don’t worry, be more.

Posted: 28th August 2011 by Chad in General Post
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Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of WW2, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of invasion.

And today I think we need it more than then.

In my mind there’s a contradiction that exists here in America. Stats say we are largely Christian. Yet when I’m in the airports and on the freeways there is little evidence to back this up. When even a small gesture of kindness is shown, man doesn’t it stand out? Granted, this me-mentality doesn’t just stem from pure selfishness. Especially here, and especially now with the world’s economy doing end-overs, the penchant to make sure I get mine takes center stage.

Still, what’s going on around us shouldn’t change why we’re here. I’m struck that even at our worst there are so many more worse off. Where is the end of our ‘need’? When’s enough enough to the point that I start to give my life away? It’s not getting what I want, it’s wanting what I’ve already got. Lord knows I have enough already. I’m starting to see Matthew 6:25 in a whole new light.…”isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?”. Have you considered that our promised ‘abundant life’ isn’t realized this side of heaven? Even if you think all things well, it only gets better. As for those of us that will arrive at heaven’s door with some baggage and a few scars – we can take comfort. God created this earth and His heaven so that we don’t make our exit leaving heel marks.

“Something we were withholding made us weak, until we found it was ourselves.” ~ Robert Frost

Eternal fixation does something to you, and as pale as things might become around you once you see it, heaven’s colorful contrast bleeds over the empty pages and paints a hope that keeps lifting you up, erasing and mocking the things that used to prod at the peace inside you. The fears and inhibitions you’ve wrestled with all your life lose their hold, and the “why” for your existence gets real clear, real quick.

I didn’t have that perspective until I lost my life and was given a new one. Now all I want to do is leave this place better than I found it, to plant seeds of enduring faith into my family and reach out to the world around me with an authentic love that only comes from knowing Christ.

How else will they know Him?

So Christians, be Christ-like. Believers, give people something to believe in. And despite our shortcomings – Seekers, keep seeking.

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

the box.

Posted: 9th June 2011 by Chad in General Post
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Hi God.

I need to start with an apology.

I’m sorry.

I didn’t realize I had put You in a box. Worse, I didn’t realize I had limited Infinite You to the confines of my finite mind. There was supposed to be a formula where I do A, B, and C and You were to respond with X, Y and Z.

Now my religion’s mugshot is in the obituary section of my wet paper theology, falling apart the tighter I cling to it.

At first I was pretty ticked at You for breaking the box. It seemed a little inconsiderate, considering Your reputation for compassion and understanding and all.

But now, I think I’m glad You’re not a conformist. It doesn’t make what happened right or okay. In fact, I’m still trying to figure out how we’re supposed to do this. But I know You have not lost Your focus on us.

Even so, Your unpredictability makes me respect You more. And You should know more than anyone how much that needed to happen.

It’s just like You to not fit into a scheme or a mindset or a denomination or even the walls of the church. I guess if I look at how Jesus lived here on earth, it follows suit.

No one knows for sure why or how You do the things You do.

I mean, You never show up on time – or at least not on anyone’s timetable. Heck, 1988 and May 21 came and went and here we still are, recalculating and reinterpreting Your hints. I know we’ll never crack the code this side of heaven. You’re a tough one to figure out, and I’m good with that.

This whole thing really is a leap of faith isn’t it? I fumble through the pockets of my soul, looking for the change within me to make sense. Ultimately I have to hurl myself over logic and reason and clear the inexplicable if I want to land at Your feet. And I do want that.

When I think about how I can look back at what was, feel the pain while doing it, and still feel hope – I literally experience vertigo. I mean I genuinely feel my stomach turn and my knees buckle while simultaneously feeling a surge of anticipation for what You have next for us.

Thanks for your patience – Your amazing grace. When I think on the irony of You putting in us this deep want to know answers to questions You know we won’t find now and won’t care about later, I have to smile with a half wince. Keep reminding me in merciful whispers the only question that really matters.

“But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” – Matthew 16:15

for pete’s sake.

Posted: 25th May 2011 by Chad in General Post
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“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Luke 14:28-30)

I grew up under the teaching that God’s eyes are on me, and I always took that as some sort of threat. “Watch out…He’s watching. Be good.”

