Living Life in all the Ways it Might Come to Us

Growing up in the farm country of south central Kansas, I quickly learned that agrarian life could be brutal. I saw the long days (and sometimes nights) of very hard labor; watched farmers cope with tornadoes, blizzards, livestock diseases, and volatile market conditions; and we all knew the sickening thud of sudden accidents. By the time many farmers lie down in satin caskets, the passing mourners well understand the scars, missing fingers, and empty sleeves.

The Portal of Suffering

Not coincidentally, I also grew up in a large sense of God.

The prairie Calvinism in farming communities molded people into a vertical posture. All day long their eyes searched that enormous sky; they knew it could bring life or death. And they bowed their knees to whatever it brought. As a result, the “grain” of their lives revealed the deep burnished luster of rich woods, an unfathomable beauty and excellence of spirit.

Suffering had not reduced them; it had enriched them.

A dear friend’s wife has struggled with multiple sclerosis for more than forty years. Recent emergency surgery revealed that she now has extensive cancer, and during that surgery she suffered a heart attack. They both know the end is near.

In a recent email, he gave me an astounding view of their journey. To read his description of what they have both seen through this grueling trial is to stand at the edge of a spiritual Grand Canyon – it is deep, majestic, humbling, and bottomless. And he summed it up with: “Life has to be lived in all the ways it might come to one.”

Those simple and profound words describe how humans have lived for most of history. Only recent decades have brought the possibility of a self-designed life. “I’ll take a little of that…maybe just a pinch more. And no, none of that.” Convenience, comfort, and control are the new values. But what have they stolen?

Designer Gods

The moment of human conception brings life to us in a new way; that baby is a tiny slow-motion hurricane. She or he slowly careens around the womb, evicting any shreds of convenience, comfort, and control. Furthermore, the baby brings nausea, pain, morning sickness, baby furniture and other expenses, and a final and primal explosion of water, blood, muck… and a new human. Sometimes that new person is ill, deformed, or dead.

Historically, even when life brought an unplanned or perhaps mortally ill baby, people lived it as it came. In the depths of the crucible, people begin to see that God, only God, could bring shimmering beauty from the gnarled grain of a wind-warped cypress. After all, He is the One Who “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)

Self-designed gods tend to select only the babies that we can imagine.

Have you noticed that most people die when they are hit with a terminal disease or terrible injuries? That’s been happening throughout human history (of course, God sometimes heals people. But to live in expectation of that is to entertain distractions from living a purposeful life).

Clearly, the God Who is God often sends diseases and infirmities as His servants, to escort His children to a higher dimension of life. The wise and weathered heart knows that this too is just part of living life in all the ways it might come

But, in recent decades, many have migrated to a self-designed faith, a true American folk religion. Perhaps its primary feature is human control. Therefore, it has gutted the classic faith. Trust is no longer a factor.

This new faith accommodates the illusion that we do not have to pass on from earth life. New designer theologies insist that God has chosen to heal everyone. We all know many well-meaning Christian believers who have marshaled heroic and urgent prayer for the purpose of helping people stay …right here in River City.

Oh, the irony; meeting God must be avoided at all cost!


What if we all stepped away from our obsessions with ourselves and just embraced all the ways that life might come to us? Do you think we might find ourselves in a larger and more magnificent design? Might we live better if we stopped spending so much time trying to control our health and continuity? Could we rediscover trust?

The farmers of my youth were generally humble folks. From their example, I see that humility is the only way to “live life in all the ways it might come to one.” But it never begins till we give up our design and control.

When we do that, trust is the only road left.

18 thoughts on “Living Life in all the Ways it Might Come to Us”

  1. Oh, Dad, this was wonderful! I loved this. In fact, I even passed it on too some friends of mine. Thank you for sharing this insight.

  2. Oh Ed, you are speaking to right where I find myself. I am studying in a class about discerning God’s voice. We can get so consumed with: What does God want me to do? Where should I go? What steps do I need to take?
    When asked on the first day of study what I wanted to achieve by taking this course, it hit me – I want to hear Him speak whispers of love to me.
    Years ago he stopped me in my tracks with Psalm 18:19 – He brought me into a broad place because He delights in me. The Message reads being surprised by His love. It totally altered my perception of who God was. It was revelation. I want more than that rather than the “what to do’s”. Your words have been an encouragement. Thanks.

  3. Ed, what a wonderful piece. I absolutely love this and I’m going to pass this on. Thank you so much for you insight into yesterday and comparing it today. What a revelation to this age of want what I want right now, not this is what I have and I will live it to the fullest. Fantastic!

  4. Thank you Ed…I just found out last night that a new friend has massive and aggressive cancer throughout His body. This is such a comforting and very wise perspective. Please pray for Terry and his wife M. They are believers, so we stand in the midst of this trial and declare: “Great is Thy faithfulness!”

  5. I didn’t grow up on a farm or even in a rural area. I didn’t have a sense of God, but rather a hunger for God. I just didn’t know how to get fed. The long but interesting road of my life that led to where I am now is certainly a summation of accepting where and what I was, where and what I am. Having accepted “my life” has brought more peace and joy and contentment and blessings than I ever could have imagined. God is so good and (just so you know) your article helped put many things in proper perspective.

  6. Ed,

    I enjoyed the entire article especially “suffering has not reduced the, it has enriched them”. Thank you for this very fine contribution for us to contemplate.

  7. “Life must be lived…” – well said. We live it one way or another in good and hard times. The word “nike” occurs thirty times in the Greek NT and means to overcome or prevail in a military or legal battle. Cleary God promises the where-with-all, not a bubble. Thanks Ed

  8. Ed, Gerrit sent me the link to read your article on Living Life… Very well done and thoughts that Sandy and well identify with. You are a good communicator. Pass on our greetings to JoAnn

  9. As always very good. He sounds like he has heard a word from God. God has given me a word the other day. I wrote it down.
    The more we follow and embrace this generation the more we will suffer the ills of this generation.
    King Asa turned to the physicians first and he died. I had a disease of the foot 2012. That scripture was quickened unto me so i turned to god for healing and he did, 2013 I had a chronic cough for over 8 months, drank gallons of cough syrup, God spoke to me again and said get rid of this certain thing (tobacco)and he would heal my cough.I did and he did.If I preach it is what God has told me to say.
    I may die tomorrow but it will be according to Gods will. I used to be afraid turning all over to God no longer.
    thanks so much for your words

  10. Thanks Ed. My mother celebrated her 96th birthday with us in Nashville this past week. She has lived a life of joy and heartbreak (not the least from us kids); excitement and discouragement. When we are with her she hardly ever misses an opportunity to give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and mercy. In a day in which we live with a flood of self-aggrandizing celebrity her humility is a quiet inspiration to all she comes in contact with.

  11. Ed- thank you very much for taking the time to share this with us! It is encouraging to me that others have had trials, but even more importantly, that they overcame the trials and are still smiling! God is very good to us! I pray that all are well, and that you keep writing!

  12. So true. Trust is the best and the hardest to stay in that place with Him. I just read this article today – 7/16/2014. I guess I don’t always get your articles. Ed, I hope you take the time to see America. It’s just out. Let me know what you think. I miss Jim because we always had great times sharing. Love you all. Hope Joan is well

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