A Matter of Perspective

Many of you know that last week I attended the funeral of a dear friend with whom I’ve shared 35 years of this journey. Out of the blue he was diagnosed with leukemia in February and died three weeks later. His passing was quick and shocking and surprisingly filled with triumph!

Sara and I went to visit he and his wife a two weeks before he died. He had been busy meeting individually with all his children and grandchildren sharing the things from his hospital bed that he wanted them to know, and owning in confession some of his less-than-stellar moments when he’d tried to manipulate them with his religious passions. By all accounts everyone was deeply touched and much healing came to that family. One granddaughter said at his funeral that Buck had taught her how not to fear death when it comes, but embrace it as an entry into the fullness of God’s presence. That was pretty cool.

Our last day with Buck was equally triumphant. We shared about his journey and how much we had meant to each other. We all prayed together and God’s presence powerfully came into that room. A couple of hours later he was visibly stronger and said he felt better. I wondered if Father had healed him and that his symptoms would soon recede and he would have some more years to be among us. But it was not to be.

A week later his son told me that his father’s health was rapidly deteriorating and they didn’t think he’d make it another week. I was surprised and prayed again for Buck. Since he was only 69, I thought it would be great if God could have extended his life a few more years.

The next thought that crossed my mind shocked me in both its clarity and its content. “I already gave him fifteen more years than he was supposed to have.” Over the days that passed that thought continued to come to mind and somehow it brought peace to my heart. As I drove up to his funeral I thought about it again. I knew he’d had a heart attack at some point years before, but didn’t now how serious it was because we were living far apart at the time and weren’t really in touch with each other.

When I got to the service i asked his son how long ago the heart attack had been. He thought it had been 13 or 14 years. I asked him if it had been somewhat routine or if he’d come close to dying. He told me that the doctors were shocked he’d survived. The heart attack was severe and he was in a remote area. They airlifted him to a hospital that could care for him as a desperate attempt but no one expected him to survive. He ended up making it to the hospital and had a touch-and-go quintuple bypass. Everyone was amazed that he had lived through it.

At the funeral I shared what I felt God had said to me as I prayed for Buck, that he had extended his life by fifteen years. I was watching his wife at the time as she nodded vigorously and mouthed the words, “That’s right!” i went on to share that God had already extended his life as a gift to his wife and as a gift to Buck. There are things God wanted Buck to know about him in this life.

A few years after Buck’s heart attack, they moved to Ventura County to live near Sara and me. At the time he was depressed over some vocational hopes that had soured. He was angry at God feeling like God had not come through for him as he hoped. Over the next eight years we learned to walk together in the love of the Father. His circumstances were not proof that God didn’t care about him, but that God was working in the midst of those things to draw Buck closer to himself. Those eight years were a real gift to both of us, as we sorted out God’s love together and learned to live in it even with the uncertainty of the future. Buck and his wife moved back to Northern California to be near family. At the hospital I had seen the fruit of learning to live loved. Even in the valley of the shadow of death and in great pain, Buck was fully confident of God’s love for him and looked forward to being in the fullness of his presence.

After the funeral I stole a few moments with his wife. “What do you know about those fifteen years?” I asked her.

She smiled. “When I brought him home from the hospital after he’d survived his heart attack, I knew God had done a miracle. At the time I thought God had told me he had given her husband another fifteen years of life.” She’d never told anyone, not even Buck. This past November was the 15th anniversary of his heart attack, and she said she thought at the time that he would probably would not live through the next year. So when he died, she was not surprised.

Wow!

She will still miss her husband greatly, as will I, but there is something about knowing God’s hand is behind all of these things that brings joy even in the midst of sorrow. I was wanting God to extend his life, not realizing he already had. He’d allowed Buck to live long enough to embrace a depth of his love that he would never have known in this life without it. He had given us all a fifteen-year gift, and Buck too.

I so appreciate Father making that revelation clear to us. It is always so much better to celebrate life as it is than to live frustrated with what might have been. I’m confident that Buck now knows what we long to see. I’m equally confident that he has a hope and a purpose for his wife in days to come. He is still at work, this amazing Father!