How different I see it now. He watches me alright. He chuckles at my humanness. His deep belly-laughs flood the Heavens when I find the joy He’s hidden in His creation. Hot tears roll down His cheeks each time He takes on my hurt.

Do you believe that He watches over you? Or do you feel like you are being thrown by the random waves of life? What is happening in your life that pulls you into the undertow and out to the deepest depths?

What is it that has become bigger than your God?

Think about Peter and his moment on the water. We are taught at a young age that he sank when he was beckoned by Jesus. He failed in his Faith.

Or did he?

He did make it for a while. His Faith caused him to do the impossible, if only for a brave-hearted second. There was a flash in time when one man’s Faith did what no other human has done before or since. Faith overrode logic. Doubt. Humanity. Peter’s fixation on Jesus fought back the complexities of his flesh, and he lived as we are all meant to live.

I believe I can live in that moment. I believe you can too. There is a seed of Faith that God plants in each of us when we are born. Over time, that seed grows if we feed it with the right nutrients. Some of us dry out as we cross the vast wastelands, and so our Faith thirsts until it shrinks back within us and we forget it’s there.

What happens while we’re crossing life’s desert? Is it that our expectations of life get shattered? Do we think we are entitled to a better life here on earth? When we fall beneath the blows of life and our trust in God is shaken, we must have expected something different from life – from God Himself. But what if this is what is intended? What if life is meant to have pain to create a longing in us for something better? Something perfect?

C.S. Lewis penned it accurately when he wrote, “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Slowly, I am learning to live within the eye of the storm. It is God’s eye in the storm, a calmness that pays no respect to the swirling madness that encircles me. Yes, I sink sometimes and have to drag myself back to the boat. I cannot escape my humanness. But each time, as I fix my gaze on Him, I go a little farther.

While I will always live trying to keep the ocean at my feet, my life is not about getting to the shore. It is about the walk there. Oh, I will get there – but only through the window of eternity. Each time I put one foot in front of the other, I’m giving my endurance a chance to grow. And that endurance is what will get us to the shore.

it is well.

Posted: 25th April 2011 by Chad in General Post
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When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

Even so, it is well with my soul.

rejoice!

Posted: 22nd April 2011 by My Mom in Uncategorized
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On this Easter, we thank God for the resurrection power that raised Christ from the dead. He became the perfect sacrifice so that we can know for sure the hope of eternal life. It is this life that has already been given to Ryan, and we can celebrate Christ’s victory – and therefore Ryan’s victory – over death.

We can only imagine what heaven is like when the resurrection is celebrated there. So exciting that Ryan and all our family and friends who are there are celebrating face to face, around the throne, with the Savior.

Hallelujah! What a Father! What a Savior!

Here are the words to an old hymn we grew up with:

I serve a risen Savior; He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living, whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him He’s always near.

Chorus:
He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary I never will despair.
I know that He is leading, thro’ all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian! Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind.

Chorus:
He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.

spit in the wind.

Posted: 23rd March 2011 by Chad in General Post
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Note: This is a filed entry Chad wrote some months ago, but never published. Publishing it now, with his permission. Quick update from Chad on his health: “I am doing great, still working through some residual things related to the transplant but I have regained all my weight/strength and beyond. Feel in better shape now than I did when I was 25.”
- Janelle

Ecclesiastes isn’t an easy read. A king looks back on his conquests and muses the significance of all his work. The wisest of kings splits the difference between Heaven and earth with razor edged Truth. He deduces that life is no more than “spitting into the wind.”

I have to tell you, as if maybe you didn’t already know, that I concur. Something happened inside me when Ryan died that I thought would revert back at some point, but it didn’t. Color bled off the pages of life. As many times as I’ve seen a globe, I now saw a flat earth. I still can’t label the feeling – grief, depression, detachment. But I didn’t think much of it because I knew the stages and figured it slid nicely somewhere into one of those slots.

But it’s not a phase. Yes, wounds heal and memories soften.

