It is interesting how relative time can be. When you say, “this will take 3 months,” in some instances this can be a flash and in others, an eternity. Take the planning of a wedding or the building of a house - 3 months is nothing, meanwhile, 3 months of quarantine, awaiting for Christmas as a child, or the time I have to wait for the NHL season to return after the oilers miss the playoffs year after year seems to drag on forever. Looking back over these past three months in some weird way has been both a flash and an eternity.
3 months - this is the time that my German surgeon said that it would take for things to return to “normal.” Now I have been told some symptoms and nagging pains can last over a year (or the rest of my life), but the first 3 month marker is the most challenging. It has been an interesting 3 months, to say the least. I remember returning to Romania 2 weeks after the surgery assuming that my strength, energy, mobility and normal life activities would quickly return. This was one instance where my gift of optimism was, well a little too optimistic. I'll be honest and say the last three months have been trying. The physical pain of recovery was more than anticipated as my legs had to adjust to the growth that came with the new disc, persistent (and extreme at times) nerve pain in my left leg, and ongoing incision pain all made for a ‘long’ 3 months. There were many nights I was awoken in the middle of the night and relief only came from a 10 minute ride on the stationary bike. To get my body back to “normal,” it has been necessary for me to go to physiotherapy daily. These 2 hour sessions have proven to be difficult as basic strength and movements were not so easy or basic any longer.
One day in November I went for a walk, frustrated by how slow these 3 months were going, I began asking the Lord if he really knew what he was doing … one of those conversations where we try to instruct the Lord on whats best for our own lives. It was in that moment He shared the sweet and comforting words that “this season in not in vein.” These words washed over the frustration and discouragement and reminded me of Joseph’s words in Genesis 50 where he says, “you intended to harm me, but God intended if for good to accomplish what is now being done…” What a fresh and needed perspective on a difficult season. It is interesting how little can change - the pain still remained, my progress was still slow, and I continued to be limited in what I could do, and yet my entire perspective on the situation changed.
Looking back now, these past three months do feel more like a flash than an eternity. I am even amazed that in the midst of this ‘storm’ there were open doors for ministry, growth and fruit. I began preaching again in late October, Tanya and I led a marriage course in a partnering village, we have continued on with our weekly youth programs, we were able to re-engage with a number of our sister churches in North America by inviting various guests to share at our youth programs, Tanya and I led and taught at a weekend retreat for national youth leaders, and now we look ahead to Christmas and New Years where this season will be filled with sermons to preach and programs to run. On top of that development carries on at Camp Falcon Rock as the main lodge is well underway and the crew looks to finish our 3rd cabin building this winter/spring so that we can host 100+ campers more per summer.
As of right now, I am encouraged! I am encouraged by what my body is capable of doing again, I am encouraged that I am not in need of pain medication any longer, I am encouraged by what God has been able to do in my life and the ministry over the past 3 months, I am encouraged that I have a wife who was able to carry the ministry duties, home life, and me (literally sometimes) on her shoulders these past three months, and I am encouraged by all of you for sticking with us during this season. Your ongoing prayers, support, encouragement and kind words were instrumental in keeping us going.
We do not know what 2021 holds for us, the ministry in Romania, and for Camp Falcon Rock — but we do have incredible hope and faith for the season ahead for our hope is in the great and mighty God who goes before us! As the Lord declares in Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” May you hold onto these words as you step into 2021. We are thankful for each one of you and we pray for the Lord’s blessing over you this Christmas season and into the New Year.