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32 Comments
  1. Kimberly Simpkins April 6, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    “It is always so much better to celebrate life as it is than to live frustrated with what might have been.”

    Wow. I love that quote, and I think I may use it for an essay I’m working on called “Life is Messy.” 🙂

    I am sorry for your loss, but thankful for the lessons that we can learn through Buck, even without having met him in this life!

  2. Kimberly Simpkins April 6, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    “It is always so much better to celebrate life as it is than to live frustrated with what might have been.”

    Wow. I love that quote, and I think I may use it for an essay I’m working on called “Life is Messy.” 🙂

    I am sorry for your loss, but thankful for the lessons that we can learn through Buck, even without having met him in this life!

  3. Bob Regnerus April 7, 2010 at 4:37 am

    Wayne – How cool of Papa to share that with you, and allow you to share that with Buck’s wife. That had to just make the whole experience a victory, even though you you were sad to see Buck leave. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. It also helps us know Papa better and be confident in prayer and our own relationship with him. Peace brother.

  4. Bill Ooms April 7, 2010 at 7:19 am

    This is really an amazing story. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes we forget to look back at the good things that the Father has been doing for us in life.

  5. Bob Regnerus April 7, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Wayne – How cool of Papa to share that with you, and allow you to share that with Buck’s wife. That had to just make the whole experience a victory, even though you you were sad to see Buck leave. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. It also helps us know Papa better and be confident in prayer and our own relationship with him. Peace brother.

  6. Ro Elliott April 7, 2010 at 8:28 am

    “It is always so much better to celebrate life as it is than to live frustrated with what might have been. I love this….learning to do this more and more…..trusting in the Father’s Love .
    Thanks for sharing this story of friendship……

  7. Curious April 7, 2010 at 10:15 am

    What does God’s presence feel like? What do you mean when you say ‘God’s presence came powerfully into the room’? It’s one of those phrases that when people mention it, leaves me empty, because I don’t understand. It makes me wonder if I’m really getting all this God stuff or am doing something wrong. I mean it seems it’s a key thing yet I don’t get it. I think I have the spiritual capacity of a marshmallow!!

  8. Bill Ooms April 7, 2010 at 10:19 am

    This is really an amazing story. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes we forget to look back at the good things that the Father has been doing for us in life.

  9. Wayne April 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Curious,

    God’s presence “feels like” different things to different people, and even different ways in different circumstances. I don’t want to describe it as a feeling, because it goes way beyond that. At its heart it is a simple knowing that something greater than us is making his presence known in the room. That can be accompanied by supernatural events, a simple inner knowing, or the affirmation of what a number of people are sensing at the same moment.

    For us at that hospital bed it was a powerful sense of connection with him and each other. It added a lightness to the room that was more spiritually seen than physically seen. It manifested itself in the lightness of heart and trust that we all sensed afterward, very different from when we went in. But it doesn’t always look like that, which is why I hesitate to define it. I find people recognize him less when they are burdened down by expectations of what it should look like. Then we are looking for manifestations, rather than simply seeking him.

    For many people it isn’t so much that God isn’t making himself known, it’s that they haven’t yet tuned to his frequency to recognize his voice or his fingerprints in the simple realities around them. I think most of God’s supernatural working appears to be incredibly natural as it unfolds. Looking back we see with greater clarity what he was doing…

  10. Ro Elliott April 7, 2010 at 11:28 am

    “It is always so much better to celebrate life as it is than to live frustrated with what might have been. I love this….learning to do this more and more…..trusting in the Father’s Love .
    Thanks for sharing this story of friendship……

  11. Joyce April 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Wayne, thank you so much for sharing this amazing story! It is a wonderful encouragement and validation of Papa’s great love and involvement in our lives.

  12. Curious April 7, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    What does God’s presence feel like? What do you mean when you say ‘God’s presence came powerfully into the room’? It’s one of those phrases that when people mention it, leaves me empty, because I don’t understand. It makes me wonder if I’m really getting all this God stuff or am doing something wrong. I mean it seems it’s a key thing yet I don’t get it. I think I have the spiritual capacity of a marshmallow!!