But I think maybe, that perspective is how God means for us to see life here. What I mean is, this place has become our everything. And I don’t think it was ever meant to be. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t embrace the rich moments with family and friends. But I think it does mean to keep an eternal perspective so eternity is the backdrop to everything we do.

I never saw life from this perspective until that night. Who knows if I would have ever ‘got it’? Those that do get it without having to go through something like this – well, they have incredible insight. And I admire them.

There will be a day when I’ll look back on this time of my life and read these pages. Will they trigger foreign emotions and perspectives that got lost somewhere while I was spitting into the wind? I hope not. I don’t want to lose what I feel now, or maybe, what I don’t feel. I guess it IS detachment. That IS the label.

I’m detached from this place. It doesn’t have a hold on me. It’s one thing to not fear death. It’s a whole other animal to not fear living after disrobing the falsehoods in our lives. It’s an awesome, terrifying realization that my eyes and heart are so fixated on the other side of Heaven that this life is exposed for what it is – a teaser. A preamble.

It’s the forward to my life’s book. The real story doesn’t even start here.

But what does that mean for me now then? How then do I live right now, next week, next year? That’s still a tough question to answer, and I’d be a fool to pretend to know.

the secret place.

Posted: 12th March 2011 by My Mom in General Post
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“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

These past seven months I have been led on a journey that has created in me an unquenchable thirst to study and to know all that I can about the place called Heaven. Like I said in my last post, I’ve lived most of my life with one foot in Heaven because of my mother’s departure when I was so young. I’ve always looked forward to going to Heaven someday, being reunited with my loved ones and finally looking into the face of Jesus. I’ve never doubted the existence of Heaven (or Hell). I just believed Heaven was real, and trusted that it would all be good.

But, when Ryan moved there, everything changed. I had to find out all that I could about where Ryan was living, what he was doing there. I had so many questions. I wanted to know what happened when his spirit left his body. I wanted to know about his arrival and who met him there. I wanted to know how he could be there and not be sad about leaving his family. I knew that he would always be my son there, but would our relationship be as natural and wonderful as it was on earth when we reunite? You hear so many opinions, but I wanted to find out for myself all that I could. Just because we only know in part doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t study and gain knowledge about the most important thing that matters: eternity.

Through this time of searching, I have been amazed at actually how detailed the scriptures are concerning the city in Heaven, called the New Jerusalem. In these descriptions, John makes it clear that these are human measurements as well as angelic measurements. Because of the space it would take, I am just going to give you a minimal account of this place to get to the goal of this post, and that is the Throne Room, i.e., the Secret Place.

Heaven is laid out in perfect symmetry covering 2,250,000 square miles. There are three gates each on the east, the south, the north and the west, with two angels standing at each gate. From just inside each of the twelve gates, the land begins an incredible ascent (at a 63-degree angle) for 750 miles until it peaks at the highest point, the mountain of God that extends 1,500 miles into the sky.

Truly this is is the “city of our God, His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth.”  This city and its mountain presently sit in the third heaven, from where the Lord answers our prayers.

The 12 main boulevards running from the pearl gates to the mountaintop in the center of the city are divided roadways. Down the center of each of them cascades a branch of the “river of the water of life” coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb. “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” (Psalm 46:2-5)

The streams of the river bring rejoicing to the hearts of all the inhabitants of Heaven. Imagine it!

Inside the Throne Room… God sits on a throne, “lofty and exalted” and from where He sits, the train of His robe spreads into the room and onto the floor. Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand. Countless numbers of heavenly beings and the seraphim are there constantly declaring the holiness of God.

John describes more of the court: “There was a *rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four elders. From the throne proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. Seven lamps of fire burn before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God; and before the throne there was, as it were, a sea of glass like crystal.” (Revelation 4) (*The rainbow communicates that we are safe in the presence of our holy and all-powerful God because He is a God of love who made and will remake the worlds in order for us to be with Him forever.)

The throne room is the place where the inhabitants are drawn to go to worship God. Laying prostrate before Him, we can only barely imagine what it must be like to lay there at His feet. With sounds of thunder, flashes of lightning, angelic beings crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” The worship – and the love – penetrate everything and everyone there. In my mind I see Ryan worshiping Him – beholding Jesus – being held with His all-consuming power and love.

