That’s What Friends Are For

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Hard Road Journey – Part 6

Today we want to continue our study of Mark Atteberry’s book, “Walking With God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“.  So far, we have learned that difficult times come to everyone at some point in their lives.  And as much as we may want and try to figure out how we got to that point, or who may be at fault, it is more important to learn good strategies that will help us get through a difficult period in our lives.

(If you have not read previous articles on this book, then click here to go back to “A Hard Road Journey – Part 1“.)

In the last article, we looked at the important strategy of  “Travel With a Friend” when traveling on a hard-road journey.  When choosing what kind of friend to travel with, Atteberry suggests four qualities to be looking for in them that would make a person a good friend, someone  who would probably be the most helpful to you as you travel your difficult road.  He recommends that you choose:

  • someone who also has experienced traveling on a hard-road journey
  • someone who has an intimate connection with God
  • someone who has a heart of compassion
  • someone who will be loyal and be around long after the initial crisis is over

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At the end of the last article (“God Given Friends”), I had started to tell you about the friendship that developed between me and my friend Christian.  (That is his name, and I think that is so neat to have a friend with that name.)  As I look over the list of qualities in a good friendship, I believe that he fits the bill in some wonderful ways that only God could have orchestrated.

In 2002, when our family was just starting to walk the hard road of dealing with Eric’s cancer (leukemia), Christian himself had just undergone treatment for a rare form of eye cancer.  From what I understand, he could have lost his sight, and it could have been life threatening.  So when he heard about our son’s battle with leukemia, he understood the fears we had about cancer and the survival of our son.

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What started our relationship is actually quite interesting.  The Wish Foundation had been talking to us about what wish Eric had as a cancer child and they would try to make it happen.  Well, Eric had a very strong interest in Nintendo, and one of his thoughts was to meet the top man from Nintendo who was the creator of so many of his video “heroes”.  So I did some web surfing and finally saw a link to where I could submit a question.

As far as I know, the question I sent about Eric meeting this famous man from Nintendo never got to the company.  But Christian worked for a subsidiary video company and somehow he saw it.  He wrote back and shared how he was also in this battle with cancer, but he wanted to know how he might encourage us.  So I knew from the start that this would be a person who knew something about the hard road journey we were on at that time.

That is how I happened to mention Eric’s other big wish, to have the newest console, the Game Cube.  And Christian, with a compassionate heart and great enthusiasm, immediately went about finding a Game Cube and sent it up by Express Mail so that it came to Eric just in time for his birthday.  And he even made sure he got Eric’s favorite color back then, purple.

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As time went on, I found that Christian also had a belief in God.  And he found our ministry of Bible translation work to be most fascinating.  He appreciates how the Bible is able to speak to the needs of our soul, and so we found we had another area, an important area of life that we could share with each other.   And for almost 10 years now, Christian has been very supportive to what our family is doing and is interested in how we are doing.  That’s the loyalty factor that Atteberry talks about.

Now jump ahead with me to more recent times, the past year and a half or more.  Christian knew of my strong faith in God, and we had shared a journey together as friends for a number of years.  And then a recent development came up in his life that was rocking his world, and he needed a hard-road journey friend.  What looked like a perfect relationship match for him turned out to be anything but that, and it was crushing his soul and spirit.

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So what was he to do?  He could have done a lot of things that would have been harmful to himself.  He could have lashed out at the other person.  He could have just sunk into a deep depression and stayed there.  But he didn’t.  He reached out to God.  And he reached out to me.  For he felt confident that I would be that loyal, compassionate, and godly person who could walk beside him through this difficult time.  And that is what I did.

We sent many emails back and forth to each other.  We talked on the phone.  We prayed.  We shared uplifting passages of Scripture with each other.  It has been a couple of hard years for Christian, but he is a stronger, more godly and grounded person now than he was before.  What made the difference?  He turned to God who answered his cries, and he turned to me who could share in his tears.

This is the message of this article.  If you are on a hard-road journey, then ask God to help you, and He will.  But one of the best things that God often does, is He provides that special friend who will help you through this difficult time.  So pray to God, and ask Him to send you such a person.  And He will.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

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Sickness or Satan?

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Please pray for me today.  (And also in the next week and a half.)

