and they have responded that your words were powerful and inspiring and thoughtful to them as well. You continue to be a blessing to many. Have a blessed Thanksgiving with family.
Judith Shipley
By Judy Shipley, Pittsburgh
Remembering you and Sharol on this day of giving thanks.
Bill Brown
By Bill and Gail Brown
Steve, thank you for your wise words. I think it would be safe to say that much of what God does could be considered a waste from the point of view of our efficiency-obsessed lives. Creating the vast cosmos for one. Loving the lost, for another. Sabbath. A glorious waste!

A blessed Thanksgiving to you, Sharol, and all the Hayners.