It is in this very throne room that God is hearing our prayers and answering them. “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4)

Referring to the scripture at the beginning, when Jesus said to go into your room and shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in the secret place, He was saying, “Come into this place where I wait for you. It’s a humble place, where you’re not praying to be heard by men, but you’re coming into the place where it’s just you and Me.”

The throne room is the secret place. It’s the same place Ryan goes to in Heaven to worship Him. When I am there with the Father, I think of Ryan being there – the exact same place. The only difference is that while here on earth, we come into the presence of the invisible God, where Ryan comes before the visible God.

Of course, we can go to Him at any time and any place. But He specifically said to go into the secret place, and shut the door. To make it intentional – make it personal. This is our place to grow and develop an intimate friendship with Him. To grow in His Word, to ignite the fire of our love for Him, and to bask in His love for us. A place to renew our tired minds, to heal our broken hearts, to soothe the pain too deep for words.

I still weep a lot in that place. It has become my refuge. Safe harbor. Hiding place. Psalm 71:3 says, “Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually.”

But I always leave that place in peace. Why? Because He always reminds me there of His plan.

God loves us. His whole purpose for creating people in the first place can be summed up by the Greek word agape (love) that carries with it the notions of “welcome” and “honor.” God’s agape love for us says, “I want to be with you; I want you to be around Me all the time; come and stay with Me forever.” He thinks so highly of us and He knows us for who we are individually. Agape thinks well of the ones who are loved. God does not cut short our lives in order to get us back. When the number of days ordained for us is done, He welcomes us home like a father greeting a long-lost child.

His plan is to get us all back to be with Him forever. Until then, He has made a way for us to stay close to Him. It’s the secret of the Secret Place … He is always there, waiting.

**Some of the above text is taken from Bob Sorge (Secrets of the Secret Place) and Daniel Brown (What the BIble Reveals About Heaven).

a note from chad’s sis.

Posted: 3rd March 2011 by Janelle in General Post
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Many of you, both here and offline, are asking if Chad is done blogging. For now he is, but maybe not for good. Time will tell. Right now, he’s going on his own journey, maybe like Jesus did when he went into the desert to collect himself and hear from God and put the demons in their place. Sometimes you just need to be alone, you know? The blog will be here for now; it will live on and change as we change. You will hear from us, Chad’s family, occasionally. As Chad stated at the beginning: “That’s why you won’t just see posts from me. It’s not just my journey and it’s not just my faith. It’s shared with a brother, sister, cousins who are like brothers and sisters, and my mom and dad.”

Last August, I was in the hospital with Chad when we were emotionally numb, in shock and despair, after so unexpectedly having to say goodbye to our little brother. Chad was so sick…we just wanted him to live, to have Ryan’s gift thrive in his body (and six months later we can say thankfully it has, a miracle in and of itself). There were many nights Chad and I sat up together, talking and crying, reading scripture, remembering…and in that time, this blog was born. It was created to be a redemptive thing, to bring something positive out of the horror of our situation, to put into words the sorrow and pain of what we were going through, and especially how our faith was the substance of our survival.

Chad wanted to share in written words where his journey was taking him. And in that decision alone, there came a transparency, a depth of feeling that I know at times has been a bit daunting for him to post for all the world to see. Not everyone has been kind. I thankfully was able to delete a few of the nastier comments quickly, but unfortunately, I know he read and heard others…kind of a bummer when you’re fighting for your life. But I know I speak for him when I say it’s been so much more than worth it, making so many new friends and becoming reacquainted with old ones, meeting soul to soul here and finding out—through your comments here and on CaringBridge, emails sent in to the ryanarnold-dot-org site and the links you’ve posted to your blogs—that many of you, just like us, have had really difficult things happen in your own lives and are walking them out everyday…in spite of your pain. It helps when someone can put the feelings we’ve had, the prayers we’ve prayed and the pain we live with into words. And Chad’s gift of writing has done that and has connected us, emotionally and spiritually.

