May 9th, 2023
Hello again, to and from my soul.
It’s been such a long time since my heart came here. And there is much to be said. Regrettably, I still find it hard to speak. Perhaps part of my soul is worried no one really cares to listen.
But here I am. A man next to a river in the Smoky Mountains. It rushes along so powerful and reckless. It has no master but the Master of the Heavens and gravity. Along it goes next to my weary soul.
I’ve never been more confused by my own heart before. I long to be alone, yet despise feeling lonely. I desire the warmth and safety of a friendly hug. My embraces come from my wife and my children only these days. One of which is sensual and the other takes away from me. But I wish I had a fatherly hug. A brotherly hug. Those embraces I am starved of. How long will it be again?
There is in me a wonder of the word: Joy. Perhaps the busy life thinks it has it, but never truly understood it. And the simple life has it but is afraid they have missed it.
My dog reminds me of devotion. A master’s love and admiration. She is strong and gentle. Committed and truly loyal.
Loyalty. What a word! It was mistakenly put on the forehead of Someone who lacks it most!
See—there is my angry and hurt heart speaking out again.
All I want is to live my life quietly with my bride, lead my children, and love my friends. Meanwhile, enjoying all of God’s creation. But I’m afraid that I will be forgotten by mankind. Disappear…
The cold, rushing water freezes my skin. It closes my sores and blisters. The violets are on just the other side of the river. But the cold, restless water stands between us. That bed of moss and flowers where beauty grows and worry disappears. How my soul longs for your arms. How my heart wishes you were here to hold me.
What shall I say then? That Joy is unattainable? Should we give up searching for it? Or our purpose, too, then? Of course not! On the contrary, we should seek harder for our Joy! And stop forcing others’ opinion validate it. My joy or purpose is not found in my friend. But only my Father. And hopefully—yes, hope! Hope that does not disappoint—I can rest at night knowing my Father is proud. And wants only to be my Father, Master, Lover, and Friend.
My Friend will encourage me.
My Master will direct me.
My Lover will woo and hold me.
My Father will instruct, admonish, and love me.
May 10th, 2023
I sit out on the front porch of my new palace—looking at the foothills of the mountains, the rolling hills covered in the seedlings of crops. Birds chirp and flutter overhead. My dog rests at my feet. Neighbors pass by. The roses and daylilies bloom. And I am here ruminating of what life was a year ago.
How much I despised it! I wanted out and away and would stop at nothing. And yet—there was the beginning of this life I now have. How torturous the journey has been. But also lovely and forgiving. I can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if I stayed. I know for certain it would not be well for myself or my family. And that proves it would not be well for those following me.
I had a dream last night. I was still there in Florida and quite ready to leave. But I had only left my post as pastor. Otherwise, I still worked at the church—not as a supervisor, but as an advisor for my former departments. I gave problem-solving ideas and didn’t care whether they were utilized. My employer despised me—though he never said it or sought me out. Others thought little of me. And even those who once followed me acted as though I was less experienced and worthless.
Deciding to leave for good, I stood in a kitchen (much like the apartment complex my father and I stayed at for a year after his divorce), where my father spoke to me. He grabbed me by the shoulders and made me promise I wouldn’t sin in Tennessee. Then he hugged me and told me to relish it. But the hug was weak and made me feel as such—rather than empowered, like I wanted.
I realize and know—for I have known since the beginning of this—that any other choice would have left me embittered and useless, my father disappointed, and those following me miserable and without hope. I know that if I stayed, I would only be a wound to those I followed and served.
And that is my only comfort—well, not my only comfort, but certainly one that weighs heavily—that what I did was necessary and set me on the right path. When I remember where I was and whence I came, I am encouraged to keep moving confidently. The relationships I build and the people I serve are predestined. Nothing is a coincidence. And nothing matters, ultimately.
As I taught countless times. It all matters, and none of it matters.
There is no tomorrow as rich as today.
There is no sunrise as beautiful as this sunset.
For today is the day that we meet God.
Tomorrow is only as thin and useless as a vapor.
But today and now holds matter and time in it.
It has the birth of chicks,
The sprout of saplings,
The wind under wings,
And the sound of heaven.
Today is all that matters.
May 11th, 2023
I have in me, I suppose, a purpose. The Word shows this. Greater than the Apostle Paul’s words—Jesus commissioned me. Make disciples. Share His love.
Oh, that purpose…
Yes, but it gets quite muddy when I imagine all my interpretations for such a word when in reality it could be as simple as making friends and sharing the Good News.
I had a purpose. A strong purpose in Florida. And part of me wrestles that I am now finished. I can’t imagine that just like that my life’s work is finished. And I’m confident I will do things that will inspire others. But I cannot deny that so much of the foundation my pastoral upbringing was laid upon has been shaken and destroyed. I second-guess, or at least, question, the methods I used—we used—were taught. The Word is the same. But the Method—that is what is on trial. And “Purpose” is painted all over the Method.
But Purpose in God’s Word looks like: “Share the Good News, make disciples, love your neighbor, love your enemy, lead a quiet life, mind your own business, and work with your hands.”
I don’t want my “open” or “closed” mind to evolve into cynicism. Which it certainly has a propensity to do. Instead, I want to face each day as it is. Simple and Deliberate. The plan will unfold when Christ and His Spirit move my heart. I have many inventions, many ideas, but none outweigh the directive to “wait upon the Lord” just yet.
For now and forever, Yours, Keith
Galatians 5:13 “For you have been called to liberty; do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Called to liberty. My calling is to be free and to serve others through love and not the flesh.
May 12th, 2023
Yesterday, I felt incredible joy—though I suppose nothing truly remarkable or magnificent happened. In fact, it was much like the many days before. But my revelation of Liberty and the Word spoken to my heart brought with them such peace I cannot explain. And it has bled into today.
The birds sing rich.
The grass glisten wet.
My wife’s delicate lips.
My children’s gentle smile.
I am at home. And today I won’t need another thing.
I’ll work today, and it will be strenuous and long. I’ll be reminded of painful memories and bitter rivals. But those things will quickly disperse and give way to the lasting joy. Liberty. Yes, liberty is mine. And no one can take that.
God’s plan takes time. Roses wait a whole year before they bloom. And insects, weather, other plants, and disease can disrupt that at any moment. But when they bloom! My goodness!
God’s plan takes time.
2 responses to “A Journal on the side of Little Pigeon River”
Wow. What a gift banality and silence is landing at the beginning there.. you’re being carved and co-carving something completely new. You’re not forgotten, I’m so grateful you’re brave enough to share to social media. You’re so very important
LikeLiked by 1 person
I know I should not be surprised yet I’m amazed how God uses our hurts, attitudes, circumstances, desires, friends and enemies to move us along toward “Destiny” … no … “Purpose” in His mind.
By the way, step outside under the big Sugar Hackberry tree, if you need that fatherly hug. 🫂 I love you son. Lets go build something together under the trees on the side of a mountain. 😇
LikeLiked by 1 person