My legs are fine (thank you God) which I believe is due to this new narcotic patch the doctor has me on.  But either I am sick (but don’t quite feel that way), or the narcotic patch is affecting me negatively, or the Enemy is oppressing me.

I have not slept well for about 6 nights, but last night was terrible.  (I’ve been up and down to bed 5 times in the last 13 hours, and the most I can rest is 2 hours at a time.  When I try to focus on anything other than my Bible translation consultant prep work, I feel fine and can focus.  But as soon as I start focusing on the translation work, my eyes start to cross, my stomach starts to heave, and within an hour I have to go lie down in bed again.

I want to be careful not to give too much credit (or blame) to the Enemy.  It could very well be sickness or drug imbalance.  But it is interesting to note that I am only 4 days away from flying to California to help teach a one-week mission course, and I am only four weeks away from my trip to Papua New Guinea to do the consultant checking of 7 books of the Bible.

I have been in ministry long enough to know that Satan will definitely try to oppose God’s people from doing God’s work.  I know I am on the right path doing the right things for God right now.  So even if I was not feeling the way I am feeling right now, I would be asking you to be praying for me for good health, strength and spiritual protection.

The bottom line right now is that I ask you to please pray for me.  I am only a frail human trying to do a momentous work of God.  I cannot do it apart from God’s empowering Holy Spirit.  But I also cannot do it without the support of covering prayer from the saints, believers like yourself.

Thank you for your prayers.

Norm Weatherhead

My Hero….Captain Kirk

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The Plinky Question for this week is:   “Who is your hero and why?”

There could be lots of good answers to this question for me.  Like fiction characters such as Superman, Thor, or Jack Ryan of the Tom Clancy series.  There are some real missionary heroes that I look up to like Hudson Taylor, William Carey, or Mother Theresa.  And there have been some wonderful people who I have known and have influenced my life profoundly.  You can read about them in “God Spoke Through People.

But in keeping with the fun nature of Plinky.com, I thought I would tell you about one of my all-time favorite heroes, namely James T. Kirk, Captain of the legendary starship the Enterprise.  You might wonder if it is because he symbolizes all that I could wish to be.  He’s handsome, popular, sexy; he’s a ‘rough and tumble’ kind of guy (who always gets his shirt ripped to show off his bod to the ladies).

No, my ego is intact enough to not be threatened by such daunting physical qualities.  : )  Rather, it is his qualities of a great leader that make me want to walk in his shoes.  In every situation, no matter how bleak, he always had an answer, he always faced and conquered every challenge.  Just like his spoof counterpart, Tim Allen, who plays Commander Peter Quincy Taggart in the movie “Galaxy Quest“, the motto must go forth: “Never give up, never surrender.

This great phrase makes me think of Ephesians 6:10-18.  We are in the middle of a great spiritual battle for Planet Earth and all its people, whether we realize it or not.  I think one of the key verses in this passage is verse 13.  We are told who are enemies are, the spiritual forces of darkness at work here in the world and in the heavenly realms.  And after this verse we are told what our armament is for this cosmic battle.  But read what verse 13 says,

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

We are to dress (in spiritual terms) for battle, we are to face the battle, we are to engage in battle, and then having done all that, we are told to still keep standing.  We do find out in Ephesians 6 that our strength comes not from us, but from the Lord.  But we must have an attitude like Captain Kirk or Commander Taggart, “Never give up, never surrender.”

And I must say that with this kind of attitude, that Captain Kirk was the eternal optimist.  He always believed that he could do the impossible, and find a way out of any situation.  Like when he and his crew mates were stranded on the planet “Genesis” by the ruthless Khan.  (Star Trek 2: “The Wrath of Khan“…boy, what a movie.)  There was always a back up plan for Kirk.

How does this relate to us spiritually?  Have you or I ever felt like the situation was impossible, that there was no way to accomplish what needed to be done?  Sure.  But that is why we must treasure such a rich promise as Philippians 4:13,

I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.

Or consider how difficult it is to face and conquer the temptations to do the things that are wrong that hit us from every side and bombard us day after day.  God knew this in advance and gave us the means to escape such powerful temptations that we face all the time in 1 Corinthians 10:13,

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

So there you go.  Now you know who my favorite (non-fiction) hero is, and why.  If he were here right now, he would say to you and I, “Live long and prosper.”  But even better than this saying, is the fabulous promise of Jesus, our Lord and Savior,

I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

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