  13. Wayne April 7, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Curious,

    God’s presence “feels like” different things to different people, and even different ways in different circumstances. I don’t want to describe it as a feeling, because it goes way beyond that. At its heart it is a simple knowing that something greater than us is making his presence known in the room. That can be accompanied by supernatural events, a simple inner knowing, or the affirmation of what a number of people are sensing at the same moment.

    For us at that hospital bed it was a powerful sense of connection with him and each other. It added a lightness to the room that was more spiritually seen than physically seen. It manifested itself in the lightness of heart and trust that we all sensed afterward, very different from when we went in. But it doesn’t always look like that, which is why I hesitate to define it. I find people recognize him less when they are burdened down by expectations of what it should look like. Then we are looking for manifestations, rather than simply seeking him.

    For many people it isn’t so much that God isn’t making himself known, it’s that they haven’t yet tuned to his frequency to recognize his voice or his fingerprints in the simple realities around them. I think most of God’s supernatural working appears to be incredibly natural as it unfolds. Looking back we see with greater clarity what he was doing…

  14. Joyce April 7, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Wayne, thank you so much for sharing this amazing story! It is a wonderful encouragement and validation of Papa’s great love and involvement in our lives.

  15. Richard April 8, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Wayne,

    I loved this, “A few years after Buck’s heart attack, they moved to Ventura County to live near Sara and me. At the time he was depressed over some vocational hopes that had soured. He was angry at God feeling like God had not come through for him as he hoped. Over the next eight years we learned to walk together in the love of the Father. His circumstances were not proof that God didn’t care about him, but that God was working in the midst of those things to draw Buck closer to himself.”

    The back drop of life’s happenings often need to be darker than dark in order to see that it is in our very seemingly out of control circumstances he is working out what we truly stand in need of.

    My heart goes out to you in your loss of a friend and to the family’s loss as well.

  16. Richard April 8, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Wayne,

    I loved this, “A few years after Buck’s heart attack, they moved to Ventura County to live near Sara and me. At the time he was depressed over some vocational hopes that had soured. He was angry at God feeling like God had not come through for him as he hoped. Over the next eight years we learned to walk together in the love of the Father. His circumstances were not proof that God didn’t care about him, but that God was working in the midst of those things to draw Buck closer to himself.”

    The back drop of life’s happenings often need to be darker than dark in order to see that it is in our very seemingly out of control circumstances he is working out what we truly stand in need of.

    My heart goes out to you in your loss of a friend and to the family’s loss as well.

  17. exdroid April 8, 2010 at 8:48 am

    What bothers me is that in ‘christendom’ we only ever hear ‘good testimonies’ – stories of when God shows up or people experience His love etc….but never the ‘bad testimonies’- the many many paths that life takes for most people ….Isn’t this where trusting God really makes sense.
    I’m reading a book at the moment ”When God doesn’t answer your prayer” by Gerry Sittser – An interesting read! ..but sadly few and far between in the christian world…..How do we trust God when there is no experience of His presence for a long time, or terrible sufferings happen around us eg – unsaved family members die etc….?

  18. exdroid April 8, 2010 at 11:48 am

    What bothers me is that in ‘christendom’ we only ever hear ‘good testimonies’ – stories of when God shows up or people experience His love etc….but never the ‘bad testimonies’- the many many paths that life takes for most people ….Isn’t this where trusting God really makes sense.
    I’m reading a book at the moment ”When God doesn’t answer your prayer” by Gerry Sittser – An interesting read! ..but sadly few and far between in the christian world…..How do we trust God when there is no experience of His presence for a long time, or terrible sufferings happen around us eg – unsaved family members die etc….?