Speaking for our family, we’ve learned so much through everything…we’ve learned that we’re desperate for that kind of authenticity. That when we meet others on a soul to soul basis we can heal. That there is no timetable for grief and it’s different for each of us. That any emotion goes; there are no wrong words a grieving person can say, much like we tell a child there are no stupid questions. We’ve learned that so much of life we thought was important really isn’t. Now our goal is to love each other without conditions, without trying to change each other (a biggie if you know us Arnolds!), meeting each other where we are and going forward together. We don’t always get this right; we’re still working on it, but with our changed perspective, with Ryan rooting us on, with love for each other that only the Father can give—I know we will meet our goal.

More than anything, we hope the focus of all of this has not been on us, on our pain, on our loss. As Chad has said, none of it matters if it hasn’t pointed you to God, stirred your faith, given you the hope of Heaven and said, more than anything, that God is a God of love and that he wants to walk not only on this side of eternity with you, but to live with you forever.

If you read our mom’s post from a few months ago, I know you will be glad to hear that she will be posting a new entry next week.

Thanks, friends, old and new. We’ve come too far to go back to how it was.

“I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last!” (Psalm 63)

***You can access the archive of Chad’s playlist above, in the left hand nav bar labeled “playlist.”

lastly.

Posted: 1st March 2011 by Chad in General Post
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There’s that feeling that birds get every fall when they know it’s time to head South. I think I’m feeling that same kind of thing, only rather than it being the fall, I am believing for the spring season in my life. This blog has never been easy, but it’s been healing for me in many ways. Thank you for encouraging me as I’ve been working this out.

Now though, I need to start looking forward.

I hope you’ve been able to take something away as you’ve watched me process this time in my life. Even though your situation is different, there are universal themes that we all contend with together as we pass through our time here on earth.

What have I learned so far?

For starters, being honest with myself comes before seeking God in earnest. If I’m not raw before Him, I’m stunting who I can become in Him.

Second, Faith is blind to circumstances. I either have it or I don’t. There are no degrees. If I claimed before to have it, then it doesn’t matter what I’m faced with in this life. If I were to abandon Faith through this, I never had it to begin with.

Third, knowing God does not equate to understanding Him or His ways. Seemingly random events in life do not lessen God’s power. Power is greatest when it is restrained to allow free will. And a forced love is no love at all.

I live with a heightened sensitivity to the fragility of life and how each day is to be cherished, because none of us know when life as we know it will end. We need to honor it, spend it and share it – that’s why we were given it.

This is the day I’ve dreaded for awhile, when I walk into the rest of my life. From the beginning I’ve feared that getting healthy again meant accepting the harsh reality that I now live with. I think the harshness will soften, but I know the sting of this experience will live with me until my final day here. It is my burden for God to carry.

Ryan, I am not a worthy recipient of such a priceless gift. Jesus, I say the same to you. To you both, I pledge to live a life that honors you. Thank you. I love you with all that I am.

“The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what He tells you”. Ecclesiastes 12:13

to God, a psalm.

Posted: 25th February 2011 by Chad in General Post

I’m feeling banged up today God. I don’t suppose I’ll ever be free and clear of this kind of a day. I can either give up and just lay down in defeat, or I can pick myself up off the floor. More accurately, You can do it.

Sometimes, all I can do is let my soul bleed and trust on good faith You see me from Heaven.

I feel like people are watching, waiting for the final seconds to tick down until I just blow up. And then other times, I don’t think anyone’s watching at all and I don’t care if they are. This is one of those other times. This is between You and me.

I’m not writing this for anyone else but You God. I need You to hear me today.

I am not angry. That’s a big deal for me to say and mean it.
I am not lost in self-pity. I know others have witnessed incredible pain just as I have.
I am not over. I have a purpose to live out. I half say this in a whisper of hope.

But I am tired, and I need You to see into me. I need You to pick me up. I just need You.

I don’t know why we have to live in such a broken place. And now, void of color it would seem.

There is only one thing I can do, and that’s reach out to You. I will not give up on You. You did not give up on me. Tell me we’re in this together.

Demonstrate Your love for me in unmistakable ways. I will be waiting and watching.

Selah.