  19. eleasah ridley April 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing – this was really beautiful and also an encouragement to me x

  20. eleasah ridley April 8, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing – this was really beautiful and also an encouragement to me x

  21. Angie April 9, 2010 at 3:24 am

    Thank you for sharing Buck’s story. It has touched me deeply. Sometimes I can become so caught up in something so insignificant in my own life that I miss the beautiful things that God is doing everyday. God has enabled me to see His beauty more and more in the seemingly daily things, but I confess at times that I still struggle when things just don’t seem to be adding up. 🙂

    He just continues to impress upon my heart His great love for me…irregardless. What an awesome place of peace….when I let go of trying to figure it out…and simply do what He desires….trust Him….

  22. Angie April 9, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Thank you for sharing Buck’s story. It has touched me deeply. Sometimes I can become so caught up in something so insignificant in my own life that I miss the beautiful things that God is doing everyday. God has enabled me to see His beauty more and more in the seemingly daily things, but I confess at times that I still struggle when things just don’t seem to be adding up. 🙂

    He just continues to impress upon my heart His great love for me…irregardless. What an awesome place of peace….when I let go of trying to figure it out…and simply do what He desires….trust Him….

  23. Doug April 9, 2010 at 6:38 am

    exdroid,

    Thanks for the tip on Sittser book, I think I’ll check it out.

  24. exdroid April 9, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Yes, Doug, it’s a very interesting read. The author lost his wife and some of his family many years ago in a car accident, and wrote a book called ‘A Grace Disguised’ about it….and then the book ”When God doesn’t answer your prayer”. I highly recommend it – as it paints a pic of God much deeper than the ‘slot machine,shopping list god’ but rather often answers our prayer by giving us more of Him , and sometimes no answers to our prayers themselves.

  25. Doug April 9, 2010 at 9:38 am

    exdroid,

    Thanks for the tip on Sittser book, I think I’ll check it out.

  26. exdroid April 9, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Yes, Doug, it’s a very interesting read. The author lost his wife and some of his family many years ago in a car accident, and wrote a book called ‘A Grace Disguised’ about it….and then the book ”When God doesn’t answer your prayer”. I highly recommend it – as it paints a pic of God much deeper than the ‘slot machine,shopping list god’ but rather often answers our prayer by giving us more of Him , and sometimes no answers to our prayers themselves.

  27. Nancy April 10, 2010 at 5:05 am

    re: the book recommended by exdroid, I agree it is an interesting one. I would also recommend “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken. I wondered for years if Father loved me, and looking at the “evidence” in my life, broken dreams etc, believed that he must not. One day I read a story by a man whose son had died. He and his whole church had prayed fervently for the child to live, and the man said he’d thought his son would live because God loved him. He wrote that he immediately heard in his heart “but would you believe I love you if your son dies???” Those words were for me. He loves me!! No matter what happens in my life, He loves me!

  28. Nancy April 10, 2010 at 8:05 am

    re: the book recommended by exdroid, I agree it is an interesting one. I would also recommend “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken. I wondered for years if Father loved me, and looking at the “evidence” in my life, broken dreams etc, believed that he must not. One day I read a story by a man whose son had died. He and his whole church had prayed fervently for the child to live, and the man said he’d thought his son would live because God loved him. He wrote that he immediately heard in his heart “but would you believe I love you if your son dies???” Those words were for me. He loves me!! No matter what happens in my life, He loves me!

  29. PJ April 14, 2010 at 1:25 am

    THANK YOU for sharing this piece of your life. I needed something to show me God’s hand moving tonight.. I haven’t been on your blog in perhaps a year. Something told me to find out what Wayne Jacobsen was up to. I was experiencing a lot of doubt in terms of how much of what we see is truly God. This story went straight to my heart.. I will pray tonight with the intention of seeing God in my own life. Thank you!

  30. PJ April 14, 2010 at 4:25 am

    THANK YOU for sharing this piece of your life. I needed something to show me God’s hand moving tonight.. I haven’t been on your blog in perhaps a year. Something told me to find out what Wayne Jacobsen was up to. I was experiencing a lot of doubt in terms of how much of what we see is truly God. This story went straight to my heart.. I will pray tonight with the intention of seeing God in my own life. Thank you!

  31. Nik December 24, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Awesome awesome awesome!!!!!!

  32. Nik December 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Awesome awesome awesome!!!!!!

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